Traveling to Thailand For Medical Tourism

In the United States and Europe, specialized medical procedures tend to be very expensive. For this reason, medical tourism has become an increasingly popular trend in the western world. Medical tourism refers to the practice of traveling abroad in search of cheaper and usually better specialized medical treatments. In Asia, Thailand is one of the premier destinations for medical tourism. The medical tourism industry is starting to become one of the fastest growing sectors of Thailand’s economy. A single hospital in Bangkok, for example, received over 150,000 foreigners seeking specialized medical treatment in 2005. Medical tourism brought into the Thai economy an estimated 36.4 billion baht in 2006 alone.

People going to Thailand for medical tourism can find a wide range of medical procedures available at a drastically lower price than they would find in any western hospital. Everything from plastic surgery to heart transplants can be had for a mere fraction of what it would cost in the United States or Europe. A coronary bypass surgery, for example, goes for at least $ 100,000 in the United States. In Thailand, the same exact procedure costs only a mere $ 12,000. But it is not only high-risk medical surgeries that people go for. Spa therapy and physical therapy facilities are also popular medical tourism attraction, especially in large cities like Bangkok and Thai resort towns. Thai hospitals and clinics have a reputation for providing excellent patient care at a much higher level than what people are used to in western hospitals.

But it’s not only to westerners that Thai hospitals cater to. They also attract a vast number of wealthy Asian foreigners. One hospital in Bangkok has an entire section of the hospital dedicated solely to the care of Japanese patients. Interpreters at Phyathai Hospitals Group speak over 22 languages (this is in addition to the English, which is spoken by all working staff).

Most physicians in Thailand are highly skilled and accredited. Many attended U.S. and European medical schools for their certificates. Doctors and medical staff at the Bumrungard International Hospital in Thailand, for example, were for the most part educated in the United States or Europe. The U.S. Consular information sheet recently ranked Thailand as having one of the best health care systems in Asia. 

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