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SOVEREIGN MAN

Medical care in Thailand

I was reading a menu, but I wasn’t in a restaurant.

Liposuction: $625
Tummy Tuck: $1,250
Breast Enlargement: $1,125
Sex change operation: $1,625

I did a double take. Yep, that wasn’t a misprint.

Thailand is renowned for a lot of things– beautiful beaches, crazy nightlife, political instability, etc. One of the things it should be better known for is medical tourism.

People often ask me because I travel so much, “Simon, what would you do if something happened to you– wouldn’t you be scared to go to a hospital in a foreign country?”

In a word, no. In fact, I sincerely hope that I am overseas if some bad accident or disease should happen to befall me, because I’m confident that I won’t die in the waiting room filling out insurance paperwork.

Health care in many developed countries is either bankrupt, too expensive, and/or incompetent. Here in Thailand, private care is among the highest quality and most efficient in the world.

It really makes one wonder which countries should truly be considered ‘developed’…

Bangkok has a few marquee private hospitals– Dusit Medical, and the more famous Bumrungrad. To call them ‘hospitals’ is a bit of a misnomer… realistically they are luxurious 5-star resorts that happen to be staffed with highly-skilled, western-trained physicians.

Whatever is ailing you, they can handle it– plastic surgery, cancer treatment, hip replacement, etc. The nice thing is that the doctors in Thailand are actually free to practice medicine in a low bureaucracy environment without constant fear of regulation or litigation.

This, along with the lower wages in Thailand, results in substantial cost savings. As for the quality? Well, I’d like to pass on a note from my friend Croc who recently had two surgeries at Bumrungrad in Bangkok. Croc is active, fit, in his late 30s.

Dear Simon,

I have just done something that in the US, or most of the world for that matter, is impossible: three days after arriving in Bangkok, I had underwent two surgeries, complete with the requisite tests and appointments.

For the cost of typical yearly insurance premiums in the US, I had facial plastic surgery, and I had my torn meniscus repaired. What really impressed me, aside from my $360 MRI and my $42 x-ray, was the kindness, professionalism and shocking efficiency of Bumrungrad Hospital.

Thailand is not a country generally known for Swiss organization… but when you consider the financial dire straits that western civilization has found itself in, especially regarding health care, finding efficiency, kindness, quality, and great value at a hospital is certainly worth passing on.

One million patients are treated at Bumrungrad Hospital every year, and roughly six hundred thousand are foreigners. Most of the staff speaks English, and they have translators for just about every language you could imagine.

The hospital’s pricing is out of reach for most local Thais, but Bumrungrad’s a la carte menu of services is priced at a phenomenal discount to what you would pay in the US. There is no shame in being uninsured here. On the contrary, people paying cash are accorded a VIP status.

From the moment I entered the hospital, I was checked-in and awaiting my first consultation in under fifteen minutes. After my initial consultation with an English speaking knee specialist trained at Harvard, I was sliding into a GE-brand MRI machine.

In all, I met with three doctors, had two surgeries, blood work, x-rays, and an MRI. It all cost me around five thousand dollars and took three days. In between visits I sat next to the pool at my hotel getting a twenty-dollar massage.

Bumrungrad makes no bones about its desire to cater to paying foreigners. The business model works, as evidenced by waiting rooms of Arabs, Aussies, Europeans and even a few Americans.

For a few thousand dollars you can actually get some real medical work done in Thailand– teeth cleaning, heart surgery, breast augmentation… you name it, anything is possible here.

Simon again. Thailand is not alone, there are at least a dozen other places in the world with top quality medical care at a paltry cost, and as Croc’s story testifies, there is no sacrifice to quality or service.

For me, medical tourism is the cornerstone of my health care plan. I have a high deductible US insurance plan that covers me against emergencies and catastrophes when I am in the states (only about 3-months each year). For smaller issues, I pay cash at specialty clinics, which I’ve found to be fairly cost effective.

For larger issues, though, I’m on a plane. The cost savings of the medical care alone more than makes up for the travel expenses of the trip.

I’m curious to hear what you think– would you fly to another country for medical care? If not, why not? Bear in mind, the cost savings of the treatment more than covers the travel expense.

