India Emergency Room Visit = 5 Rupees

While traveling I get lots of injuries but this is a really stupid one. Got gashed by the ceiling fan in my guesthouse when I stood up on the bed at night. You see being tall is not always so good.

There was lots of blood spilling from my bald head. Luckily some Indian guys next door helped me patch it with my medical kit in the bathroom. A good medical kit is a necessity for traveling, and I’ve used mine and re-filled it at least three times.

The next morning I visited the emergency room at Taluk Government Hospital in Varkala, which is the southmost tip of India. It was a Monday morning and lots of people were there but I got seen and professionally patched up in about 45 minutes.

(Taluk Government Hospital in Varkala)

The facilities were a little sketchy, with some WWI-era equipment and there was a garbage fire burning nearby. But the doctors were fast and thorough and the price can’t be beat:

5 rupees — thats just 7 cents U.S.!!!

Compare that to $200 I paid last time to visit ER in Boston. That means U.S. price is 2,857 times the India price. Note that India actually has universal free health care, U.S. just claims to have universal health care.

I also got treated for a previous wound and prescribed antibiotics and cream, all inclusive of the 5 rupee price.


Since I’m writing about medical costs, I also got an X-ray when I was in Delhi recently. Back in the fall I crashed my rental Royal Enfield motorcycle when a cow came out of nowhere on a blind turn.

The road was sandy and I applied the brakes too hard, crashed and fell on my elbow (the cow was unhurt). I have had lingering elbow pain since, so thought I should finally get an x-ray. The finding was no fracture.

Total cost for X-ray in specialty clinic: 500 rupees … or just under $7 dollars. This is not the price after insurance. I didn’t use my insurance because it’s too much hassle. That’s the straight cash price I paid in Delhi for an X-ray at a private specialist clinic.


Okay maybe I have been smoking and drinking and not flossing much for the past 10 months while traveling. So I finally went to the dentist in Delhi to check the damage.

I went to what seems to be a fancy dentist office: Clove Dental in the gated community of Hauz Khaz. I saw an Indian dentist woman who replaced three old fillings that had come out and filled three new cavities.

(Clove Dental clinic)

The office was very clean and hygienic and they even let me play my own chillout electronic music. She did a great job, with modern equipment and little pain involved. Total bill was 7,200 rupees or $97 U.S. dollars. Not sure what the price in U.S. would be but I guess about 4 times that.

So the verdict is Indian medical costs are rock bottom and dental costs are very reasonable. And now I’m ready to keep traveling and have saved money on medical costs that I can spend on motorcycles and substances that may lead me to get injured again.

What a life!

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