Sick in China

8 03 2010

I’ve had a lingering, nasty cough for the past week and we decided to brave going to the hospital today to figure out if coughing up green crud was fatal (it isn’t.)

We ‘kinda’ went to a hospital last fall to get my super cheap brain pills but were still a little nervous to brave it as a patient instead of a drug hunter. We’d heard there was a private, Taiwanese hospital that had doctors and signs that spoke english so off we went. It has it’s own subway stop and were able to enter the hospital directly after leaving the turnstiles underground. Pretty cool. Upon arrival at the front desk we were told that the doctors were “having a rest” until 1.30 and to go to the emergency section to be seen immediately. I asked what the price different was (1st “Oh My God! Healthcare is so cheap in China!” alert) and there wasn’t one.

To the emergency room, then! (Lemme digress for a minute about Chinese ERs- it was spotless and mostly empty. No vomit on the floor, no homeless people sleeping it off, no screaming children, and no WAITING! One point for China.) We got in a short line to register and paid (2nd “OMGHISCIC!” alert) 5 quai/ 85 cents to register and see the triage nurse. She took my temperature, determined I was swine flu free and I headed over to a dark room with a doctor sitting in the one lit cubicle. At this point, the helpful nurse asked me if I wanted a translator. We had seen a poster for this service at the check-in area. It is 200 quai ($30) to have someone accompany you around the hospital. Remember, dear reader, that it was 5 QUAI to see a doctor. We thanked them and said we’d stumble through somehow.

After some stethoscope work and pantomiming that I had no fever or headache the doctor pulled out his one english phrase of the entire visit- “Chest X-ray.” You pay before you receive health care in China, so he printed out his x-ray order and we went back to the registration/cashier. Full price chest X-ray? (3rd “O-C!” alert) 82 Quai, that’s 12 bucks to you people. We trotted down the hall to radiology, got the x-ray taken and printed in less than 5 minutes and headed back to my doctor in the dark room. He took a look, said some stuff in Chinese, wrote me a prescription and a sick note for work and then I realized that the next patient and her husband/father/uncle? were already in the cubicle ready to shove me off my chair. Perhaps when you get a vomit free waiting room you have to give up privacy? Fair trade.

We went back to our friendly cashier and paid for my three scripts (4th “OC!” alert) 62.7 quai/$9. I looked them up when I got home and I have an antibiotic (so I don’t have a virus?), a junk in the lungs loosener, and a chinese medicine cough suppressant. From start to finish it took about an hour. Unbelievable.

So, if a Taiwanese for-profit hospital can treat me in their ER for (last one “OC!” alert) $20, if we adjust for exchange rates/cost of living, why can’t an American hospital do the same for about $120??

love, Missy

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One response

9 03 2010
Hibz

He said you have a virus? Like your non-doctor soon-to-be-fake-doctor friend suggested, it’s probably some sort of bacterial infection causing bronchitis. You sounded pretty sickly, I’m glad you went to see a real doctor!! Oh, and see “when to see a doctor” on the website below (note yellowish-green phlegm…)

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003072.htm

And you should check out this article on the Chinese healthcare system….interesting!

http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/353/11/1165

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