Getting admitted to hospital is something that none of us like to think about and is certainly not one of the most pleasant experiences in our lives regardless of where it is. If this happens in a foreign country it can be doubly hard. In Thailand we are fortunate enough to have a number of excellent international hospitals that offer an excellent standard of care although this comes at a price and it is not something that is not as cheap as many people would initially think.
Outpatient treatment (whereby you are not admitted to hospital) is still reasonably priced and most people decline to get health cover for this due to the costs involved. Inpatient cover is an entirely different ball game with prices running into hundreds of thousands or even millions of baht on a regular basis. For most people to be hit by a bill of this amount it is at best a big concern and at worst a major financial catastrophe.
When you go to a private hospital in Thailand the chances are that you will be encouraged to stay overnight regardless of how minor you feel that your symptoms are. There are a number of reasons for this with the most obvious and perhaps being the most cynical is that the hospitals are businesses and are therefore looking to make as much money as possible.
If you don’t have health insurance it is likely that the hospital will want a security deposit, usually THB100,000 before they will even consider commencing treatment. This may sound ruthless but many of the hospitals will have been burned in the past with expats who quite simply haven’t been able to afford to pay. Most hospitals will ask you if you have insurance or not. This is because of the dual pricing that they operate whereby people with insurance are charged more.
For those of us who come from the West and in particular England, the concept of being encouraged to stay in hospital longer may seem completely alien but its something that will happen in Thailand. You can expect to be in hospital for a number of days and the room alone can cost in the region of THB5000 a night. This, when you consider that there will be treatment on top can be a bitter pill to swallow. Talking of pills, this is something else that you will get a lot of. Medication is far more freely available in Thailand and it is not uncommon to be given quite literally dozens of pills – again costing you far more than you had perhaps bargained before.
As you can see the cost of healthcare can be quite substantial so you can see the importance of taking out adequate health insurance. It is always worth speaking to an expert who can advise you on what level of cover you should be looking for as well as being able to advise you about what other things you should consider.