Bernard was on his annual trip to see his mother in Italy. He left Australia and planned to spend 2 – 3 weeks catching up with old friends in Bangkok. But something was different this time around. He was experiencing chest pains and difficultly breathing. He was not aware of any underlying health issues and thought this was something minor. At least he hoped so.
At 2 am, Bernard woke the owner of the guest house he was staying at and asked her to drive him to Samitivej hospital. The shortness of breath, feeling of fatigue and nausea wouldn’t go away. He arrived at the emergency desk at Samitivej Hospital and explained his condition to the staff. He was immediately admitted to the hospital where an echocardiogram revealed Bernard’s heart was only operating at only 30%. How was this possible? His doctor in Australia had given him the all-clear only months before his departure. The following day, Bernard was feeling marginally better and decided to check himself out. However, it seemed the nausea and difficulty in breathing were getting worse. Within 24 hours Bernard was forced to check himself back into the hospital. This time the hospital ran a more detailed angiogram and found Bernard had blockages in 4 arteries providing blood to his heart. Bernard was immediately admitted to the ICU unit. The doctors informed him there was no way, at 68 years of age, that he could possibly get on a plane to Italy or return to Australia for free treatment without risking a heart attack.
After a week in ICU, Bernard’s condition stabilized to the point where he was strong enough to undergo surgery. A quadruple bypass was performed by one of Thailand’s leading heart surgeons. Although doctors informed him there was a significant risk, the operation was successful. Even so, Bernard needed to spend several additional days in ICU and another 5 days under observation following the operation. With no travel or health Insurance Bernard found himself telephoning his son in Australia and sister in Italy to help him in paying the 2 million baht hospital bill. This was a real shock for Bernard as someone who had always been healthy, had relied solely on the public hospital system all his life and was unprepared for such a life-changing event. From this point forward unless Bernard can find the means to pay future medical bills himself, he will be restricted to treatment in the public health system of his home country Bernard has also essentially become uninsurable. Most companies, including travel insurance companies, will not insure someone planning travel to another country who has suffered such a serious medical event. Future overseas trips will never be the same for Bernard.
So how can somebody avoid a disaster of this kind? The 1st thing is a change in mindset. People need to recognize that accidents can and do happen. Even in people who otherwise appear perfectly healthy. Serious accidents and illnesses happen to people just like you and me more often than we care to think about. The 2nd thing is to focus on Prevention. Start eating healthier and exercising more regularly. Quit smoking and lose weight to enjoy a healthier, less stressful lifestyle. Join fitness and health programs like the Fit Father Project designed exclusively for people over 40 in the second half of their life (I have personally enrolled in this program myself and the results have been nothing short of amazing). Undergo annual health check-ups at your preferred hospital. For example Samitivej hospital provides annual check-ups for the heart as well as general health tests. Prices start at 10,000 THB for the basic Heart Disease Detection and Risk Assessment Program – Exercise Stress Test. Finally if you plan on traveling or moving to a foreign country take out health insurance with a reputable provider (not necessarily the cheapest) before you travel. Many people happily buy insurance for their car, house, jewelry and even pets but often avoid insuring themselves. Insurance is not a luxury. It is an absolute necessity if you are planning to live or visit another country. As a foreigner you will be responsible for finding the money to fund your medical treatment should you land up in the hospital due to accident or illness.
Contact Thai Expat Club today and let us help you with your health insurance requirements.
Telephone or WhatsApp +6689-897-9435