Saturday, June 13, 2009

Dentist and Hospitals and No Insurance OH MY!

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit concerned about the possibility oh getting sick or hurt while living in China. Afterall, I'd been brought up hearing about long lines to get rations in the USSR and the starvation caused during the Great Leap Forward. Honestly, I was pretty worried that getting sick or injured would end up being the death of me or of my bank account.

Since we've been here, both Veronica and I have been to the dentist and Veronica went to a doctor. Glowing reviews both times.

I'll start with the dentist.
I made an appointment for the next day with an English speaking dentist for a cleaning and checkup. Took the bus and subway right there and barely waited before being ushered into a clean and bright room with six dentist chairs. I was the only patient and was taken care of quickly and effectively. No cavities. The cleaning, polishing and checkup ran me 30 USD. Again, that is 30 USD with no insurance and 30 USD for an appointment I made with a dentist I'd never used before less than 24 hours before the appointment and didn't have to wait for once I arrived. Not bad! Veronica had a similar experience, except she had a cavity that was filled with matching enamel for another 30 USD.

I imagine that we could have paid a lot less if we went to a dentist that DIDN'T speak english or used rusty tools. Overall, I'm completely thrilled with the situation.

On to the Doctor.
To be fair, Veronica saw a doctor in Thailand, not in China. And, if anything, the experience trumped the Chinese dentist many-fold. Thailand is one of those destinations that is becoming known for its medical tourism. I'm sure we could have bought a few kidneys when we were there, but Veronica was just looking to get a mole checked out.

Again, 24 hours notice, appointment scheduled with specialist for the next day, cost of roughly 35USD. However, this time we were blown away by the luxury of the place. The Bumrungrad International Hospital is a mecca for Chinese, Japanese, Thai, American and Middle Eastern patients that want to get their treatments for 1/10th the price of back home in 10x more luxurious surroundings. In the waiting room, I sampled 5 types of juices and watched shieks and their wives shuffle in and out of rooms for botox. I'm not really sure why someone in a hajab or burka needs botox, but hey, why not!

Best I can figure
The doctors seem top notch, as do the facilities. I'd assume the main reason the prices are so much lower is the labor cost (both for doctors and staff) as well as the lack of a tremendously corrupt healthcare system. Again, I'm not Rene Russo's character in Outbreak so I don't know how these things work. I should probably look into what Rene Russo actually played in Outbreak because maybe she was just a civilian. Dustin Hoffman and Morgan Freeman were in the military, so I guess she was the disease expert? Or maybe just the suburban mom who encountered the infected rhesus monkey. Either way, from this point forward, Rene Russo in Outbreak will be my stand in for "expert", regardless of the subject matter discussed.

Since we only have dental experience in China and hospital experience in Thailand, I'll post again if either of us end up at a hospital in China. Here's hoping I don't have to make that post