Dual (or rather 4-way) pricing at PUBLIC Hospitals in Thailand

Treatment rates, medication prices, medical tests prices at public Hospitals

We never considered this issue until recently (2021) when it became publicly knows when a foreigner in Thailand started a lawsuit against a Thai regulation that legally allows PUBLIC hospitals to charge different rates for medial treatment, hospitalizations, and medical examinations, depending on the nationality of the treated person. This pricing structure has been in place at least since 2019. Now most foreigners, at least long-term residents, do not use the services of public hospitals, mostly because they seek more comfort at the many private hospitals. However, private hospitals may not always be available in more rural areas of the country.

Apparently the cost you incur may fall into 1 of 4 categories. There are separate rates for : 1) Thai Citizens 2) Citizens of neighboring countries (like ASEAN countries) 3) A wide array of foreigners being in Thailand for various reasons, including work, religion, etc. 4) Tourists visiting Thailand, and amazingly Retirees staying in Thailand. Costs go up from category 1 to category 4, although there are rather mild differences between category 1 and category 2.

Some examples (extracted from a large file listing all kinds of procedures and treatments) of different treatment prices :

Below : Category 1 : Thai citizens ; Category 2 : ASEAN citizens ; Category 3 : Foreigners ; Category 4 : Tourists and Retirees in Thailand. At present category 1 and 2 appear to be charged the same rate.
Procedure or
Treatment
Category 1+2 Category 3 Category 4
Lipid profile 370 550 720
CRP (C-reactive protein) 160 240 320
PSA test 400 600 800
p53 500 750 1,000
blood glucose 60 90 120
blood creatinine 60 90 120
Echocardiogram 1,200 1,800 2,400
Coronary Angiography 15,000 18,750 22,500
Digital mammography 3,000 4,500 6,000
CT Calcium
Score
4,000 6,000 8,000
Coronary Artery Bypass Graft 44,500 55,600 66,750
Heart transplantation 64,000 80,000 96,000
Colonoscopy 3,500 5,250 7,000
Cesarian section 8,500 12,000 14,500
Total hip
replacement
18,000 22,500 27,000
Ultrasound Whole Abdomen 1,500 2,250 3,000

You can find the complete file with thousands of procedures and treatments here in PDF format (large file). You will have to find a list of the Thai numerals being used.


BNH Hospital in Bangkok, one of many private hospitals. However, pricewise they can not compete with many of the public hospitals around the city.


Conclusions :

1) Compared to what you pay in private hospitals, or in most hospitals abroad, prices are lower, sometimes unbelievably so. Of course, we did not check all procedures. Among the ones listed above, only the CT Calcium Score we have seen advertised at a lower price in private hospitals.

2) Prices likely do not include doctors' fees, and miscellaneous costs. However, they surely may be a good guide to what you are expected to pay.

3) ASEAN citizens (or maybe most patients from Asian countries ?) can expect to pay apparently exactly the same as Thai citizens.

4) In our 3rd category, we see a price increase of about 50 % for foreigners staying (temporarily) in Thailand.

5) Tourists and very surprisingly retired persons in Thailand, are expected to pay the most, usually exactly 100 %.

6) When items are higher priced, price increases for category 3 and 4 seem to be 25% and 50% respectively.

7) Some of the tests (like the p53 test above) are clearly esoteric. It is quite striking that they can often also be cheap to obtain. However, they most likely are done only at specialized or university hospitals. When checking the availability of tests, and kind of procedures listed in the file mentioned above, it is clear that medical services in Thailand, and at public hospitals, are operating at a high standard of expertise.

Personally, I would gladly undergo some exams done for a screening procedure. It seems to be much cheaper than what you pay at private hospitals. Definitively something to investigate. After all, a heart transplantation at a public hospital, costs about the same as a dental implant in a private hospital (do we think there are some added not mentioned costs involved in the former)

I think the above information can be very valuable. If you need a major investigation or major surgery, and you have time to arrange things (not an emergency), you can save a massive amount of money if you have your treatment in a public hospital. If you elect to do so, your best choice would be among Siriraj Hospital, Chulalongkorn Hospital, Ramathibodi Hospital and Phramongkutklao Hospital. These are all well reputed hospitals, and at the same time massive establishment, with a high turnover of patients, which suggests a lot of procedures are done at a regular basis, which is to be advised when undergoing surgery for example.

My thanks to Coconuts Bangkok for pointing me in the direction of this information. They reported online about this issue, because a foreigner in Thailand, has gone to court to address the different pricing for foreigners undergoing medical treatment at public hospitals. As of this writing, the court has sided with the higher rates for foreigners, but an appeal is pending.