Medical Care as a Foreigner in Bangkok
For foreign visitors who need medical care in Thailand but are not employed with a company and have a workers’ visa, there is no public option available at the moment. What this means is that you have two choices, either you can take out private health insurance, or risk having to pay your own medical bills out of your pocket. Bangkok, is however, an oasis of world-class medical care and treatment, so should you need any medical assistance, there’s nothing to worry about so far as quality goes.
Despite this, there are countless reports of foreigners looking for medical care despite them having no travel insurance. Sometimes, hospitals will provide free medical care and sometimes they won’t—this is inconsistent and unreliable.
#1: What Should I Do If I Fall Ill in Bangkok?
Any visitor to Bangkok, or Thailand for that matter,who does not have the requisite travel insurance should head to a reputable hospital or doctors’ office where they can get the best medical check-up in Bangkok.
If, however, you are in serious need of immediate medical help, then always get yourself to the nearest public hospital. It is the rule for public hospitals to provide care to and take care of patients who need urgent medical care, not just Thai nationals but tourists, migrant workers, expats or anybody else who needs help. Thailand is a very developed nation, especially inside Bangkok, and standards of care are the same as in the West.
#2: Short Waiting Times
In many Western countries, waiting times in hospitals, especially ER departments, are notoriously long. Simple things such as scans and x-rays can take hours to arrange and do, but not in Bangkok. Physical examinations are often done on the same day you visit a hospital or clinic, and should you need surgery, this can be done within as little as three days.
Of course, there may be a few more logistics involved as a foreigner but once it gets down to treatment it is staggeringly fast.
#3: Treatment Prices
When it comes to getting good treatment, price should be the last thing on your mind. Nobody likes to waste their money, though, and pay inflated prices for simple treatments. One of the best things about Bangkok medicine is that it is so cheap when compared to the west – like-for-like treatments cost nothing close to what they would in say the U.S. or the UK.
It is difficult to provide exact costs because they are always changing and every patient is different, but generally speaking you can expect to see costs as much as 70% cheaper than they would be in the U.S. or 30% cheaper than most of Europe which has free or heavily subsidised healthcare.
If you are in Bangkok and find yourself needing medical attention, you should always head for the hospital if it is an emergency. If it’s something more trivial and minor, though, head for a reputable healthcare provider who can give you a decent medical check-up.