クリニック clinic

Healthcare is surprisingly cheap in Japan. I went to see the doctor this morning with a throat infection. Arriving at the clinic, after explaining my symptoms, I had a brief conversation with the receptionist:

“Is this your first time coming here?”

“No, my second” (I showed her the card I had been issued last time)

“How did you pay last time?”

“I paid cash. I don’t have insurance, so I will be paying cash again this time.”

(looking worried) “You realise you will have to pay the full amount?”

“Yes, I understand.”

“You will pay 100% of the cost.”

“Yes.”

Now this conversation would have been quite alarming, except that I knew from experience that the bill would not be very expensive, and certainly didn’t warrant this level of drama.

In the event, I had a consultation with the doctor, he issued me with some tablets (4 types: a course of antibiotics, some painkillers, expectorant and cough suppressant). The total bill, including the medicine, was ¥2980. About €30.

On a previous visit to Japan, Yuko had suffered from severe food poisoning. She was taken to hospital in an ambulance, put on a drip and kept in overnight for observation. Again, we paid the full bill. The ambulance, hospital stay and treatment cost less than €100.

 

Yesterday evening after work, I went to the pharmacy to try to find a Japanese equivalent of Lemsip, a medicated hot lemon drink that does wonders for cold and flu symptoms. I tried to explain to the pharmacist, in croaky voice and limping Japanese:

“I have a sore throat and have lost my voice. In my country, we have a warm drink we take when we have cold or flu.”

“A warm drink?”

“Yes, a warm drink with lemon flavour.”

“A warm drink?”

“Yes, it’s powder and you make it up with hot water.”

“A warm drink?”

At this point it was clear that the conversation wasn’t going anywhere. The fact that I could hardly squeak the words out may not have helped.

“So, do you have something like that in Japan?”

“Ah, no, I don’t think so.”

I bought some cough syrup, and picked up some lemons and honey on the way home.

Note on the word of the day:

The word クリニック kurinikku is just the English word “clinic” rendered in katakana. As is so often the case with borrowed words, there is a perfectly good Japanese word 医院 i-in meaning clinic but Japanese is a profligate borrower of foreign vocabulary even when a Japanese word already exists.

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