Well, medical care in Thailand is pretty awesome. It is not only cheap but it is excellent care. When I first arrived here in November, I quickly made both a dentist and a regular doctor’s appointment.
My dental cleaning was quick and efficient and cost about $22usd.
The doctor was professional and thorough- did a bunch of tests and got me a steroid inhaler for my cough (I could buy the antibiotics over-the-counter at the pharmacy myself) for about $50usd.
When I came back here at the end of December, I knew I wanted to do a “Whole Health Check-Up” at the local hospital Chiang Mai Ram. When I broke my nose (Long story involving a sliding glass door in my studio apartment, and a 4am need for some water!) I decided that since I probably should get an X-ray anyway, I should just do the health check-up.
I read some info on the web about how it worked and where the clinic was, posted by other gal in one of the forums and that was a great help in getting me there and started! So I am hoping this post will also be helpful to someone else who wants or needs to have a check up. This is how my experience went.
**Start by fasting for 12 hours before you plan to go to the appointment.**
1- I could walk to the clinic from my apartment in less than 20 minutes, so I enjoyed a nice cool early morning walk and arrived there around 7:15am. The Check-Up Clinic is not at the main hospital, it is a little further down the road behind the big Starbucks. Go into the Starbucks parking lot and keep going back- it is the third building on the left.
2- I walked in and registered. Bring your passport, they use it to register you and get your information. I was then directed to wait in the chairs until I was called.
3- Not very long and they called my name. I went into a small check-up room for weight, height, blood pressure, eye test, and BMI test, and stomach measurements.
4- They directed me to a different waiting room. (Someone always walks you to the next place, so you are never really confused! It’s a nice touch.) Again it wasn’t a very long wait before they came to get me and I went in to consult with a Dr.
5- I talked to the Dr who did a brief health history and talked to me about the different tests they will do and what else I might need etc. I asked her for a nose x-ray in addition to the chest x-ray they already do (which is good because with my constant cough I wanted to see if there was anything wonky going on with my lungs!) I also asked for a gynecological exam. The Dr does a brief physical exam and then I was brought back to the waiting room.
6- Brief wait. Then I went to a room with a nurse who showed me the tests we had decided on and the price for the whole thing. I paid “extra” for the gyn exam and for the nose x-ray- but so worth it. I filled out the last of the paperwork and gave them my email address to have the results emailed to me. And we were done. I thought I had to pay there, but you pay at the end.
7- I was then immediately escorted to the blood draw room. She had a little trouble finding a vein but thankfully that was BEFORE she started jabbing me with a needle! I was dehydrated from fasting overnight so I am sure that didn’t help. But she was very professional and when she found the vein, it was fine and the draw was quick and easy. She also gave me a cup for my urine sample and told me to wait until after the sonogram to use it.
8-After this, I waited a few minutes then headed to the EKG room. I had never had an EKG before, so that was an interesting experience.
9- Directly after that I was escorted upstairs, and directed to change into a hospital top (a very nice linen one that was like a wrap around dress top) and hang my clothes and bra in the closet provided.
9- Brief wait. I was able to drink some water now, since they want you to be able to give a urine sample soon. They have water there on the counter for you to just take and drink. You just start drinking as much as you can in between procedures while you wait.
10- First procedures they called me for upstairs were my X-rays. Quick easy, chest x-ray and then my poor nose!
11- After another short wait (seeing a theme here?!) I was called in for my mammogram. Always a joy! But the young lady was so calm and professional. Everyone was.
12- Again, short wait and it was time for my full abdomen and breast sonogram. A doctor does this, with a nurse alway present. The doctor was so sweet. He was humming while he worked. Made me feel a bit more comfortable as I was laying there pretty much exposed to him the whole time. (They did lay small towels over my breasts when he was doing my stomach to kind of “minimize exposure.”) He actually talked to me about what he was seeing when he saw something abnormal. Gave me some info and some options which was nice. I feel like in the US if this wasn’t MY doctor, he would have just waited and let the other doctor tell me or it would have been a “sonogram tech” who was not authorized to discuss the results and a Dr would have to do it.
13- After I finished there I was directed to provide the urine sample. And then they took the sample in a little box and escorted me back to the waiting room downstairs.
14- At this point you get a little snack. They have coffee or water, some cookies, muffins, and tuna sandwich quarters with the crust cut off… just a little something since you have been fasting for more than 12-16 hours by now.
15- I am shown to the gynecologist’s office for a consult before the appointment. Then walk across the hall to the exam room, where they have a stirrup chair instead of a table. The nurse directed me to the bathroom to change into this pair of hospital pants. I was a little confused, this is the gyno- why pants? But once I put them on I thought- BRILLIANT! They have a zipper down the front and partially under! So I go back out, climb up into the chair, put my feet in the stirrups and she unzips me! LOL HA! The exam was quick and easy- and let’s face it- these exams are all the same as in the US (probably even quicker and moe efficient honestly!) Went back to her office to have a chat and she said the results would be emailed to me in about two weeks.
16- Back to the waiting room. I waited for the meds I was prescribed for my cough. They bring me the medicine directly to the waiting room.
17- Finally I was directed to the cashier. For the whole thing: Full whole health check-up, extra nose x-ray, gynecology exam, medicine= 13,330 Baht / AKA 376.73$ all done in one day!
18- Walked out at 11:45. I went to the Starbucks and had a coffee and lunch and waited until 1pm when I could go back and get my results.
19- At 1pm I was back in the waiting area, waiting to speak to a Dr about my results.
20- Dr handed me a side bound report of all the results of my tests and discussed them all with me one by one. My cholesterol is a little high- she reminded me about healthy eating habits etc. My nose IS broken so she tells me she can make an appointment for me that afternoon if I want to go see the ENT to have it looked at and get them to decide what to do with it. Yes please!
21- They took me in a golf cart over to the main hospital, took my paperwork to the right window, and after a LONG wait (I think they forgot about me, when everyone around me who had been there before me was gone and new people were starting to get in ahead of me? I finally asked what was up!! They got me in right away after that!) Saw the ENT specialist, nothing he can do, my nose will heal fine. YAY!
22- I went to wait in the chairs by the cashier. When my number was called, I went up and paid the $12 it cost me to see the specialist and walked home!
Left my apartment at 7am. Arrived back home 4:30pm. It was a long day- but to do all those tests and get all those results in the US would be months of appointments! Not to mention the low cost of doing it. It’s nice to have the results in a paper bound book so I have a good baseline of where I am right now if I ever need it!
So there ya go… Details! I hope this is helpful to anyone who might want to do this and interesting to those of you who have never experienced health care in another country! (A good health care country like Thailand!)
Do you have any health care in another country stories?