Friday, April 3, 2009

Stitches Taiwan Style

Well first off...I'm an idiot. Really. I've done a lot of stupid things in my time (breaking my jaw, moving to Taiwan without a job and so forth). So this following post is just another notch in the belt of my idiocy.

I decided to take a trip with my girlfriend down the coast out of Taipei because as I've mentioned Taiwan can be a little hectic. So we decided to hop on the bus (located just meters [that's right I'm metric now] from my apartment) to Ilan County
A great get away about an hour away on the North East coast.

The plan was to take the bus to Jiaoshi, then rent a scooter and make our way up the coast....
good plan eh? Well the rental went ok and I assured my girlfriend that my three times on a scooter qualified me as an expert rider. We were on our way...
Cruising through random villages on the coast, stopping off at local fishing markets along the way, and finally stumbling across Wai AO beach (a surfer's heaven with great waves and black beaches) made the trip seem like a success.
Until my idiot gene kicked in.

After relaxing on the beach I went to take the scooter out of the parking lot and continue up the coast. Unfortunately as I'm ready to pull out of the lot a sudden surge of scooter traffic on the road. The worst part was that they were all university aged Taiwanese guys ready to go surfing. I wanted to get out of the lot but maneuvering was a bit tricky. Plus my pride took over and I wanted to prove that yes I was in fact a better scooter rider than some of those other guys sitting around. I tried to get around a car but I got nervous. As I was trying to get around I realized I couldn't clear the naturally, instead of braking or just flat out stopping the scooter....I decided to hit the accelerator...

and promptly accelerated straight into the wall on the side of the road...

the scooter was scratched up and my leg was cut up pretty bad. The worst was that a bunch of Taiwanese students saw me, the idiot Waigouren (waigouren means foreigner and is sometimes used with a bit of animosity) slam right into that wall. I've been hurt lots and lots of times but this time my pride took the brunt of the damage....

We quickly got on the scooter and with my bloody leg headed to the ER (20 minutes away) Along the way several concerned Taiwanese citizens gave my girlfriend advice on the quickest way to get to the hospital (I realize now that my bloody cut was a dead giveaway that something was wrong).

Turns out I needed 3 stitches in my left leg....
thankfully my girlfriend was alright. But my leg was cut up pretty bad. It was a deep cut which I was to find out later is particularly difficult to heal.

We get to the ER and 3 doctors rush to me, and 5 nurses; like I was in some serious danger. My girlfriend had said the Chinese word for EMERGENCY and (I'm still not sure why) the doctors reacted with a quickness and professionalism that would rarely be seen in the US. The doctor spoke perfect English and was able to tell me exactly what he thought was wrong.
You see Jiaoshi is a very small town with few emergencies. They cleaned my cuts and gave me a thorough examination. Within 5 minutes of arrival they had assessed my injury, and sent me upstairs to the OR to get stitches. I arrived and was greeted by a surgeon and nurse, stitched up and sent back downstairs. Total time from ER entrance to check out............about 20 minutes. I was given a bill, subsequently paid the bill and sent on my way.

Embarrassing as it was...thanks to my Taiwan insurance it only cost me the equivalent of 10 US dollars. Apparently it would've only cost me 2,200 Taiwan dollars without insurance (60 US dollars)
This was and still is baffling to me. Here I am basically an alien in Taiwan and I get better medical coverage than I would in my own country? Where I was born?
I've been to the ER before without insurance and a simple knee examination ended up costing me 1,400 US dollars.

It's disgraceful that I get better health care in a country halfway around the world than in my home country...

....what would the cost be for an ER visit without insurance in the US??? I'll let you get your calculators.
It was 60 bucks! WITHOUT INSURANCE!

I've gotten many many, many stitches in my day.....all due to former bouts of idiocy; and I've never had such prompt, thorough and reassuring service as I had in some random small town in the middle of Taiwan. I mean I've had dozens of ER visits. And in all honesty I never had such prompt, efficient service. Within 15 minutes I was cleaned stitched up and ready to go....

The moral of the story is...well...I guess the moral is that if you have a serious, life threatening, or somewhat threatening injury; it would literally be cheaper to catch the next flight to Taiwan; hop on the next train from Taipei to Jiaoshi and get treated in some random hospital in the middle of the country than to get treated back in the states without insurance.

Cost of stitches in ER: 60 US without insurance
Flight to Taiwan: 1,500 Us Dollars
Cost of getting three stitches in an ER in the US without insurance:
Well..... I bet more than 1560...

Me being an idiot is a lesson to America about how disgraceful our health care system really is....

Stitches out tomorrow.......And don't worry, I've spared no expense....My stitches are getting taken out at the most famous hospital in Taipei.
Total cost with my Taiwanese Insurance: 10 US dollars. Obama let's get moving on this universal health care.

No comments: