I finally broke down and made an appointment with a South African doctor. We have international insurance through P’s work, so it was a matter of figuring out which doctors were ‘in-plan’ and how to navigate the South African medical network. An ex-pat friend has the same insurance carrier as we do and told me that we can essentially see any doctor, we just have to submit the bills for reimbursement.  So I pulled the trigger and called a doctor that came recommended. For those that don’t know South Africa has a public health system.  You know that thing that almost every other country except the US has.

I admit I was hesitant to seek out a doctor while here, but Holy Hell,  it was fast, efficient and quality care. I called on a Monday to see when they could fit me in, thinking it would a week or so out. The nurse initially offered a same day appointment. (What?!?!  How is this even a thing?).  In the US I would have to wait for a minimum of a week, usually 2-3 to get in for something minor.  A yearly check-up was usually 90+ days out. The nurse and I eventually agreed on a Wednesday appointment.

Wednesday came and the doctor pulled me from the waiting room on time. He met with me for 30 mins and wrote me a prescription for my blood pressure. He then asked me to get fasting labs done the next day (Thursday) and to show up the day after that (Friday) so he could discuss the results with me and verify the meds were working as expected. No appointment was needed for the lab work or the follow-up.

All told the office visit, medications, and lab work only cost about $160.  The kicker is that is without insurance and at a private doctor, not a public clinic.  Since we have international insurance, we’ll submit the three bills and get likely get reimbursed for a portion or all. The last time I saw a doctor in the US I paid over $100 for the office visit alone.

Score 1 for South Africa. There network of basic coverage for everyone and enhanced care for others that choose it seems to work out really damn well. Per WikipediaIn South Africa, private and public health systems exist in parallel. The public system serves the vast majority of the population but is chronically underfunded and understaffed. The wealthiest 20% of the population use the private system and are far better served.

Ciao for now,


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