Purpose : to indicate possible discounts at Bangkok's Hospitals.
Relevance : applicable at the beginning of 2009, possibly to be extended later on.
few years ago I had some minor arthroscopic surgery done on my right knee. After the procedure and an overnight stay I was presented with a bill of about 100,000 baht. Medical services might be cheaper in Bangkok (Thailand) than in the U.S.A. or Europe, but they certainly are not cheap. Over the last few years there have been an increasing number of (negative) reports on the local forums about the cost of medical treatment. Clinic visits have become more expensive, a few years back a visit to a medical specialist was around 600 baht at well known hospitals such as Bumrungrad Hospital, Bangkok General Hospital, BNH Hospital. Nowadays, when including so-called costs to use the hospital facilities, a clinic visit will likely set you back around 1,000 baht. This actually is not that much different from the costs in my small lowland country in Europe. Anyway, seeing the number of patients lining up for treatment (an astonishing 35-40 % of them foreigners at the above mentioned hospitals), and realizing the fact that providing medical services is the next best thing to printing money yourself, we bought shares in both Bumrungrad Hospital and Bangkok General Hospital and were duly rewarded.
In retrospect, we were wrong about our assessment. While share prices have risen substantially, profits (earning per share) are still relatively low. So it is not clear where all the money is going. We may only speculate that a lot of it ends up in the hands of the physicians and surgeons themselves.
Anyway, this long introduction just to indicate that medical treatment in Bangkok is not that cheap at all. Now recently, some hospitals have introduced lower rates for their services. We read reports of this happening during the course of 2008.
Since a while, Bumrungrad Hospital has launched a program called 'Healthy Living Club'. Information about this program is difficult to find when accessing the hospital's website, not clear what this is all about. Anyway, we found this on a pdf file on the Bumrungrad website. It costs 6,300 baht for a 3-year period membership. This fee entitles you to a Executive Program Health Check, which actually is also valued at 6,300 baht. Furthermore, you get a 30% discount on inpatient room charges (not nursing costs or doctors' fees), and 15% discount for outpatient medication (read this first) and medical supplies, lab fees (with few exceptions) and X-rays. You have to be living in Bangkok to be able to benefit from this program. As stated before, prices have risen in recent years, now you get a program to counteract this price rise. However, if you prefer to be treated at one of Bangkok's best reputed hospitals (and have to pay for it yourself), this is not a bad proposition. It is not clear why the program at present is not better promoted on the website.
The Nation English-language newspaper reported on 6 January 2009 on price promotions at major hospitals in Bangkok. They also described the program offered by Bumrungrad Hospital.
Samitivej Hospital is cutting room rates by 30 % for the first half of 2009. Also other members of the Bangkok Dusit Medical Services (Bangkok Hospital, BNH Hospital), offers reductions on room rates and medicine charges. Research by Tisco Securities suggests that foreign hospital patients will decline by 10 % in 2009, in line with an overall decrease in tourist arrivals for the year. Apparently, recent price declines may be a response to more cut-throat competition among the health care providers. In any case, you should not be too shy to ask for a discount for the procedure or treatment you are looking for. Quite possibly, not everybody may get cheaper options. Maybe exceptions apply, and only local residents might benefit.