medical tourism

Medical Tourism

in Thailand

A look at medical tourism in Thailand.


hip is upon us head out to
bypass face-lift growing number
bustle infertility state of the art
CEO estimate outsource (2)
take in one eighth ground zero
brothel private (3) RV (recreation vehicle)
clincher deteriorate out of his own pocket
eye-lift orderly (2) out of shape
on duty all kinds of campground
nervous malpractice malpractice insurance
expect any kind chemotherapy
beyond somewhat beyond my expectation
budget hesitant heart attack
lobby boutique throughout
to suit check up frequent flier miles
unique take a look whatever it takes






Summer time. It’s almost upon us. Millions will be heading out to foreign lands for vacation, adventure, tourism, or just a beautiful beach.

But how about hip surgery, or a multiple bypass.

A growing number of tourists are doing just that: combining holidays with healthcare.

And that’s because a growing number of countries are offering first-rate health care at third world prices.

Many of these medical tourists can’t afford health care at home — the 40 million uninsured Americans for example.

Others are going for procedures not covered by their insurance: infertility treatment. A facelift.

And the hospitals in these far away countries are glad to have these medical tourists…in fact they’re courting their business, trying to get more people to outsource their healthcare.

Thailand; and exotic vacation land known for its Buddhas, its beaches, and its brothels, the bustle of Bangkok.

But for people needing medical care, it’s known increasingly for Bumrangran Hospital, a luxurious place which claims to have more foreign patients than any hospital in the world — it’s like a united nations of patients here.

They’re cared for by more than 500 doctors–most with international training.

The hospital has state of the art technology and — here’s the clincher — the price.

Treatment here cost one eighth the price in the United States. That’s right, ONE EIGHTH.

Curt Schroeder is the CEO of Bumrangran.

This place where we are sitting right now is the number one international hospital in the world.

It’s ground zero. I’ve haven’t heard anyone tell us yet that they take in more than 350,000 patients per year.

One of them is Bonnie Bonnywell who lives 12,000 miles away in Shreport, Louisiana where he owns and runs a campground for RVs.

A year and a half ago, he had a heart attack. And his doctor told him he really needed bypass surgery.

They told you you were going to die.
They did tell me I was going to die.

You did not have insurance.
Did not have insurance.

He estimates that he would have had to pay $100,000 out of his own pocket for the operation he needed–a complicated quintuple bypass.

And did you actually decide NOT to do it.
Yup. Yeah I did.
I guess I decided whether it would be better to die with a little money in my pocket, than live poor.

He said his health was deteriorating quickly when he read about Bumrangran Hospital.

I was in my doctor’s office one day having some tests done; and there was a copy of Business Week Magazine there. And there was an article about Bumrangran Hospital.

And I came home and went on the internet, made and appointment and went away to Thailand.

He made the appointment after he learned that the bypass would cost him $12,000. He chose his cardiologist, Dr. Chad Wanishiwad, after reading on the hospital’s website that he used to practice at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland.

That’s where he practiced for a number of years.

That’s right.

Every doctor I saw there practiced in the United States.

You never called him?
No, I never talked to him.

But three days after walking in the hospital, he was on the operating table….

Two weeks later, he was home.

How are you feeling?

Wonderful. I wish I had found them sooner.

Because I went through a year…I was in bad shape–couldn’t walk across the room.

How was the nursing, how was the treatment?

I found it so strange in Thailand, they were all registered nurses.

Being in the hospital in the United States, you see all kinds of orderlies, all kinds of aides, maybe one RN on duty on the whole floor of a hospital.

In Thailand, I bet I had eight RN just on my section of my floor alone.

First class care.

That’s what the hospital prides itself on: first class care which it can offer so cheaply because everything is cheaper here; particularly labor and malpractice insurance.

You can get just about any kind of treatment from chemotherapy to plastic surgery.

Kim Atwater from Bend, Oregon was on vacation in Thailand, when she decided to combine sightseeing with a bit of an eye-lift.

Were you at all nervous about doing an operation in Thailand.

Yes, yes I was somewhat hesitant about having any type of operation in a foreign country.

And it turned out to be beyond my expectations.

But not beyond her budget: $1,500. And that included a private room.

How would you describe the difference between this and an American hospital.

It’s much nicer than any that I have ever stayed in the United States.

The rooms look more like hotel rooms than hospital rooms.

And that’s no accident.

The idea was to make the whole hospital look like a hotel. And a five-star hotel at that.

Take a look at the lobby. Boutiques and restaurants to suit every taste and nationality.

Part of the concept was to create an environment where people came in and didn’t feel like they were in a hospital.

What’s wrong with — this is a hospital — what’s wrong with looking like a hospital?

Because nobody really wants to go to a hospital.

Would you go back?

Oh, I’m going back this fall.


I’m going back to see my doctor and check up again.

But he’ll have to take a 22-hour flight.

But there’s even an upside to that.

Is it true that I can pay for a check-up with frequent flier miles?

Well, we do have a very unique relationship with Thai Airways.
So you can buy a ticket. You can use frequent flier miles to pay for your checkup.

Whatever it takes to get your business.

And this is not the only hospital trying to outsource healthcare is it?

Oh, my goodness no.

We have certainly not gone unnoticed. There are hospitals throughout Asia, throughout India.


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1. Thailand is a popular tourist destination. Why is Thailand popular?

2. What is the main idea of this documentary? Why are people going on medical holiday? Where do the patients generally come from? Where do they go?

3. This is a growing trend. It’s becoming more popular. True or false?

4. Who is Bonny? What three options did Bonny have?

5. Bonny’s doctor referred him to the Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok. Yes or no? How did he set an appointment?

6. Describe the qualifications of the doctors. He spoke with Dr. Chad before coming to Thailand. Yes or no?

7. Are the facilities and procedures modern? Why does the hospital resemble a hotel?

8. How does Bonny feel now? Does he have any regrets?

9. What are the main differences between Bumrungrad and US hospitals?


A. For medical care, would you rather stay in a “regular” hospital or a hotel-hospital?

B. Is everyone in your country adequately covered by medical insurance? Does everyone have access to medical treatments?

C. Patients from my country (never, rarely, occasionally, sometimes, often, frequently, usually or always) go abroad for medical treatments. If yes, what are some destinations? Why do they go abroad?

D. Do foreigners sometimes or often come to your country for medical care? If yes, which countries? Why do they come?

E. Is medical tourism good or bad or both? Why? Is it a potential industry in your city or country?

F. What will happen in the future regarding medicine?


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