Bangkok Chiangmai Hospital and My Bad Back

Jumping right to the conclusion: whether you go in for a bad back or anything else, review your medical bills carefully before paying and make sure you ask for what you want from the moment you set the appointment . . .

I spent a $100 or so more than expected to address my bad back. The customer service and administration reviewed my complaints and eventually satisfied me. I finally got the exercise tips I went in for, but a lesson was learned.

I followed up my blood pressure issue in Chiangmai this trip (Jan 1- Jan 8) See: http://www.tourguizhou.com/bangkok-chiangmai-heart-center/. Since Thailand is known for it’s massages, I figured the Bankok Hospital therapists might know the best excercises to help my low back. I’ve had this condition (alignment problem in low back) for a good 35 or 40 years. Since Thailand is noted for both massages and kick boxing, this seemed like the place to go. I like massages and probably hurt myself with my Taikwondo kicks when I was young.

Unfortunately time was short the day I visited. All I wanted was to get some pointers on exercises that I should and shouldn’t do, and perhaps have a physical therapy session showing me the best treatments. The doctor insisted that I get an Xray before giving me advice. This was beyond what I really wanted but he assured me that it would only cost between 25 and 50 USD. He also asked about whether I had a back brace. When I told him no, he said he would give me one.

After the Xray he diagnosed my condition as spondylolithsis, a condition that I had already told him about. Since I was late for my bus back to the Hostel I was quickly given a brace by a tech and I paid my bill. It seemed high, but I didn’t really have time to review it. It was for both the visit to the heart specialist and the back issue.

My back doctor made an appointment for me for the following day to see a “consult specialist”. After reviewing the billing I discovered that the heart specialist and blood pressure medication totalled about $26.80 and the back related expenses totalled $185.47 The back brace that the doctor said he would give me cost $53.57 and the Xray related services, which were quoted to me at between $25 and $50 cost $85.71.

I didn’t appear for the appointment the following day out of fear of further charges. At that point I hadn’t received any physical therapy or advice of significance other than don’t do sit-ups and don’t bend the back.

The doctor seemed pre-programmed: Consult, Xray, Diagnose, sell a back brace, refer to the next doctor. I reviewed the entire event with the hospital administrators and I eventually got the therapy advice I needed. It was complimentary. Also, the Xray and brace were helpful, so I can’t really complain about the value. I simply relearned something I should already know: just because somebody speaks English doesn’t mean they listen to English well, or even that they are listening.

There is another point that came up as I talked to the administration and quality control boss. When coming into the hospital, it is important to be clear on what symptoms you have, how long you have had the symptoms, what prior treatment you have had, and what you want in way of treatment/results. Then, get an estimate of the costs.

The Chinese hospitals I have been to seem to have a good system. They bring you in and you pay a nominal sum to talk to the doctor, and then decide what needs to be done. Then you go to the cashier to pay for the treatments in advance. With paid receipt in hand, you go and get your treatment. That’s a Chinese system.

As a foreigner, if it is convenient, it is probably a good idea to sit down with some translation software and write out your issues and expectations prior to your visit. If not convenient, maybe the intake people can handle enough English to perform this function.

One of the leaders in the hospital spoke really excellent English. It turns out he was in the US military and served both Bush presidents, two campaigns, in Iraq. After retiring from the US military, he worked a few years in a US hospital before returning to his native Thailand. I got really good service from him, not only at the hospital, but he defended my country as well. He even went back to his native land and saved Trump the trouble of deporting him.

I can recommend the Bangkok Chiangmai Hospital for your health care needs. As noted above, you need to be clear from the outset what you expect and need, but the pricing is good and the people are competent and quite nice.

Chiangmai Airport and Bus to Suneta

Last visit to Chiangmai I had a bad taxi experience. I was charged 300 Baht ($9.26) for a ride to the hostel from the airport. The price should have been about 150. So this trip I used a bus, for 20 Baht ($0.62).

To access the bus system and go to Suneta you leave the airport terminal from Gate 1. That is a left turn out of the baggage area all the way to the opposite end of the terminal. Go out the gate and turn left about 150 meters to the bus area. Bus #3 is the one you want and tell the driver to drop you at the Tha Phae Gate. Follow the directions here: http://www.tourguizhou.com/chiangmai-suneta-hostel/