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Great Medical Care: Yet another reason to consider your overseas options

November 11, 2010
Pattaya, Thailand

Today I got another boots on the ground perspective of Thailand’s professional, high quality private healthcare system.

I was accompanying a friend of mine this afternoon to the Pattaya branch of Bangkok Hospital, a private chain with five locations across the country. Bangkok Hospital is accredited by JCI, a private,  non-profit organization that serves as the gold standard for hospital certifications.

JCI tests just about everything– the professional credentials of staff physicians, how prepared the hospital is for emergency weather conditions, how quickly patients are treated, depth and management of the pharmacy, environmental protection policies, safeguarding of patient privacy, maintenance schedule of hospital equipment, etc.

In short, a JCI accreditation provides an independent assessment that a foreign hospital’s standards of quality and care are consistent with the developed world. Bangkok Hospital certainly doesn’t fail to make the grade.

Walking into the main lobby at the Pattaya branch is like walking into a luxury 5-star hotel– marble floors, gourmet coffee, and a reception staff that’s more like a crew of highly trained concierges.  Within moments, you’re sped along to the appropriate clinic and greeted with welcoming efficiency by a team of staff nurses.

There’s very little paperwork at the hospital– you tell them your name, sign-in, and they take you straight to the triage room for blood pressure and weight check. Afterwards, you barely have time to open up the newspaper before they call your name again to go meet with the doctor.

The staff physicians at the hospital are mostly Thai, though many of them have been trained overseas. Everyone at the hospital (down to the elevator operator) speaks English, and most speak at least another language as well– German, Mandarin, Russian, and Arabic seem to be the most popular.

As I tend to strike up conversations with people a lot, I spoke with several expats at the hospital’s coffee shop while I was waiting for my friend. Each of them routinely comes to Thailand for various procedures, and they seem quite pleased with the treatment.

One woman I met has been back four times to the plastic surgery clinic, and another indicated that she gets annual cancer checkups after receiving treatment a few years ago at Bangkok Hospital. Another man receives periodic dialysis treatment for his diabetes.

All raved about the care, but most of all, the price. The whole point of medical tourism is being able to afford the price of an international flight, room and board in the country, and world class treatment for less than what you would have to pay just for treatment in your home country.

Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok, another one of the country’s renowned medical facilities, has a great page on its website to estimate the total cost of many common procedures. For anyone without insurance or huge co-pays to deal with, I think this approach is definitely a solution worth considering.

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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.

  • http://www.nutritional-supplements-information.com jaxhere

    You wrote:”Bangkok Hospital certainly doesn’t fail to disappoint.”

    I’m wondering if you really intended to say “Bangkok Hospital certainly doesn’t fail to make the grade.” … or something similar.

  • BorisV

    Simon, here’s a typo:
    “I was accompanying a friend of mind “

  • Joel

    I was in Chang Mai, Thailand 3 weeks ago with a Thai friend -who later developed a toothache. We walked into a dentist’s office next door to our hotel and met the dentist, and checked in with the receptionist. They were the only two people in the office. Fifteen minutes later the exam and x-rays had already been completed and the dentist was drilling into my friends tooth. One hour after we walked in the dentist was finished and gave my friend some medication for the next week. Total cost for exam, x-rays, dental work, and meds -600 Baht (about US$20.00…yes, twenty dollars). The dentist said my friend would eventually need a crown as there was a small crack in her tooth. I checked the price list before leaving and found a new crown would cost about US$150.00.
    Now fast forward a few weeks. Today I’m here in Las Vegas with my own damaged tooth! I bit something hard last week and a piece of tooth around the edge of a large filling chipped off. The tooth itself works just fine but the sharp edge occasionally pokes into my tongue. So I grabbed a junk mail flyer coupon on which a local dentist advertised a $29.00 “Emergency Exam” (note: at the Thai dentist’s office, initial exams are free).
    Anyway, I got an appointment scheduled for the next day. When I showed up, first there was the paperwork, then the dental assistant took an x-ray (from the WRONG direction, the view of the damage was blocked by the large filling!). Then the dentist showed up (for about 30 seconds). He seemed to think I needed a new crown before even looking into my mouth. The crown would be $900.00 and take 2 visits, which I expected. With the coupon I brought in, it would only be $750.00. The coupon also insured I got the $29.00 “emergency exam” rate for my visit that day, as normaly it’s $100.00 ($60.00 for the 30 second consultation, and $40.00 for the useless x-ray). “Good thing you had that coupon,” the receptionist said.
    Now I know it’s not fair to judge dentists everywhere based on these two events, I’ve had great dental work done in the US…such as the man who put that huge filling in that tooth in the first place (over 30 years ago).
    But these were two “random walk-in” experiences, and as the “random walk-inee” I walked out feeling that the Thai dentist was actually practicing dentistry, and concerned about your teeth, while the Las Vegas dentist I consulted with seemed more of a business man in the health care field, concerned about profit and income. Just my opinion, of course.

  • Defencev

    A word of caution. I would not consider Bangkok Pattaya hospital for serious medical problems. Bumrumgrad, yes, but not BPH.
    I base it on many years of personal experience and conversations with many expats. The place is good for medical check ups and routine procedures, good dental department. However, prices went up quite substantially and recently hospital developed a trend to overcharge for various procedures and medications and even recommend unnecessary procedures (learning from the West?).

  • http://www.mikkokemppe.com Mikko Kemppe

    I just wanted to stop by and say that I have absolutely loved reading your newsletter! It has become part of my daily routine to check out my email to read it. I love the fascinating stuff that you write about. You have definitely inspired me to think even more about preparing yourself for these uncertain times that we live in. Thanks for all of the experiences you so openly share!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Manning/1796568881 John Manning

    I personally use both Bangkok hospital and Bumrungrad, although I prefer Bumrungrad. The medical care is far better than what I have got in the US at a fraction of the cost. Even with insurance you would be better off coming here. You get Mayo Clinic quality medical care and Walmart prices.

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