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The answer to affordable healthcare

American healthcare sucks

One year ago, I was diagnosed with hyper-thyroidism. This is a condition where the thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone, causing weight loss, irritability, nervousness and heart palpitations. This is much rarer than hypo-thyroidism, which is easily treatable with inexpensive drugs.

My not-so-amazing journey trying to find out what was wrong with me was frustrating to say the least. My first visit was with a “natural” doctor, where she uses herbs before prescribing drugs for treatment. She could not treat me, and recommended me to my “primary physician”. My primary physician then had to refer me to yet another doctor for a thyroid scan. Then, I had to see an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist to decipher the scan.

Even thought the scan showed a few tiny nodules, fortunately, nothing appeared to be cancerous.

But I still had to see yet another specialist, an Endocrinologist (several times), to test and monitor my thyroid levels since I still was experiencing all the symptoms of having an over-active thyroid.

The good news is my symptoms self corrected a few months later.

The bad news, the US health care system is a racket! I had to see five doctors (or four if you don’t count the ‘natural’ doctor) in five different offices just to diagnose my thyroid. I had to keep getting “referred”, which must be Latin for Thinning of the Wallet  because my wallet got much lighter after each new doctor referral.

Not only was this an expensive endeavor costing me several thousand dollars out of my own pocket, but this process took 15 weeks from start to finish. Each doctor was backlogged three weeks out – some even longer. The reason this “only” took 15 weeks is because I was on “cancelation standby”, dropping everything I was doing at the time to see the doctor when someone else couldn’t make his or her scheduled appointment. This very well would have dragged on for much longer if I hadn’t had a flexible schedule.

Unfortunately, it’s likely the US health care system is only going to get worse, as Obama-care could mess up an already messed up system of "health care".

Thailand makes healthcare affordable

When I was in Thailand last November, one of my goals was to get an exam as well as have some medical tests done. I had heard the health care costs are much, much less than in the US.

Just four days after my arrival into Bangkok, I rode a tuk tuk (sort of a three-wheeled motorcycle) to the hospital, a 20-minute ride from my hotel near Kao San Road (a very popular back-packer spot where solo travelers like me can easily meet up with other like-minded travelers).

As soon as I disembarked from the taxi, I was greeted by two gentlemen who escorted me to the front desk of the hotel. I was asked (by an English speaking Thai lady), “how can we help you?”

I told her I needed some tests done, you know, the ones you do when you’re in your 40’s. She didn’t know what that meant (and didn’t get my dry sense of humor) and escorted me to a nurse who wrote down exactly what I wanted to have done.

After spouting my “laundry list” of tests, I sat in the waiting room, shared with about 40 other people (this is a big hospital). Instead of watching TV to pass the time, I thought it would be prudent to watch and observe the Thai people. The first thing I noticed was no one was on their cell phone. This was very refreshing because no matter where you go in America, the UK, Europe, or pretty much anywhere else, people are always on the cells. FYI, nearly all Thai’s in Bangkok have cell phones!

I also noticed that the kids weren’t unruly like I see here in America. They would color their coloring books, read, or simply sit patiently and quietly. No temper tantrums, melt downs or any other tactic kids often use to get attention.

The hospital staff all dressed very professionally. The nurses wore the classic white dress, apron and cap combination – just like you use to see in the good ole days. They were friendly and would make eye contact with you and smile.

After approx 45 minutes, I was escorted to the doctor’s office where the doctor happened to be American. He told me he’s from California and has been living in Bangkok for three years.

My consultation with Dr. Walters lasted 40 minutes. Shortly after that, my battery of ‘mid-life’ tests was underway. Some of these were: many different blood tests, an EKG and a chest X-ray. Then I walked over the dermatologist’s office so I could get my yearly skin examination. They took a biopsy on a questionable mole and did laser treatment on several “pre-cancers” that were on my hands and torso.

When all my procedures were complete, I was lead back to Dr. Walters’ office for 20 minutes of discussion, in which the doctor had news that all the tests were normal.

That was it. An exam, as well as lab and medical tests that most people (especially men) never get done is now behind me. After grabbing my antibiotics from the pharmacists (something Thai doctors tend to dish out routinely like smarties), I was well on my way back to the hotel.

While having lunch, I had analyzed a few things about my experience in a Thai hospital.

  1. I didn’t have to make an appointment, and simply showed up at 9 AM. I didn’t wait several days or weeks to see the general physician, two dermatologists, a surgeon and a heart specialist.
  2. This whole process took just four hours — I was out the door by 1 PM.
  3. Having an in-house pharmacist was a plus, and I have since wondered why more US hospitals don’t have pharmacists.
  4. The cost of my entire visit was less than $500. These same tests would have cost at least five times that of the US. Just an example of how affordable healthcare is in Thailand; my chest X-ray was just $12.
  5. The general physician spent an entire hour talking with me. In the US, I’m lucky if my doctor talks with me for 15 minutes.
  6. Since healthcare and pharmaceuticals are so inexpensive in Thailand, it encourages people to stay healthy by being current on their annual health checkups. And all forms of treatments and operations are affordable by most people, even if they have no insurance.

If you’re considering coming to Thailand for medical care, we can help

Medical tourism in Thailand is booming. People from all over the world come to Thailand for its top-of-the-line modern health care and get treated for Alzheimer’s, stroke, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, drug/alcohol addictions, etc. Thousands every year also come to Thailand for cosmetic surgery, face lifts, tummy tucks, even sex changes.

Thailand’s health care is anywhere from 1/5th to 1/10th the cost of healthcare in the US or Europe, even after the cost for flight and hotel stay.

If you need medical treatment of any kind, we can help make this process a lot easier. With our many contacts and knowledge of Thailand, we can save you even more money on medical costs than if you attempt this on your own.

If high medical costs are keeping you from getting treatment at home, you don’t have to put it off any longer.

To learn how we can help you, click here.

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