Bedside Manner in Japan

Japan’s healthcare has its pros and cons, but in general it is pretty well run and affordable. Rather than seeing a doctor you either visit a clinic or a hospital which are a bit like factories as they try to get people in and out as fast as they can.  You sign your name on list and wait… and wait… and wait (most places don’t take appointments). When your name gets called you go in to see a doctor and he or she diagnoses you as quickly possible as there are about 20 other people behind you.  As a result  I have never, in my experience, met a doctor with any sort of bedside manner.  Most of the time the doctor seems a bit annoyed when you walk in since you are probably their 30th patient of the day. They diagnosis your problem as quickly as they can and rarely offer any options. Some doctors don’t even bother to explain what medicine they are giving you.

When I am being rushed through a clinic or doctor’s office it makes me miss the states. Most of the doctors there are friendly, ask about how you are doing, talk about themselves for a bit, and offer you options about your problems.

However, though there is no bedside manner, Japanese healthcare is cheap.  I have a very bad knee-  It hurts when I walk down the stairs, when I bend my knee for too long, and when I crawl on the floor (I’m a preschool teacher and there is surprisingly a lot of crawling).  I went in to get it treated and I received a hyaluronic acid shot in my knee (an extremely painful shot that takes about 60 seconds to administer), 10 days worth of three different types of painkillers, and muscle pads for the price of 2300 yen ($23). If I didn’t have insurance it would have probably been 9000 yen ($88).

All of this was just $22!

All of this was just $23!

I once went to a very friendly doctor in the states for a general check -up and it cost over 500 dollars since I didn’t have insurance. Lately, I have been playing around with the idea of moving back to the states and the question I have been asking myself lately is: Cheap health care and no bedside manner, or expensive health care with doctors with great bedside manner. What would you choose?


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