Hiking in the Cinque Terre

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Medical Tourism

a small private dental clinic I visited yesterday
I am officially a medical tourist. I chose to forgo a medical treatment in my own country for the option of getting the procedure done while on vacation in another country. In my case, it simply involved getting my teeth cleaned at a dental clinic in Bangkok. I didn't have a dental plan of any kind in the USA, so for me it was a financial decision. Teeth-cleaning in Bangkok cost me only $25. A crown I got at this same clinic several years ago was only in the $100-$150 range. Thailand is a country that is teeming with tourists from all over the world. Thailand also happens to have several international hospitals. Service in these hospitals is at least comparable to that in your home country. Some people might do a combination trip plus rhinoplasty. Others may get veneers or have Lasik surgery. Others might opt to gift birth in Thailand. A Japanese friend of mine actually had her baby here when she could have gone back to Japan to give birth. Finally, you have some unique surgeries that might be unavailable in various countries. A controversial one is a sex change operation. Several hospitals in Thailand have world-renown expertise in this area. The leading international hospital in Thailand is Bumrungrad Hospital. Take a look at their website and you can get a feel for quality of work and type facilities that are available. If you are looking for some fun in the sun and want to do a medical procedure away from the prying eyes of the folks back home and perhaps save lots of money in the process, come to Thailand!

And in 2006, my brother Mark asked about the costs of medical care in Thailand.  This was my response:

It's just as good and generally much less expensive.  Doctors are highly skilled.  A significant portion have studied in the US, I'm guessing.  A Japanese lady I am friends with said that she and her husband have already had their first child in Thailand and plan to have their second here too.  She said the international hospital provides better care (or just as good) at a much more reasonable price than anything in Japan.  Besides that, they can easily afford a Thai nanny for...get this....$200 US per month.  If you are a wealthy Thai, foreign ex-pat or tourist, the gap between what you earn and what the average Thai earns is phenomenal.  The government has a cheap healthcare program for all citizens and, as I shared, the cost of living is ridiculously low.  Of course, there is a downside if you aren't well paid here.  Oh, your lasik surgery would have been a lot cheaper here.  What many tourists - especially from Europe, the Middle and other parts of Asia - do is come here for a combined holiday and medical treatments.  Even dental cleaning is marketed to out-of-towners.  I had a crown replaced for a mere $200.  Same quality as the $500 one I had put in 12 years ago in the USA!  Teeth cleaning is just $20.  Equipment is very up-to-date.
Kade has to get her thorough physical exam today.  It's a part of her visa process.  we're going to Bangkok's prestigious international hospital, Bumrungrad.  There's a starbucks branch there.  They cater to Thais and to medical tourists.  Last time I was over there I saw an Indian actress.  She looked like one anyway!  Very stunning!  Later on, I will be going to the hospital to get my own exam.  They offer an "executive" checkup for $300.  It covers the whole gamut, including prostate exam, stress tests, blood work, x-rays and more.

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