Turns of I have pneumonia. A quick trip to the emergency room in De Nang, Vietnam and the doctor diagnosed me. I guess those freezing cold days and nights in Chiang Mai, Lau Prabang and Hanoi finally caught up to me. A cold I had for about a week turned into a cough and after speaking to my mother on the phone she insisted I go to the hospital. I dreaded going because I had no idea what to expect and thought i’d have the worst experience. My hotel front desk, Gold Hotel 2, recommended two hospitals. One rule that I live by is checking the review of a place before going, Google is your best friend. The first hospital had horrible reviews, the second one had immaculate reviews. Took a 15 minute taxi there, strolled into the ER, a nurse approached me right away and told me to lay down. They took my pressure, and the doctor came over and started asking questions about my health history, checked my throat, listened to my lungs and diagnosed me with pneumonia.
Needless to say I was in shock, the doctor wrote me three prescriptions and filled them right there in the hospital, I paid 693,000 Vietnamese Dong for an examination and three antibiotics. That converts to just about $30 USD.
The only form that I was asked to fill out was writing my name, date of birth and country of origin on a blank piece of paper. I was in and out of the hospital in less than and hour. For a country that’s considered developing, the health care was more affordable and accessible in comparison to America. Our healthcare system is expensive and elusive to those with low income. I was going through the tedious, confusing process of trying to get free health coverage before leaving for Asia. I didn’t realize how fortunate I was to be covered by my parents plans or to receive health insurance through my job until I had to get malaria pills and typhoid shot. It took my doctor 5 minutes to administer the injection and write a prescription, it cost me around $350 USD for the drugs and another added expense to see the doctor. In contrast, Amoxicillin (a penicillin antibiotic that fights bacteria) and a variety of other medications can be purchased over the counter from any pharmacy in Asia for $15-$20 USD without a prescription.
Travelers from other parts of the world have described the American healthcare system as a joke. “About 44 million people in America have no health insurance, and another 38 million have inadequate health insurance. This means that nearly one-third of Americans face each day without the security of knowing that, if and when they need it, medical care is available to them and their families,” (Glied 2015). Just maybe we can learn something from developing countries like Vietnam. I’m forever grateful because if left untreated pneumonia can kill you.