India medical treatment cost & travel update

We’ve been back in India for over two weeks now. Our Airbnb in Kochi, Kerala — far to the south on the Arabian Sea — is spacious and comfy. It’s hot and humid and swampy here, but also a bit more urbane than many places we’ve previously been in India.

Further, after being in Europe this summer, and touristy centers in Türkiye too, we’ve also been pleased at the shockingly low prices that still exist in India. One to $2 cab/Uber rides, $3 to $4 restaurant meals, 10 to 20 cents for local buses and ferries! (Of course, the local population would say prices are up – and creeping higher.)

We’ve also had more experience with medical costs already. Unfortunately, on the plane trip from Antalya, Türkiye thru Dubai, UAE to Kochi, I could feel something happening in my sinuses. It was a flare up of the lifelong sinus issues I’ve had (including a surgical ‘turbinectomy’ over 20 years ago).

Sure enough, within a couple days, a wicked sinus infection had developed. Headache, complete congestion, nasty green phlegm, fatigue. I’ve now spent ten days medicated, resting, recovering.

The good part: the cost of medical treatment in India. I had a root canal in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, in early in January 2023. Total cost for that ’emergency’ – including top-of-the-line ceramic crown – less than $300!  The current sinus infection expenses — similarly affordable.

On the internet, I researched local ENT (ear nose throat) specialists – and settled on a highly rated and experienced doctor with a ‘home office’ about ten minutes away by city bus (fare 12 cents).

That is Dr. Vinod B. Nair with me in the photos above; a knowledgeable, personable, perfect English-speaking physician who seemed delighted to have an American patient. I called Dr. Nair on the phone, arranged a late afternoon same-day appointment, and spent about 30 minutes in consultation. Total price for his exam/prescriptions: $8.40.

After the office visit, he sent me off to the neighborhood pharmacy with three medical prescriptions and instruction to get a steam vaporizer. A few blocks up the busy road, I procured the medications at a ‘classic’ Indian-style pharmacy — an open storefront counter.

The extremely friendly pharmacist at the family operated Kerala Medicals provided everything needed — antibiotics, oral decongestants, nasal spray, and vaporizer — in just a few minutes. Cost for the pills: 483 rupees/$5.80. Nasal spray: 106 rupees/$1.27. Steam vaporizer machine: 440 rupees/$5.28.

Total out of pocket for this initial treatment of my sinus infection: $20.75. Plus 24 cents round trip bus transportation. Grand total: $20.99!

No deductible. No co-pay. No in/out of network nonsense. No waiting. No insurance. No attitudes. No driving/parking. No hassles. 

It was all enjoyable – a good experience. With curious, friendly medical practitioners who were thrilled to meet me (and would have talked for hours if I was willing). Honestly, it was like a time warp — back to 1970. Fantastic and fun!

For once, I’ve been a good patient too – religiously following the treatment regimen detailed by Dr. Nair. Including cell-phone alarms for the medicines and using the steamer several times each day. I’ve abided by the dietary restrictions too; avoid ice cold beverages, no citrus, no alcohol (mostly). I’m greatly improved but have a follow-up with the doctor scheduled.

Of course, I will gladly pay another $8.40 office visit – and more medicine if necessary. I want this green yuk out of my head. I’ll also discuss more long-term/permanent sinus treatment options with Dr. Nair. Hopefully I can get this health issue settled for another 20 years. I can’t imagine a better, more economical, and ‘user-friendly’ opportunity than this winter in south India.

As always, be thankful and generous, happy trails & more beer.

Life is NOW!

The end is near.

Thanks for reading, “India medical treatment cost & travel update.”

1 thought on “India medical treatment cost & travel update”

  1. Pankajakshan Nair

    Fantastic. Your write up is to the core and encouraging. Your attitude to life is very much positive. Myself also respect Dr. Nair.

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