Medical tourism

Medical tourism

My first foray into medical tourism was in 2006.  I went to Bangkok on vacation and slept for over 24 hours.  I placed it as jetlag and the release and relaxation of being away from home.  My partner thought differently and took me to Bumrungrad International hospital for a medical checkup.  It turned out I was anemic, along with a few other undiagnosed issues.  Since then, I have been going to Thailand almost yearly for a medical checkup.  Here are a few reasons why.  


When you compare healthcare costs in the US to most countries, the cost-benefit is undeniable. Healthcare is less expensive outside the US. In Thailand, the price of a woman’s comprehensive Executive checkup with blood tests, lab evaluations, tumor markers, chest xrays, ultrasounds, eye, and ear exams, urine, and stool analysis, amongst others, is just over $1500 US.  For me, even with insurance, having the same procedures done in the US would cost 10X or more.

Wait times.

It’s not only the attractive costs in medical tourism, but the wait times for results are also significantly shorter.  I would go to my general practitioner in the US, who would then schedule all the different tests he thinks I might need.  I then must wait for another practice to schedule the visit, get the results back to my doctor, have a follow-up appointment, and the cycle could continue based on the results.  In Thailand, my comprehensive results are back within days.

Preventative care.

Preventative care aims to make sure you do not get sick.  Curative care restores and maintains a person’s health after they get sick.  Most people go to the doctor after they get ill or have symptoms in the US.  I have found that checkups are often a part of medical care in many foreign countries.  I am more focused on preventative care than curative care with a comprehensive physical in Thailand.

Vacation with medical care.

If you are not planning on having any major surgery done while traveling, it can be a great idea to combine a vacation with your medical care.  I go to Thailand often, so getting my medical checkup done there allows me to have a great holiday as well.  I know I will have to complete a fasting blood test, so I have it done the day after I arrive, as this gives me the rest of the vacation to have a good time.


I have researched Bumrungrad International hospital in Thailand, and I’m quite confident in the services, but there are disadvantages to medical tourism.  Risks include unregulated procedures, equipment limitations, and sanitary issues, to name a few. Additionally, there may be language barriers, so ensuring you can understand the doctors and their instructions or consultations is also critical. In short, medical tourism is relatively safe, but it is essential with any medical procedure to research the doctor, hospital, or medical center. 

Have you ever considered medical tourism?  Where did you go? I’d like to know.