Healthcare in Korea

Healthcare in Korea is, of course, different from the healthcare we are used to back home in our own countries. I have been in Korea for a number of months and I want to tell you about my experiences with the healthcare system in Korea.

3234420195_3ff3ffe4d5_qExactly four months now into my time here in Korea, which is exactly one-third of my EPIK contract. Good time for reflection, eh? So let’s see how I can describe Phase 1 of my time here.

How about…EXCITING! Or instead, ADVENTUROUS! Even better, BEST DECISION EVER! Hmm…those may be true in some respects and for someone else’s blog post, but here’s how I can describe mine: The toughest health battle of my life and not sure if I’m going to make it here.

So before I delve into why this has been my truth, I’ll preface by saying that my health battle is actually no reflection on South Korea. So don’t let it deter you if you’re considering coming here. The reflection on Korea that I’ll enlighten on is actually the phenomenal health care system, which has kept me here and exceeded my expectations.

The problem

The fine medical details of my issues aren’t necessary, but pretty much I’ve battled a cardiovascular condition one month after arriving. Irregular heartbeats, reoccurring bouts of weakness, shortness of breath, the leading byproducts of my condition, had started to become a daily occurrence and gotten so bad that I turned into someone that I’m not.

I’m supposed to be the guy with all the energy and spunk, never tired, always planning the next move, the next adventure, and just always ready to go. But instead, I was the exact opposite and consequently, lost all my vigor.

I couldn’t even teach my classes because I couldn’t stand, I didn’t have enough air to speak. It was bad. Thankfully my co-teachers were considerate and accommodating EVERY step of the way, making this battle much more possible to cope with.

Why all this happened is still unclear. The condition happens almost randomly to many people, but can be instigated by stress. At this time, I am pretty much recovered physically, but still have to overcome the mental hurdles of “what if”.

Healthcare in Korea

What did I do to address this? What doctor did I see? How much did it cost? I can answer all of these. Firstly, coming from America, the cost of healthcare in Korea feels dirt cheap! It almost seems that it’s cheaper to get a multitude of tests here WITHOUT insurance than it would be back home WITH insurance.

Not only is it cheaper, it’s just so damn quick and simple too, sometimes instantaneous. No frustrating hold times to book an appointment. No waiting 2 weeks to see the doctor. You can even speak to the actual doctor on the phone to book, and you can come in that same day.

When I first got sick, my first few visits were to the ER, and my insurance hadn’t kicked in yet. But that was no problem, because when it was activated, I was reimbursed damn near 90% of what I’d paid for overnight ER visits, X-rays, EKG and blood tests, and in the end, I basically paid less than $100.

Costs

General doctor’s visit and prescription – $2, medicine – $3, cardiologist visit – $15, more medicine – $5, further testing – again less than $100. The cost benefit has been so reassuring and essential, that even if you hated being here it’d be hard to leave just because of the cost of healthcare.

Of course, the cost isn’t everything, it should be qualitative too. Korea boasts some of the best trained and intelligent health practitioners in the world, and I can attest to that. The doctors have been knowledgeable and thorough. Also, very worth mentioning is the instance of

something absolutely worth mentioning is the instance of the language barrier (usually amongst the lower staff), translators have been provided at my hospital visits.

Outstanding health care

Korea has beyond impressed me with the level of healthcare that I’ve received, and everyone coming here should feel safe in that regard. This is normally something I wouldn’t publically open up about, but the way I’ve been treated deserves notice, and because of that I’ve improved considerably and can go on with my Korean experience the right way.

Getting sick in a foreign country is a real possibility, and you should feel confident about the health care that you can receive. I will rave about Korea’s healthcare to any and everyone who will listen from this point on.

Kenneth ParrisKenneth is a Travel and Teaching Blogger. Kenneth began his ESL teaching adventure in Prague, Czech Republic before his far east journey to the ROK (Republic of Korea), better known as, South Korea. You can call him an avid traveler or a dedicated teacher, but the title he’s most proud of is “Bonafide Foodie.” Always seeking the signature tastes of other cultures is a true passion, and he’s got pictures to prove it. Ultimately, however, Kenneth’s main goal is to share those real personal teaching and travel experiences that YOU can relate to. 

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