Recently, I had the unfortunate experience to need some medical assistance, and I thought it would be helpful to put up some tips for other foreigners who may need to maneuver Korean hospitals. It can be pretty scary to have to find a doctor/hospital/clinic in another country.
- The emergency number here is 119, if you need. Keep in mind that an ambulance ride will be expensive, just as it is in most countries.
- Pharmacies are not located within a hospital, but there are usually countless ones outside or near to any hospital – and also on most streets that have businesses. There are pharmacies everywhere really, just look for 약국 (yak-guk = pharmacy).
- Knowing your name in Hangul will be very helpful as most hospitals will want to input your name into their system in Hangul, and if you’re in a waiting room your name might appear on a screen in Hangul as well. And, hey it’s kind of fun learning how to spell your name in another language – mine is 디안나 🙂
- Most doctors know enough job-related English to communicate with you and answer any questions you might have, so don’t worry overmuch about language barriers.
- Big hospitals like Asan Medical Center are going to be more expensive than the smaller hospitals or emergency rooms. Though they are more likely to have more English speakers than their smaller counterparts.
- Medical expenses with insurance are very low. I spent about 5,000-7,000 won per visit to a hospital doctor, and about 20,000 won to be seen at a smaller emergency room.
- Smaller hospitals or clinics might have a “take-a-number” machine to be seen. Usually, there is someone manning the machine who can help you choose the correct button.
- If you’re worried about the language barrier, it is helpful to have some phrases prepared beforehand in your phone. What I did was use google translate for important things I needed to express to the front desk staff. This made it very easy for them to understand what I needed efficiently.
- My biggest advice, from my experience, is don’t worry. Everyone I came in contact with was extremely helpful and did their best to give me guidance when I needed to find where to go or what I should do. If you have a question, don’t be afraid to ask.