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.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Bob

    Medical care in India (I am a physician of Indian origin) is comparable to Thailand and medical tourism is big in India. I would undergo many treaments in India but when it comes to cancer therapy or even cardiovascular care, outcomes are far superior in the USA.

    Simon, you write frequently about many countries in Asia (Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, China etc) but I have never read your writing about India. I am curious what you think about India

  • George

    I just got back from Mexico last week and semi-planned on having 2 teeth pulled that already had root canals in them. The root canals went bad and every time I see a dentist something goes wrong. One of my friends has all of his dental work done in Mexico so I had a vacation there and decided to find out for myself. I hopped on some local blogs and found the names of some local dentists, called the day before I was leaving. I knew it would interfere with my drinking and eating so I waited til the end. I got in that day. I had 2 teeth pulled and the antibiotic and high-power pain killer in total was $70 USD. Not kidding. The dentist spoke fluent English, was very kind and I walked across the street to Wal-mart for $13 of drugs. Never actually had any pain and so far a week later all is well.

  • Jamie

    Sure I would. My uncle has been to Mexico for dental work and was very happy. I need some dental work as well and am thinking of Colombia, just because it’s closer and cheaper to fly than Thailand. Any body else been to Colombia? What did you think?

  • Nick

    Hi Simon,
    I keep a New Zealand health / medical insurance policy active for this very reason. If I need surgery or cancer treatment then I’ll fly there and have it done immediately.

    I was impressed by Thailands health system too. It was one of the few things (apart from the food) that I found good about Thailand and would have me return there.

    On the flip side, if I was in a serious accident in Bolivia, I would fly to Chile or even Argentina before I got treatment. I met some Ameircan doctors working in La Paz and they declared they would rather die on the flight than get treatment in Bolivia. After seeing first hand how the emergency services operate there, I believe them.

  • howard collins

    My wife, Mimi, and I would go overseas for medical help in a heartbeat. We are both retired, but have lived and worked in Australia, Micronesia, American Samoa, and Liberia, as well as travel in other places. In addition Mimi grew up in Panama through junior college as a canal brat. We look forward to your daily blog, Simon.

    thanks,
    howard

  • Duncan

    Shanghai China has excellent health care for foreigners. I had my gall bladder removed. I had three physicians, the senior endoscopic staff member and two others. They came and saw me every day at least twice.
    One chest Xray, ultrasound, heart analysis with ekg etc., lung capacity and oxygen take up test, three or four blood tests, urine/kidney tests, they wanted a stool test but I didn’t oblige them, 6 bags of antibiotics and other stuff dripping into me every day for four days, seven days in a double occupancy room, food (worse than Canada)
    Seven days of follow up drugs about 15 pills a day. Total bill about $1000 US. I am allergic to penicillin so they used some
    more expensive drugs. About $400 of this was for the drip drugs. The actual surgery was about $140!!
    The surgeon was trained in Mount Sinai hospital in New York for a year,
    spoke good English and does 4 – 7 of these endoscopic procedures a day.
    I subsequently had a full physical with CAT scan, Xray, ultrasonic scan, some kind of cardio sonic scan, all blood work, urine tests, physical examinations, radiological bone scan, about $380
    Very impressive. You have to pick the right hospital though.

  • A

    WHAT ABOUT COSTA RICA AND PANAMA?

  • Todd

    Thankfully I am still at age where I have not required any serious healthcare, however I have been getting dental work done in foreign countries for the last 5 years and can see no reason to change. In fact, it would make me very comfortable getting something more serious attended to if that was required. Countries I have had dental work done in are Brazil, Argentina, and South Africa. For my money the South African experience was the best – I would highly recommend the muslim dentist who I had(3anchor bay medical/dental clinic off Beach Road in Cape Town). Have had veneers, crowns, cavities(even big ones), and cleaning done for what I believe would be less than 20% of cost of Cdn services(varies on service/country)

    One thing to note is what sort of variance there can be in services and costs in these countries so some shopping is required. Typically I go to the most expensive clinic(these are easy to find) and get their price list. Than I go to a somewhat scaled down version of this(always in a nice area, just not the nicest) and settle for service there.

