Maybe there is not enough literature on medical treatment in Korea. As a foreigner it is cheap to get services without health insurance ($12 per visit or less). Today I went to the 이비인후과, or ears nose and throat doctor. I thouht if I get there at 9:30am it wouldn’t be crowded. I was wrong. Everyone was there with their children and after waiting a little over an hour drinking the tea and coffee offered in the longue, I got to see the doctor.
From this experience, and stories from others, doctors in Korea are very highly trained and speak English. The receptionist might not but in general they will treat you kindly. However, this trip to the doctor was quite interesting. He stuck some tube in my nose to suction out the mucus and checked my throat (he even said , “Say Ah!”). Then I was told that I would get a shot in my butt. What? What is this? They escorted me to another room and told me to undress. Does this mean they actually will not explain what is in the needle? Right below your waistline they slap you and shoot you with the needle and then you are supposed to rub an alcohol wipe. You are all set to go. According to various sites they believe that the shot has vitamins or immune boosters in it. Almost everyone got it, even for their allergies. Another device that I couldn’t understand was a heat sensor machine. I was supposed to close my eyes and maybe it was supposed to dry out the mucus. I don’t know because I opted out due to confusion about what the machine was.
Outcome: 4 days of antibiotics to take three times a day. Total cost $12 for visit and $17 for medicine. Check-up to be followed in four days.
Since writing this I wanted to update you on some simple expressions you might hear and can use at the doctors (though they might not be 100% correct they will get the point):
보험이 있으세요? Do you health insurance?-아니요, 그런데 여기에서 미국 보험을 사용할 수 있나요? No I don’t but can I use my American health insurance (answer is probably no).
저는 외국인이니까 주민등록번호가 없는데 여권 번호를 써도 돼요? Since I am a foreigner I do not have a national ID number, so can I use my passport number?
의사 선생님은 영어로 말할 수 있나요? Can the doctor speak English?