Friday, June 8, 2018

A Taiwan Tale

Thinking - dreading - that I might be experiencing the onset of arthritis, I went to see an orthopedic surgeon in his private clinic. I had no appointment but saw the doctor right away. I told him my concerns; he did a brief examination of my hand, testing flexibility and range of motion and sensitivity. He immediately wrote out a prescription for X-rays, a blood test and an analgesic for discomfort. He told one to go to the hospital and that he'd know more after seeing the X-rays.

So, off I walked to the hospital, a small private one, where I've been a patient. I register, pay my fee (more on that later) and am handed a series of vouchers after my national health care IC-card was read, the information gleaned and new data inputted.
One voucher was for the blood test; my number is called nearly as I pulled the waiting-number from the machine. Off I was sent to X-rays. I have barely enough time to call my wife to tell her I'm at the hospital for tests, when the X-ray tech beckons me to enter. Five minutes later, the X-rays taken (two views of both hands), I'm off to the pharmacy for my meds. I go directly to the counter, present my voucher and am given a packet with the prescribed analgesics in less time than one can say 'socialized medicine'.

Back I walk to my doctor's clinic where I'm forced to wait a full five minutes (harrumph) before I'm ushered into the examination room where I see my X-rays from the hospital visit displayed on the doctor's computer screen. The doctor has already consulted them and gives me the good news; all the joints of my hands are clear. There is no sign of arthritis. He then recommends a thrice-daily treatment of hot water soak followed by application of an analgesic gel. The accompanying nurses hand me tube of the gel and I head for home, a happier man.

All of this was accomplished in about an hour - the round-trip walk from the private clinic to the hospital took about twenty minutes.
As for the cost - the X-rays, blood work and meds cost NT$380; the private consultation with my surgeon cost me another NT$300 for a total of NT$680 which at today's exchange rate is...
wait for it...

And I'm not even a citizen - just a registered alien.

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