Sep 26, 2012

Student Artwork and Korean Healthcare

My 2nd graders are learning about animals, so today we drew what we would put in our zoo.

I like the way he thinks.

So close.

A shocking (or not so shocking, I suppose) number of angry birds made the cut.

In unrelated news, I just realized I never finished the story of my encounter with universal healthcare (GASP).  Last we left our heroine, she (I) was fighting some sinister infection in her throatal/chestal region. (Yep. It's a thing. Just go with it.) I made an appointment at the international clinic at one of the major hospitals in Seoul. It was easy. They would have been able to see me 2 hours after I called, had I been available. As it was, I made an appointment for two days later. Wednesday afternoon rolled around, and I headed out. 

(Side note: this was my first time EVER being paid to be sick. So this is what being a normal person feels like? You just get all the time?!)

Focus, Meg. Stay on topic. 

Anyway, I arrived at the clinic and they whisked me right into the doctor's room. A med student examined me, then a real doctor came in. She said she was going to give me a refiill of my inhaler (damn you, asthmatic lungs), antibiotics and a cough suppressant. I asked if it would make me sleepy. She looked at me like I'd asked if it would help me grow an extra head. So no, then.

After the exam, they told me to pay in the lobby and wait for my prescription. I walked up to the cashier. This was the Moment of Truth. Everything in my American brain was meticulously going through my bank account balances, trying to divvy up how to pay this bill. I was convinced that the health insurance wasn't going to work. It's too easy, I thought. I can't possibly just give them my ID card and expect it to be attached to my insurance, for which I have zero other documentation. 
The cashier told me it was about 105,000 won (the actual number escapes me, but that's about $100 USD). My stomach clenched. I was right. It wasn't going to work. I started mentally tallying how much ramyeon I'd have to eat until payday.

 That's when I realized I'd never shown them my ID. I fished it out of my wallet and handed it to the cashier. "Oh, you have national health insurance?" "...yes." Pleasegodpleasegodplease. I braced for impact as he ran the number. "That's 33,000 won, then." I was still marginally disappointed. 30 bucks for a doctor's visit is about what I paid in the US. I forked over the cash, and sat down to wait for my prescription. 

I assumed what I was waiting for was the script to take to the pharmacist, so you can imagine my surprise when the nurse came out and pressed three ziplock baggies into my hands. One contained an inhaler, and two were full of pills. "This is your antibiotics," she explained, "And this is your cough suppressant. The instructions are on the bag." Sure enough, English instructions were printed on a card stapled to the baggie. She smiled and walked away, leaving me holding 3 bags of drugs with my mouth agape.  Then it dawned on me. The $30 wasn't just for my doctor's appointment. That money covered my doctor's visit, an inhaler, and 2 pill prescriptions. That was it. I was set. 

A week later, I feel good as new. 

The moral of this story is: health care does not have to be a nightmare of red tape and prohibitive expenses.  
Ok. I'm off my soap box now. The end.

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