November 3rd, 2014
I work with little kids and am in a new country so it feels like every other week I am getting sick. Well, this time I acquired a cold with a nasty cough. After my co-worker so kindly said, “Stop being an American and go to the doctor!”, I decided it was time.
I walked down the street from my school to a little clinic located in Fengyuan. There, with the help of the nurse, I filled out a sheet of my information, gave them my insurance card, and paid 150NT (5USD). Since there was no line I was able to see the doctor right away. With the doctors limited English I was able to explain that I have a cough and a cold and that I need medicine. He gave me a concoction of 5 medications that I was instructed to take 3 times a day for 3 days. Being cautious about what I was about to take I requested that the doctor write down what everything he prescribed to me was for. Right away the doctor gave the list to the pharmacist who packaged my medicine up by doses instead of putting each medication into vials. (I used to work at Walgreens, an American pharmaceutical company before I moved to Taiwan. Packaging drugs by day and dose was just becoming a thing before I left in July.)
After being given my prescription I asked how much it cost. The nurses and pharmacist looked really confused, so I asked again. The nurse finally said, “no cost”, and before leaving I double-checked that I did not have to do anything else.
All of that for 5USD! I couldn’t believe it! I had just spent a total of 20 minutes at the doctors office, and the only reason it took so long is because of the language barrier. I am sure it would have been an even shorter visit had I been able to speak Chinese.
Even the trips that I have made to the pharmacy to re-fill my prescription since then have been costing me only 91NT (3USD) to get the same amount of medication that I did at the doctors office.
As an American, who was very frustrated with the United States healthcare system before I left, I am absolutely amazed at the efficiency Taiwan has within its’ healthcare system. Yes, sometimes you feel as if you are being shuffled along like you are on a factory line, but I am willing to lose the feeling of personalization in return for low costs and quick doctors visits.
Now I know that I can easily visit the doctor in the future without having to worry about my pocketbook.