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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

At the Dentist

Last year while I was living in Vietnam, I chipped a tooth, so I went to the dentist there where they fixed the tooth in less than an hour & for less than $10. I was pleasantly surprised at the results.

Last week, that filling suddenly came out, so I needed to go back to the dentist. Shanghai is more expensive than Vietnam, & I expected this visit to the dentist to cost a lot more than $10, so I made sure I had plenty of cash on me.

I asked one of the students at my school if she knew of a good dentist, & she offered to go with me to help translate. We took the bus four stops & stepped off in front of a hospital. A hospital? Yep. That's where the dentist is.

We went inside to register for an appointment, & an hour later, I was sitting in the dentist's chair. She took a look at my tooth & said that since it was a break & not a cavity, she could just file it down & it would be alright. 30 minutes & 14 RMB (about US $2) later, I was back on the bus heading home with my tooth fixed & a smile on my face.

I'm amazed at how easy it has been to get treatment here. Both in Vietnam & in Shanghai I've been able to see the dentist on the same day, & the treatments were incredibly cheap. In the US, I would have waited at least a week for the appointment, then paid at least $100 just for the dentist to look at me.

I can now understand why people travel to other countries to get medical treatment. It's sometimes referred to as medical tourism & has been popular among Americans for a while now. It's quite common in Arizona (my home state) for people to cross the border to Mexico for their dental or pharmaceutical needs. A couple of hours drive is worth the savings for many people who might not otherwise be able to afford treatment. 

Since I've been living in Asia, I've also discovered that many people often fly to Southeast Asia, especially Thailand, for surgeries because it's so much cheaper, even after the price of the plane ticket. An added bonus is being able to sleep off the novocaine to the sound of ocean waves, a mai tai in your hand.

Of course there are no mai tais here in Shanghai, but I could easily take a trip to Sanya with the money I've saved at the dentist.

How about you? Have you ever been a medical tourist?

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