SNM023: Medical Tourism and the Joys of International Healthcare

My experience with medical tourism in Thailand was beyond pleasant.  I went to a Tier 1 hospital and paid five percent of the price of an American checkup.  They gave me a battery of tests and I had a nurse to hold my hand every step of the way.

Normally giving blood is a nightmare.  The phlebotomist has to stick me several times, while blaming my veins for their poor performance.  In Thailand, he got me on the first try.  The technology was first rate and the experience was flawless.

Take Responsibility For Your Health

Many people choose heart surgery over exercise.  We don’t take care of our bodies and expect doctors and hospitals to pick up the slack.  We have outsourced taking care of our selves.  You must be proactive about your health.  It’s time to be serious.  If you are irresponsible, traveling will magnify your problems.

Not Every Country is Ideal for Medical Tourism

Thailand was great, but Japan was awful.  Japan might have cutting edge technology but their doctors and general populace are shockingly ignorant of modern medical science.  In my experience, Japanese hospitals are about 400 years behind the rest of the world.  When I went in for an STD panel, the doctor asked ME which ones to check for.  He had no idea what STDs existed.

In the United States the chlamydia rate is about half of one percent, in Japan it is over ten percent now.  Avoiding shame is more important than health, so most people never get proper checkups and doctors have no idea what to do with people who come in to get tested.

The World Health Organization ranks Japanese healthcare at #10 and the United States at #37, but my experiences are different from their results.  I don’t know how they rank countries, but I’ve never met a person who had a positive experience with Japanese medicine.

Medical Emergencies

Be prepared for medical emergencies.  My neighbor had a heart attack and a regional hospital put stent in his heart.  He was back 5 days later.  Even if you are only going somewhere for a weekend, it’s worth knowing where the best hospitals are located.  I was an EMT in college and unless a patient requested a specific hospital we decided where to take them.  Our decision was based purely on location.  We would transport the patient to the nearest hospital that could handle their level of injury.

If a patient asked for a particular hospital we would take them there. You can decide where you end up in an emergency.

The Birth of My Son

We had my son at the local hospital.  At first my girlfriend wanted to use the local clinic to have our son.  It was a brand-new private clinic built by her doctore. Unfortunately, her water broke a full day before my son was ready to come out.  We had to deliver in the hospital from the only private room.

Here is the clinic room.

Medical Tourism Private Clinic

Here is the bathroom of our private room.  We had to deal with a barrage of mosquitoes and put a towel to block the door to the hospital to keep them out of the room.  It wasn’t fancy, but we got the job done.

medical tourism private hospital room

America Has the Greatest Doctors in the World

We grow up believing that America has the best doctors in the world because of our capitalist system.  Nothing motivates a doctor to save your life like greed…But is that really the driving motivation you want in your healthcare provider?  Do you want someone focused on maximizing their revenue or their bank account?

I had a serious medical problem in England and my experience was top notch.  Despite all their complaints, the British have an amazing healthcare system.

When deciding how to handle medical care, nothing beats experience and actual research.

European Prices

You can find amazing medical care in Europe and save more than fifty percent of your costs.  There are serious financial rewards for traveling and you can often enter a superior healthcare system to boot!

Before You Travel

Learn your chosen country’s medical system, insurance structure, and how they approach traveler insurance. Will anyone accept it or do you have to depend on reimbursement?  Where I live the hospital won’t touch you unless you have cash in your pocket.

Find the best hospitals near you and how to get there before you travel.  We don’t expect medical emergencies when we travel, but we want to be prepared.

Take Responsibility for Your Health

I was huge when i went to the airport.  I stepped on the scale and almost cried when I saw taht I had ballooned up to 272 pounds.  I was a big, fat monster.  Since then I have lost fifty pounds, but I have a long way to go.  Don’t give up your weight loss in the middle.  Keep pushing until you are healthy again.

A doctor told me I would take heart pills for the rest of my life, but I trained until I didn’t need those pills anymore.  You can really change your life.