  • Karl

    My wife and I both had cosmetic surgery at Bumrungrad hospital in Bangkok about 4 years ago. The price was about 1/3 of the cost in the US. The results were great and knocked 10 years off our appearance! Would I do it again? Absolutely! We own a condo in Pattaya and try to have all of our medical and dental done in Thailand or in Panama where we also own a home. My impression is that the quality of care in Panama is not as good as in Thailand but the prices are quite reasonable. For my money Bumrungrad is the top of the heap!

  • Ed Atkin

    Well Simon, I’ve traveled overseas a bit (eighty some countries) and been in several third world medical situations. Mostly what I have found is that the best generally suffer from the same support staff shortcomings as here in the U.S. ie, unwashed hands, poor understanding of my desires, misreading or ignoring medication instructions etc. and at the worst, unspeakable. In one topnotch hospital in the Caribbean, breakfast and dinner consisted of a banger on a bun.
    True there were some fine physicians and the prices were certainly better than at home. But. . . as you say, they compete well with our prices if one consider travel expense. But why why would you knowingly subject yourself to the inconveniences of a long trip, immersion in a foreign language society and perhaps ending life without the support of friends and family for a break-even financial prospect? Not me, by choice, thank you. I’ll stay closer to home, except for a cataclysmic financial event like I experienced in the U.S. (from a scuba accident) to the tune of over $235,000. “Course it helped that I was on the dole. (Medicare) Regards, Ed
    s with

  • CM

    In Europe, Croatia’s the place for medical tourism. I live there half the year, and need to get MRIs of my brain and follow-ups with a Neurologist, who was named the top Neurologist in Europe a couple of years ago, even though they aren’t officially in Europe. MRI + radiology middle-man +my US doctor = $2200. MRI + no radiology middle-man + my Croatian doctor (who trained in Chicago) = $400!

    People come over from Italy, Austria, Germany and pay in Croatian kuna – for all types of medical reasons.

  • Debra

    I have worked in Corporate America for over 30 years and (as such) have always had medical/dental coverage through my employer. Have had 2 root canals in the past 5 years – both of which have failed recently. I had the first “redone” but the 2nd is not fixable and I need a dental implant – which is not covered under my dental insurance. I am seriously considering Mexico or Costa Rica for the dental implant because of the cost savings. Having never been out of the country for any sort of medical or dental procedure it’s quite scary but I’m not so naive as to believe that only “American docs” know what they are doing. So – your blog on this topic is definitely timely and it is reassuring to read others’ opinions on this subject. Thanks!

    • Sue

      Debra, my husband had major dental work done in Costa Rica a couple years ago and was very happy with the work and the price. Dr. Garrita was his provider–implants, crowns, bridge work.

      The next year I had a tummy tuck and breast life at the Rosen____? clinic. Great work, no probems. Once you’re through the front door it looks like New York City. Go for it, girl !

  • Dr Brian A Schwartz

    Simon…I would definitely go abroad for treatment and have heard of the wonderful medical facilities in Thailand where I have visited four times but no medical needs. What does someone with Medicare and a supplemental health care plan do in a foreign country. I may move to China or Malaysia.

    Brian

  • Mary

    Can you come up with a list of good hospitals in various places for us?

  • Vlydia

    India has also fantastic western trained medics, well organized, kind, and definitely 5 star treatment, costing about 30% of prices in the west.
    I have had two major surgeries performed in Apollo Hospital in Chennai, one was a complicated 3rd time surgical abdominal hernia. The surgeon with worldwide experience, a laproscopy specialist did not even leave a scar, I was out of the hospital in 2 days. In the west, a specialty clinic in Canada did not offer to perform laproscopy technique, which is so much less traumatic, and more effective.
    The are deluxe 5 star accommodations for the patient and a friend or family member provided for the price of a modest 4 star hotel room.
    The other op was hip resurfacing, done with the very latest technique, and also in deluxe surroundings at the Apollo Specialty Hospital in Chennai.
    I had elected to pay the modest fees, instead of accepting my private insurance medical coverage in the west which would have been free. I am convinced it was the right choice. I am most grateful to these wonderful doctors and their assistants. Medical treatment may be the best feature of India today.

