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In case you trip over your shoelaces…


October 16, 2012,
Pattaya, Thailand

I’m one of those idiots who pays into a health insurance plan month after month, year after year, and never goes to the doctor.

In fact, I’ve had my current plan for years without ever filing a claim. The only reason to have it is the unlikely event that I trip over my shoelace while visiting the US and end up with a $200,000 emergency room bill.

Everywhere else, insurance isn’t necessary; the price of healthcare in most places is reasonable enough to pay cash.

Perhaps nowhere is this more true than in Thailand… home to one of the most advanced, highest quality, and cheapest private healthcare systems on the planet.

Every time I’m here, I visit a hospital just to try things out; my experiences have always been stellar. And speedy.

Just yesterday I dropped in (without an appointment) to Bangkok Hospital’s Pattaya branch to check my cholesterol.  There was zero paperwork upon check-in… no stupid forms, no clipboards. And I went straight to the back. No waiting around.

Afterwards, one of the staff physicians came over to chat. His English was perfect, and it seemed as if I was his only patient of the day.

That’s perhaps one of the most important points about healthcare here– the staff/patient ratio is astoundingly high, so you get a tremendous amount of personal attention.

The whole experience is also very private. I use an assumed name at the hospital. I’ve never given them any ID. And obviously there’s no insurance company or government agency demanding my records.

The biggest benefit, though, is cost. Or lack thereof. The amount I paid for my visit yesterday wouldn’t buy a beer in some countries. And the sticker shock applies universally to all tests and procedures, from imaging to chemotherapy to fertility treatments to elective surgery.

The physicians here are excellent. But for those who can’t get over the idea of a foreign doctor, one approach is hiring a specialist in your home country to consult and be the ‘quarterback’ of your care. You get all the expensive tests, imaging, and labs done in Thailand, then send the results back home.

This approach also works with medication.

A friend of mine in the United States has Type I diabetes, and his insurance plan provides a fixed supply of insulin. As you may know, diabetes does not necessarily conform to the terms and conditions of a health plan.

My friend wanted to have some extra insulin injections… just in case. But the insurance company balked. So while visiting New York a few months ago, I asked a doctor who owed me a favor to write my friend a prescription for a few spare vials.

In the US, the tab came to $1,770. In Thailand, it costs 77% less. I checked into a number of other name brand pharmaceuticals ranging from blood pressure medication to new chemo drugs. The same trend applies, typically 50% to 90% cheaper.

If you’re uninsured, or seeking medication/treatment not covered by your insurance, consider Thailand. This country is full of internationally accredited hospitals. The quality is excellent. And the travel expense is a no-brainer investment in huge cost savings.

And there’s one more thing. The baht is fairly weak right now having been handily outperformed by many other currencies in the region. This makes care here even cheaper if you’re a dollar spender.

But it won’t last. Courtesy of Mr. Bernanke’s never-ending money printing, inflation is being exported to this part of the world on a grand scale. Plus, there will come a time when the baht gains substantial ground against the dollar.

All of this will inflate away the cheap, high quality care you can receive here. As such, now may be the best time ever for you to trade your rapidly depreciating dollars for an investment in your health.

After all, if there is severe economic turmoil down the road, do you really want to experience it wishing you had done something about that nagging hip pain?

And even if nothing happens, investing in your health makes sense… no matter what.

Our goal is simple: To help you achieve personal liberty and financial prosperity no matter what happens.

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This historical pattern has formed and is already underway in many parts of the world, including the United States.

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About the author: Simon Black is an international investor, entrepreneur, permanent traveler, free man, and founder of Sovereign Man. His free daily e-letter and crash course is about using the experiences from his life and travels to help you achieve more freedom.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • GarinEtch

    A couple years ago I spent a few months living in a Thai boxing gym in Phuket. Towards the end of my stay I got a stress fracture in my foot. I went to the hospital up the street which was world class and walked right in without an appointment or even calling ahead. I waited for maybe five minutes, then had several x-rays taken, consulted with a doctor who also spoke perfect English and didn’t seem rushed, and was on my way back to the gym in under 30 minutes. All of this cost $40.

  • R

    Great read and very timely in my case. I’ve got to have not one, but two arthroscopes done very soon. The price tag for this in Australia is in the realm of AU$4500, each! So I’m considering a bit of medical tourism in Thailand. I’m fairly sure the cost, including flights and post treatment accommodation will work out cheaper all up than having the operation done here. But I’d love some advice on how to find and vet reputable doctors/hospitals without having my boots on the ground over there.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Dr.PDG Paul D. Giammalvo

    I agree 100% with Simon. We have all our dental work done in Bangkok and every word that he said is true.

    We have most of our medical work done in Singapore, which is also the same quality, but a bit more expensive than Bangkok, but given we live in Jakarta, the only reason we choose S’pore over Thailand is the flying time.

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia

  • DouginRayong

    Mostly, I would agree but, “…the baht being weak…”, that one does not make too much sense. I have lived here since 2005 and with inflation and the USD being ground to dust living here is not what it was.Medicine, outside of pain medication, is still cheap.
    It’s still good here but the window is closing.

  • donskoi

    How does OBAMACARE appl to US citizens with legal reisdency in another country? Must we still buy it?

  • Arne Paul

    I went into the best hospital’s emergency room in the small New England city Portsmouth, N.H. in 1981. I was given a few tests, medicine and spoke to the doctor. My bill as I exited? $40. Being a college student at the time, I didn’t have that “high” sum with me. The clerk assured me there were ample funds to cover the less fortunate and asked if I could pay the suggested $5 minimum which I did happily.

    This was before the mandatory health insurance days. Most people didn’t even know what health insurance was. (I didn’t at the time). Neither were there profiteering medical corporations and price gouging professionals. Just well paid doctors, nurses and others performing excellent health care in a job they, for the most part, seemed to appreciate and enjoy.

    Now it’s a scam all around, so badly entrenched in the system it’ll take something short of a revolution to turn it around.

  • wa_state

    My wife and I were in Thailand a few years ago and she got a real bad case of heat stroke on a saturday afernoon. We made it back to the hotel and I ended up asking the front desk if there was a way to get to a doctor. She did better than that and suggested I call the doctor to come to the hotel.
    Long story short. He came at 8:00PM and was there with his assistant (wife) for 3 hours. Administered 2 bottles of liquid intraveanously. Gave her some meds and generally checked her out. Even ordered her a bowl of congi.
    Total = about $80.
    Try that in the USSA!

  • Ngage

    Anyone want to know why U.S. is doomed? Simply have a look at its healthcare. Most people cannot and would not afford even the simplest diagnostics and labs.

    Just for comparison’s sake, an MRI in Russia is $250 vs $3000 in the U.S.

    A specialist visit is $20 in Russia vs $175 in the U.S.

    United States has the greediest and most uncaring doctors, who swore an oath to Almighty Dollar instead of one to Hippocrates.

    I say this from my own experience.

  • Bob

    But in Thailand they have government run healthcare. This doesn’t make sense.

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