Many foreigners are choosing to visit, or permanently relocate to, Thailand because of the low
cost, high quality healthcare services that the country can offer.

The Thai health care industry is seeing its long term growth prospects solidify on the back of
both local and international demand.  The Thai tourist authority recently segmented itself and
regrouped its core national tourism products into seven distinct sections, one of which is
themed “Health and Wellness: Land of healthy smiles” and emphasizes the countries
commitment to preventative and curative therapies.

Thailand is not the only Asian country experiencing a major surge in what has recently
become known as “medical tourism.”  Singapore, Malaysia and India are also rapidly
adjusting to the new phenomenon, albeit at a much slower rate than Thailand.  One of the
reasons why Thailand is so far ahead of many other countries in the world, and some experts
would rightly name the nation as the pioneer in the field, in regards to the medical tourism
industry is the fact that Thai hospitals and medical facilities are able to reduce their prices to
levels much lower than those in other nations without sacrificing the high standards of quality
and care that their patients receive.

Other Asian nations, primarily India, can offer treatments and surgeries at much lower costs
than those that can be found in Thailand.  However, the quality of care and standard of
treatment in these nations are affected because of the extremely low costs.  Doctors and
hospitals in India are suffering because of these institutions’ desire to obtain a larger market
share of the medical tourism industry.

A typical price comparison, in terms of the costs of various operations, in the USA, Singapore,
Thailand, and India would look like this:

Procedure                                      USA           Singapore          Thailand              India

Heart Bypass                              130,000          18,500               11,000              10,000   
Heart Valve Replacement       160,000           12,500               10,000                9,000
Angioplasty                                   57,000           13,000               13,000              11,000
Hip Replacement                         43,000           12,000               12,000                9,000
Hysterectomy                               20,000             6,000                 4,500                3,000
Knee Replacement                      40,000           13,000              10,000                8,500
Spinal Fusion                                62,000              9,000                7,000                5,500

Above figures are in US $; courtesy of Kasikorn Securities

The above figures are average costs for the listed medical procedures in these countries.  It
is important to be aware that in each country these procedures can cost more or less,
depending on where you go for your treatments.  In Thailand, however, the listed costs are
much closer to the actual costs of each procedure than in any of the other Asian nations.

Looking at the associated costs, you will instantly see that the USA is the most expensive
place to receive treatment by a large margin and that India is the country with the lowest cost
associated with medical procedures and operations.  In some cases, India can offer surgical
procedures at less than 8% of the cost in the USA.  However, due to a distinct lack of funding,
inexperienced staff, low quality medical and health care facilities, and a large amount of
patients, India is not in a position to offer medical tourists the quality treatment that they

Thailand, on the other hand, while slightly more expensive than India, has become world
famous for the high levels of care, professional and experienced staff, and quality treatment
that it can offer to all patients in its hospitals, whether they are Thai citizens or foreign
nationals.  In many cases the costs associated with Thai hospitals are equal to, or slightly
more than, the costs at Indian medical facilities and health care centers.  However, the extra
level of service and dedication to patients means that when you receive treatment in Thailand,
you are able to trust the Thai medical professionals and health care providers the same way
that you would in your home country.

This is the reason that the Thai health care industry has seen the large amount of
development and investment that it is currently experiencing. Over the last four years, the
entire health care sector has seen approximately 54% growth, with a further 21%
development expected by 2008. This means that the medical industry, and more specifically
the health care facilities and hospitals in Thailand, are outpacing the entire Thai stock market
earnings by 110% to 120%. The huge growth seen in this industry is mainly due to the almost 2
million overseas patients that annually visit the kingdom for the express purpose of receiving
medical care and treatment.

Of the total visitors nearly 18.5% are Japanese, 7.8% are from the Middle East, and the rest
are from a number of miscellaneous countries, including the USA and Great Britain.  People
from all over the world are recognizing that Thailand can offer them the care and service that
they can receive in their home countries at a price that they cannot afford.  However, this
does not mean that treatment in Thailand is not expensive. Treatments such as a knee
Replacement can cost USD$13,000 and upwards and it is rare for an average person to have
that much money in disposable assets.

Compile that with the fact that many of the best hospitals in Thailand will require all overseas
patients to have some form of medical protection and it becomes evident that, even though
the costs are much lower than elsewhere in the world, a quality medical insurance plan is a
necessity. The worldwide medical and health care industry is experiencing rapid inflation.  
Basically this means that the costs associated with health care are rising at the fastest rate
ever in every single country around the world. This means that, even in countries such as
Thailand, costs are still likely to be too high for the average individual to afford out of pocket.

Bearing the burden of costly medical expenses can be hard. With the cost of treatment rising
all the time, out of pocket payment can put a major strain on your finances. A quality
international medical insurance policy will protect you from the high costs associated with
the healthcare industry, no matter where in the world you may be located.  By providing you
with this protection, you have the ability to truly experience your time overseas as an
expatriate in the modern age should.

International medical insurance plans are comprehensive, portable, and guaranteed
renewable for life. This means that should you ever suffer from a serious chronic condition or
decide to relocate away from the country in which you are currently residing, the plan will
continue to provide you with the care and treatment that you deserve with no risk to yourself
of being denied continuing coverage.  Additionally, international medical insurance premiums
are calculated based on the age of the policyholder and their geographic area of coverage
rather than on their claims history. This means that, no matter how much medical treatment
you claim for, you will always pay the same premium as every one else in your age group.

For many people, the key aspect of an international medical insurance plan is the fact that the
policies are globally portable.  This means that if, for instance, you have relocated to Thailand
and decide to receive treatment in the USA, then you are able to do so; or if you are in India
and would like to go to hospital in Thailand then this is a very realistic option.

The Thai healthcare industry has proven in recent years that it has the ability to compete with
already established medical markets by providing quality service, high standards of
treatment, and experienced staff and resources.  Coupled with the much-lower costs
associated with healthcare in Thailand, the country has seen its healthcare industry grow and
thrive in an increasingly overcrowded industry.  The key issue is that even though the costs of
treatment in Thailand are currently much lower than in many other countries, those costs are
still relatively high for the average individual to bear on their own.  It is also important to
remember that due to the worldwide phenomenon of medical inflation, global treatment costs
may see an even more dramatic rise in the years to come.

The only way to protect yourself and your loved ones while overseas, and to ensure that you
receive the quality healthcare and treatment that you deserve, is with an international medical
insurance plan.  Think about taking the steps to protecting yourself today.

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Don's Life In Thailand