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03
Sep-2014

Hospitals and Medical Care in Thailand – What Can Travellers Expect?

thai-medical2If you are planning to travel in Thailand you might be wondering what the medial treatment is like there. If you get sick or injured during your trip, what kind of medical care can you expect to receive?

Thailand’s economy is one of the strongest among emerging economies and the medical services there have improved over the past 20 years. Health and medical care is overseen by the Ministry of Public Health and a system providing universal health care for Thai citizens has been in place since 2002.

There are 1,002 hospitals and 9,765 health stations in Thailand. However, there is still more than needs to be done, as annual spending on healthcare only amounts to less than 5% of the GDP.

One of the main issues is that most doctors do not have a specific place of work, they travel far and wide and they can sometimes get stuck in the dense traffic of Bangkok. Also, traffic congestion can impinge on ambulance response times and transporting patients to hospital – which can make a very important difference during emergencies.

How Do Hospital Fees Work?

Hospital fees are properly structured and you should not worry about being prey to unscrupulous charges. The costs of most medical procedures will be a fraction of what they would be in the USA, Canada or the UK. Patients will be asked to pay in advance.

Since hospital fees are so much cheaper than they would be in the USA, medical tourism is becoming a growing industry in Thailand. Instead of paying tens of thousands of dollars for a procedure in the USA, a patient can have it done for mere hundreds in Thailand –saving money even when the flight is included. The popular procedures for medical tourism include laser eye surgery, cosmetic surgery, dental procedures and even sex-change surgery.

Are the Standards the Same as the West?

The ordinary hospitals and clinics might not be up to the standards that you are used in the West, especially in the coastal islands and mainland districts outside of Bangkok. However, there are hospitals in Bangkok that are up to standard – they are just more expensive. There are also private hospitals in popular areas such as Phuket and Chiang Mai.

Do I Need Insurance?

Before you travel to Thailand it is a good idea to have travel health insurance. This will cover you if you are ill or injured during your stay, even if you need extensive care or a hospital stay. If you visit the hospital in Thailand for something small like a simple infection and all you need is a round of antibiotics, they will likely cost less than the excess on your travel insurance and they will probably not even be worth claiming. However, if you do need medical care that is more expensive, you will be glad that you opted to get insurance.

What are your experiences with healthcare in Thailand? Let us know in the comments below.

photo credit: ILO in Asia and the Pacific via photopin cc

photo credit: ILO in Asia and the Pacific via photopin cc

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