When Going to the Doctor Doesn’t Cost You an Arm and a Leg

Well folks, a day of what was supposed to be cherry blossom fun has turned into my first trip to a Korean doctor. Over the past two weeks, I have stubbornly refused to go to the doctor on the notion that I was getting better. However, my Saturday morning I woke up feeling like I was starting my sickness all over again with a sore throat and tight chest coughing. So, I finally followed my Korean coteachers’ advice to properly take care of my health.

Armed with my mask and the knowledge that this doctor spoke English, I confidently trudged my sick self to the office that was 15 minutes away by foot (I was just happy to have an end in sight to my incessant f***ing coughing). Another Westerner had referred me to this place, so I knew exactly where to go. What I had forgotten was that he was not only an otolaryngologist (ears, nose, throat doctor), but a pediatrician. I arrived 6 minutes after they opened to a room FULL of children, parents, and ahjussis/ahjummas (elderly Koreans). My first thought was, ‘great, I’ll be here all morning.’ The staff did not speak English, so after a few words translated by Google and some pointing, all was straightened out and I was signed in. Luckily, the kids were cute and hilarious so my hour wait really wasn’t that bad (and with the amount of people, I expected it to be longer).  Once I saw the doctor, the process was very quick. He was already in the room when I entered, he asked me about my symptoms, checked my throat, and prescribed me antibiotics. Took like 5 minutes.

Here’s the kicker. For some reason, my ARC (alien registration card) wasn’t processing that I have insurance provided by my school (no matter, because what I paid will be reimbursed anyways). However, with no insurance, what I had to pay for the doctor visit and the medication was RIDICULOUSLY cheap. $15 for the doctor visit, $15 for the antibiotics. No. Insurance. That’s absolutely UNBELIEVABLE as an American. That’s less than my damn copay WITH insurance back home. My mind was completely blown. Why the f*** isn’t it like this back home? Oh, that’s right, corporate greed LOL.

My experience today reminded me how out of control the cost of healthcare is in America. I’ve seen and heard the argument that “quality healthcare” just costs a lot and that’s the way it works. Bulls**t. It’s actually all of these private health insurance and pharmaceutical companies trying to make huge profits off of poor health. It makes me SO ANGRY because there is NO reason for it to cost this much.  When I told my British friends the cost of my doctors visit today, they weren’t impressed. They don’t pay a thing when they go to the doctor, so what I paid seemed expensive to them.  I really don’t want to get into it and get all political here, but I’m just going to say that this is the potential that universal health care can reach. We. Need. It.

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