Living abroad is certainly an exciting adventure, but one where health should remain a top priority.
From my experience living in two of Asia’s most dynamic cities, I’ve come across many expats who tend to be complacent about health issues. Especially if they have to pay out of pocket, health checkups are rarely high on the list of things to do. So, I can’t stress it enough when I say that health checkups are important. It can help you detect problematic areas before it turns into a major issue.
In Thailand, you’ll find plenty of health checkup packages on offer. After all, this country has a world renowned medical tourism industry. Sometimes though, there’s just too much choice and that can be overwhelming. I urge you not to fall into the trap of simply going with the cheapest package.
In this blog, I will attempt to provide some insight into what a typical health checkup package should include.
A word of advice on health checkups in Thailand
First things first, I want to shed light on where you can go to get a health checkup. I’m sure you’re aware by now that Thailand is home to some excellent government and private hospitals. Especially if you’re going for health checkups in Bangkok, some of these private hospitals are extraordinary. I remember when I first stepped into the likes of Bumrungrad International Hospital, Bangkok Hospital, and Samitivej Hospital - it felt like I was in a five star hotel!
Personally, I would recommend sticking with the private hospitals if you can afford to. They tend to cost a lot more than government hospitals, but are typically value-for-money when compared to hospitals of the same standards in the West. Furthermore, as someone who doesn’t speak Thai, I feel more at ease knowing that I will be able to communicate with the hospital staff and nothing gets lost in translation (something I’d rather avoid in a medical setting!).
I am by no means an expert on health checkups - whether in Thailand or anywhere else, but having done a few in my lifetime, I will give you some tips on how to prepare ahead of a health checkup:
- Be sure to get plenty of sleep. Sometimes, not resting enough can affect the results of your health checkup.
- Try to avoid drinking alcohol in the 24 hours prior to your health checkup as this may interfere with some of the results.
- Dress comfortably - not only will you feel more relaxed, but medical practitioners will also be able to do certain tests more easily.
- For some tests like blood sugar, you might also have to fast for 8 to 10 hours beforehand.
- Remember to ask the hospital staff how else to prepare, if they haven’t already provided you with guidelines for your health checkup.
Different tiers of health checkup packages in Thailand
While there are various tiers of health checkup packages, there is rarely a one-size-fits-all policy when it comes to healthcare. From working in the health insurance industry for many years now, I know that each one of you has different healthcare needs so bear the packages below with a grain of salt. I would suggest consulting your medical practitioner about your family medical history and any health concerns before choosing a package.
Most people between the ages of thirty to forty can go for a basic checkup program that lasts about two to three hours. You can expect to pay around THB 3,000 to THB 5,000 for common tests like:
- Blood pressure
- Glucose levels
- Body mass index
- Complete blood count
- Kidney function
- Liver function
- Chest x-ray
- Testicular exam (males only)
- Pap test (females only)
- Mammogram (females only)
If you’re aged thirty to fifty, you can aim for a more thorough health screening with the mid-tier checkup. It’ll last around three to four hours. Be prepared to fork out anywhere between THB 12,000 to THB 22,000 for tests such as:
- Alkaline Phosphatase (ALP)
- Electrocardiography (EKG)
- Eye screening
- Hearing screening
- Tumor marker tests
Typically recommended for senior citizens above fifty, top-tier checkups are commonly known as Comprehensive, Comprehensive Advanced, Ultimate, or Premium Life. It’ll take around four to eight hours and cost between THB 24,000 and THB 39,000. You can expect tests like:
- Gamma GT
- Thyroid panels
- Hepatitis screening
- Tumor markers
- Eye exams
- Vitamin B12 and Calcium deficiency
- Electrolytes exam
- Bone density test for L-spine and hip
- Ankle brachial index
At some hospitals, you may also be able to find specific add-on packages. For example, a common one for couples looking to have a baby is the prenuptial checkup. Prices for these tests are around THB 5,000 and include:
- Hepatitis screening
- ABO Grouping and Rh Group
- Venereal disease
- Anti HIV
- Hemoglobin Typing
- Rubella IgG
Many expats tend to go for the cheapest health insurance available (that is if health insurance isn’t already provided by their employer) only to later be disappointed when they find out that health checkups aren’t covered. If you’d like to learn more about expat health insurance in Thailand, I’m always available for a short chat. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org