Getting medical care in Bali

March 4, 2019 Mar 4, 2019   Ubud

Going to the doctor while traveling isn't on my list of fun things to write about, but there you are, life gives you citrons.

Paul hasn't improved; he has fever, aches, and pain. About six this morning I called our travel insurance company back in Canada and by ten a doctor and her assistant arrived from Kuta and were in our bedroom taking Paul's temperature and drawing blood. The only challenge was the doctor finding our house but after trading many WhatsApp messages (Bali's favorite message service, my least favorite1) and then Wayan talking to the ambulance via her cell, they pulled up, all uniformed and equipped for action.

The doctor was great. Personable, knowledgeable, and well equipped. English speaking. It's probably a virus, she said, likely the ubiquitous dengue. She reviewed what to do and left us with written instructions and a bag with meds and a thermometer. It was all so very civilized, like a scene out of a Merchant-Ivory movie. If only my doctor, who is otherwise wonderful, made house calls.

But I dare not paint health care in Bali as all unicorns and rainbows. The medical care we received isn't the care most Balinese can avail themselves of, it's provided by a company called International Tourist Medical Service and I'd imagine it is too expensive for the locals. Along with relief I felt uncomfortable in front of Wayan, I am sure she could not afford such care. Bali doesn't have anything like Canada's single-payer system. When someone goes into the hospital family stays with them to care for them, and friends and neighbors raise money to pay the bill. It's all so random, you've no choice as to where you're born. If you are lucky enough --- and it is luck, isn't it? --- to have good health care you should make an offering to the god of randomness tonight.


1Years ago, when I started using Fb (WhatsApp's owner) I found them violating my privacy. Old news now, of course, it's their business model to violate their users' privacy, and while they deny it they lobby against privacy protection. So I let WhatsApp have space on my phone only when I travel.