Monday, February 04, 2008

What's up, Doc? Healthcare in Korea

So we know what kind of crap the American health care system is, right? I mean, you're probably gonna get the top treatment, but its gonna cost you top dollar, and that's even if you have insurance half the time. BUT, you generally will pay for top of the line equipment, and the most sterile environments anywhere (as you'd expect).

Well... none of that is really true here in South Korea. I finally got around to going to the doctor today, as I somehow hurt myself while running at the gym over a week ago. I of course didn't make it any better when I decided to go skiing last weekend or dancing this weekend. ANYWAY, I of course made it worse, and could barely stand without it hurting on Sunday - still walked around a bit that day I might add, so I went to the doctor today.

It was kind of a sketchy looking office. My head teacher was nice enough to escort me to the Orthopedic Surgeon's office and it looked like something that could only make me think of what an elementary school lobby would look like in 1972 - brown panelled walls, linoleum floor, uncomfortable orange seats, big wooden doors and I swore I smelled formaldehyde.

But while it wasn't aesthetically pleasing or comforting in any way, it was incredibly easy. I didn't make an appointment either, I might add. Just showed up and signed my name on the ol' sign in sheet, handed the receptionist my health card, and waited 10 minutes to see the doc. He kind of spoke English, he felt around my foot for a bit, spoke korean to my teacher and I knew enough of what she was saying to realize that she was telling him my stupidity of hurting myself and then going skiing and other various activities.

So he said that because I could have made what started as a bruise a lot worse with my idiot-like approach to these situations, he wanted some x-rays. We walked across the hall to this room that I swore should have housed old files and not an x-ray machine and took some pictures of my foot. There was no lead vest, no one had to leave the room, and I didn't have to take anything but my sock off. If this were home, it would have taken 2 hours to get this done, it would have been a gigantic room with a huge white machine, somewhere in the bowels of a hospital, and I would have been completely alone and wearing one of those gowns that makes you lose all of your dignity.

With all of that being said, I was in and out within an hour, including x-rays and picking up a prescription downstairs at the pharmacy. The whole thing - doctor visit, x-ray, medicine, and the doctor wrapping the ace bandage around my foot cost me 8,000 won. $8. Eight... Dollars. 8. 8!!! I still can't wrap my head around it. I almost wanted to ask him if I could keep my x-rays as souvenirs. If I didn't have insurance? It MIGHT have only cost $20. That would NEVER happen at home.

The medicine was simple too. The doctor visit/x-rays cost $5, and the meds cost $3. They come in this envelope, and individually wrapped packages for each dosage. Korea LOVES to individually wrap things I've noticed:

Overall, not a bad experience. I didn't break my foot, only tore a tendon or a ligament (communication barrier there), so we'll see if this all did the trick when I go back on Saturday for a check up. If you're scared about seeing a doctor in Korea - you really shouldn't be. I mean, doesn't this look like quality healthcare to you:

1 comment:

english said...

Your nail polish looks great! Hope you foot-repairs are in check. If you need soup, give me a shout...I'm next door (Seongnam). Blessings this Lunar New Years too!!! ^^++ Brian, the lone wolf. P.S. My son will be born in about a week or so...^^++ Keep your feet up for a few hours a day. Brian.