Our Toshl app flashes a glaring red number on our phone screen: we were over our budget this month by $200, which comes from one item: Health Check. It’s something we planned for, now that we live in Vietnam long enough to know the true cost here. However, it’s definitely a good turning point to look at how much health care can cost in Vietnam.
To be fair, it is still quite a lot cheaper to see a doctor in Vietnam than in the US. However, considering the living standard here, it is still not cheap.
So, exactly how expensive is health care in Vietnam?
Just think about it. Our health check comes up to VND 2 million or $100 each.
Doesn’t sound too bad, right? But considering our monthly budget of VND 10 million or $500, the bill for both of us comes up to almost half of what we allow ourselves to spend for the entire month.
Of course, this is the price tag of an expensive private hospital, with English-speaking doctors and nurses. And we are on a stingy budget, even compared to our middle-class Vietnamese colleagues.
The health care system as a whole is based on a socialist idea, where the government largely subsidizes the medical costs for every Vietnamese citizens. However, I learned from my colleagues that the moment you try to bring your insurance to a hospital, you are treated differently. You wait longer to see a doctor, and he/she will spend much less time on you.
So in order to speed up the service, most people pay an extra “service” fee to the hospital staff. Most doctors will also set up a private practice elsewhere, most of the time in their own homes. People go there instead, even if they have to pay a higher price than at the hospital.
Healthcare cost in Vietnam for expats
As with many things in Vietnam, the price tends to go up for foreigners. Simply because English-speaking doctors, nurses, tour guides, real estate agents, even waitstaff, cost more than the non-English speakers.
While cheaper options are certainly available to Vietnamese, most other hospitals and clinics catering to expats and foreigners are charging quite a premium. It’s that simple, when you are sick, you just don’t have the patience to engage in a body language dance session!
Plus, many expats have a full insurance package to their names. Therefore, many don’t really care about the cost, which gives the clinics the chance to push the price up higher for everyone.
So just a little venting, since we are way over the budget and I’m feeling a bit annoyed at that. On a good side, our test came back all good. So rest assured, the frugal couple are all well and healthy.
Hospitals and Clinics for Expats in Vietnam
If you are in Vietnam or visiting Vietnam soon, here is a list of clinics and hospitals with English speaking doctors and nurses to consult:
1. French Hospital of Hanoi: Hanoi only. Expensive but one of the largest, trusted private hospitals in Vietnam. We personally didn’t have a good experience here, the doctor we met seemed to be a bit full of himself. However, even for locals, it’s like the 5-star hotel of surgical procedures and childbirths.
2. Vinmec Hospital: Hanoi (HCMC Branch coming soon) Brand new hospital, a bit more affordable than French Hospital. Service is quite good, especially for foreigners. However, locals don’t seem to trust this new hospital yet.
3. International SOS Clinic: Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Vung Tau: Small clinic, expensive. Expat doctors are always on site. Good service. Tend to charge crazy prices for foreigners. Only come in with your insurance card ready.
4. Family Medical Practice: Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang. Good, personal service. Currently, this is one of the very few places – that I know of – that caters to expats in Central Vietnam, which is ironic because Danang and Hoi An attracts a large number of expats and tourists.