Saturday, November 20, 2010

Korean Health Care

Dear Readers,

The time has come to write about health care.  Now that Brent and I have both experienced the health care system, I've got a few stories to share.

First of all, a tad bit of research tells me that in Korea participation is compulsory, health coverage is universal, insurance benefits are standardized, the government is primarily responsible for paying, and doctor's fees are standardized.  We have international coverage through our employer.

Having said that, our recent trips to the doctor for various ailments has been quite the education.  First, we both battled some sort of infections for several weeks.  We didn't have time nor an inclination to head to the doctor.  Too much of a pain to coordinate, right?  Yes, but after 3 weeks of illness we finally gave up and went to the doctor to see about getting antibiotics.  We took the family by cab to a place about 20 minutes away.  I saw a doctor, received a diagnosis of sinus infection and a prescription for 4 drugs, and headed to the desk to pay upfront (money will go toward my deductible).  All told, less that $100 total.

Yes.  Less than $100 for my doctor visit and my drugs!  Brent's fees were similar.

Just over a week later I made another visit to an allergy clinic for an allergic reaction to something unknown that resulted in another prescription of 3 days of 3 drugs.  Doctor's visit?  $16.  Drugs? $7

Brent ended up making a quick visit to another doctor for wax in his ear that he needed cleaned out.  Again, the doctor visit and treatment were incredibly cheap - but effective.

We stopped in a mall last week to see about eye exam and new glasses for Brent.  The optometrist was able to see him immediately.  The visit was short; he found some glasses; we were done in 1.5 hours.  The bill was $200 for everything.

So, we're pretty impressed overall.  I've heard that some people are dissatisfied with some of the prescriptions as being too weak to really tackle the problem, so we've heeded the advice of those who have doctor recommendations.   On the other hand, I know that some people make sure they get all their dental work taken care of here as it is so much cheaper.  I see why.

Of course, language can be an issue.  Our school nurse is helpful with calling and setting up appointments.  Taxi drivers are helpful pointing out the right building. 

At any rate, I now understand why our Korean exchange student was so shocked by a $68 prescription for eyedrop treatment!

Here's to your health!

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE the Korean health system - so cheap and easy to see a doctor. Most of the time, you don't even need to make an appointment, and all you need to do before seeing a doctor is to write your name, address, phone number and your birthday on a little slip that they give you at the reception. Most illnesses are under 10 dollars to see a doctor, and I was surprised when you said that the first trip to the doctors costed you a little bit under 100. That seems a lot to me, and I am assuming it was a big illness? Compared to the US, seeing a doctor and getting prescription takes shorter time and is so cheap. It is not as confusing either as you don't have to go through the insurance thing and getting paper bills to your house. I love it! You're in for a good place for medical stuff, especially when you need to get your teeth cleaned or seeing a doctor for little things such as cold! Hope you have more of good experiences with the Korean health system!


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