Saturday, September 22, 2007

Wasai---Unhealthy health care

Some of you may be familiar with the nightmare of health services in some other countries. Well, not all forms of culture shock are bad! I still can't quite understand or explain the feeling of going into a doctor and paying with the money in my wallet. At home, a credit card, check, or a rich uncle has to accompany you to see every doctor, nurse or dentist. Even today, I'm still waiting for some mystery bill to show up in my mailbox saying I owe 1 million dollars for the 10 doctors visits, 5 dentist visits, and several trips to the Chinese traditional doctor I have had in my years in Taiwan.

I remember when I first started making Taiwanese friends that I thought, "Wow! They LOVE THE DOCTOR!" Everytime they sneeze, cough, or have a stomachache they run to the doctor. Many westerners don't go to the doctor except as a last resort when there is no chance of getting better through the expensive medicine bought in our pharmacies. When we fear this is getting serious, we breakdown and go to see a doctor.

When you grow up with something you just assume that is the right way, and if you don't find any reason to challenge it, you will maintain that idea. I was slow to see that around the world, seeing a doctor is something people do almost every time they don't feel well. It makes sense. Better safe than sorry, for sure, but when that sense of security in your health costs more than you can make with an honest days work, you tend to put off the trip to the dentist a few more months, you can ignore that cough for another week, and the pain in your back and shoulder isn't really as bad as you think. It took me coming to Taiwan to see what was really sick was the health care in my country.

Submitted to Wasai Taiwan by: Aaron Andrews (Taichung)

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