  • Brian

    I have to concur with Croc. Having lived here for more than 5 years I have also used Bumrungrad but would also recommend BNH (more like 6 star hotel) where my Thai wife recently delivered our daughter. The ‘package’ cost was less than $1,500 USD (including C section)and several days in hospital recovery – and her physician was Johns Hopkins trained. Couldn’t do better – fabulous professional care at extraordinary prices.

  • rick

    hey simon,

    sure i’d go. been there once before and never left my hotel in bangkok. that somehow makes me think you’ve been sending too many letters from the field and don’t want to leave. can’t blame you. heard all about southern thai. enjoy.

    rick

  • Eric

    Which countries specialize in alternative health therapies? Medical is still medical, and there is no such thing as a “minor” operation/surgery. Errors in drug applications are legion in the US and elsewhere. What about all the very productive alternative ways of getting and staying healthy?

  • John F. Page

    I was recently in Estancia, Argentina. I had a lengthy nnose bleed. An ambulance to the hospital[ about 4 miles] blood test. blood pressure,oxygen intake, thewhole ball of wax offered with that absolute top Argentinian grace and kindness. One hundred thirty nine pesos, or thirty six dollars and one dime. I get home and the first letter I open is a medicle bill from two weeks before that had a lot of similar work. The bill 544 dollars. I like the local health care people. It is not their fault; but they have nothing on foreign medicine J.F.P.

  • RC

    caveat emptor

  • RL

    Has anyone had Lasik abroad? That is something I’ve wanted done for a few years now. I love to travel, and if I could have the procedure done safely and get a couple of days vacation on top for the same price or less (to enjoy with my new eyes), why not!

    • Jamie

      RL, I heard that LASIK was invented in Colombia and the Dr. is still practicing medicine there! Look into it.

  • Magnus

    My parents are retirees from General Motors and winter in texas from Mid Nov thru May. GM, Chrysler like many greedy corrupt companies in the US have taken away dental and vision care for retirees. My parents now go to Mexico for dental and vision and say the doctors are excellent and cheap! Corporations are not “outsourcing jobs” to make more money so maybe its time we as americans should outsourse our medical issues! I have also heard that the caribean is a good place to have services done as well. Maybe you should put together a list of the best places to go in each parts of the world. The caribean is much closer than Thailand for travel and I am sure plane tickets are at least 50% less? Whaddya think?

  • Clement

    Simon,

    Thank you for the informative news on what Thailand can offer.Keep the news coming.
    Clement

  • Marquelle

    Do they have a dermatology department to treat eczema?

  • Bob Morgan

    Simon
    Panama for any kind of eye surgery or vision correction. Doctors there invented one of the procedures frequently used world-wide. I’ve had dental work in Lima. The tech was the best I’ve ever had because she does so many procedures and is highly practiced at laser teeth whitening. I believe the same goes for the volume of plastic surgery there and Colombia. I’ve seen a dermatologist in Buenos Aires for a year and very happy with the results. She’s not constrained by what insurance will pay for or the FDA, consequently her techniques have gotten better results and much less onerous. All the countries I’ve been to have one or more great hospitals for those of us who can afford them, and many others to avoid. I knew of a US company headquartered in San Francisco that ran hospitals for the rich in asia, staffed by US trained doctors and nurses. They had at least one in Maylasia and another in Burma.

  • norm

    daughter [27] crashed her motorcycle on Lombak in Indonesia….health care somewhat less than satisfactory there [ex. cats in " emergency" ward...] Flew her to Bangkok and Bumrumgard. Had a tibia plateau fracture, quite serious injury,needed to be “fixed” within 48 hrs. Checked into Bumrumgrad at 9PM, operated on the next morning…excellent job, excellent service, and covered by her travelers insurance! great room, good physical therapy, does look like a five star hotel…even starbucks in lobby. If obama care goes thru, Bumrumgrad will become our regular “health care provider”!!! By the way, one year later she is jogging on the repared leg!norm

  • Loren

    I would love to pursue off shore medical treatment.
    Can you provide the names of the 10 or 12 best countries/cities to have procedures done.
    Thanks for your info. Love your letters.
    Loren

  • http://www.bumrungrad.com Scott Minteer

    First, full disclosure – I work for Bumrungrad. Next, Simon, thanks for the mention. Finally, if you feel my post is too self-serving, please delete and let me know.

