Readers' Submissions

Medical Treatment In Thailand



There have been several submissions about getting medical treatment in Bangkok but I feel I should relate my experiences.

One of the good things about being single and working for myself is that it allows me time to travel to exotic places like Thailand. The bad side is that when I don't work I don't make any money. For a long time I got by, but in the past few years the cost of medical insurance here in the US has gone through the roof and the service has steadily deteriorated.

I had not had dental insurance for many years and have had work very good dental done in Thailand at a fraction of what it would cost here in the US. For example a dentist in the U.S. said I needed 3 crowns to repair old worn out fillings and it would cost $780 each or $2340 total. I had the work done in Thailand for about $225 each. The only difference was that the Thai dentist just put crowns on 2 teeth because he could fix the 3rd with a filling. I couldn't believe it when the filling cost $12. That's $462 total. I'd saved almost $2000 over having the work done in Thailand rather than in the US. The service was great, the facilities were top notch and modern. The dentist even came in on Sunday to fit the crowns because I had a plane to catch on Monday. He taught in the dental school in Kohn Kaen so he was knowledgeable, quick, accurate and happy to get the extra work. The only difference I could see between his office in Thailand and my dentist in the US was that the dental assistants in Thailand were a lot better looking and they were barefoot. There was something really erotic about the slap of those wide brown feet on the floor around my chair.

This year I finally got fed up paying for Kaiser health insurance when it took a month to get an appointment and then having the doctor schedule a simple surgery for 3 months later . At the same time as they put me out so long they also raised my rates to almost $600 a month. I just could not justify paying that much. I knew I had to do something because of the surgery I needed, but the other insurance plans they had were also expensive or had a big deductible. Weighing my options I asked what the surgery I would need would cost without insurance. They came back with an estimate of $1700 to $2000. Since my insurance would have cost $1800 to wait those 3 months, I decided to just cancel it and have the surgery done while I was on vacation in Thailand.

I didn't call ahead or schedule any kind of appointment before I walked into Bumrungrad hospital. The service was great and friendly I was talking to a doctor within a 1/2 hour. After an x-ray I returned to the doctor and he said they could probably do the surgery that afternoon. I was still in the middle of my travel plans so I made the appointment for about 2 weeks later. I also asked how much it would cost. Their estimate was about $1700 to $2000. It was interesting that was almost exactly what they had told me back in the States. I didn't want to spend so much, but I knew after all I'd come to the best and most expensive hospital in S.E. Asia. I knew I could have probably gone to a less expensive hospital, but I'd already saved that amount by canceling my insurance for 3 months so I decided to go for it. They did some tests to see if my heart was strong enough for surgery and a blood test to be sure I didn't have AIDS. All the places I needed to go seemed to be overstaffed but that made for very good quick service and I was out within 2 hours.

The surgery day rolled around and I had to be there at 6am for a 7am surgery. The Anesthetist asked me if I wanted general anesthesia or a spinal block. In past hospital experiences I'd gotten really nauseated from general anesthesia so I asked for the spinal block. He thought about it a while before he came back to me and asked where I would be staying. He explained that with a spinal block I would loose control of my "lower bodily functions" for several hours, and in his Thai way told me it could be "a little difficult" because I was staying in a guest house. I took his advice and opted for the general anesthesia. Everything moved right along and they wheeled me in to the operating room. The next thing I knew a beautiful nurse was holding my hand and stroking my forehead telling me it was all over and I could wake up. I felt good, but a little groggy. I laid there in the recovery room watching those beautiful nurses for an hour or two. Every once in a while one would come over and hold my hand while asking me how I was doing. One of them was really friendly and I swear was hitting on me. If my girlfriend hadn't been waiting out in the hall I think I would have asked her out.

The most surprising part was that before starting the surgery they charged my credit card for $2000, but when I went to pay the final bill the total was only $1000 so they canceled the original charge and charged the lower amount. I know that would never have happened in the US.

All in all I have been very happy with medical treatment in Thailand. If I have a problem in the future and can choose where to go for treatment, I'll definitely have it done in Thailand.

Stickman's thoughts:

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