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expat life laos healthcare system

An Expat Guide to Laos’ Healthcare in 2024

If you are considering working or living in Laos as an expat, there are normally many points to be aware of, including the country’s healthcare environment. Costs of medical treatment vary tremendously all over the country, therefore we have compiled a practical guide on using Laos’ healthcare system in 2022.  

Public Hospitals in Laos 

In Laos, the public hospitals and clinics have one of the simplest standards of medical equipment, medical personnel and hygiene in Southeast Asia.  The country’s healthcare service in Laos struggles to provide comprehensive services to both expats and local national in the country. This network of hospitals and clinics, accessible to all Lao citizens, offers basic medical services at significantly lower costs compared to private options. However, for expats, navigating this system can pose challenges:

  • Language barriers: Though English proficiency is gaining ground, communication with medical staff might pose difficulties.
  • Limited specialized care: While public hospitals treat common ailments, access to specific specialists or advanced technology might be restricted.
  • Facilities and equipment: While newer public hospitals are emerging, some facilities might not be as modern or well-equipped as private counterparts.
For expats in Laos prioritizing specialized care, modern facilities, and English-speaking communication, private hospitals become the preferred choice. We’ll delve deeper into this world in the next section, equipping you with insights into the best private hospitals in Vientiane and Luang Prabang, cost comparisons, and valuable tips for navigating your healthcare journey in Laos.
 

Private Hospitals in Laos

In comparison to public hospitals, private healthcare facilities are a much better fit for expats living in Laos due to the fact that they offer higher quality healthcare services. However, as long as any dreadful medical situation arises, you are highly recommended to get evacuated to Laos’ neighboring countries such as Thailand and Vietnam, Singapore or even China. It is important to note that hospitals in Thailand are probably better than many of the private ones in Laos and they have English speaking staff. Most hospitals in Laos do not have English-speaking staff.  

Best Private Hospitals in Laos

1. LMC Clinic Vietnam: Located right in the heart of Vientiane, it is poised to become one of the fastest growing and leading provider of private healthcare in Laos. 

Address; Located at 102 ASEAN Rd, Ban Thongtoom, Chanthabuly, LMC Clinic, Vientiane, Laos.

  • Strengths: Excellent reputation, modern facilities, wide range of services (general practice, pediatrics, dentistry, etc.), English-speaking staff, 24-hour emergency care.
  • Weaknesses: Can get crowded, appointments recommended, do not accept credit cards.
  • Contact: +856 30 50 41 994

2. Alliance International Medical Center:  Alliance International Medical Center in Laos opens 24 hours a day, and provides services including Emergency Room, Ambulance and Air Ambulance Evacuation, Outpatient Department, Health Checkup Center, Inpatient Rooms, Radiology Department, Laboratory Department, and Pharmacy.

Address: Honda Complex, Souphanuvong Road, Ban Wattayyaithong, Sikhottabong district, Vientiane Capital, Laos.

  • Strengths: Brand new facility with cutting-edge technology, English-speaking staff, Thai-affiliated for higher standards, 24-hour emergency care.
  • Weaknesses: Most expensive option on this list, some expat reviews mention occasional communication issues with staff.
  • Contact Number – 021-513095 or [email protected]

Alliance International Medical Center, Laos  

Alliance International Medical Center, Laos

3. Luang Prabang Provincial Hospital: As with the rest of Laos, you shouldn’t expect excellent medical care in Luang Prabang. Over the last few years medical care has significantly improved and in most cases, you’ll get treated professionally. The problem is that there are still very few medical facilities and even the better ones lack equipment. Therefore, if it gets serious, you’ll most likely end up being transferred by air to Thailand.

  • Strengths:
    • Experienced doctors and nurses – Many have been practicing in Luang Prabang for years, gaining deep local knowledge and experience.
    • Moreover, it is also affordable compared to Vientiane private hospitals: Costs are considerably lower, making it a more budget-friendly option for expats without premium insurance.
  • Weaknesses:  
    • Limited specialization – It lacks advanced facilities and specialists. For complex medical issues, referral to Vientiane or Bangkok might be necessary.
    • Moreover, they also have older facilities and equipment compared to modern private hospitals as the infrastructure and equipment may not be as modern or up-to-date.
    • Furthermore, expats have also been known to encounter communication challenges as English proficiency, especially among nurses and administrative staff, can be limited, creating potential communication barriers.
    • Lastly, Bureaucracy. Navigating paperwork and procedures can be time-consuming for tourists or non-Lao speakers.
  • Contact – +856 71 254 027

4. French Clinic or Centre Médical Français Vientiane: The French Medical Centre offers expats and travelers a unique alternative to the Lao healthcare system. This French-run facility combines familiar European standards with local expertise, making it a popular choice for those seeking quality medical care with a French touch. The Centre Médical Français accepts most international insurance plans and offer appointment booking online and by phone.

Address: Bvd. Kouvieng Rue Simeuang, Vientiane, Laos

  • Strengths:
    • Experienced doctors: Boasts a team of experienced doctors and specialists in various fields like general medicine, pediatrics, dentistry, and osteopathy.
    • English-speaking staff: Many doctors and nurses speak English fluently, simplifying communication for expats.
    • Modern facilities: Features modern equipment and well-maintained facilities, providing a comfortable and hygienic environment.
  • Weaknesses:
    • Limited opening hours: Operates from 8:30 AM to 7:00 PM, with limited weekend hours.
    • Higher consultation fees: Can be more expensive than some local clinics, although still less than most other private hospitals in Vientiane.
  • Contact: +856 21 214 150

5. Kasemrad Hospital – Kasemrad International Hospital boasts a reputation as a luxurious healthcare haven. This Thai-affiliated hospital lures with its modern facilities, cutting-edge technology, and international standards. However, whispers of high costs and mixed patient experiences swirl around this opulent medical center. 

