Despite your best efforts while teaching abroad in Korea, chances are you will get sick. Colds, sore throats, and headaches are common challenges that teachers frequently encounter. Even with my best efforts of avoiding coughing children and students with fevors, I recently came down with a bad cold. Thankfully for me, Korea is a very advanced country when it comes to healthcare.
After about a week of hoping my cold would go away on its own, I finally gave in and went to see a Doctor. Doctor offices are very common here and are easy to find. Since there are so many of them near me, I asked around and went to one that a fellow teacher had gone to when he was sick. Once I got to the doctor’s office, I simply handed them the healthcare form that the government sent me in the mail and took my seat expecting a long wait because I did not have an appointment. To my surprise, I was able to see the doctor almost as soon as I sat down. In addition, his English was very good which calmed my fears because I had gone alone. He did a basic check up and prescribed me some antibiotics.
Now I had heard that going to see a doctor was very inexpensive here, but I have to admit that I was a little reluctant to believe just how cheap it actually is. I walked over to the desk expecting the nurse to hand me a large bill for the impromptu visit, but to my amazement she told me that the visit would only cost 3,700 won (about $3.20)! Still a little in disbelief about the price, I took my prescription to the nearest pharmacy. There, I received nicely packaged antibiotics to last me for the next four days for only 3,000 won (about $2.60)!
One of my easy marked packages containing all of the meds for lunch
Part of the reason why my visit was so cheap is because I am enrolled with the National Healthcare Insurance plan. This is available to me because I am on a monthly contract and was easy to set up through my branch. The insurance plan costs me a very reasonable percentage of just under 3% a month. Just another advantage of teaching in South Korea! While I am told that my visit would have cost around 12,000 won had I not had insurance, I was still thankful that I was covered. Even with the low cost of healthcare, I know plenty of hourly teachers who made the smart decision to get coverage before they arrived- you just never know what could happen.
Nash Brodsky grew up in Denver, Colorado and is currently teaching for CDI in Gwangju, Korea. After graduating from the University of Massachusetts with degrees in Psychology and Music, he decided to embark on first year living abroad by taking on the challenges of teaching in a foreign country. With the excitement of teaching children and the adventures of living in another country, Josh is enjoying every minute of what Korea has to offer. Follow Nash during his first year abroad!