Sick in China

Written by Amanda Johnson (Kalamazoo College), Student Correspondent Chinese Studies & Internship in Beijing, Fall 2015

Getting sick far away from the comfort of your own bed and mom can be a scary thought for many college students, but that thought scenario is seemingly exacerbated by being abroad. Before I came to China I struggled quite a bit with health related issues, leaving my immune system quite weak as I began my journey to China. About three weeks into my stay here I began to have an extremely hard time breathing and had frequent migraines. With the assistance of my residence director here in China at CET Culture Studies Program, we decided it would be best if I went to see a doctor. It would have been extremely calming to me to read someone’s doctor experience in China before I did it myself, so I decided to write a blog post about my experience to provide insight for future study abroad students who may have to go to the doctor in China.

Fall 2015_Amanda with Roomate Hanyang_amandajohnson_resized

Me and my roommate

First I spoke with my RD about a good hospital with English-speaking staff, in Beijing she recommended United Family Hospital. After looking online, I decided to give them a call. As soon as they answered the phone they asked me if I wanted English or Chinese. We then proceeded to have the conversation in English as I made an appointment with a General Practice Doctor for the next day.  It was a relatively easy phone call and I simply needed to provide my insurance policy and my passport information. I was then instructed to arrive 20 minutes early with my passport in hand to my appointment the next day.

After the appointment was made, I called HTH Insurance, the insurance provided to CET students. I gave them the information of my appointment and reason for going to the doctor, and within minutes I received my guarantee of payment to my email. They also notified me that they had sent the same document to the hospital reception staff. After these few phone calls, I was all set to meet with a doctor the next day.

I left my dorm with my hospital card that CET had given me and gave the Chinese directions to a taxi driver to get me to the hospital. I arrived on time and spoke with the receptionist who had my guarantee of payment from my insurance on file. I was then led up to my doctor where she thoroughly asked clear questions in wonderful English. She was extremely knowledgeable on all of my past health issues once she read the report I had brought along from my US doctor. She further questioned me to provide the best solution to my health concerns and then she prescribed me a stronger inhaler and a few other medications to minimize my discomfort. I received a blood test and it went exactly like my tests went in the States except that I received my results much quicker. I then went down to the pharmacy that was right in the hospital and received my medications. Once I was done I went back to the receptionists to process the payment and HTH insurance covered 100% of my services and medicines. I didn’t pay one kuai.

My trip to the doctor was relatively stress-free and the assistance from CET really helped the process go smoothly. Furthermore, I didn’t realize the gold that inherently existed in having HTH insurance built into my CET program costs. It is an extremely reliable insurance that responds to needs quickly and conclusively. Going to the hospital in China is not near as scary as it may sound, China has the resources and people to provide exceptional health care services to make sure that your health doesn’t inhibit you from reaching your dreams of studying abroad in China.