What It’s Like: A Visit to the Doctor in China

Two days ago I started coughing, and I was fairly certain it was my bi-annual bronchitis. In Hong Kong yesterday I stopped by Fanda and self-medicated with over-the-counter prescriptions. Today wasn’t much better. My colleagues at Huawei recommended I visit the campus hospital.

The Peking University Shenzhen Hospital has a dedicated clinic on the Huawei campus. It’s where most employees go for their pre-employment medical examination. Today was my first visit to a Chinese outpatient clinic as a patient. It was as smooth as silk.

Thankfully, my colleague accompanied me. She’d been to the clinic the day before with a sore throat. She knew the routine and spoke the language.

At reception, I handed over my China social security card. This allows me discounted access to a doctor. As I’d been paying a healthcare premium through my wages for 18 months, I’d accumulated a credit of RMB20,000. The fee for a doctor consultation was RMB6 (about US$1) which was deducted from my credit.

My visit with the doctor lasted 5-10 minutes. We discussed my symptoms. She asked about my medical history. She took my temperature, looked down my throat, and used her stethoscope to listen to my lungs. I was recommended for an X-Ray, and she printed out that request. We went back to the registration and they deducted the cost of a chest X-Ray (RMB74.30 or US$11).

The X-Ray technician was down the hall in his suite with no other patients. I went into the X-Ray room and 10 seconds later was out in the hall waiting for the film. He provided that minutes later with a written prognosis. All clear!

We walked back to the doctor who discussed the X-Ray and then prescribed three medications. I’m to take them for three days and, if I feel better, I’m to stop. If symptoms persist I am to return. The pharmacy in the lobby filled the three prescriptions (RMB52.43 or US$9) which was deducted from my healthcare credit.

On our walk back across the campus – on a sunny day – I swung my paper bag with my “all clear” X-Ray and my three prescriptions. I was reassured and relieved. I’d had a good medical examination, X-Ray, and prescriptions for about US$20.

Now I must make one qualification. The experience in an employee-only outpatient clinic on the Huawei campus is very different from an inner-city public hospital (not in terms of cost, but in terms of waiting times and ease of access). The only thing I didn’t get was a medical certificate for a day off of work. That said, I’m ambulatory and feeling fine (just very, very tired).

It was a pleasant and reassuring visit to the China medical center today.

The proof is in the X-Ray…

One thought on “What It’s Like: A Visit to the Doctor in China

  1. Thanks for sharing- very interesting contrast.

    I hope you are feeling much better. I miss your posts.

    Things back home are going well. My second documentary aired on Detroit Public TV last month, and am working as the editor for a little newspaper. (I enjoying my news fix)

    Take care,

    Nancy (Branstetter) >

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