Slaves to Prescription

Do you take pills every day?  Are you paying way too much?  Could you take back your life?

Prescriptions are cheaper in nearly every other country on earth.  You can train your body and wean yourself off many of those medications.  Lock into a fitness program or hire the best trainer you can afford.

How I Quit Smoking

The key to true change is removing the desire.  Stop fighting against yourself.  I think smoking is disgusting now, that’s how I quit.  I feel the same way about most food, especially deserts.  Disgust is the key to change.

Key Points:

  1. Take control of your health
  2. Research healthcare before you travel
  3. Take action now to improve your health

Resources Mentioned:

There’s Nothing Routine About Going to the Moon

The Program that Saved My Heart

Amazing Online Personal Trainer Forest Vance

Blood Pressure Machine

Serve No Master on Amazon

Send in your questions to podcast [at] servenomaster [dot] com


JCI Accredited Hospitals

Pattaya International Hospital Checkup Pricing/Procedures

Japan Chlamydia Rates

USA Chlamydia Rates

World Healthcare Rankings (USA #37)

Original WHO Healthcare Rankings Report

An MRI Costs $1080 in USA and $280 in France

USA Prescription Rates

Medical Errors are the THIRD leading cause of death in America


Fresh Books First Month Free

Read Full Transcript

I live on as well off the beaten that not only do I live in a developing country I live in a rural part of the developing country on island very far away from the nearest major city every day the flight between me and that major city about a 40 minute flight no problem in an emergency you can even book a private point anytime you have a medical problem there is a local hospital that's okay as of the more serious you go to the big city recently had to go meet a client someone was working with on a project in Thailand while I was there I decided was a great opportunity to experience the medical care there the great thing about Thailand is that they have Hans a first rate hospitals have an amazing selection of really really high-quality hospitals I decided to take advantage of that situation and see exactly expense to be like going for a checkup I wanted hospitals I haven't been to check up in about two years old little worried I needed a tuneup had lost at that point about 50 pounds so wanted to see where I can work next why need to develop what I needed to work on nexus for taking for my body what's amazing is the quality of experience I got for less than $200 I got a chest x-ray I was scanned by several different doctors they checked my eyes to check my ears to check my lungs the check everything at the end of about two hours I'd met with five doctors and about 12 nurses all over this hospital you never get an experience like that to the hospital for a checkup with your doctor for a checkup they gave me so many more tests that I receive in America for 5% of the cost everyone was very knowledgeable the English speaking was amazing at the end of my whole experience it took me for a final meeting with the doctor and she said my blood pressure was too high and that they were worried only to start going on blood pressure medications I merely said you know what I want to retake the test we rechecked my blood pressure and turns out everything was fine these two important things about the story the first is that medical care and other countries is phenomenal as long as you look for a hospital that's JCI accredited that means it has an international accreditation that's been tested and verified over three years that it needs a certain level of standards that cross national borders you don't want any domestic qualifications as any country then they're just relatively one was an absolute quality compared worldwide the second lesson to take from my experience is that you really need to understand your medical situation I knew that something was wrong with us to get first blood pressure test because a certain look at the numbers I got a little more nervous and I manually raise my blood pressure just by being nervous by watching the numbers Michael my gosh it's getting harder and higher that happened to me because I just been writing a book about blood pressure for the last three weeks for client it was on my mind was distracting and it affected my test results this happens to people in America all the time as well people all over the world go in check at the doctor and get a bad blood pressure reading it's very normal this is why you want to ask her reading at the beginning and the end of your session and really take three readings over the course of the day I do consider that to be a little bit of a wake-up call for me that my blood pressure even had a little bit of the risks I bought a blood pressure machine myself the now lives in my house I checked my blood pressure relaxes every day I'm very conscious of that I've taken more more control of my medical destiny when you're living in another country you decide to live some referrals I do you have to make the decision to take control of your medical destiny in America and in the West you have this tendency to pass the buck I'm not in charge of my health that's my doctor's job I'm not in charge of to get my body extending my life first Honda medical care here to take care of me many people in America choose to have I pass rather than exercise and diet rather than lose weight open heart surgery open surgery so common that no longer even seems that overwhelmingly reminds me of Apollo 13 when someone says you go to the moon doesn't that seem routine and he says Tom Hanks Brilliant there's nothing routine about going to the that's how I feel about heart surgery if you're not proactive about your own health you will run into problems and running more and more complexities as you go to other countries when you're choosing where you going abroad are going to trip or make any plans the smart move is to look in advance to see what the quality medical care you receive this I've been in many countries and sometimes the countries we think are the best direction the worst everyone knows ever had medical care in Japan has greatly regretted it friend of mine her arm broke we were living in Japan they set her arm and when she went home to her country in the West that order the set your arm wrong it'll never work right again unless we break it had to re-break her arm I know someone also got the flu in Japan and they made a lot of mistakes with her medical care and I had an expense when her doctor told me that I was we did in 24 hours unless he performed the procedure turns out he made it all up just as an insurance play and in fact the procedure nearly cost my life we think of Japan as the future when it comes to medical experience there very similar to England in the 1600s I would never recommend going to any hospital in Japan I don't and who's ever had a good experience there now they might have good hospitals I've never heard of Evernote had a bad experience there while I want to know what the tile and had an amazing experience talent at the cutting edge for many procedures many surgeries and it's a really really great place to go where I live I'm not in Thailand I live somewhere very rural in a country it's not that close but I can be at the hospital I want in Thailand anytime I want within 12 hours if I have a major emergency the path will be a little different my next-door neighbor for five months ago had a heart attack he immediately was transported to the city that's about 40 minutes away by plane because I live on an island there's no other way to get their mother is a hospital my island he made the right choice to go to the better hospital little bit further way to put a stent in his heart he was back five days later and it looked like nothing had changed he was totally healthy totally recovered there is amazing medical care as long as you take a little bit of responsibility for what's happening you want to check what's available to point of care available to different experiences when my son was born I let my girlfriend decide where we can have she's the one is can be in the emergency room she's one is in the process of having a baby I gave her several choices I said we can have the baby here on the island because the neighboring island that has a bigger city and better hospitals and we can even go to the big city is a 41 a flight away it's a little more complex because you can't fly through the last two months pregnancy so we have to go there and advanced critical plant I was okay with that I want to do the right thing my girl for my son I want the best for both of them she decided to have the child are islands entire experience two nights in the hospital nurses up the was you doctor everything cost us a little under $450 my friend who had a baby in America even with his massive insurance and paying more than I did for the birth of his daughter prices are very different when you go to other countries now I recently talked to my girlfriend about whatever next child deftly will have more she doesn't want to reuse the hospital I totally understand why I think she went a little too casual with this one it was in the hospital that I would've chosen I would've chosen one of the more expensive ones even if we go to a major city the price is indigo of $600 for the same experience having a baby having medical care and other countries is a lot cheaper many of the doctors here were trained in the West there trained at the same schools with the same quality of care using the same procedures as a doctors used going to charge 35 1020 times more money most people assume that medical care experiences doctors in developing countries in foreign countries are terrible medical care in America is not nearly as high as you think this depending on different scales America often ranks somewhere around 37 for medical care that's not exactly the top of the pile when you go to other countries you discover that a lot of your beliefs were misinformation I grew up thinking the doctors in America were amazing because of capitalism then it went to England had a major incident I went to the hospital through the merger had an entire experience wind up needing one of the best doctors in the nation costing nothing I assume that socialized medicine would be garbage until I experienced a lot of our beliefs a lot of the things we think we know about medical care traveling experience there just false information experience and research beats everything else you might decide never want to go to Dr. Asia you don't go to Dr. in South America you only one American or European doctor and that's fine procedures in America still cost more than 10 times more than the same procedure in Europe you can go to an amazing private clinic in Switzerland or Sweden or Germany where we want in Europe and will save at least 60 was on the cost you can fly first class both ways and still spend less than just going to a doctor in America don't make assumptions to research where you decide to live the first step is to understand their medical system had as their insurance is to work do you need insurance does travel shirts work there with even accepted many places you go you have this Travelers insurance covers any medical problem guess what that doesn't work they don't accept what actually happens you're the hospital your broken leg on a ski trip yet to pay for anything yourself out of pocket and then the insurance policy eventually reimburses you if you are doing paperwork correctly make no mistakes trusting in the system come from is fine we want to take the time with our server masterminds and understand how things work in other countries when you are looking at a country to visit or move start by looking at the infrastructure of their medical system how does her medical system rate worldwide duly have hospitals that are JCI accredited are they internationally credit there are three JCI credit hospitals near me and I know exactly where they are so have to do a major procedure by need something big I know where to go to get the best care available if I have time I know I can go to even better hospitals one country away now most of us most people in America actually live a little bit rural we'll all live in the big city I can get better medical care here that I could in the bush in Alaska in the middle of nowhere relative to where you would live somewhere world America I can get amazing medical care here it's not a problem now one thing that's very important you have to change your lifestyle and your mindset when you move when you move to another country I live somewhere where hospitals are not available I'm not five minutes away from the emergency room I live 30 minutes away from the hospital on my island I live in our from the airport which is an hour from the city with his big hospital so I'm 34 hours away from a major hospital for any type of major accident or major incident I got to do a lot of waiting for go to the local clinic there are limitations for emergency emergency medical care that's the real area of limitation most disease in America most health problems in America most of our causes of death in America are preventable all caused by smoking drinking in obesity if you take control of your health destiny you can extend your life you can increase the quality of your life and you can make major changes at an airport last year they weighed me and said I weigh 272 pounds they way everyone when you go to smaller plane to make sure the weights balanced between the two sides of the front and back of the plant smaller towns have enough that I could've tipped this to the wing over crashes of that in order put me when I saw there was 272 pounds at 5 foot nine I really realized I had to make a change to make a dramatic change and I push my weight down and lost about 50 pounds I still need to lose a lot more I need to get down to between one 8200 and know that right now in the 220s or so not nearly good enough in a little bit of a plateau because we moved house and a bunch of things are going on recently my girlfriend have started the second phase my second push to push down the next 50 which involves me writing exercise bike every day which involves me check my blood pressure one or two times a day were really on top of it because you can't trust someone else with your life so many people get overweight don't take care of their health and the only thing keeping them alive is taking pills every day going to the doctor every day being your hospital you're not really in control of your life and you let these things happen that are very devastating when I was younger about five or six years and had a major heart problem through the series of events involved a lot of stress some financial problems far as business partners and projects is working on all came to had ended up in the emergency room with a major hardens having stared down the I in thinking that it was it that I was in the diamond early 30s of heart attack and seeing the look of the doctors eyeing the emergency room I felt real fear I had to change something they told me that for the rest of my life now take three articles every day that for the rest my life the only thing keeping alive would be this tether this change these pills and if I ran out of pills I would die I do not want to give control of my life to someone else I don't want to live in a situation where I can get to the doctor a cake at the pharmacy or there's some type of natural disaster the boxes to harvest I simply die I don't want to do that I started training I workout every day for the next six months and we myself off those pills with a massive series of test at the end of the doctor confirmed that an object is articles anymore he was astounded sometimes we get locked into this idea that the ancillary problems 70% of Americans take a pill every month 50% take to stay alive even more Americans there's a large percentage that take more than three medications every month to stay alive were dependent on medications the pharmacy companies control us and we don't realize it often times we can solve the problem by changing our lifestyle to go to the core of the problem we can fix a problem with the symptoms our fear of moving to another countries often because were used to being coddled the majority of Americans are overweight or obese something around 90 million Americans now have prediabetes or diabetes caused by eating habits not the diabetes type I you're bored with the kind you develop because you over you don't take care of herself were someone healthy and that's very limiting when you are overweight when your massive health problems visiting of the country become scarier and scarier and scarier I would live where I do right now if I still smoked if