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Health Care: Taiwan vs. America

A couple weeks ago, I went to the hospital to get vaccinations for Influenza B, Typhoid, and Hepatitis A, and to get a supply of Malaria pills. Here’s my experience:

The day before: Registered online with my personal information. Time required was 3 minutes.

The day of:

1) Walked to the front desk, grabbed a waiting slip, and presented my passport, and was redirected to Family Medicine on the second floor. Time elapsed: 10 minutes.

2) Waited outside the diagnosis office. Time elapsed: 20 minutes.

3) Got consultation: get the shots, 45 day supply of Doxycycline malarial pills. Time elapsed: 15 minutes.

4) Go to purchasing office and pay for my medication. Time elapsed: 5 minutes.

5) Go to the inventory office to grab (HAND GRAB!) my medication. Time elapsed: 5 minutes.

6) Walk back to Family Medicine to get my shots on the arm by a nurse. Time elapsed: 5 minutes.

Total time: 50 minutes.

Total cost: 4,250 NTD = $140. That’s with no insurance.

The American health care system, as we know, is broken. Costs are too high, the system is money driven (by insurance companies), and a sue-happy, fear driven culture drives up doctor’s costs (and greed).

I have to schedule appointments days or weeks beforehand. I have to present insurance documentation. I have to sign forms of not holding the doctor or hospital liable for damages incurred during treatment.

I have to pay a fortune if I can’t afford insurance. If I can afford insurance, I have to pay fees in annum. Walking in to a hospital in the emergency room incurs a wait of up to 3 hours (based on the average time of the two times I went). The cost was ~$900 for a prescription for an antibiotic and 5 minutes with a doctor. Insurance brought the cost down to $140.

No way in hell would doctors give me three vials and tell me to walk to another section of the hospital to get my shots taken. I immediately thought of Americans taking the vials to cook up a new form of drug.

Sorry, re-read that last paragraph. It still boggles my mind that they handed me three vials and a 45-day supply of pills split into four dime bags.

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America’s great at many things, but health care is not one of them.

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