As US citizens we have on numerous occasions had the opportunity to get to know the health care system intimately. We count ourselves very fortunate to have medical insurance provided through our employers, however, there are over 45 million without insurance. People can not afford even the most simple of medicines let alone major surgeries to save their life, or the prescription drugs needed to sustain life. Even one pill costs hundreds of dollars per day!
Well......that was depressing! Let's move on shall we? Coming next is a true story of one woman's experience with the Thai health care system and like me, you will be.................
Shocked, Amazed, Speechless, Astounded, Surprised, Impressed, Flabbergasted, Blown Away, Utterly Astonished, and last but not least................Completely Gobsmacked!
She had a fever and stomach pain and thought it probably was a food borne bacteria. Which is not unusual even in countries with “Food Safety Regulations” This pain lasted several days and so she went to see a Doctor. While she was there she decided to have a complete physical.
Doctors work out of hospitals and she was given a sheet of paper with choices of tests listed under age groups. She choose the 40 year and up category which included:
EKG, Urinalysis, Ultrasound, Chest X-Ray, Female Exam, Complete Blood Work, 1 Hour talk with the Doctor, and a personal Nurse to follow her through each test and explain what was happening.
English was spoken and her day lasted from 8 am till 3 pm. She received a booklet with ALL of the test results along with the Doctor's notes to take home with her. She was given antibiotics for her illness and was feeling in tip top condition in a couple days.
What she paid for the above was 3, 600 Baht = US $112.00 This was not a typo! One Hundred and Twelve Dollars!
For those of you that have not lived in the US this is what happens if you are sick.
First you call your Doctor's office to make an appointment. It will usually be a week or more out and if you can get in the same day it is a miracle. After several hours of waiting past your appointment time the Doctor sees you for 15 minutes and sends you on your way. If you need a test, his nurse will call to make an appointment for the test which usually is another week or so. Then you have to wait for the lab results which take another week or two. The nurse calls to tell you the results. You are not allowed to have your records in your possession and if you do need them you have to sign many papers before they give them to you.
Then you get the bill ! Not one price, that would be too easy. The Doctor, the person that reads the lab report and the lab work are all billed separately.
I did a bit of calculating from research on the web and found the following data from 2011 to 2013 for the cost of what she received if this were done in the US. These prices are for someone with no insurance and are on the low end.
EKG - $4,000 Urinalysis - $200 Ultrasound - $500 Chest X-Ray - $600
Female Exam - $600 Blood Work - $200 1 Hour Consult with the Doctor - $600
7 Hours with a Nurse Coach - $1,400 This does not include Lab costs and medication.
US $8,100 NO CONTEST!