Do you get unexplained, frequent headaches? Does your lower back hurt all the time? Is it hard for you to fall asleep at night?
These are questions you and many other expats might be facing here in Bangkok.
You could assume what the causes are, but it’s still better to seek professional help and find out what’s been causing your symptoms.
And the most effective way to find the root cause of your ailment is to get a health checkup.
One of the most common questions I get by email is which hospital I use for health checkups in Bangkok.
If that’s all you want to know–that’s easy. I go to Bumrungrad International Hospital.
Their prices are higher than most hospitals in Bangkok, but they have the shortest wait times and their staff speak excellent English.
But if you need a bit more info before choosing a hospital, read on.
This guide shows you how to find the right hospital for a health checkup in Bangkok, what the process is like, and how much it costs.
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- 1 Why are Health Checkups Important?
- 2 Why Thailand?
- 3 When to Get a Health Checkup
- 4 How Often Should You Get a Health Checkup?
- 5 Hospitals
- 6 Common Packages and Costs
- 7 Choosing Your Package
- 8 Preparing for Your Health Checkup
- 9 What Your Results Mean
- 10 Follow Up Treatments
- 11 Now, on to You
Why are Health Checkups Important?
Health checkups help you find potential diseases or injuries before they become too serious to treat.
The human body is a complex system that goes through wear and tear.
As we age more, we become less supple and become more prone to diseases and injuries.
Whether it’s blood pressure that’s too high or blood sugar that’s too low, health checkups reveal what’s causing those pesky body aches and pains.
Expats usually find to their amazement how health checkups are a more pleasing experience in Thailand compared to back home.
International hospitals in Bangkok have English speaking medical staff. And walking into an international hospital is like stepping into a five-star hotel.
Health checkups in Thailand are some of the cheapest in the world. Average checkup packages start at just 3,700 baht. That’s roughly $112.
The price for this package gets you all the basic tests you need, such as:
- body mass index test (BMI)
- blood work
- cholesterol checks
Compare this price with the average cost for a health checkup in America at $2,164.
Aside from the affordable prices, you should also get your health checkup in Thailand for the simple convenience of it all.
You can easily find hospitals online, compare services and prices, and make an appointment in just a few minutes.
Waiting time is comparably short and tests are usually completed in a few hours.
You can complete your health checkup in half a day. This means you can schedule a hospital visit and still enjoy your vacation in Thailand.
When to Get a Health Checkup
You should start getting yearly health checkups when you’re in your twenties and thirties.
Although you may feel like there’s no reason to get one at this age, especially if you feel great, some preventive care can go a long way.
If you’re in your forties you may be too distracted with career and family life to get a health checkup. But you could be putting your health on the back burner.
It’s important to get regular health checkups at this age to check for the development of chronic ailments.
As you ease into the golden years of your fifties, your health checkups should be preventative in nature.
You can expect your health checkups to include:
- bone density scans
- fecal occult blood tests
- hearing assessments
- and many others
Cliche as it may sound, an ounce of prevention is still worth more than a pound of cure.
No matter what your age, with critical information about your health you and your doctor can come up with the right strategy to prevent health issues in the future.
How Often Should You Get a Health Checkup?
How often you go for health checkups depends on your age.
If you’re in your twenties or younger, getting a health checkup once every two or three years should suffice.
If you’re in your thirties you should get a health checkup once every one to three years.
And if you’re in your forties or older, you should get a health check up every year.
If you smoke, drink, have hereditary health conditions, or possess any risk factors, your physician may recommend for you to come in more often.
And if you have a chronic condition, you may need to work with your physician to customize a personal checkup schedule.
Many insurance providers, including Luma, gives you a free health checkup every year. Getting it can be a great way to keep your body in check.
Depending on where you live or are staying in Bangkok, there are many government hospitals and private hospitals that offer health checkups.
Government hospitals in Bangkok offer quality care for the price, and some of the doctors at government hospitals also practice at private hospitals.
But in most cases, doctors and staff won’t be as fluent in English as with private hospitals, so you may have some trouble explaining yourself if you can’t speak Thai.
