Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Healthcare Happiness

Since Monday of last week, I've been battling a fierce illness which has rendered me pretty useless during my non-working hours. For over a week now, I've basically taught from 9:30am until 4:30pm and then rested in the evenings, plus all weekend. After finally concluding it was likely more than just the common cold, I woke up this morning eager to get to the bottom of things. 

Thanks to the miraculous finagling on the part of my brilliant TA, I was able to secure an appointment with a respiratory specialist after work this afternoon. The doctor spoke excellent English and after checking my vitals, diagnosed me with acute bronchitis. I learned a lot from our 15 minute visit. Apparently I've been walking around with a fever of 100F+ for the past week, and this nagging cough -which has only gotten worse with each day- is not an allergy issue. For my suffering, I was awarded the grand gold prize of an antibiotic -versus, say, a bronze in the form of an OTC. [For the medically-inclined readers:  yes, an antibiotic was warranted as the phlegm in this case indicated a bacteria infection.]

So why am I sharing this detailed account with you, my dear readers? I feel compelled to because it highlights one of my favorite things about living in Korea:  terrific health care at an unbelievably low price. Yes, I have health insurance which I pay into (less than $100/month), and yes, I receive a discount at the Konkuk hospital because I'm a faculty member. Still, the grand total for today's doctor visit (no charge) and a 5-day supply of antibiotics, cough syrup, and antihistamines (under $8) was less than the price of a movie ticket. Or 2 coffees at Starbucks. Or a MAC lipstick.

I wish I knew more about the healthcare system in Korea. And I really wish all of its amazing components could be miraculously transplanted into the United States' system.

my meds (note the rationed-out packaging)

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