I was still massively overweight if I was older and older and still having these problems I made is to do I moved here I said I have to take control of my health dusting known as responsible my health anymore so I've begun exercising every day take care my health of lost a lot of weight I still need to lose more because I would get to that perfect level doing pretty good halfway to my goal and this is the point where it's very tempting to quit and very tempting to plateau out not let that happen the microphone just had a big talk last night where I explained to her that I really need her support I get distracted when working recordings podcast I'm working on a new book I get very distracted by work I can go work 12 hours because I love what I do without exercising this morning she woke me up and I'll be honest I was not happy and she said get on the exercise bike she pushed me in the room instead of limiting my morning worksheet ride the bike now I was of two minds part of me wanted to tell her to shut up and stop and I don't want to do it the other part of me knows I need that pressure sometimes it helps to have another person who's really helping you helps to have someone supporting you 100% I hate writing exercise by myself one out there it's me microphone or two kids and the dog it turns into a bunch of fun and experience and once playing talking weekly music my daughter starts dancing next to the bike and having a blast all of that we set up that infrastructure to make it enjoyable suddenly riding the bike isn't so bad I don't hate writing on my own New Mexico came out riding around writing with them so much more fun I live on island with us a lot of excess opportunities a conservative kind everyday the great thing about This bike is that I do it I start my day and then later on if I go out at the waves or something else really just doubles it gives the amazing benefits having something I can do at home I don't like to leave the house a lot right now have a brand-new baby is puppy I like to be close to home but I do love surfing kayaking to do that more more the transition phase with having two babies and dogmas of the things having a baseline having someone support me understands my goals is really valuable she checked my blood pressure every day with a little sheen she writes it down to the little notebook to track things track my blood pressure when exercising what products is what sitting what working when stressed I'm not stressed most of us don't even know how to tackle blood pressure no I don't how to do with this big monitor and a stethoscope I used to work as an NTL as a volunteer in T for deer when I was in college I went to all that training I withdraw the training so I know how it works but we got the electronic in a cost $20 may be $30 it allows us to monitor my health all the time many people have health problems or little weight we don't even by simple devices that can help us take control of our destiny wait to go to the doctor to get that reading your doctor can make mistakes or doctor can mess up things you compiles any piece of medical on Amazon now start taking responsibility for your health for your medical situation an amazing things can happen the really great opportunities there and if you're looking for someone to coach you or someone help you I'll post a link in the notes for this video to a really great fitness coach that actually helped me a lot when I was going through transition phase at my last house now my Jim said it's a little different but I think he's really great I wasn't able to find a good personal trainer on the island where I live right now I tried with a bunch of people -related workouts I found someone online who provided his great coaching great support and really help me overcome and cross my last push me from hundred 12 kg down to 102 kids really help me break that barrier if you need help it's okay to ask for it's okay to make that decision but you have to realize your health is in your own hands by cutting on the way by taking control of your body you can extend your lifespan for 30 or 40 years I am responsible for my health I'm responsible for my family I'm just at the beginning of the big phase of my life and my career the things I do have change now I have also stopped high risk behaviors I used to freak like Johnson Sabre fact when I lived in Wales one of the other country I love living in a used to do free climbing on cliffs about hundred 52 engineer straight up looking back that's so crazy because one slip and I would die all of these experiences in living on the edge and extreme sports guy those are things I enjoyed a little bit of before us are having kids but now I think about in my decision talk to us how it affects the people around my family needs me to support the I certainly don't want my kids living off my life insurance was gone get to see them grow up here some people brag about the size of the waves they ride right 12 foot 50 for 24 rates really serious waves and people fall they snap their spine of the break their arm I don't want to live that close to the edge I ride enjoyable waves that have a blast on I can do some moves but it's nothing like competition level stuff it's nothing where I might crash and break my arm in the top you will support my family did not underwater drought just a few days ago one of my neighbors is always bragging about being a big wave surfer told me the stories it was an amazing search but I went to you gotta go sometime and then he proceeds to tell me a story about how we almost died there yet trapped on the reef underwater at all