But back in my home country Germany, you have no choice. You have to pay for a health insurance and you basically pay for it with an arm and a leg. That is, if you earn a good income. The service you receive, when things go wrong, can range from mediocre to great, although you have limited influence, on which doctor or hospital to chose.
This always smelled like communism to me. In my point of view – over the years of the last 2 decades – Europe lost its edge as a leading and competitive healthcare market. Too many beneficiaries but too few paying customers. Always make an even balance for everyone. Where is the grounds or basis for competition, or the means of offering the best possible solution for a competitive price? Value for money anyone? Somehow it got lost along the way.
The US have problems as well, although quite a bit different. The healthcare system is state of the art; the main problem is, most people can’t afford it and lot’s don’t even have a health insurance.
What can we do about it, you ask?
If you are a steady tourist or even a World Traveler, you can benefit from that dilemma, by chosing where to get and where to pay your health treatment. You can either save a lot of money for yourself, or – if you have a flexible health insurance – for them as well, thus reducing your premiums. Not that it should be your main concern in the first place. :-)
Those are some standard treatments in quality healthcare locations. The good thing for you as an EU or US tourist, when traveling to Asia – you can even combine your necessary health treatment with a holiday in a tropical paradise for the cost of the treatment alone back in your home country!
My personal experiences in those countries are restricted to Singapore and Thailand so far. But – my experiences are in general very positive. Over the last 4 years I had the following treatments in Asia:
- several Dentist Visits in Singapore and Thailand (Phuket) with Crown/Fillings, Root Canal Treatment
- Complete Checkup (including X-Ray and Blood Check) in Singapore for my PR (Permanent Residency) Application at Raffles Medical Group
- LASIK Eye-Surgery in Singapore at SNEC
For the LASIK surgery, you have in Singapore alone 4 centres, which are specialized in the procedure and are well up or even above international standard: the National University Hospital (NUH), Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC), Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) and Jerry Tan Eye Surgery (JTES).
Prices came down even more over the last 2 years and are now as low as SGD 2.550 (app. USD 1.700) for both eyes! About 20.000 surgeries are perfomed each year, with the lowest safety rate as high as 99.29% (Source: Ministry of Health, Singapore).
The staff work in a very transparent and professional manner, from check-in, to treatment and after-treatment procedures. You constantly have the feeling, that those people know what they are doing, procedures are highly standardized, very modern, everything is clean, calm and in a professional atmosphere. You don’t see much of the paper bureaucracy you can experience in Healthcare Facilities in Europe or in the US. Everything is computerized to ensure efficiency and avoid human errors.
When I first enquired for LASIK surgery, I got a CD with all relevant information regarding procedures and background information. After that an eye checkup was scheduled and performed, to evaluate my eligibility for the surgery and the best procedure (Basic LASIK, Wavefront, PRK – photorefractive keratectomy). The surgery was scheduled and executed accordingly, all in a very professional and satisfying manner, with me as the patient always in knowledge and control of the next steps.
After the surgery, post-treatment appointments were scheduled and executed in the same professional manner. I got a plastic card with my personal information (the records remain stored for further follow-ups if necessary). You get bills in english language with all procedures clearly stated and priced and payment can be done via cash, check or credit card.
All appointments were done with very few waiting time in the shortest possible timeframe, but best possible efficiency and transparency. It felt a bit like an assembly line, but in a positive and comfortable way.
From my personal experience I can highly recommend Singapore’s standards in this regard. It’s probably even better (although maybe a bit more pricey) than Bangkok; I would definitely rate Singapore’s governance and transparency, as well as the justice system – in case things go wrong – much much higher, than let’s say Thailand or India. On top of that, in Singapore the day-2-day business language is English and you can fly there from most ends of the planet with the world’s best airline, Singapore Airlines.
Personally I would always go to Singapore for the more complex procedures (due to their high governance level and english language), while for mere standard surgeries or especially dental treatments, I personally wouldn’t hesitate to do that in Thailand, Malaysia or maybe even India, if I happen to be there, due to even lower costs over there.
How to get more or detailed information for your specific case:
You can get more information about treatments, procedures and prices by just browsing the websites below and enquiring about the procedures and prices you are interested in (see info below). Usually you will get an e-mail response within 1-2 days.
Most health service and hospitals in Singapore are working under the constant supervision of Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MoH) and the SingHealth Group, with 42 clinical specialties, a faculty of 1.200 internationally qualified medical specialists and more than 12.000 staff. Each year, app. 175.000 surgeries are performed and over 3 million patients are handled.
Procedure Highlights in Singapore include treatment for:
- Abnormal Heart Rhythm and Prevention of Cardiac Arrest
- Heart Valve Defect
- Percutaneous Transluminal Angioplasty
- Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting Surgery
- Liver Cancer
- Cancer in the Head & Neck
- Corneal Problems
- Stem Cell Transplant for Ocular Surface Disease
- Hearing Loss
- Knee Pain
- Urinary Stones
- Pituitary Tumours
- Prostate Cancer
- Obstructive Sleep Apnoea
Further Information (just google for it):
Health Centers in Asia with high international reputation and focus on the international medical traveler:
- General Information: Medical Tourism Website with a great FAQ
- Singapore: SingHealth, Raffles Medical Group, Parkway Healthcare Group
- Hong Kong: Minimal Invasive Surgery Centre (Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital)
- Bangkok/Thailand: Bangkok Hospital Medical Center Group (their Stem Cell Treatment for serious heart conditions at Bangkok Heart Hospital has more than 60% US patients!), Bangkok International Hospital
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