Thai Healthcare

A couple weeks ago I went to Bangkok for my Peace Corps mid-service training. Aside from more language and technical training we each had medical interviews, dental appointments, and any other health concerns taken care of. (The Peace Corps provides very good health care.) I had just got back from America, and was having some digestive problems since returning to Thailand. I ended up having a number of tests done and found out I had a small stomach infection. I was very impressed with the medical service I was provided.

Thailand is actually the number one country in the world for medical tourism (closely followed by Singapore and India.) Bumrungrad hospital in Bangkok, the international hospital where I went, is the most multicultural places I’ve been in Thailand. There are people from all over the world speaking all different languages taking advantage of the excellent healthcare services at a much cheaper cost than in many other countries. You can get many procedures done at a fraction of the price it would be in America. One reason for this may be the price of malpractice insurance: Thai doctors spend around $5,000 per year, while American doctors regularly pay upwards of $100,000 per year. Bumrungrad hospital, along with Bangkok Hospital Medical Center, rank in the top 10 hospitals around the world for medical tourism. Thailand is the only country to have two hospitals listed.

The public healthcare system in Thailand seems to be quite effective as well. A universal healthcare system was established in 2001, originating as the 30 baht scheme (about 1 dollar) started by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH). Before the 30 Baht program the public health system left almost 30 % of the population without healthcare, but now covers 99 %. In 2007 another change in policy was made so it is now completely free as long as you have a universal healthcare gold card (which all Thai citizens can get). Thailand was one of the first lower-middle income countries to successfully establish a universal healthcare program. Many aspects of the healthcare system here seem very easy and intuitive. I am still surprised at the fact that you can get basic antibiotics over the counter for less than 100 baht (about $3), while in America I would probably have a co-pay of at least 5 times that!

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