Forced Visit to the Doctor Part 1: Why?

This is the first in a two part series on my recent experience with a Korean medical facility. This blog has never been, and will continue to not be a place to complain about Korea. If you don’t like being here, show yourself the door. That said, there are many cultural differences that an expat should know about. This is a place to share those differences.

Forced Visit to the Doctor Part 1: Why?

Unless it’s absolutely necessary, it has been my choice to avoid the doctor here in Korea. There are a number of reasons for making this decision.

1) When I got here, the medical procedures for my Visa clearance were strange. Nothing completely third world, just lacking in what we would consider common sense standard sterilization practices back home. For example, the storage and disposal of body-fluid-tainted biohazard-type material in the examination room wasn’t up to my specifications. In addition, my uncovered paper dixie cup of urine was placed on an uncovered tray next to several other uncovered paper dixie cups of urine. This tray was located in the hallway outside of a busy bathroom, where many people were walking back and forth. All of this left me with doubts regarding the validity of any test result attained from the urine samples in question.

2) Beyond the common cold, I haven’t been sick.

3) The language barrier can make things challenging.

4) I’ve seen the pictures of hospital stays online.

5) I’ve read the complaints of expats being prescribed a cocktail of prescriptions for a single ailment, receiving no explanation for why so many pills are necessary. After researching it on their own, it was discovered that one of the pills may cause stomach pain. To prevent the possible stomach pain, another will was prescribed. However that pill may cause headaches. To prevent the possible headache, an anti-inflamatory was prescribed. You see the slippery slope.

Back to my personal story. Recently I was forced asked by my employer to pay a visit to a medical facility for a checkup. Strange right? I thought so. I told them that I’m perfectly healthy. I take my health very seriously, I saw my doctor when I was home last February and had an intensive medical evaluation done. They replied that as part of our medical insurance, a checkup needs to be performed every year or two, it’s the law. To this I replied, I’ve been here almost two and a half years. In that time, I have never been asked to go to the doctor and have never heard of this request being bestowed upon anyone else that I know in Korea.

Realizing that I wasn’t going to mindlessly obey the request, the following explanation was given: As part of public health care, the insurance provider requires that each person receive a yearly check up in order to preventatively identify any potential health risks. This is done in an attempt keep the people of Korea healthy. That, and if I don’t do it, the cost for keeping me insured will go up. At least the real reason was disclosed.

I argued yet again. I have a very competent physician at home. He has successfully treated my medical needs with the proper medications for the last bazillion years. If by chance the Korean doctors identify something wrong with me (which they won’t), whatever medical treatment they request will likely interfere with my current regiment, which I know is working just fine.

To this I was told: A medical checkup is a good thing. The insurance just wants you to preventatively know if there is something you need to know about. A medical evaluation will be sent to you. From there, you decide the proper course of action. You have to help us save money YOU HAVE TO GO.

So I went, and found out that not a lot has changed in the two plus years since I’ve been forced to visit a medical facility in Korea.

In part two, I will explain the medical procedures that were performed during this checkup.


~ by ripcitytoseoul on September 28, 2011.

2 Responses to “Forced Visit to the Doctor Part 1: Why?”

  1. Good job. Bring on Part Two!

  2. […] is the second in a two part series on my recent experience with a Korean medical facility. You can read Part 1 here. This blog has never been, and will continue to not be a place to complain about Korea. If you […]

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