TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- A U.S. citizen, who recently had to make a late night trip to an emergency room in Taipei, has praised the swift, quality care he received for a low price.
On Feb. 18, Kevin, a 25-year-old American man, on Facebook posted his harrowing account of suffering severe stomach pain and incessant vomiting. Because Kevin, who is studying Chinese in Taiwan, does not yet have Taiwan's National Health Insurance (NHI), was afraid of the cost of medical treatment, but he ultimately chose to go the emergency room and was pleasantly surprised with the efficiency and effectiveness of the treatment, and most importantly, its low cost.
In a post sarcastically titled "The Horrors of Socialized Medicine: a first hand experience," Kevin said that he began to suffer severe stomach pains on Feb. 17 and soon found himself vomiting at 30-40-minute intervals. Despite completely emptying his stomach of its contents, he continued to suffer the urge to puke.
He tried to sleep it off, but by 3 a.m. on Feb. 18, his stomach cramps intensified, and he reported feeling dizzy and light-headed. Despite his desperate condition, he was still reluctant to visit a Taiwanese hospital because he was unsure of the quality of care, doctors' ability to speak English, and how much it would ultimately cost, since he had not yet been in the country long enough to receive his NHI card.
At 4 a.m., Kevin's Taiwanese roommate called a taxi and accompanied him to the ER at National Taiwan University (NTU) in Taipei's Zhongzheng District. Once there, Kevin said he was immediately checked in by an English speaking nurse and within 20 minutes had received IV fluids and anti-emetrics.
Kevin said they then took blood tests and performed an ultrasound to rule out gallstones or appendicitis. Following the tests, a physician diagnosed him as having acute viral gastroenteritis, or in layman terms, the stomach flu.
Photo of Kevin receiving an IV. (Photo from Kevin's Facebook page)
After three hours of receiving intravenous fluids, Kevin said he started to feel slightly better as his nausea and stomach pains subsided. Kevin was then discharged with a prescription for anti-emetics and pain medication.
Kevin told Taiwan News that his condition continued to improve, and by the evening of Feb. 19, he felt that he was "pretty much back to normal."
As for Kevin's bill, he found it to be a very reasonable US$80, especially considering he paid out of pocket, with no discounts or health insurance. Kevin also noted that this was an ER visit to one of Taiwan's top hospitals and that with an NHI card, the cost would have been a fraction of that.
By contrast, he said that a comparable trip to an ER at a top hospital in the U.S. would have cost "hundreds or even thousands" without health insurance. He lauded Taiwan's speedy, quality care, which was comparable to what he would have encountered at a hospital in the U.S., for a "relatively small amount of money."
Given his experience, Kevin said "I no longer have a reason to fear or hesitate getting care in Taiwan should I ever need it." He closed by calling out politicians, health care providers, and insurers in the U.S. by saying, "America, it's time to stop making excuses."
Kevin's Facebook post swiftly went viral, and has received over 103,000 likes and been shared 185,000 times in the nine days since it was published.