One of my biggest concerns prior to leaving for Southeast Asia was that something would go horribly wrong. A ridiculous amount of scenarios went through my head, many of which kept me laying awake at night wondering if we were making an awful decision. What if we got bit by some exotic bug and had to get a leg amputated? What if we were minding our own business, walking on the sidewalk and them BAM, scooter runs into us from behind? What if our one year old, who has absolutely zero fear, decides to jump into a river with god knows what type of diseases floating in it? Ahh, the list could go on and on…

Luckily, none of the near-death scenarios that I pictured in my head ended up happening but we did have to make a little visit to the hospital while we were in Chiang Mai, Thailand and the experience was something that I wanted to share!

How It All Went Down

One morning we noticed Murphy wasn’t his usual self. Normally he wakes up and screams like a crazy person until we get him breakfast but on this particular morning, he was quietly playing by himself and didn’t show any interest in eating. As the day went on, he got increasingly fussy and started shoving his hands in his mouth. We knew something must have been bothering him and when I checked, the inside of his mouth was filled with these nasty white bumps.

Since having kids, I have become a master at navigating WebMD so I was able to quickly rule out a flesh eating disease and determined that it was just a mild case of thrush. Andy and I then went to the store, bought some natural remedies and hoped that it would be better by the next day. Well, when day 3 rolled around and the bumps kept spreading, we decided it was time to pull out the big guns and get some drugs.

What is so nice about Southeast Asia, is that you can walk into a pharmacy, tell them whats going on and they will give you the medicine right then and there for a fraction of what it would cost in the US. That’s what would normally happen anyway but this pharmacist took one look at Murphy’s mouth and said “no, go to hospital”. Alright, now we start to worry. Maybe he does have some flesh eating disease, why else would they send us straight to the hospital!?

So we hail a taxi, the guy barely speaks a word of English and in our stressed out state we don’t think to look up the Thai word for hospital, so he brings us to a temple, on the other side of town. Long story short, we find a woman who speaks English, and she directs our driver to the correct place. (Side note: Use Grab (the Asian version of Uber/Lyft) as often as possible. They know exactly where you want to go and their rates are usually cheaper.)

The Dreaded Waiting Room

Photo Courtesy of Backwoods Mama

Now that we’re at the hospital, we’re not sure where to go but walk into the first door we see. Someone immediately asked us if we needed help and then directed us to the right floor. We enter the pediatric waiting room and are greeted by a giant spaceship play area for the kids. As they play, we get checked-in, which consists of filling out a form with our basic information. We start to prepare ourselves for the long wait and consider ourselves lucky that they have activities to keep the kids occupied.

I kid you not, we waited for about 10 minutes before the nurse calls our name. She brings us right back and does a quick examination before taking us to another room to see the doctor, who happened to be the friendliest little Thai woman. She takes one look, tells us he has thrush and writes a script. We then head back out to the front desk, wait another 5 minutes for them to fill his prescription and check-out. Everything was going so smoothly, I figured it was too good to be true and just waited for them to hit us with a gut wrenching bill.

What Is This Going To Cost Us?

I get the paperwork and scroll down to see the combined charges for hospital and examination fees, doctors visit and two medications. We paid 1,050 baht for everything, which translates to $33 USD! THIRTY THREE DOLLARS!? HOW? You can’t even look at a hospital in the United States without them charging you more than that!

I assume some of you are thinking, “yeah, but its Thailand, the quality of care must not be the same”. Well you’re right, its not the same. In fact, according to Numbeo, Thailand ranks #7 on the global health care index. Where does the US come in? At a pathetic #29.

While we left with a huge sense of relief knowing that Murphy had everything he needed to get better, we were also in disbelief. How is it that a country, one that many westerners assume is third world, takes better care of their people than our own, first world, country does? Come on USA, step up your game!

Anyway, moral of the story, if you are planning a trip to Thailand and concerned about healthcare, don’t be. Hopefully you wont have to worry about it but if anything happens to go wrong, you will be well taken care of! That being said, make sure to always have good travel insurance (we used Allianz and definitely recommend them)! Our experience was very minor, not everyone is as lucky and you don’t want to be stuck with a bill that costs more than your trip!

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We are your typical American family who decided life is too short to live in one place.

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