I’m Baaack

Xiananigans apologizes for the two week hiatus.

I claim sickness as the number one culprit steering me off the writing tracks. I’m still on the mend, dealing with an occasional cough. I also somehow managed to cough a pain in my upper side. I saw a doctor at a medi clinic twice, as I don’t have my own doctor nor insurance; she prescribed antibiotics and cough medicine the first visit, but after about a week on medication, I started to have that pain in my upper side.

That’s when I visited her again, with ZJ in tow, where she prescribed me an X-ray, and the two of us set off for the closest imaging center. Doctor and specialist visits are a brand new world for ZJ. We don’t have insurance, and that drives up the price of the visits. The clinic did give me a 20 percent discount for my visits. The health system even boggles my mind, and I’ve grown up in it. I’ll chalk it up to never having to really navigate it alone, as it was a concern my mom dealt with.

The American and Chinese healthcare systems don’t resemble one another. When I fell ill enough in Xi’an to have ZJ take me to a clinic, I likely saw a nurse practictioner who had the medicines I needed on hand. Although the illnesses differed, in Xi’an I dealt with gastrointestinal problems, we’ve had lengthy exchanges about the systems, especially ZJ and his in-laws.

In China, patients generally pay out-of-pocket and may be reimbursed for hospitalization, surgeries, or other procedures if they petition for social insurance coverage. Residents in the countryside receive social insurance, how much or what the coverage is up for debate and unclear. The afflicted will prefer a hospital, public or private, to a clinic, and may even stroll into a medi-type clinic complete with its own pharmacy storefront. If you visit a comprehensive facility, you’ll be able to be diagnosed and treated all in the same place, albeit different wings or floors.

Whenever I needed something to snuff out a cold, ZJ and I would end up at the closest pharmacy, stocking up on Chinese-Western medicine for a couple of hundred RMB. I paid no more than 100 RMB for all the medicines I received for the GI-related issues. Yes, different medicines or visits will vary greatly, and I’ve read plenty of stories of patients in China racking up debts, or their family, over healthcare, hospital visits, and surgery.

Let’s look at the other system: the US one. We are all required to have health insurance, and without it, self-medicating with low-dosage over-the-counter medicines, or paying ridiculous out-of-pocket expenses are really all you can do. Even with insurance, you wouldn’t want to just stroll into the emergency room, or use the hospital’s services for that matter, like you might in China. You’d be better off finding a general physician, maybe through word of mouth, and that physician needs to accept your insurance. Most insured then have a 20-30 dollar co-pay paid for every doctor visit. That co-pay may be the same or more if you visit a specialist, a doctor other than your general physician. Even for an X-ray, the doctor I saw at the medi clinic or another physician at the clinic can merely prescribe and read the results. In my case, you have to go to an imaging center or in other cases, another doctor who specializes in that particular kind of medicine, hence their name: specialist. I’m sure I’m missing some of the gist of how insurance operates, but as I mentioned, I’m still wrapping my head around the system.

Luckily, working for Starbucks means I’ll have health insurance as part of my benefits package, even as a part-time employee. I’ve refrained from talking about work because, frankly, work is work.

On a similar note, we’ve now managed to become a three person household of Starbucks partners. ZJ works at another location in the area, but let’s save that and more for another post 🙂


8 thoughts on “I’m Baaack

  1. CrazyChineseFamily says:

    Oh the old trouble with health insurance. I have my own big big trouble with it in Germany at the moment. Usually every German is required by law to get a health insurance but somehow I am not able to get one already for 5 weeks now, especially bad for little Nathan as doctors dont accept you here without health insurance…

  2. R Zhao says:

    I’m quite intrigued about what it’s like to get treatment without insurance. I am not sure what I’m going to do when we move back to the US.

    Seems like Starbucks is the go-to job! My friend just returned to the US from China and she is also working there! Nice that they offer insurance.

    • maklu001 says:

      Starbucks does seem to be the go-to job and it’s very nice that they offer insurance 🙂 You should qualify for coverage under the healthcare exchange, however, it’s not inexpensive or great coverage. I’ve got another month or so before I qualify for Starbucks coverage so, fingers crossed, I stay healthy!

  3. Chris P says:

    Glad you’re back (and healthier)…best wishes on your road to recovery! I know what it’s like to get knocked out by sickness here in China. I pretty much spent the full 国庆节 at home due to some weird bug I got.

    • maklu001 says:

      What a way to spend 国庆节! Hope you’ve recovered from your ailments, and you win, being sick in China is never any fun.

    • maklu001 says:

      It is, but ZJ took great care of me, as usual! Look for a reply to your most recent follow-up…I love the email thread we’ve got going on 🙂

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