    We know two of the biggest fears of people traveling for health care, or accidentally needing health care when they travel, are: 1) Is the quality of care any good? Is the place clean? and 2) How much does it cost?

    So we have just started using Facebook and other types of media to allow people to get a better sense of the place here. It is still a work in progress, so please bear with us. You can see pictures of the hospital: at:

    http://www.facebook.com/bumrungrad#/bumrungrad?v=photos

    Next, we try to facilitate people for checking costs vs. what they can expect to pay. The following system does not guarantee what your costs are – it depends on the your specific case, of course. But you can see data based on real invoices from patients, and see what the chances of going outside that range are:

    http://www.bumrungrad.com/realcost/index.aspx

    Hopefully this information gives people a better idea of what is going on over here, and what they should expect.

    Finally, we have a new channel for allowing people to quickly and easily give us feedback or questions: http://www.twitter.com/bumrungradh

    I am not going to tell people that we are the only hospital with this level of quality and service – but naturally, we think we are a great choice for people coming over, or for people that are here and need proper medical attention.

  • travelman

    I’ve had dental work done in Myanmar, eyeglasses in Bangkok and may get a minor surgery at Bumrungrad. I’m in Thailand now. I usually travel to SE Asia each year anyways so wait to get here for these things which are much more expensive and no better in Canada. I would come for a big thing if needed as quality of care, speed and cost can make it a better deal than costs or waits at home.

  • Tom

    Simon
    Last year my brother and I were in Nicaragua, and we had been living there for about 2 years and had established a good business there. After sometime there my brother started to get sick, and it took the doctors a while to diagnose what he had, I had took him to public and the best private hospitals there with no results. I left one weekend and when I returned my brother had been whisked away to a hospital, this hospital said my brother was retaining water in in his stomach when in all reality his organs were swelling from a disease usually caught by a specific fish caught in lake Managua, 1 of the biggest lakes in the world and with new species of fish found all the time. Anyway while in the hospital they had inserted a 1 and 1/2 foot long long needle in his stomach which they used to try and take out water, when they realized there was no water retention they felt they needed to get him to a hospital better equipped to deal with this so they told him if he would sign a waiver they would have the other hospital treat him, well my brother passed away October 26th 2008 and I do not recommend hospitals overseas.

  • Anita

    Hey Simon!
    Absolutely, as an almost 65 year old, active and healthy female, I would consider traveling to a foreign country for surgery. Thankfully, I haven’t had any problems that require surgery and I haven’t decided if I’ll ever go the face-lift route but if I do, it won’t be in the USA. I have several family members that have had major surgeries here that have left them financially destitute, even with insurance. If you need a dental root canal it requires a full crown upon completion and that will all set you back over $1,000.00. Wow, what a rip-off.

  • http://www.travelforcare.com Gabriel Senior

    I would also suggest you guys check destinations closer to home. Nothing beats Monterrey, Mexico in its location (2 hours driving south of Laredo, TX) and its quality of care (by far the most modern facilities in Mexico). Shoud anyone need help, Travel For Care is here for you.

  • Vernon

    No, I would not get on an airplane to leave the States (USA) for major medical care. It has nothing to do with the quality of care overseas. In fact, I’ve long been convinced that health care in the US is inferior to anything else. However, I don’t care for our Homeland Security’s idea of national safety – which treats US Citizens as if they are criminals first, and (if ever) apologizes later. When the government shuts down the Dept. of Homeland Security, I’ll reconsider travel abroad. Until then, my feet stay on the ground.

  • Canadian

    I had an MRI done in the Philippines and was very impressed. About half the price of what it would have cost in Canada (or if I’d waited for the “free” MRI–which isn’t really free as we pay high taxes–it would have been another 6 months). Also had a $10 tooth filling put in in Eastern Europe when I was there a few years ago. So, tired of waiting ANOTHER year (having even SPOKEN to a Canadian surgeon yet!), I’m having a shoulder surgery in the Philippines or THailand (still deciding). If you’re not on your deathbed, Canada’s system is seriously wanting (but I’d rather got to ER in Canada than the USA!). But, for non-urgent surgeries, go to Asia. Heard great things about Indian, too.

