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Thailand Hospitals: What to Do When You Need Medical Treatment

Being ill or injured is never fun, so make sure you know what to do when you need medical treatment in Thailand and get the proper care you need.

Types of Hospitals in Thailand

Hospitals in Thailand are divided into two main types, government hospitals and private hospitals. While both types can assist in the treatment of your ailments, the experience you will have will be vastly different. Let’s take a closer look at the different types of hospitals in Thailand.

Government Hospitals
The Ministry of Public Health or medical schools run the majority of Thailand’s government hospitals. These hospitals prioritize low-cost medical care for Thai citizens over international patients. Government hospitals are always crowded and you must usually arrive early in the morning to line up for medical treatment. Because of the large number of patients, they must deal with each day providing excellent customer service may not be their top priority.

You might have to wait for several hours just to see a doctor for a few minutes. Staff at the hospital are still helpful and friendly but will only be able to communicate in English at a basic level. One of their most important benefits is access to government hospitals and treatment rates will be much smaller than in private hospitals, and drug prices will not be inflated like they are in private hospitals.

Private Hospitals
Private hospitals should normally be your first choice unless you want to get up really early in the morning and spend the rest of your day waiting a few hours at government hospitals. Private hospitals have also been hiring more experienced medical specialists in order to attract more patients. In Thailand, the main selling point of private hospitals is their customer service and the employees are well-trained and treat their patients with respect. The staff are eager to assist you in having a pleasant visit and will not leave you confused as to what to do or where to go next. Although private hospitals are more expensive than government hospitals, treatment is still less expensive than in the West and you continue to receive the same level of medical care.

Premium Clinics
Some government hospitals have what is known as “premium clinics.” They are essentially an upgraded version of a government hospital and they offer medical services outside of working hours with less waiting time and usually more experienced doctors. Many of the doctors at the premium clinics are seasoned specialists who could also be teaching in medical schools. The money collected by premium clinics will also be used to help poor patients who require intensive treatment but cannot afford to pay their medical bills. So, when you go to a high-end clinic you’re doing your part to help someone in a bad situation. There are no international language facilities inside premium clinics but doctors, nurses and staff can interact in basic English.

Key Points

  • Thailand’s private hospitals are just as good as those in the West and they’re a lot cheaper.
  • Thailand’s healthcare system is of high quality, particularly in larger cities.
  • Both government and private hospitals are capable of providing high-quality care, but the experiences they provide are vastly different.

What Is the Process of Visiting a Thai Hospital?

Here’s a rundown of everything you need to know when visiting a Thai hospital.

Searching for a hospital
The internet is the best place to learn about the hospital you want to visit. Just keep in mind that the majority of Thailand hospital searches return results for private hospitals. Each hospital’s website also includes information in English and possibly other languages.

Setting an appointment
From the hospital’s website, you can schedule your first appointment and select a specialist. It usually takes 48 hours for the hospital to contact you after you make an appointment. On the day of your appointment, arrive at the hospital at least 15 to 30 minutes early to avoid any confusion in locating your department.

Registration
Your passport is the primary document that you and other international patients must use when registering for hospitals both online and in person. Even if you’ve already scheduled an appointment through an online application, bring your passport with you every time you visit. If you decide to walk in most private hospitals will provide you with quick registration at the registration desk which is usually located on the first floor of each hospital. Your photo will be taken, your data will be registered and you will be given your hospital card. If you have health insurance, you will be required to show it during this process.

Consulting with a doctor or specialist
The hospital staff will first screen you and send you to a basic checkup where they will measure your height, weight, temperature and blood pressure. They may ask you questions about your symptoms and recommend that you see a general practitioner for a diagnosis and, if necessary, be referred to a specialist. They will make an appointment for you with the most appropriate specialist for your case. If you want to see a doctor at another hospital, go to their website and look for the doctor’s name, schedule, education, and experience.

Admission
If you need to be admitted to a hospital, nurses will come to you and show you a list of available rooms. You can stay in a private room or a shared room with two, four, five, or even more than ten beds. For private hospitals. Depending on the type of room you select, each hospital also has a different set of amenities. They don’t always have any rooms available. In this case, extra beds are added to already crowded rooms.

Settling your bills
If you do not have health insurance, you can request a payment plan if you require more time to pay your medical bills. In most Thai hospitals, patients must pay their entire medical bill out of pocket after their treatment is completed if they don’t have health insurance.

The benefits of private hospitals come at a cost and a standard checkup can cost up to a few thousand baht.

How Long Does a Patient Usually Have To Wait in Public Hospitals?

Government hospitals have much longer queues than private hospitals. If you do not have a medical emergency you must obtain a queue number with hundreds of people lining up every day. If you miss the queue you must return the following day. If you have made an appointment, the wait time is comparable to that of private hospitals. However, appointments are usually only available for patients who needs to return for follow-up check-ups.

In the event that you require additional medical tests, scans, or surgery for non-emergency reasons you can expect to wait several months before receiving the treatment. Even if the hospital schedules an appointment for you it may be rescheduled for a variety of reasons.

Thailand has become a popular medical treatment destination due to its world-class hospitals, English-speaking hospital staff, excellent customer service and low treatment costs.

What Is the Quality of Thai Hospitals?

Thailand’s healthcare system is of high quality, particularly in larger cities. There are many world-class hospitals in larger cities. However, medical care in rural areas may fall short of international standards. However, should you have any serious issues while you are in a rural area, you may be transferred to a better hospital with health insurance.

When it comes to specific treatments, expertise, facilities and equipment is critical; all private hospitals in Bangkok, without doubt, have these qualities.

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