Healthcare Outside of the US

Not every trip goes perfectly. Sometimes people get into traffic accidents, sometimes we eat some bad food or in my case sometimes there is a very random mosquito bite on your toe which evolves into full blown cellulitis. I don’t know why it happened, I’ve had many a mosquito bite and have been fine, but it happened. And the point of this tale is to talk about the amazing care I got in the hospital stay while in another outside of the United States. So our story starts with a mosquito bite. It was incidental and I paid it no mind. Fast forward three days and the swelling had become something quite concerning. After work, where my noticeable limp had gotten everyone’s attention, I went to a private hospital (“private” is important). Initially, they wheeled me into the ER (after explaining what I thought was a sprained ankle) and made me get an X-Ray. Being an American, I was naturally afraid of any extra tests or procedures because I was confident they would cost an arm, a leg, a soul or three and did not really have all of that to spare. Come to find out the antibiotics and the X-ray came to about $60 US dollars all together. While being totally elated at how affordable everything was I thought that was the end of my journey. Little did I know… it was just the beginning.

The Antibiotics did not take or they countertook, I don’t know. I do know that I was in excruciating pain and it felt like my toe was exploding. They had bandaged my toe a couple days before and I had noticed blood under my bandages where there wasn’t before. Luckily it was the weekend so I went back to the same hospital to have a look. The nurses and myself were agasp at the monstrosity that was once my ordinary toe. The verdict was in and I would have to be admitted to a hospital. I don’t think I have ever been admitted to a hospital in my life, so I was naturally terrified. At this private hospital, they said it would cost around 15,000 Baht a day for as long as I was admitted which is is $450 USD. And then the panic set in. This was approaching the western pricing that I had come to fear. I did not know what to do. Luckily one of the nurses came and saved the day. She told me that while a private hospital like that one was expensive, if I go to a government hospital I should be able to afford the cost of being admitted. So off to a nearby “Government Hospital” I went. Since this was my first time in a government hospital, there were some things I expected. It was more densely populated, it definitely did not look as pristine and it looked “retro” if that makes sense. Nevertheless my toe had mutated and I was sure it was trying to take ME with it. Luckily, I only had to wait in line (in a wheelchair) for about 30 minutes while blood and mucus seeped from my toe. They immediately admitted me.

Now, there is a story about how I pretty much acted like an “Ugly American” during my week long stay in the hospital, but this isn’t about that (they didn’t have any form of anesthesia for my toe so...let’s just say I’m a screamer). When everything was done and it was time to pay the dreaded bill. I did not worry, I did not panic because the total cost for my six day stay, the subsequent antibiotics, painkillers and repeat dressings that I had to have came to about $317 USD. I was overjoyed. Not just that massive mutation of my toe was dealt with and I could literally see into the depths of my expanded toe. It was just that all of this was AFFORDABLE! The fears of going into some massive debt over a mosquito bite were completely put to rest. I don’t know a lot about politics and proper healthcare systems, but like most Americans I know what made me feel good. That made me feel good! Whatever system the U.S. adopts that can bring us closer to that experience is something towards which I would lend my support. However, for you travelers out there, if you cannot afford this construct of healthcare that we have in the states; I definitely recommend going abroad. I am willing to gamble that you will have a much more affordable time. That is all for my tale of an international hospital. Dangers or accidents come from everywhere. What you want is to be able to take care of yourself when it does come for you. Till next time!

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