An In-Depth Guide to Medical Tourism in Thailand
Thailand has long been recognized as one of the world’s hotspots for medical tourism. Every year, the country welcomes more than 1 million “medical tourists” who come to seek treatment of various categories. With a combination of high-quality healthcare, world-class facilities, affordable prices, and tourist-friendly policies, patients have a lot to expect from their medical trip to Thailand.
According to the International Healthcare Research Center (IHRC), Thailand was ranked 18th in the list of the most popular medical travel destinations in 2016. The development of medical tourism in Thailand is attributed to an increase in people’s income and life quality, which prompts them to spend more on traveling. In addition, as society develops, people become more and more aware of health problems and the need for regular health check-ups.
Why Medical Tourism in Thailand?
High-quality services that follow international standards
In 2002, Thailand was the first country in Asia to receive the Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation, which is to certify commitment to the medical quality and safety standards as required in the USA. For now, more than 60 hospitals in the country have been awarded this honorable certificate.
Medical treatment in Thailand is provided mostly by private hospitals. In an interview with BBC, Steven Lash – CEO of Satori World Medical – said: “The hospitals in Bangkok are some of the highest quality in the world, meeting or exceeding US standards”. Major private hospitals in Bangkok such as Bumrungrad International, Piyavate and Bangkok Hospital provide patients with a large array of medical services and world-class facilities. For example, Bumrungrad Hospital has about 520 beds, 900 full-time doctors, and receives 1.1 million patients per year.
Learn more about JCI accreditation here: The Joint Commission International (JCI) Accreditation.
Thailand provides high-quality medical treatment at relatively reasonable prices. Even when we add in transportation, hotel, and daily expenses, the cost of health treatment there is still much lower than that in developed countries such as the US, Japan and Australia. On average, patients in these countries can save up to 60% on medical expenses by traveling to Thailand. For this reason, Thailand has always been one of the favorite destinations of international patients.
Let’s have a look at a sample medical cost comparison between Thailand and the USA:
Another benefit of medical tourism in Thailand is the abundance of treatment packages, which combine several medical procedures in just one visit. This allows patients to save costs and time, which most medical tourists find appealing.
Treatment packages are available for a variety of categories, including plastic & cosmetic surgery, dental surgery, health check-up, etc. Sometimes, such services are offered directly by the hospitals. In other cases, patients need to contact a medical tourism company that works as a partner of the hospitals to receive these packages. This is especially true in the case of well-known hospitals such as Bumrungrad and Samitivej.
Thailand is well-known for its hospitality towards tourists, which also applies to healthcare services.
Although English is not widely used by locals, most famous hospitals in Thailand, especially in Bangkok, have medical staff proficient in English. In fact, at several hospitals, English is the main language. For foreign patients who are not fluent in English, a number of hospitals in Thailand offer translation services that cover more than 33 languages, including Russian, Dutch, Arabic, and Japanese.
On the other hand, medical tourists also visit Thailand due to its abundance of tourist attractions, shopping malls, flavorful cuisines.
Government policies that favor foreign tourists
As part of the plan to make the country a Medical Hub from 2017-2026, the Thai government has decided to extend the stay for medical tourists from China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam from 30 to 90 days. In addition, people from countries such as Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, the UK, and the USA can apply for up to 10 years of long-stay visas.
Aside from visa extension, Thailand has launched the “Smart visa” campaign. The aim is to provide foreign entrepreneurs, professionals and start-up owners with incentives to come to Thailand. Such privileges include:
- 4-year visa
- No required work permit
- Dependents (i.e: spouse and children) are also entitled to the same privileges
- Annual notification reporting
Common Medical Treatments in Thailand
Various types of medical treatment are offered by a number of hospitals in Thailand. From plastic & cosmetic surgery to IVF procedures, patients who suffer from numerous conditions should be able to find an ideal healthcare provider in the country.
