This weekend wasn't as eventful as previous ones, but that was okay because I really needed to get some things done.
First off was a visit to the GI Doctor:
For those not in the know, I have a chronic illness called Crohn's disease. When the conditions are bad and I am not in remission the symptoms are the equivalent of having the stomach flu. Needless to say it is important that I keep in regular contact with a doctor and also keep my medicine replenished.
One might think that living far away from family and their local health care system poses as a threat to someone with a chronic illness, for example if you have diabetes too.
How do you get your medicine?
Is the health care system up to date on your disease?
Will it be costly to receive treatment?
Will I receive insurance or should I buy travelers insurance?
So yesterday (Saturday) I managed to get these answers up close and personal. I visited the Yang Hospital. Amazingly to get to this hospital all I had to do was walk a couple of blocks in my own neighborhood.
Inside the hospital was neat and clean, with friendly personnel at the front desk. BK went with me so all I had to do was follow his instructions. I think if you are a foreigner visiting a hospital in a foreign country and do not speak the language, it would be wise to take with you a native speaker.
Within minutes I was sat down with a GI specialist. I brought my medical records from back home and handed them to the doctor. He seemed to not have a problem reading it, but did read it carefully. He spoke to BK and then he went on his computer and searched to see if he can prescribe me my medicine. This he was able to do, except one of my drugs he could not find a matching company but was able to find the matching formula from a different company. Afterwards he discussed something with BK and we were dismissed.
As part of my drug treatment I take a pill which works against my liver, so I need regular blood tests to determine whether the drug is depleting my white blood cells.
So we went upstairs in the hospital to the blood room. I for one can't stand needles, no matter what hospital I am in. So I looked away and hoped it would be over soon. The first try I didn't hold my fist hard enough but managed to do better on the second try.
Results of visiting a Korean hospital:
Keep in mind that this hospital basically specializes in just gastrointestinal issues. It isn't a big University hospital and so I think that can be cause for its genial atmosphere.
All in all, I have been very pleased with Korea's health system and National Insurance Program. The total I had to pay from this visit was 10,000 Won, or about $10. Compared to America, when I had no health insurance, this visit would have cost me on $35.
I take a large amount of pills, lets just say 13 in one day. So making sure I get each and every pill is important.
Going to a Korean pharmacy is just like visiting one back home. You take your prescription slip to the pharmacist, they mumble something and then you sit on your ass and wait.
One particular difference is that they don't put your meds inside a bottle, rather inside wax paper daily packets. Here is a photo explanation: Next to my package of pills is some Birth Control Pills. I was not able to bring with me a year supply of what I take at home, so I am going to have to switch to what Korea offers. Looks pretty similar to what I take, so I hope there won't be any complications. Total cost was roughly 87,000 Won or abut $88 US dollars.
Back home I was on the Poor Man's healthcare system, so my drugs only cost $5 a month...looks like I have to spend more. However still affordable.
Well that is my experience of the health care system. This won't be the last time I visit the doctor so we will see if this good service keeps up.