Healthcare in Thailand means some of the most modern and affordable healthcare in the world. This is why the country promotes medical tourism, offering the opportunity to get treatment for an ailment and recover where the climate is warm year round. For the expatriate living and working in Thailand, medical tourism is not the focus however getting the best care at a reasonable price is.
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Healthcare a Priority for the Expat
It is easy for a healthy expat to ignore the importance of getting all of the facts when it comes to expat healthcare in Thailand. Why? It is mostly because living in the Land of Smiles is so enjoyable that a normally healthy person never thinks about getting injured or sick. However, the expat needs to make it a priority to get healthcare covered because anything could happen after living here for an extended period.
There are common injuries and ailments in this land. The most common is probably falling off of the back of a motorbike taxi. Many expats avoid the motorbike taxis when first arriving in Thailand but the convenience of this mode of transportation is alluring and most end up depending on these two-wheeled modern day horses.
Another ailment that typically victimizes those who first come to Thailand is food poisoning. Even those who have lived in Thailand for some time can fall victim to the occasional bout of diarrhea, fever, and chills after eating food that may have a touch of the wrong bacteria. The risk of minor food poisoning is always here because of the hot, humid weather and sometimes food is on display without proper refrigeration.
These are just a couple of examples of special risks to one’s health in Thailand. Also consider that you may be a retiree here and naturally you will need more treatment as you age.
Hospital Choices for Expats
You basically have two general choices when it comes to hospitals providing Expat healthcare in Thailand: an international hospital or Thai hospital. The most prominent international hospital in the country is in Bangkok, Bumrungrad. It is also the most expensive however more affordable than hospitals in other parts of the world such as the U.S. and U.K. The staff speaks English and there are translators for Japanese, Arabic, and other languages.
Beyond Bumrungrad is a multitude of private Thai and government hospitals for you to choose from. Most expats go with the private Thai hospitals however English-speaking staff members are not as common in them. This is where the expat does well to learn Thai language while living here. However, you will find the care to be at the same high standard yet much more affordable than an international hospital. A couple of good private hospitals for expatriates in Bangkok are Theptarin and Bangkok Hospital and there are many others.
You can also find private clinics on the street in just about any town in Thailand. These are clinics to handle simple ailments such as colds and minor injuries. Some hospitals such as Bangkok Hospital have outpatient clinics within expatriate communities such as the one at the Bangkok Gardens Apartments near Soi Narathiwas 24 and Rama III Avenue in Bangkok.
Another attractive perk of Expat healthcare in Thailand is that you can get a complete physical at a fraction of the cost that you would incur in your home country. For example, the international hospital, Bumrungrad, offers a full health check priced at 7,000 THB and 8,300 THB for males and females respectively. This equates to around £142 / £170 and $227 / $270 in U.K. and U.S. prices which would be unheard of in those parts of the world. Bumrungrad also offers different health check packages at different pricing tiers but all are reasonable.
What is convenient about healthcare in Thailand for expats is that if you have a minor ailment, you can actually get the pharmacist at a local drug store to recommend and sell you a medication without seeing a doctor first. One common medication that is bought in Thailand without a prescription is the antibiotic. Likewise, if there are certain medications that you take regularly (such as asthma inhalers) then you can probably get them refilled by only going to the pharmacist in Thailand. You will also find that many of the pharmacists speak English.
There are also companies that offer healthcare insurance for expats. Some expat employers even offer healthcare as one of the perks of working for them. However, most minor care is affordable even without insurance which will give you the opportunity to shop around for major medical insurance coverage to supplement your healthcare costs in Thailand.