Prices at government hospitals are cheaper, but they tend to be overcrowded.
You have to show up early in the morning and wait in long lines. The process can take almost an entire day.
And you won’t get to spend too much time talking to the doctor.
For these reasons, most expats prefer to get their health checkup at a private hospital.
You can get a health checkup at government hospitals like
Private hospitals in Bangkok mostly offer first-class healthcare and a majority of their doctors have gotten their medical degrees abroad.
Therefore, you can easily talk to and explain to your doctor your health concerns without worrying about anything getting lost in translation.
Private hospitals are more expensive than government hospitals, but still cheaper than top hospitals in the West.
And you only spend a few hours getting a health check up at a private hospital compared to spending all day at a government hospital.
If you live in Bangkok, you have quite a few choices for private hospitals. Some of them are:
- Bangkok Hospital
- BBH Hospital
- Bumrungrad International Hospital
- Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital
- Sukhumvit Hospital
If you ask Karsten, the founder of Thailand Starter Kit, he’ll tell you that Bumrungrad offers great value for the money.
Even if prices tend to be a bit higher than some private hospitals in Bangkok, the overall experience is second-to-none.
He goes to Bumrungrad mostly for two reasons:
Burungrad diagnosed a problem that was misdiagnosed by other private hospitals.
And because his doctor friends from the US and Germany use Bumrungrad.
Check out Bumrungrad’s website to schedule your health checkup.
If you live or are staying in Samutprakan, and would rather not travel to Bangkok, you can get a health checkup at:
Regardless of where you are, you’re bound to find a private hospital where you can have your health checkup done.
You can also go to clinics in Bangkok for a health checkup.
If you’re near the Thong Lo area check out MedConsult.
If you’re near Silom Road check out Global Doctor Thailand.
You can get cheap healthcare at these clinics while you’re away from home, although the standards might not be on par with government and private hospitals.
Common Packages and Costs
The most common health checkup packages include tests for:
- blood pressure
- glucose levels
- body mass index
- complete blood count
- kidney function
- liver function
- chest x-ray
If you’re female, you have the option to get a Pap test and mammogram.
If you’re male, you have the option for a testicular exam.
Here is a comparison of the most basic packages from three hospitals popular among expats:
|Common Tests||Bumrungrad Hospital||Bangkok Hospital||Samitivej Hospitals|
|Vital signs, BMI||✓||✓||✓|
|Complete Blood Count||✓||✓||✓|
|Fasting Blood Sugar||✓||✓||✓|
|Lipid Profile: Cholesterol, HDL, LDL, Triglyceride||✓||✓||✓|
|Kidney Function: Creatinine||✓||✓||✓|
|Kidney Function: BUN||×||✓||×|
|Liver Function: SGOT (AST) and SGPT||✓||✓||✓|
|Stool Exam with Occult Blood||✓||✓||×|
|PAP Smear and Pelvic Exam (Female Only)||✓||×||×|
|5,670 baht||3,700 baht||3,900 baht|
Depending on your age, other tests may be added such as:
- eye checks
- cervical cancer screening
- prostate checks
- hearing tests
- abdominal ultrasound
- lumbar hip tests
- carotid Doppler
- bone density scans
Prices for these tests range from 3,700 baht to 39,171 baht depending on the type of health checkup you need. Prices can be higher for older patients.
The most expensive program thus far is a comprehensive checkup called Holistic Female offered by Bumrungrad Hospital.
This checkup includes 26 crucial tests of the most common ailments for women.
Most basic programs will require a couple of hours, but programs with more tests may require four to six hours.
Choosing Your Package
Hospitals in Thailand have an extensive array of choices when it comes to health checkups.
The most basic programs like the ones in the table above are most commonly known as the Annual Checkup.
These checkups usually last two to three hours, and are recommended if you’re thirty to forty years old. They cost about 3,070 baht to 5,115 baht.
