Halla Hospital, the biggest hospital on Jeju
Do you worry about getting proper medical care while you are teaching English in Korea? You don’t have to worry because the medical care in Korea is truly amazing. In fact, my experiences with health care in this country make me realize how terrible our own system is. Now I know why President Obama has expressed such appreciation for the South Korean health care system and even discussed modeling the American system based on South Korea.
Maybe the best thing about South Korean health care is the minimal expense. Visits to a doctor either at a private office or the hospital are extremely cheap! Even as foreigners, we still benefit from the universal health care and we pay the same prices as locals. In my experience, a visit to the eye doctor cost $15, a visit to the dentist cost $60, and a visit to the chiropractor cost $30. Even a four-hour visit to the ER cost only $175. As you know, the same doctor visits in the States cost a whole lot more, especially without insurance. Also, prescription medications have never cost me more than $20 at the pharmacy, even without insurance. So, don’t feel you have to skip on medical care while living in Korea. In fact, if you have to be sick, this is the place to do it.
Furthermore, another amazing aspect of South Korean health care is its efficiency. I think this is partly due to the fact that there are just so many doctors in Korea, living in the city center, a doctor’s office is always a stone’s throw away. You never need an appointment, just walk in and you will be seen shortly. I have never waited for a doctor more than 10 minutes.
The hospital in Jeju City has a foreigner’s clinic. This is a good place to go if you don’t know how to find a doctor. From here, the doctors will usher you to the proper department in the hospital or recommend a private practice close by.
The one down side I can see to visiting doctors in South Korea as a foreigner is the language barrier. People in Jeju do not speak as much English as they do in Seoul, and communicating with receptionists, nurses, and doctors has always been easy. Especially when I am not feeling well, I find it more difficult to be patient when I can’t communicate with these health care workers. But, most doctors I have seen have spoken some level of English and the language barrier has never stopped me from getting the care I need.
After having so many problems with insurance companies and the health care system in the States, I am able to appreciate how easy, accessible, and cheap health care is in South Korea.
Adam Montgomery is a 25-year old teacher at the Chungdahm Branch on Jeju. He has been teaching in Korea for under a year. When he is not teaching, he enjoys exploring the wonders of Jeju and Korea.