  • Jill

    I flew to Tiajuana, Mexico 2 years ago for lap-band surgery for weight loss. From the age of 16 to 46 I always had insurance in the states through my work. Now, since I have changed jobs, I am not covered and I am considered to have a pre-existing condition so I can not afford insurance here. I would never have qualified in the US for weight loss surgery anyway. I went to Mexico where I got the job done quickly, efficiently, cheaply and effectively. It was about 1/3 of the price and no problems at all. The hospital was spotless, the staff was cheerful and very helpful, they spoke English and I had a much better experience than I ever had in any health care situation in the USA. My father went to Laredo for all his dental work. Much cheaper, no problems. My friends go to Mexico for all thier drugs. Again, much cheaper. I think the FDA is worthless and adds a huge cost to US health care. Most other countries don;t have one and they get by fine without it, one reason they are so much cheaper to deal with. I went to the Dr in Thailand a couple of weeks ago when I was there on vacation. I just walked into a clinic in the neighborhood I was staying in. I did not have an appointment. The Dr saw me in 5 minutes, I described my problem. He gave me a cream to help and had the technician give me an ‘ultrasound massage’ for an hour (which helped) all for less than $40. I will use health care in many other countries than the USA like Thailand, Mexico, India but not some others like Solomon Islands, it all depends on thier facilities.

  • George

    My wife and I were in Panama when she noticed a spot on her face that concerned her. With a referral from friends to a dermatologist she was taken in and a biopsy was performed which revealed basel cell carscinoma. The Dr. removed it the very next day and he was assisted by a Plactic surgeon. She returned several times for follow up laser treatment to prevent scarring. The care was excellent, the results excellent and the cost about 20% of that which we have seen billed and about what we have had to pay after Medicare and supplemental payments had been paid. Neither one of us would hesitate to have medical procedures performed in Panama. John Hopkins has a new modern facility there and a great many of the Doctors were trained in the US.

  • Micky

    A year and half ago, I went to Chennai, India for hip replacement at the Apollo Specialty Hospital. Everything was top notch – from the wing in the hospital, all the support staff, the food, the nurses and especially my doctor Vijay Bose. The total cost of the surgery, week in the hospital, all tests, all doctors was $8,000 USD. It was the best money I ever spent. I walk great today.

  • James Evans

    I used Bangkok Samitevej Hospital (Sukumvit Soi 49) for a kidney cancer issue a couple of years. It was by far, the best organised hospital I have ever seen .. vastly better organised than hospitals in my home town of Sydney or Singapore (where I lived for many years). Ed Atkin’s remarks may be appropriate for the Carribean. But the public food outlets in Bumungrad or Samitivej serve better cuisine than many upmarket yuppy restaurants on Sydney Harbour.

  • Jo

    Three years ago I needed a bi-lateral hip replacement. Since both my parents had had hip replacements, in the U.S., and had terrible results, I decided to seek an alternative. I was fully insured through my employer. I learned about hip resurfacing, which very, very few docs in the U.S. knew anything about at that time. I investigated going abroad for the procedure and had narrowed my list to 3 of the top hip surgeons in the world: one in England, one in Belgium, and one in India. I corresponded with a number of patients of all three doctors. I determined I could not financially afford to go to England or Belgium. I narrowd my choice to the surgeon in India. The hospital was like a 5 star hotel, private rooms, round the clock privae nurses, accomodations for a family member, and a restaurant in the hospital. My total cost of travel, surgery, and medical care, including recuperating and therapy at a seaside resort for a minimum of one week, would have amounted to approx. $14,000. I then discovered that a very well known surgeon and hospital in South Carolina were covered under my insurance. I cancelled the trip to India, went to South Carolina and had a wonderful surgical and hospital experience, if any surgery can be called wonderful. The surprise came when the bills started coming in. Even with my health insurance, I ended up owing over $22,000. I should have gone to India! Any other orthopedic issues I face will definitely NOT be done in the U.S. I will be paying off those medical bills for the next several years……..

  • Jane

    My wife had a face lift in Pattaya, Thailand (Pattaya Bangkok Hospital): terrible result: huge scars, left and right different! She needed 2 operations in Europe to correct it… so be careful in choosing your surgean!!!!! And I heard other scary stories about cosmetic surgery

    • Pat Faiola

      Who in their right mind would get a face lift in Pattaya, of all places. Nothing wrong with going overseas for health reasons, but get real and do a bit of research.

