Medical tourism in Thailand has become a viable alternative to the western cost of healthcare. As the costs of healthcare and health insurance rise in the United States, more and more people are turning to international health care facilities to help reduce the cost of expensive medical procedures.
This phenomenon has been termed “medical tourism,” and it is becoming increasingly popular. One of the most highly regarded international medical care destinations in Thailand. Thailand medical tourism is a booming industry, and for good reason.
Thailand is by far the most popular tourist destination in Southeast Asia. Featuring stunning beaches with crystal-clear ocean waters, rich rainforests and tropical jungles, quaint rural villages, and the bustling capital of Bangkok, Thailand is easily one of the most desirable vacation destinations. With thousands of ancient temples, ample opportunity for outdoor sports and adventure, and traditional spicy cuisine, Thailand is a must-see for foreign tourists. Finally, the Thai people are world-renowned for their friendliness and laidback nature, making a visit to Thailand a truly unique experience.
Thailand’s Healthcare System
In addition to its attractions for tourists, Thailand also has one of the best healthcare systems in Asia. The country’s healthcare system is ranked 47th in the world, coming in not far behind the United States at 37. Large hospitals in the capital city, Bangkok, are frequently staffed by doctors trained in the United States or United Kingdom, offering high-quality care.
The cost of medical treatment at a Thai hospital can be significantly less than the same treatment in the States; in fact, some procedures can be only a tenth of the cost. Because of its internationally accredited and highly-ranked hospitals as well as the relatively low cost of healthcare in the country, Thailand has become a hotspot for medical tourism in the past decade. In fact, Thailand ranks among the top 3 destinations for medical tourists in Asia, along with Singapore and India.
Motivations for Thailand Medical Tourism
- Significant Savings
The most important reason for getting medical treatments overseas are the potential cost saving opportunities. The cost of a surgery in Thailand can be one-tenth of what it is in the United States. Sometimes the expenses are even less.
For instance, a heart-valve or hip replacement that approximately costs $200,000 or more in the U.S., can be done for a fraction of that price in Thailand. Even after adding all the travel and logistics expenditures such as round-trip airfare, logistic coordination in Thailand, personal assistance in situ, etc. the overall costs are still significantly lower than in the USA.
Especially for uninsured and underinsured Americans, low prices make treatments in Thailand an attractive option. It can also be an affordable alternative for those needing surgeries that will not be covered by the insurance company.
- Time Savings
Another motive to seek healthcare in a country like Thailand is long waiting times for surgery. Typically, in countries that specialize in Medical Tourism, waiting times are non-existent. Past experience has shown that patients normally will be treated instantly or have to wait a maximum of a few days instead of months. In essence, reduced costs along with immediate attention to the patient’s needs are encouraging reasons for many people to explore Medical Tourism.
- Recover under the Sun
Over the years hospitals worldwide have made substantial investments to make their premises friendlier. The goal is to increase the overall well-being of their patients and to accelerate the healing process. Nevertheless, there are not many people expressing their excitement about being in a hospital.
Medical Tourism in Thailand gives you the opportunity to travel to an exotic destination like Thailand which offers beautiful beaches and places, one of the best and healthiest cuisines in the world, and Thai people who seem to be born with a smile on their face.
Further to that you can travel with friends and family. What an ideal opportunity to combine your medical vacation with the annual trip with family and/or friends.
Why Thailand Is The Best Choice For Medical Tourism
Thailand is a beautiful country sequestered among mountains, where thousands of visitors travel every year, some of whom are interested in medical tourism. Many doctors and nurses who practice in Thailand have been licensed or trained in the United States. The advantage of having a medical procedure in Thailand is that it can be much less costly than the same procedure would be if done in the United States.
For some patients, this can be life-saving, particularly for those whose insurance companies will not cover the full cost of the procedure. Prior to planning your vacation and medical procedure, you may wish to consider some of the points of interest this nation has to offer. In some cases, it is possible to plan your procedure so that you can enjoy seeing some sights as well as have your procedure and recover from it in a relaxed environment.
Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is one popular place where tourists flock. Many of the amenities familiar to the Western world are available here. This area includes traditional markets, a floating market, and historic sites.