because he can hold breath for five minutes did he survive use on the water for more than four minutes before escape that doesn't make me want to surf there that doesn't make me want to experience that I don't live that close to the edge anymore if you're younger you think you can live forever really live on the edge you do all these crazy things what a slowdown that living on the edge idea that living on the edge experience when you start having kids would start traveling and doing things you want to find the right balance that fits for your lifestyle that fits for where you are not for singles no kids you just what you want that's fine if you're older your experience might be more about what I first talked you need to take control of your health need to take control of your physical condition need to take more more control of your prescriptions I've been doing a lot of research in the medical field for the past year as of the work on some projects for clients writing about that and really just do a lot of research and read a lot of scientific studies about topics like diabetes hypertension hair loss obesity problems with your heart all those things matter to me because I was long time two years ago I quit smoking I was coughing blood all the time from my smoking I smell like garbage I was gross and I looked in the mirror one day and said no more I got to stop and I've had a cigarette since if you are in that type of situation where you're addicted to something like cigarettes or drinking that you know is killing you it can be very hard to break free we traditionally quit by looking at it and saying I want to do it but I'm not allowed 20 more and that's where temptation exists that's worked hard the way I quit smoking is I replaced the desire was discussed I think smoking is discussed I think it's really gross when someone smokes near me I think they're disgusting I changed my core belief because I know that's how I can save my life I don't have the temptation to smoke because I change my belief about IC's gross I was a far away from it I don't like the smell at all the kids to be around like any of those things there was a very hard line should should for me please think smoking was colossal I changed from pro-smoking guy to totally anti-smoking in fact over the two years since I've quit smoking several times about a dream I spoke to dream and I woke up devastated so upset almost crying the strongest nightmares I have now are about smoking because I never want to go back I hated the thought of it thought of dying young giving of my life if you're young you think you're gonna live forever you can smoke and do all the things you want to do over partying crazy living you want to catches up to you the more you want to travel the more you want to experience the world further up the path you want to go more seriously you have to take your own health you can't trust hospitals doctors anyone else even in America a large number of people die every single year for mistakes hospitals make a lot of mistakes and if you think about it it's a mathematical inevitability millions of people go to the hospital millions of procedures are performed millions of tests are run statistically there's always the a percentage of mistakes it's impossible to have a no mistake experience with millions and millions and millions of events are happening the more you can disconnect yourself from the need for medical care the better the key steps in the process of understanding the medical situation country are going to understand what type of insurance backup care you need to set up to make sure you're covered knowing where all the proper medical facilities are near where you live do you need to be in your hospital do you need to be in your doctor do need different types of care all the time what exactly do you need with those pieces of information you can determine where you live and the options available to you a little bit of knowledge can go a long way when it comes to taking care of your health come proactive take action and realize that medical care in most countries in the world is actually amazing you can find here want hospitals better than your local hospital the charge 5% and when you go in for a procedure you have six nurses and two doctors everyone's giving their attention that feels really really good take control of your medical destiny and don't let it keep you from going abroad

Jonathan Green

Living the dream on a tropical island, Jonathan is the author of Serve No Master and the host of the Serve No Master Podcast.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 1 comments
Carl Cote - October 17, 2016

My experience in Thailand was much the same. When Jonathan mentions greed being a huge motivator for medical doctors in the United States, I have to agree, as well. I’ve spoken with many people who became medical physicians, simply because they desired the lifestyle that it could bring.

Finances aside, the passion was abundantly clear. Even when getting a foot massage in Bangkok, Thailand, I paid less than a quarter of the price than I would in US. They really care about their service, and go above and beyond to provide the utmost professionalism.

Take a look at their movie theaters. Albeit smaller in seating capacity, you can find top notch theaters with state of the art 3D systems. You really get a bang for your buck. I haven’t had a serious medical situation in a foreign country, but I’m strongly considering getting things like dental work done abroad – insurance compliance permitting.


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