  • Bws

    Who do you use for catastrophic health insurance?

  • Paul

    Grenada, site of the mid-80′s East-West war games (The West took it) is also the site of a medical college attended by many US and Canadian citizens, (hence the involvement of the US military following communist “revolution”), used to be a viable choice. Anyone know if it still is?
    Paul

  • Debra

    Mornin, Simon. I very much enjoy reading about your adventures as the Sovereign Man. I’ve often wondered whether you’ve every found yourself in circumstances where you felt your life was in danger. That would be an interesting column.

    My main reason for this message is that my roommate was very excited to see, in your above letter, a price of $1,625 for “sex change surgery”. He’s been aware for years that Bangkok is known for its specialists in that field, but has not been able to consider it affordable even at the huge savings over prices in the US. The price you quoted would definitely be managable.

    We contacted Bumrungrad, one of the hospitals you mentioned, and were advised they do not offer the procedure. They did not provide the referrals we had requested to other hospitals where the surgery would be offered. We would very much like to know where you found the surgery for $1,625.

    I have read this blog and don’t see any responses from you to the various entries, so am hoping you answer personally by email. Would be very pleased to hear back from you.

    Sincerely,
    Debra

  • Irvin

    I am a physician who has just retired from practicing medicine for 54 years. I was born in Canada, have relatives there who are experiencing Canadian Health care. Many years ago I practiced in Ontario and after a year had the opportunity to go to Thailand where I practiced medicine for two and half years. Bumrungrad Hospital was not there at the time but the medical schools of Chulalongkorn and Sirirat where. In summary My wife, a nurse, and I found;
    1. The Thai people were very friendly, hospitable and many of the physicians, nurses, technicians and lab techs were fully competent, comparable to any in the US or Canada.
    2. Hospitalization and care at that hospital was about 1/3 to 1/4 as costly as the same care in the US because;
    a. the wages of all people working in the hospital were from 1/3 to 1/5 that of US wages, including floor sweepers to lab techs.
    b. Little or no malpractice costs. (Some doctors in the US have to pay $250,000 malpractice insurance per year. That is money after expenses. Most doctors offices run expenses at 30 to 40 % of gross income, i.e. those doctors have to earn $500,000 to $600,000 (collections are running 60 to 70%) before they have any for themselves.
    c. About 35 to 45% of a hospitals take these days is spent to meet state and government regulation requirements. Has nothing to do with delivering medical care.
    d. Drugs and medical equipment is cheaper to purchase because there is little product liability insurance to pay.
    COMMENT: I think I am correct (haven’t practiced in Thailand for years) in saying that the medical care practioners, physicians and hospitals have little or no expense for malpractice and a much lower cost to meet govt regulations.
    Does this help to explain why the difference?
    Irvin

  • steven crawford

    Any reference where I could find a great cosmetic dentist in Thailand?

  • wildman

    My dear friend Patrick had advanced cancer

  • wildman

    Sorry, I didn’ t finish that.

    Patrick’s chemo in the Huntsman Cancer clinic in SLC would have cost $230,000 for the 12 treatment program. He had no insurance. I recommended he get overseas. I work much overseas, and knew he could get BETTER care at a fraction of the cost.

    He did his resaearch and headed over to Mumbai. The exact same chemo drugs, administered with better care, plus an apartment and his travel cost a total of $20,000. That’s about 8% of the US cost.

    And I am convinced he received better care. They also addressed his holistic perspectives, rather than simply hitting him with large doses of a semi-lethal drug.

    This perhaps extended his life somewhat, though sadly he just recently passed away, back here in the US, under pathetic, cryptic, incompetent US care at the end, (they lost his medical folder, and the doctor read from a sticky note saying ‘there is no sign of cancer, you are on the road to recovery, when Patrick looked at the folder and said “that’s not my file!”) Patrick thought about this for a moment and then told the doctor “You know, this would not happen in India.” Really unbelievable

    He was surrounded by friends and his dog at the end.

    • ok

      I’m sorry about your friend. That is an amazing story though, and I think paints the picture very clearly. I have had some similar experiences with Western European incompetence and have thought to myself “this would never happen in Panama.”

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