Friday, December 17, 2010

Finally got Sick: First Experiences with the Korean Medical System

I got my first bad cold in Korea. It started with a super bad swollen gland on the left side of my neck.. not a sore throat. To be honest it really felt like strep throat. With less than 2 weeks before I fly home for the holidays I decided it was better to be safe than sorry, and trudged down to the International Clinic (aka English doctor's office) in Itaewon.

I called in and was given an appointment immediately. Already impressed.

In the doctor's office, I arrived a bit early and was admitted immediately. They took my insurance card and information. Doctor gave me a strep test.

Even a dummy like me can't screw this up!
While I was sitting in his office I noticed a brochure for "live-blood analysis" for W130,000($114CDN) . It is something that family members have done in Toronto through a naturopath, with helpful follow up analysis and impressive results. Korea has the cheapest medical care I have ever seen, so I threw that into the mix. They said no problem, and took my blood.

After the nurse did all the testing, they told me to wait outside, read a magazine or relax for about 10 minutes while they ran the test. The had a testing lab IN the doctor's office.

Strep- negatory. Just me being whiny over a bacterial infection. The doctor prescribed me some antibiotics in cool individually-sealed doses and I was on my way.

Unfortunately while I was paying on the way out the receptionist informed me that my insurance had been cancelled ( I paid too late, my bad... This is since been resolved). I pictured some nightmarish medical expense that would be impossible to pay. The actual amount? For the doctor's fee, lab testing, and live-blood analysis, my total came to W170,000. Considering W130,000 of it was from live-blood analysis, I was impressed!

So that is my take on the Korean medical system. Impressive. There is a reason they have a special designated "medical tourism" industry. It's quick, cheap, and safe. Hooray!

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