The art and architecture in urban Thailand are heavily influenced by the culture, regional beliefs, and mythology of native Thailand. Thai cuisine is popular because of its spicy flavor. Tourists are cautioned to try less spicier versions of dishes at first, as they may be spicier than those made in Thai restaurants overseas. Thailand is a great place to shop, and exotic materials and even unusual animals can be found in markets there. Some markets cater to tourists, while some are more traditional.
Thailand is a great place to explore nature, as there are many natural streams, gardens, and parks to visit. Southern Thailand in particular is home to many popular parks to explore. Although tourism is expanding and Thailand is being exposed to Western culture, much of Thailand is preserved in its traditional state.
For those interested in aquatics and diving, Thailand is a great place to visit. Thailand offers aquatic island and diving excursions. If you do not have much experience diving, it is highly recommended that you hire a guide to assist you with the proper safety procedures. Even if you do not enjoy diving or swimming in the ocean, Thailand is a great place to relax on beautiful beaches.
An important part of enjoying medical tourism in Thailand is to plan ahead. Thailand has many different attractions to offer people with all interests and at any stage of life or health. A travel agent can help you plan your vacation ahead so that you can see the sights you want to see as well as have plenty of time to relax and recuperate.
The seasons in Bangkok are somewhat strong with a high-temperature peak in the summer and during the winter nights, the temperature can go down to as low as 20 degrees. During the days it is never rare with temperatures below 30 degrees making this the hottest capital in the world.
The monsoon sets in in May and then drops off to come back with its peak during September. It is common with short heavy rains during this season. Normally the amount of rain that falls isn’t that much but in some periods it can of course rain continuously.
Most Popular Medical Procedures in Thailand
The World Health Organization ranks Thailand 47th country for healthcare. Thailand is a popular destination for medical tourism because of the high-quality care at a fraction of the cost of what people pay in the United States or United Kingdom. In 2006, 1.2 million people traveled to Thailand for medical tourism. People can get a range of medical procedures in Thailand, the most popular of which include both necessary and elective surgeries.
Total Hip Replacement
A total hip replacement is significantly cheaper in Thailand than in most hospitals in Europe and North America. People pay around $18,500 for a hip replacement in Thailand while they may pay $40,000 in the US.
Breast augmentation is an elective procedure that costs less in Thailand. A breast augmentation procedure in Bangkok may cost about $3,200, but in Europe or North America the same surgery could cost between $5,000 and $15,000.
Laser Eye Treatment
Eye surgery to correct vision problems is popular in Thailand, but Lasik is what most people choose. LASIK, Laser-Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis, is a laser eye treatment that can fix abnormal vision. This procedure is effective for treating far-sightedness, short-sightedness, and astigmatism.
Abdominoplasty and Liposuction
Breast augmentation is one of the most common cosmetic procedures, but not the only one that is popular in Thailand. Abdominoplasty and liposuction are two other procedures common to Thai hospitals. Abdominoplasty is better known as a tummy tuck. The procedure both gets rid of abdominal fat and tightens the muscles of the abdomen.
Liposuction, on the other hand, is a procedure to suck fat out of the body. Liposuction involves inserting a tube into the area that then breaks up fat cells and sucks the out.
Hospitals in Thailand, particularly Bangkok, are known for their skill in cardiac surgery. Leading hospitals have high-quality cardiac physicians and advanced surgical equipment.
Of note is the Heart Hospital in Bangkok that employs more than 50 cardiac specialists from cardiac surgeons to cardiac anesthetists. It is a complete cardiac center that offers a range of procedures and services, such as:
Coronary Artery Bypass
Several orthopedic procedures are popular in Thailand. People go to Thailand for surgical procedures including knee, elbow and hip arthroplasty. Orthopedic doctors also treat dislocated joints, fractures, sports injuries, bone spurs, and herniated lumbar discs.
Thailand is famous for inexpensive, quality dental care. People can save a lot on treatments such as:
Medical tourism in Thailand is a growing trend that addresses the need for affordable health care and Thailand is at the top of the list for travel destinations due to the range of medical procedures offered by skilled doctors.
Cosmetic Surgery in Thailand
Due to rising health care costs, people from the United States and other industrialized nations around the world are seeking medical procedures in third world countries. The list of destination countries are many, but one of the most popular is Thailand. The cost of medical procedures in a third world nation can be remarkably lower than in a country such as the United States and when you combine this with high quality facilities, the demand for health care from people in the first world is rising rapidly.
