How To Save Money On Healthcare In Bangkok
There is no doubt that healthcare in Bangkok is far cheaper than it is in the west. But expats will realize that local costs of healthcare are also going up, maybe not at an alarming rate, but there is a rise nevertheless. For the local who wants to save money on healthcare, there are a few ways to do so however.
Don’t be picky about the hospital
Public healthcare is available for Thai citizens. So if you’ve been living in Bangkok for a while and have a Universal Coverage Health Card, you should have to pay nothing at all for surgeries, prescriptions and treatments at government-run hospitals. Note that this applies only on weekdays. On Saturdays or in the evenings you may be charged a small fee, depending on the hospital.
If you are not a Thai citizen, then you have to pay full price, but this will almost always be less than what you would have to pay in private hospitals. Many of the public hospitals offer a full range of treatment facilities so you can get the healthcare you want perhaps at half the cost of the treatment at Bumrungrad International Hospital or Bangkok Nursing Hospital.
The public hospitals are generally clean, which you will appreciate more if you’ve lived in Bangkok a while. However, if you’re looking for brightly lit five-star hospital like something back home, be prepared to sometimes pay as much as three times what you would pay at a general public hospital.
If you want to save money, you can choose to carry out your hospital stay in a six bed ward, rather than pay extra for a single or double room.
The Bangkok Christian Hospital is a public hospital that offers the best of both worlds and is popular with expats – its services are at par with many private hospitals and costs of some treatments may be cheaper.
Know when and who to visit
At the end of the day, the medical care you receive has more to do with the doctor or physician treating you than the hospital, in terms of treatment quality. So you can get free consultation with a public hospital doctor just as well and save some money.
Doctors like the ones at Chulalongkorn Hospital which is a teaching hospital operated by the Thai Red Cross society, are civil servants receiving a salary from the Thai government. They see a certain number of patients in a day free of charge, and may work after hours as well for a small fee.
Note that the queues can be long in the mornings and you may get turned away if the day’s quota is filled. So it’s better to go in the late afternoons, post 4.30 pm, when the local crowds have gone and there are smaller queues.
Many doctors that you’d see at private hospitals also work a few hours at public hospitals. You can visit them at their public hospital without causing offense, to save money. This is what many locals do when they don’t have adequate insurance.
Wait out the queues
Many of the public hospitals, especially Chulalongkorn Hospital, have long queues for surgery. If your medical problem is not an emergency, try and wait out the queues and get the cheapest treatment rather than paying extra (which you may have the option to do) to skip the queue.
If you visit the public hospitals, it will help if you know a little Thai or at least have a Thai speaker with you. There are also several NGO-run hospitals that you can also turn to for cheap medical care. It’s also advisable to purchase medical insurance after thorough research and consultation, so that you save on premiums as well.