True story with not a hint of exaggeration:
This past weekend, the Korean Parents had their friends visiting from Korea -- a couple in their late 50s. Unfortunately, the wife of the couple suddenly suffered a stroke on the second night staying with TKParents. TKParents called 911 and rushed them to the nearby hospital. The doctor there recommended going to UCLA Medical Center immediately, because the larger hospital had more sophisticated equipments and better doctors.
The couple refused. Why? Because they had previously lived in America, and they knew that going to UCLA Medical Center without an insurance meant spending upwards of $10,000. (The bill from the nearby hospital was several thousand dollars already.) They were fairly well-off in Korea too -- they would easily qualify as a middle class in the U.S. also. But $10,000 on top of whatever they owed already was a lot of money. So they elected to immediately return to Korea when, for all they know, the lady could be having a brain hemorrhage. She could hardly speak, move her arm or walk. TKParents pleaded that their friends go to the hospital, but to no avail.
They spoke to their doctor in Korea before boarding the plane -- luckily, the doctor thought she would be safe to fly. When she landed, the doctor was waiting for them in an ambulance at the airport. Then she was taken immediately to Asan Medical Center, one of the finest hospitals in Korea, and received MRI scan and treatment. The whole thing -- your doctor waiting at the airport, ambulance, MRI, medicine to clear the clogged arteries at a top-5 hospital in the country -- cost less than $600.
Please, spare the Korean of the politics. If you think America's healthcare system is just fine after reading this story, please try and explain how it is normal for a middle-class woman who just went through a stroke would rather fly 13 hours to receive treatment instead of going to one of the best hospitals in the world. If you are callous enough to suggest that the couple should have purchased travel insurance, the Korean will have you know the lady had no prior instance of stroke and really was very healthy previous to this episode.
The Korean is fucking enraged right now. He is embarrassed and pissed off. This is America. We are the richest and greatest country in the world. And the family friends decided to board the plane after a stroke rather than to trust an American hospital to save her life while not bankrupting them. That shouldn't be too much to ask. It should not be too much to ask America to take care of people's lives as much as Korea does. This is fucking disgraceful, and we Americans should all feel embarrassed.
If you want to read more about Korea's healthcare system, please take a look at this post.
Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at firstname.lastname@example.org.