Up close and personal with Thai healthcare

March 8, 2010
Pattaya, Thailand

I managed to pick up some nasty bug that has knocked me into next Tuesday… But while I feel completely miserable at the moment, this little bacterial bout has given me the opportunity to experience, first-hand, the joys of the Thai medical system.

First, doctors make house calls. When you’re as sick as I am, the last thing you want to do is get dressed, sit in the car, and go to the doctor’s office. Not a problem in Thailand… they come to you, all for about $30. And yes, they speak perfect English.

Second, if you’re a believer in medication, you can buy pretty much buy whatever you want over-the-counter– from antibiotics to codeine to Viagra. And everything costs a small fraction of what you would expect. You almost feel guilty, like you’re ripping off the pharmacy.

I paid 80 baht, roughly $2.50, for a 5-day batch of antibiotics, ibuprofen, and throat lozenges.

Third, if you so choose (and I do), you can have a team of nurses attending to your every need while you’re getting better. I’ve got a couple of ladies whose sole mission in life is to take care of whatever I need– changing the sheets, making a bowl of soup or tea, giving me a massage, or just sitting next to the bed with a wet washcloth over my forehead.

It’s funny what kind of misperceptions people have about medical care overseas. I’m frequently asked “What happens if you get sick overseas? Aren’t you concerned about the quality of medical care?”

Trust me, if/when I get sick, especially in an emergency, I truly hope that I’m in a place like Thailand or Panama instead of wasting away in waiting room back in the US, or paying through the nose for medicine.

Anyhow, I’m going to cut this short today for obvious reasons… depending on how I feel tomorrow I may or may not post something, so don’t be surprised in case you don’t hear from me.