I was sick for about ten days, straddling New Year's Day 2014. I mentioned this in post-176. The sickness was unpleasant at best. At worst, thoughts of Death began to creep into my disoriented, pain-addled mind.
It will pass. It didn't. It got worse. Swallowing became an intense, body-jolting experience. Breathing got more difficult, and that's scary. An endless headache, concentrated in one spot (also scary); sleeping all day, either shivering under the blankets, or waking up with everything drenched in sweat. On January 2nd, I finally went to the doctor, in Seoul's Guro district, where I am staying during my month of intensive Korean studying. I was diagnosed with tonsillitis. I got a bag full of pills to take. The pills helped. My friend J.A. gave me called "propolis" and it also helped.
A measly 10,000 KRW in cash, or around $9.00 USD, got me an examination by the doctor, a shot of some kind of medicine (administered, embarrassingly, in the rear end by the nurse, a practice out-of-fashion for decades in the USA for adults, I think), and a prescription from the doctor for pills to take for the next few days to relieve my symptoms and kill the bacteria (or whatever it was).
After leaving the doctor's office, down I went down to the first-floor pharmacy to buy the pills I'd been prescribed. There were a total of 75 pills, five pills with each meal for five days. (This was problematic at first as I wasn't eating meals much due to pain in swallowing.) The price for those pills, in total, came to 19,340 KRW (around $17.50), or 23 U.S. cents per pill.
More details about my doctor's visit:
- I had only a few short minutes' waiting time.
- There was no need for an appointment. It was a walk-in-walk-out thing.
- From walking in to the doctor's office to walking out of the pharmacy was not more than thirty minutes.
- The medicine was effective, and I was 80%-recovered by January 5th and 100% recovered by January 7th.
- I paid $26.50 for the whole deal (doc+pills). Again, this was with no insurance at all and on a tourist visa.
- [Note: I did actually pay into the Korean healthcare system for two of my three years of legal employment in South Korea (my first job did not pay into it), usually about $90 a month, but I never used it.]
Sadly, my native land, the USA, with its tiring and endless "health care problems", looks a little like a third-rate clown show in comparison to the above. I'm sorry to say it. I mean, even with "insurance" from a U.S. insurance company, I'm sure my $26.50 wouldn't even cover the "deductible" just to see the doctor in the USA, to say nothing of buying the medicine. For someone without insurance, the same visit in the USA might reach ten times the price I paid, or $200-$300, rather than $26.50.
I have no idea why we Americans, most of whom still think that the USA is the richest and most-powerful political-entity in the history of the world, can have such a nightmarishly-expensive, confusing, oppressive, intimidating, headache-inducing health care system. Why? As Homer Simpson once said, "Did we lose a war?" (See post-60).