Often called medical tourism, people will often buy a package that includes a medical procedure as well as accommodations for their pre-surgical stay as well as a place to stay during a post operation recovery. Plane tickets are commonly included. Even with the cost of transposition, an interpreter, food and hotel accommodations, the cost savings can be tremendous.
Thailand Medical Tourism tops the list of destinations because of their hospitals and clinics being of high quality. The doctors and medical staff are well trained. Many of the doctors have studied in countries such as the United Kingdom and are well educated. The World Health Organization ranks Thailand’s health care system at number 47. This is an impressive number when you consider that the United States is ranked at only 37. These rankings are for overall health care, and foreigners are usually using the better facilities in the country making Thailand all that more impressive.
Although a wide variety of surgeries and health care procedures are done in the country, it is Cosmetic Surgery in Thailand that is the most popular. One of the reasons for this is that even when an individual has a good medical plan, it is common for a plan not to cover any cosmetic surgery that is considered elective.
The variety of surgeries that are offered is almost the same as that is offered in a country such as the United States. Procedures such as facelifts, breast enlargement, hair replacement, liposuction and various forms of plastic surgery are offered. People have been able to save as much as 85 percent on plastic surgery with Thailand Medical Tourism.
In years past, there has been a perception that this type of third world health care has been done in substandard facilities and with unqualified doctors. It is true, when you go back in time there have been substandard facilities used, but today everything has changed. The economy is now global, and technology and education have spread throughout the world.
The doctors and medical facilities are very good in a country such as Thailand. The lower costs of Cosmetic Surgery in Thailand simply reflect a lower cost of labor and a lower cost of living in the nation, compared to the industrialized countries of the world.
Hospitals in Thailand
Thailand is quickly becoming one of the most popular destinations for medical tourism in the world. With its low-cost healthcare system providing similar care as Western hospitals at a fraction of the cost, more and more people are turning to Thailand’s hospitals for major medical procedures. Thailand has a number of internationally accredited hospitals that are popular with foreign visitors. Here are some of the best hospitals for Thailand’s medical tourism.
Bumrungrad International Hospital
One of the most famous hospitals in the world, Bumrungrad International Hospital is a leader in medical tourism. This massive medical facility in Bangkok caters to primarily foreign patients, serving nearly half a million international visitors each year.
The first hospital in Thailand to be internationally accredited, Bumrungrad International Hospital has developed a reputation for expertise in 33 medical specialties. With the most modern technology, foreign VIP treatment rooms, and highly qualified staff, Bumrungrad is truly a modern medical marvel. The hospital employs over 1,000 doctors, many of whom have degrees from universities in the United States or England, and most of its medical staff is fluent in English. The hospital has translators for over 30 languages on staff as well, making it Bangkok’s top choice for Thailand medical tourism.
Bangkok Hospital is a close competitor to Bumrungrad in terms of quality and reputation. Established in 1972, Bangkok Hospital is one of the largest private hospitals in Asia.
Bangkok Hospital is also internationally certified, and it provides Western-quality care to nearly 200,000 foreign medical visitors per year. One reason foreigners choose Bangkok Hospital over Bumrungrad Hospital is because it has 13 locations across Thailand. In particular, the hospital’s Phuket branch sees many foreign patients, due to its close proximity to a beach and solid medical reputation.
Though less well-known internationally, BNH hospital is another top choice for international hospitals in Thailand. The oldest private international hospital in Thailand, BNH has been catering to foreign patients longer than any other hospital in the region.
BNH, originally the Bangkok Nursing Home, was created by British expatriates in Bangkok in the late 19th century. The hospital has maintained its focus on service to expatriates and is now a popular choice for medical tourism in Thailand. While not as outwardly elegant and up market as Bumrungrad and Bangkok Hospital, BNH nevertheless provides internationally regarded medical care.
The hospital provides a wide range of services, with over 20 specialties. Doctors speak English, and many have received training or degrees from Western universities. For this reason, BNH is a popular choice for many expatriates living in Bangkok and the surrounding areas.
We hope this blog answered some of your questions about medical tourism in Thailand and maybe even convinced you to fly over and see what the “Land of Smiles” and their healthcare is all about!
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