Below are some of the most popular medical treatments for overseas patients in Thailand.
1. Cosmetic & plastic surgery
For long, Thailand has been a hotspot when it comes to plastic surgery and sex reassignment. Other aesthetic procedures such as rhinoplasty (nose surgery), breast augmentation, liposuction, botox, etc. are also quite common.
Among the hospitals in Thailand, Yanhee Hospital in Bangkok is one of the more common choices for patients seeking plastic surgery. Here, patients are able to perform various procedures, ranging from simple anti-aging surgeries to Adam’s apple shaving.
2. Dental care
In Thailand, various hospitals & clinics offer a wide array of dental services, ranging from basic check-ups to more complicated procedures such as Dental Implant, All-on-4, and All-on-6. When it comes to dental treatment, BIDC and Bangkok Hospital are among the top choices.
3. Health check-up
In Thailand, every major international hospital offers at least a health check-up package. These packages are available for people of every age, although most patients who do medical check-ups are within the age range of 40-50. Depending on the complexity of the check-up, the price may vary between $100 and $150.
4. Heart disease treatment
Many hospitals in Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, and Chiang Mai have a heart disease treatment center, where procedures such as heart bypass surgery, angioplasty, heart valve replacement, etc. are carried out. Here, patients who suffer from cardiovascular diseases such as coronary heart disease, congenital heart defects, heart failure, etc., are given the best treatment possible.
A large number of foreign patients come to Thailand to perform orthopedic surgeries such as hip replacement procedures, knee replacement, and spinal surgery.
6. Fertility treatment
Hospitals in Thailand offer various types of treatment for infertility, including IVF (In vitro fertilization), ICSI (Intracytoplasmic sperm injection), IUI (Intrauterine insemination), and PGD (Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis).
7. Eye surgery
LASIK and cataract surgery are among the most notable ophthalmology procedures.
8. Bariatric surgery
Thailand is also a top destination for patients seeking weight loss treatment. Popular bariatric procedures in Thailand include gastric bypass and gastric banding.
Regenerative medicine, which focuses on the use of stem cells to cure diseases and rejuvenate the body, has been proliferating in Thailand. Here, patients who seek stem cell treatment have a plethora of hospitals and clinics to choose from, including StemCells21, Better Being Hospital, EW Villa Medica, Novavida Integrative Center, etc.
Top Leading Thai Hospitals in Medical Tourism
With the rapid development of medical tourism in Thailand, several hospitals have emerged as popular destinations for medical tourists. In this article, we shall have a brief look at 3 Thai hospitals that foreign patients often refer to.
Samitivej Hospital was ranked in the Top 10 World’s Best Hospitals for Medical Tourists in 2018 by the Medical Travel Quality Alliance (MTQUA). The hospital has the largest and international standard health services, with a total of 3 JCI accreditations.
Vejthani Hospital caters to the holistic healthcare needs of Thais, multinational expats, and medical tourists alike. The hospital received the Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation in 2010, and ISO 9001:2000 certification in 2003.
Vejthani Hospital specializes in multiple specialties, namely Joint Replacement Surgery, Plastic Surgery, Orthopedics, Bone Marrow Transplant, Infertility Treatment (ART), etc. The hospital has been serving over 300,000 patients from over 100 countries annually. To better serve international patients, Vejthani has a team of translators who can communicate effectively in over 20 languages.
Yanhee International Hospital
Yanhee Hospital focuses on providing patients with plastic surgeries and aesthetic services. The hospital has 150 full-time doctors, 120 part-time health professionals, and 800 nurses to operate its 400-bed capacity facilities.
Yanhee hospital provides translation and interpretation services, which cover a wide range of languages (Chinese, English, Japanese, French, German, Spanish, Arabic…). In addition, patients may ask for assistance in booking accommodation as well.
For a full list of Thai hospitals that we work with, please click here.
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Medical Tourism – Industry Focus. KPMG in Thailand. Download version
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