Thursday, March 12, 2009

Our health has improved since being in Japan

My family of 5 live in Japan. We have coverage from the US. I never joined the national health care because I felt that we were covered under our own insurance from the US and that seemed suitable at the time.

However, we have been to the hospital twice since living here. I was bitten by an animal shelter dog at a fundraiser once. The jagged bite mark on my leg was bleeding and the nurse suggested I go to the hospital immediately for injection and a check up. I checked in at the Red Cross Hospital in Hiroo and waited 45 mins to see a doctor. I saw the doctor first, not a nurse, or technician or aid but the Doctor. He cleaned my wound, inspected it, applied antibiotic ointment and dressed it. I received a dose of antibiotic and a prescription for 3 pills a day for 10 days. The bill for the hospital was 7000 yen and the prescription was some similarly small amount.

My second trip to the same hospital was when my son fell 10 ft to the ground while playing on the playground. He landed on his hip and was shaking and cold and couldn't walk. We feared a fracture on the hip and took him to the hospital. They informed us that since we didn't have an appointment we couldn't be seen. We asked again, nicely, and they agreed to see us after the other patients had been seen. We anticipated a long wait. My son, however, was called back for a consult with the doctor in 30 short minutes. He did a check up and put Isaac through a full range of motion. He sent us for xrays. Xrays indicated that my son had not broken any bones. He applied an adhesive medicated bandage to my son's hip area to keep the pain from bruising down. He sent us home with a prescription for medicated bandages which I was able to fill for 1500 yen. The entire visit took about 1 hour and cost me 15,000 yen. ($140 USD)

Service has always been wonderful and polite. I feel good when I visit the doctors here. My husband and I have received medication for blood sugar and anxiety. He paid an equivalent of $45 for glucophage and I have paid the equivalent of $28 for lorazapam for anxiety spells. This is without any aid from my US insurance drug plan. This is just the cost of medication over the counter from the doctor's prescription. I was shocked the first time I ever had to have medicines here. Without any drug plan at all medication costs here are so much lower than the US. I didn't offer any national health card to cover the medicines. I assume it's because the greediness of pharmaceutical corporations isn't as rampant in Japan as it is in the US. Affordable medicines are the norm.

Since we have lived here we have enjoyed the walking and trains and bike riding. We have enjoyed the abundant healthy vegetables. We have each lost 60 lbs and no longer require medications for blood sugar or anxiety.

Our health has improved greatly since being in Japan and the times we've needed help with our healthcare it has been a pleasurable and thrifty experience.

We return to the US in June. I am more than a bit afraid to move back to the US. I fear the slovenly, sedate, lazy lifestyle that is so common in the US. And the strain that kind of lifestyle puts on the entire system in the US. There are no accessible bike lanes in many cities in the US. The people in their gas guzzling vehicles feel they own the road and would never deign to ride their bike to the grocery when they can drive the 2 miles from home to the store instead.

Americans have a lot to learn from other parts of the world with regard to health care and every other aspect of their daily living. But that's a whole other rant you didn't ask for.

W - in Tokyo

No comments: