Modernity has shrunk our world in such a way that millions of more people are able to visit exotic climes that could only have been dreamt about a generation ago. Exploring, or living in, a tropical idyll has become a reality and Southeast Asia has become a favorite destination for those looking to broaden their horizons, to understand more about our world and to live a more perfect life.
Thailand has found itself to be a hub for a generation of travelers and it is in the capital, Bangkok, that East really does meet West. The city has morphed into a truly cosmopolitan metropolis. A snap shot of Bangkok shows an incredibly vast meld of internationalism, a window into the world all wrapped up in the exotic and fascinating culture of The Land of Smiles.
Part of the enjoyment of travel is to live and breathe a different way of life. We grow up being indoctrinated by our local customs, rules, laws and day to day life. Landing in a different city in a foreign country rips us of our comfort zone and thrusts us into a world of unfamiliarity. With the excitement of the unknown, comes risks. It is a fact that foreign visitors are at greater risk of falling victim to serious illness or accident than the indigenous population.
Becoming seriously ill or having an accident is a risk which can, all too easily, befall anyone. An exotic holiday in a tropical paradise can be ruined, living the dream can be blighted, no one knows when such catastrophes will occur. However, in Bangkok visitors and dwellers are well catered for with an extensive network of modern hospitals.
The capital of Thailand now has an enviable reputation throughout the world with internationally recognized hospitals. The quality of medical personnel staffing these establishments is impeccable. Internationally trained, multilingual professionals head up all hospital departments, from accident and emergency to minor and major protracted health issues. Also, these hospitals are now leaders in the new world of cosmetic enhancement procedures.
The sad fact is that as the number of visitors to Bangkok increases every year, so will the numbers that require the services of Bangkok’s medical facilities. In addition to these numbers, Bangkok has become the world’s leading destination for medical tourists. This is because, quite simply, Bangkok’s hospitals have justifiably gained a reputation for quality medical care and affordability. Checking out the multitude of international accreditations bestowed upon Bangkok’s hospitals stand as testimony to this.
Health Care for Foreign Residents
Be in no doubt, Bangkok’s health care is comprehensive. The private hospitals are modern and spacious with comfort and care existing alongside exemplary medical services. Entering any one of the major hospitals the first impression may be one of five-star glitz and luxury. To a degree that impression would be correct. But the impression of impeccable quality is more than just skin deep, it’s not just a façade. The mantra of providing the very best is carried through every aspect of the hospital and the service it provides.
Foreign visitors are welcomed at Bangkok’s state hospitals, although the service is unlikely to match that of the private hospitals. Language is more likely to be an issue with less staff being multi-lingual. Unless admitted as an emergency, there is sure to be a wait for a consultation with a doctor. Foreigners are will also be required to pay for treatment, although they will almost certainly find it cheaper than in the home country.
Nationally, there are around 39,000 health care facilities spread across the country. These vary in size, as per the number of available beds, and the larger of these hospitals are to be found in the major cities. Bangkok, being the capital and the largest and busiest city in the country, has more medical facilities than any other, around 1,000 in fact, of which 66% operate within the private sector.
Thousands of foreigners reside in Bangkok, either for work or retirement. Most companies in Thailand that employ foreign staff will include health care insurance as part of their employment contract, thus, these individuals have very little to concern themselves with. As of March this year it will now be compulsory for visitors entering Thailand to have a health certificate and insurance, this is of course entirely logical.
For retirees residing in Bangkok health insurance is, although not mandatory, highly advisable. Bangkok’s hospitals have an efficient and comprehensive system dealing with all insurance companies. The only onus on the individual is to make the hospital aware of their insurance company and policy number. It is recommended that this information is easily obtainable, carrying this information in a wallet or logged into a mobile phone is advisable.
In the case of emergency, foreigners can use the general emergency number, 1669. Operators all have English language skills and will dispatch an emergency ambulance to the required location. If a person has a particular hospital preference, for example Samitivej Hospital, they would be wise to have that particular emergency number, or make the 1669 operator aware of the hospital choice.
Bangkok’s Medical Tourism
Medical procedural enhancement is a booming area within the medical profession, and Bangkok has become, and remains, the world’s top destination for such consultations. Anyone visiting Bangkok for an enhancement procedure will already have done their research, chosen the procedure of their preference and consulted the destined hospital.
All the major hospitals will communicate with clients prior to their arrival in the kingdom. They will, through client consultation, be aware of pertinent medical history, allowing the medical staff to accurately advise on appropriate procedures, length of stay and the necessary post procedural care. Many of the hospitals also offer help and assistance with visas, hotel accommodation, and even advise on leisure activities, where appropriate.
Whether coming to Thailand to work, to retire, to explore or for a specific treatment as a medical tourist, Bangkok’s hospitals will not be found wanting. Exemplary care using up to date, and ground breaking procedures, built upon a genuine belief in the care and wellbeing for everyone, has made Bangkok’s hospitals the envy of the world
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