Free market in the West has driven the costs of private healthcare to a level were many people have to look abroad to find cost-effective solutions for the operations and medical treatments they need. Given the costs, and the stakes, many people have looked beyond the borders of their native homelands to find cost-effective solutions. Many have found their solutions in Thailand where medical tourism is a growing segment of Thailand's tourism and health-care sectors.
Common medical areas like dentistry and orthodontics are very expensive, while surgery and major operations can completely drain personal finances. Given the costs, and the stakes, many people have looked beyond the borders of their native homelands to find cost-effective solutions. Many have found their solutions in Thailand where medical tourism is a growing segment of Thailand’s tourism and health-care sectors.
A growing number of tourists are combining holidays with health care, and that's because a growing number of countries are offering first-rate medical care at Third-World prices. Lower labor costs translate to significant cost savings on procedures, compared to hospitals in the West and a higher, more personalized level of nursing care than Westerners are accustomed to receiving in hospitals back home. Many of these medical tourists can't afford health care at home (the 40 million uninsured Americans, for example). Others are going for procedures not covered by their insurance: cosmetic surgery or infertility treatment, for example.
In 2005, one Bangkok hospital took in 150,000 treatment seekers from abroad. In 2006, medical tourism was projected to earn the country 36.4 billion baht.
But why Thailand? The Thai government has continuously invested in the Thai medical profession. Many doctors undertake specialist training abroad, particularly the United States and Europe and are at least as well-qualified as Western doctors.
Thailand’s hospitals and clinics are world-class. Huge investments have been made in equipment and management standards are so high that hospitals achieve ISO 9001 accreditation. Many major hospitals belong to management groups that ensure the very highest standard of healthcare. Medical service is available through their branch hospitals at various locations around the country. All this expertise and proficiency means that Thailand’s hospitals are a secure option for those seeking medical treatment.
According to the Thai Trade Center, Thailand has over 600 hospitals and 400 medical facilities offering world-class treatment for cardiovascular and respiratory disease, as well as cosmetic surgery. Typical cosmetic surgery services, including breast enhancements and reduction, chin lifts, and nose surgery are available, as well as cosmetic dentistry and laser sight correction (LASIK).