Address: No.999, 450 years Road, Donnokkhoum Village, Sisattanak District, Vientiane Capital, Lao 

  • Strengths: 
    • Thai-affiliated: Backed by Thailand’s renowned healthcare system, promising high-quality standards and advanced medical technology.
    • Modern facilities: Features a 7-story building with state-of-the-art equipment, offering a luxurious and comfortable environment.
    • Wide range of services: Caters to diverse medical needs with departments for general medicine, surgery, pediatrics, cardiology, oncology, and more.
  • Weaknesses:
    • Tremendously expensive: Kasemrad’s charges are significantly higher compared to most other private hospitals in Vientiane, potentially exceeding many insurance coverage limits.
    • Mixed expat reviews: While some praise the facilities and technology, others express disappointment with communication gaps, service inefficiencies, and perceived overcharging.
    • Limited local integration: Primarily caters to international patients and expats, potentially causing cultural and language barriers with local staff.

Kasemrat International Hospital, Vientiane 

Kasemrat International Hospital, Vientiane

Cost of Medical Treatment 

Even though medical costs in Laos is massively inexpensive, the level of medical service availability is rather restricted, especially in rural locations of the country. Because of this medical evacuation is a vital benefit to have included on your policy.  

expat life laos health system

Inpatient Care 

Laos houses a handful of expat-oriented hospitals which gather especially in Vientiane, including Kasemrat HospitalAlliance International Medical Center and Mahosot Hospital.    

At these expat-friendly hospitals, they have English-speaking doctors and experience superior healthcare facilities. However, their medical expenses are pricier than those of hospitals for Laotian locals.   

Laos Emergency Numbers

Expats living in Laos can call 195 for an ambulance service if an emergency case occurs. 

Besides, ambulances can be provided from adjacent Nong Khai and Udon Thani in the Northeastern region of Thailand. The closest medical facility is Nong Khai Wattana General Hospital in Nong Khai. The better yet further medical provider is Aek Udon Hospital in Udon Thani, which is an hour drive from the border by road.  

Outpatient Care 

Popular outpatient care providers in Laos include LMC Clinic VientianeFrench Medical Center in Vientiane. 

expat life laos healthcare system

Laos Dental Clinics 

Popular dental facilities in Laos include Vientiane International Dental HospitalFrench Dental Center Vientiane and International Dental Center in Vientiane. 

Health Insurance in Laos 

In Laos, there are two key types of health insurance, namely, international health insurance and local health insurance. 

1. International Health Insurance in Laos

In spite of the fact that there are both pros and cons for both kinds of health insurance, international medical insurance is a better fit for expatriates residing in Laos due to its wider coverage, including higher level of flexibility and portability, in contrast to its local counterpart

  • Wider coverage: With an international plan, you benefit from comprehensive coverage encompassing a broader range of medical services, from routine checkups to specialized care. This is particularly crucial in Laos, where access to specific specialists might be limited in local healthcare systems.
  • Flexibility and portability: International plans offer the advantage of being portable, allowing you to seamlessly access healthcare coverage regardless of your location, be it within Laos or elsewhere in the world. This provides peace of mind during travel or temporary relocation.
  • Higher reimbursement limits: Compared to local plans, international insurance often boasts higher reimbursement limits, minimizing your out-of-pocket expenses for covered medical services. This can be especially beneficial for unforeseen emergencies or specialized treatments.

2. Local Health Insurance in Laos

  • Lower cost: Local plans generally come at a more affordable price point compared to international options. This can be appealing for budget-conscious expats or those with minimal healthcare needs
  • Limited coverage: However, local plans often have narrower coverage, potentially excluding specific services or treatments that could be important for expats, like specialist consultations or repatriation for medical emergencies.
  • Accessibility limitations: Some local plans might require enrollment as a legal resident or employee in Laos, making them inaccessible for certain types of expat visas or short-term stays.

In Laos, there are a range of health insurers who best match with expats living in the country. The medical insurers we find most commonly used among expats residing in the country include 

  • Expacare: Renowned for their global network and comprehensive coverage, including evacuation and repatriation services.
  • A Plus: Offers flexible plans with customizable options and competitive pricing.
  • Morgan Price: Specializes in international health insurance for individuals and families, with multilingual support.
  • Cigna: Recognized for their extensive provider network and high-quality medical care services worldwide.

Our Advice 

If any case of emergency takes place, be mindful of where medical and dental care facilities are located. Ensure you know what the medical costs are in your specific location of Laos. As an expatriate living in Laos should definitely consider having medical evacuation on your medical insurance plan because it is a benefit that is often used by expats in countries with limited healthcare facilities. 

At i-Brokers, we take great pride in offering the best service possible when it comes to insurance. 82% of consumers who compare insurance with i-Brokers find lower premiums. Can you afford not to? Click here to get a quote on your medical insurance. Choose an insurance plan that best suits your requirements and the needs of all the people you care about. Here’s a story about Brandon, an expat from Los Angeles, who relocated to Pattaya and had an emergency medical condition which was taken care of by his international medical insurance policy.