There’s no question. Medical costs are rising around the world, and Thailand and Southeast Asia are not immune. To gain a better understanding of the influencing factors behind rising medical costs in Thailand, the experts at LUMA sat down with author and medical expert Dr. Lalande. Here are the 3 main causes Dr. Lalande noted, starting with the most expensive cause and descending to the least.
Cost of medication
As there is a constant demand for more effective and safer medication, billions of dollars are spent on developing new drugs every year—making medication the number one cause of soaring medical costs. According to Dr. Lalande, the reason for the high costs is the amount of research and expense that goes into getting a new medication to market.
From conception of a new medication to the time it reaches the consumer, it can easily take 5 to 10 years and cost billions of baht. Each new medication must go through an extensive approval process before it makes it to market. A medication must go through clinical trials on animals and then humans, prove it is better than current drugs, and be approved by the FDA before it ever reaches hospital patients. Because of the time and expense of all the research, tests and approval process, the cost of producing medications is extremely expensive. This expense is reflected in the consumer price, which is why new medications generally cost five times more than similar, older drugs.
The second reason for rising costs in Thailand’s medical system is the expense of medical tests and equipment. MRI machines can range in price from from 2 to 4 million USD, and CT scan systems can cost up to 3 million USD.
When compared to many European countries, Thailand has an overabundance of medical equipment. While many hospitals in Europe will share costly equipment such as MRI machines, most Thai hospitals have their own testing equipment, and sometimes multiple duplicates of the same expensive machine. When hospitals advertise they have state-of-the-art MRI or CT scanners, they have a better chance of attracting more patients. The drawback is, the expense of these machines increases medical costs as the hospitals must raise their prices to cover the initial purchase of this expensive equipment.
Just like the costs of medication and equipment, doctor fees influence medical costs all over the world. Generally, a doctor’s fee is influenced by three specific factors: the seniority level of the doctor, the amount of specialization of a doctor, and the time a patient spends with the doctor. As these three factors increase, so do the costs.
When it comes to Thailand, many people believe if a doctor speaks English he will charge more. While this, however, is not always true, there is a correlation with English speaking and another factor that raises medical costs: whether a doctor has been educated in a foreign country. It is not uncommon for English-speaking doctors to have spent time studying in the US, Australia or other western countries. On the other hand, a doctor who learned both English and Medicine in Thailand will likely be more affordable.
At LUMA, we understand that rising medical costs affect all our members. That’s why, in addition to offering you the best medical insurance in Thailand, we also offer programs and advice to keep you healthy and out of the hospital as much as possible. We want you to achieve radiant health and live your best life, without having to worry about health problems or crippling medical bills. To learn more about how LUMA can help provide you comprehensive medical coverage and improve your health, get in touch with us today at [email protected]