The next level is the Executive Checkup. This checkup comes with tests such as:
- eye screening
- hearing screening
- tumor marker tests
This checkup usually lasts three to four hours, and are recommended if you’re thirty to fifty years old. They cost about 11,500 baht to 21,700 baht.
For those over fifty years old, there are packages that are sometimes called Comprehensive, Comprehensive Advanced, Ultimate Checkup, or Premium Life Program.
Age groupings and package names are different at each hospitals so you should talk medical staff to find out which of these packages to get.
These packages are more suitable to senior citizens and are about four to eight hours long and cost between 23,900 baht and 38,750 baht.
These packages will include tests like:
- Gamma GT
- thyroid panels
- Hepatitis screening
- tumor markers
- eye exams
- Vitamin B12 and Calcium deficiency
- electrolytes exam
- bone density test for L-spine and hip
- ankle brachial index
Some hospitals also offer Prenuptial Programs for people looking to get married.
These tests include:
- Hepatitis screening
- ABO Grouping and Rh Group
- Venereal disease
- Anti HIV
- Hemoglobin Typing
- Rubella IgG
Prices for these tests range from 4,620 baht to 5,360 baht.
Preparing for Your Health Checkup
When you have your health checkup scheduled, here are a few things you need to do to get ready for the next day’s checkup:
Get eight hours of sleep. Sometimes, not having enough sleep can affect test results for body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate.
Wear comfortable clothing so nurses and doctors can get to your upper arms for the blood pressure tests.
Don’t eat or drink within eight to ten hours before your checkup. You could occasionally drink water to stay hydrated.
Don’t drink alcohol within 24 hours of your checkup. This may cause an abnormal result in your renal ammonia tests.
Continue your medications as prescribed by your doctor.
For women, don’t schedule a health checkup seven days before or after your menstrual period.
If you really need to get the checkup while on your period, tell the nurse so they can cancel the urine test.
You should also avoid a digital mammogram if you’re on your period since swollen breasts and tenderness are fairly common a this time.
Inform the nurse or doctor if you’re pregnant so they can cancel x-ray exams.
Tell your doctor if you have a chronic illness or other health problems.
And it helps your doctor if you can bring previous test results or medical reports.
What Your Results Mean
After your health check-up, you get a small medical book with all your results and the doctor meets with you to go over them.
The doctor usually asks questions about any chronic diseases, family health history, and your lifestyle.
Be prepared to have this info on hand since it helps your doctor to interpret the test results.
Your test results may come back as positive, negative, or inconclusive.
A positive test result means that a certain indicator for a health condition is present or higher or lower than normal.
A negative result may mean a substance wasn’t found or it’s present in normal amounts.
Inconclusive tests are, as the name implies, those that are neither positive or negative, or that the amount is clear enough to indicate normal levels or not.
For example, a positive result is a good thing if your physician tests for presence of antibodies but bad if it indicates presence of the HIV virus.
When it comes to blood work, there are healthy thresholds where you can’t go above or below, depending on your age, gender, and other traits.
These are called reference ranges and they’re gather by testing large groups.
These are true for tests such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar, and other chemicals in the body.
A normal blood pressure is within the range of 90/60 and 120/80. Anything below that is hypotensive and anything higher is hypertensive.
Cholesterol comes in three categories: total, LDL, or bad cholesterol, and HDL, or good cholesterol.
Normal levels vary according to age. But for adults total cholesterol levels are ideally less than 200 milligrams per deciliter, or mg/dL.
LDL cholesterol levels shouldn’t be higher than 100 mg/dL.
HDL levels should be kept high, with optimal levels at 60 mg/dL or higher.
Follow Up Treatments
After your health checkup your doctor usually recommends doing exercise or making diet changes. He or she may even suggest more tests.
You can elect to take more tests right then and there, or you can waive them and take your medical concerns to another specialist.
Usually, doctors can also refer you to a specialist that they know if you don’t have one.
Now, on to You
No matter what your age, gender, or current health condition, getting regular health checkups is a good way to identify health problems before they become bigger.
If you’re still uncertain about which hospital to visit for your health checkup, make an appointment with Bumrungrad Hospital.