Healthcare is improving in Vietnam but not near the quality of Thailand or Malaysia.

‘I couldn’t afford to go to the international clinic (SOS, which is an international medical group operating clinics in 70 countries) ,’ our friend Dan said. ‘I go to a local hospital. Vietnamese doctors are very cheap. I go to Medicoast, (a Vietnamese hospital) down the back beach here, and I get full blood work done for $40.’

Dan said he really needs to give health insurance more attention. ‘I have travel insurance through my credit card but that may not be at all sufficient for a full time resident’

However, he added, ‘It doesn’t cost a lot of money to go to the doctor here.’

Ross is another gentleman we met in Vung Tau. He said, ‘Health is probably one of my biggest concerns. When I first started coming here, I had health insurance and now the price is through the roof because I have pre-existing conditions, including atrial fibrillation.

‘A couple of times I have been concerned about treatment and thought of flying home. I go to the hospital and the doctor can’t explain his findings to me. My wife’s English isn’t that good—she can’t explain what I want to say.

‘But, on the other hand, the doctors are pretty good here. One female Vietnamese doctor I go to was trained in Melbourne—she is based in Ho Chi Minh but comes to Vung Tau occasionally.

‘And services are cheap. I can go to a heart specialist here and get all the necessary tests for $70.’

However, if you are living in a country like Vietnam and have no evacuation or medical insurance and you are over 50, you are flirting with danger. What happens if the local medical service cannot cope with your injuries or illness? You will have to be evacuated by plane to another country. This evacuation costs tens of thousands and then there are the medical costs that will be incurred in Singapore, Bangkok, Australia, or wherever else you may be evacuated to.

All of this points to the need to look into some form of international private health insurance cover.