Having the surgery done at a V.A. hospital would be free but it would take three to four flights to the U.S. and several months to before it would be completed. While I was surprised to learn I have free V.A. medical benefits for the rest of my life, if I'm outside of the U.S., it doesn't do much good. The V.A. only provides care outside of the U.S. for veterans with service connected disabilities.
I've talked about hospital prices in Thailand previously. While prices are generally lower than those in the U.S. and Europe, costs are rising. Hip replacement surgery at Bumrungrad Hospital was quoted at between 350-450K baht ($11,000-$14,000) while Vejthani was 500-550K ($15,625-$17,200). Rajavej Hospital in Chiang Mai is 250-300K ($7800-$9400) and the orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Chanakarn, has an excellent reputation. When talking about medical care, quality of care is more important than price but clearly, it pays to shop around.
But Scott, don't you have medical insurance?
Yes, actually I do. However, as I was seriously injured in a fall more than a dozen years, BUPA considers my bone disease, arthritis, and orthopedic problems pre-existing conditions. Isn't that convenient? At some point, our family will move back to the U.S., at least on a part-time basis. Free medical care is hard to beat. It's nice to know we're all insured here, our coverage is major medical only, I have pre-existing conditions, and should one of us have a major issue, the benefits would be exhausted fairly quickly. If you want coverage similar to what you receive in the west, guess what, you need to pay a similar premium. You get what you pay for.
I leave for Chiang Mai in a little under two weeks. Surgery is on the 29th. With any luck, and a bit of rehabilitation, I'll be back in Bangkok within a week. The past six months have been tough. Walking has been difficult, painful, and tiring. Hopefully this surgery will allow me to return to live outside of my home and The Mall Bangkapi.
As my mother told me, "Maybe after the surgery you won't be such a curmudgeon." Leave it to my mother to tell it like it is.