In recent years, "medical tourism" has become the new buzzword for the development of Thailand's tourism industry. What this means is encouraging people to come to Thailand, have a little elective surgery, and then recuperate on some nice beach. The idea is not as crazy as it may sound. Some of Thailand's private hospitals are capable of world class healthcare, accredited according some of the toughest standards around. While they might be expensive for many Thais, these hospitals are still able to offer a high standard of care for far less than a hospital stay in most western countries will cost.
We're not talking about critical care, such as transplants. Medical Tourism is targeted at elective and non-emergency treatments, such as cosmetic surgery or hip replacements. Such are the cost savings that some insurance companies will not only cover the costs of treatment, but some of the travel costs as well, to have work done in Thailand.
Thailand's low cost health care is not limited to medical treatment. Thanks to tight government price controls, most medicines cost far less than they do in western countries.
Here's a short list of hospitals that specialize in treating foreigners. They all have staff who speak English, as well as many other languages. All of the institutions below are based in Bangkok, although some have branches in other parts of the country.
- Bumrungrad International Hospital
- Perhaps the most advanced and internationalized of Thailand's private hospital. Coming here can seem like a visit to a five star hotel and the United Nations all in one. Although comparatively expensive for Thais, the hospital gets many foreign visitors in search of high quality health care at reasonable cost. The web site provides an overview of the hospital's services, and the ability to make appointments online.
- Bangkok General Hospital
- A good general medicine hospital. The web site is available in many languages. The main services for foreign visitors are cosmetic surgery. The hospital can arrange for a variety of treatments as part of your holiday.
- Samitivej Hospital
- Samitivej is one of Bangkok's most respected hospitals. Its main claim to fame is the "baby friendly" natal facilities. It's probably unlikely that you would want to travel to Thailand to have your baby, but the hospital has several other services to offer as well, including extensive children's healthcare departments.
- St. Carlos Hospital
- This small hospital has combined traditional medicine with a full fledged spa to provide a complete range of health and beauty treatments, from cosmetic surgery to detoxifying body treatments.
- Rutnin Eye Hospital
- Rutnin is perhaps Bangkok's largest eye hospital, with a full range of services such as lasik corrections.
Medical Tourism Resources
- Media watch and information resource about medical tourism, in Thailand and beyond.
- Cosmetic Surgery Travel
- Sort of a medical travel planner, providing a concierge type service to help you plan your trip to Bangkok for cosmetic surgery or other medical procedures. They can help you to plan your trip, select doctors and facilities, and schedule your appointments or procedures before you arrive.