Reasons to Retire in Thailand: Medical Care
People come from around the world to be treated (and pampered) in Thailand’s hospitals and clinics, and for good reason. Thai doctors, often trained in the West and speaking excellent English, are dedicated to caring for you, not exploiting you. Sure, they lead nice, middle-class lives but, beyond that, their days revolve around their patients. Thailand is a Buddhist country and the practice of compassion is taken seriously by everyone, especially those in the medical profession.
A consultation with a Thai doctor is eye-opening. There is usually no waiting time because keeping patients waiting is considered impolite(!) and your physician will spend all the time you feel you need with you, listening to you and examining you slowly and carefully. There’s no rush. No attempt to push you out the door. It’s like going back in time to the days before medicine became predatory.
Thai nurses, who bear the brunt of patient care, are world-famous for their loving, gentle care. When I was taken to a local emergency ward after an accident (I had only superficial injuries, but the police wanted to be sure I was OK) four lovely nurses waited on me, holding my hand, talking with me, and coddling me relentlessly. I was examined by an NP, an MD, and an audiologist, all of whom spent at least 30 minutes with me. Believe me, I was reluctant to leave!
When I did finally drag myself away, I was (almost apologetically) handed a bill: $17.00, or 510 Thai Baht. And that brings up the worry that lurks in the backs of all retirees’ minds: medical insurance.
Our own governmental medical plans do not cover us when we live in Thailand (this is somewhat self-defeating, because they could save enormous amounts of money if they did). So we must be prepared to pay for private medical insurance. (Thais don’t have to worry. Their government plan covers everyone). Here again the news is good.
Firstly, it’s much easier to stay healthy in sunny, stress-free Thailand. The climate is excellent, the pace of life is relaxed, and older people are treated with genuine respect and care, which has to be experienced to be believed. And fresh, wholesome, delicious is available everywhere–cheaply. I’ve never been a ‘fruit and vegetables’ person but, since coming to Thailand I’ve been converted. You will be too. It’s an effortless change that does you good.
Then, the cost of health insurance is cheap: a famous British insurer here provides deluxe coverage for $260/month. The local Thai equivalent policy is $125/month for 65-year-olds and $245/month for 75-year-olds. And those are the deluxe plans! Retirees on modest incomes can get adequate insurance for $50/month.
We–and this is especially true of us Americans–have been so exploited by our health care system for so long that we live in fear of losing our health insurance. But in Thailand it’s easy to stay healthy and health insurance costs less than our deductible at home!