Thoughts on Kingdom, Church, and Grace from an American living in Hong Kong

Monday, June 21, 2010

Public Health Care: My Experience

So much has been debated recently on the health care issue in America especially when it involves the public option. Because of this I want to share with you my recent encounter with "the public option" as it exists in Hong Kong.

Last Wednesday I developed a pain in my side that kept getting worse and wouldn't go away. Finally I realized I needed to get to an Emergency Room. I hopped on a speed ferry (I live on an Island)and zoomed downtown where I took a taxi ten minutes to Queen Mary Hospital. The ER receptionist asked for my Hong Kong Identity Card. As a resident of HK my trip to the ER would cost me HK$100 (US$ 13).

They then sent me to the Triage station and when I told them that I had a heart stent placed last year they immediately performed and EKG to determine if the pain I had was possibly heart related. It wasn't. I was then given a slip of paper categorizing my priority as semi-urgent. No doubt because of the obvious pain I was in.

My semi-urgent status got me in to see a doctor in about 45 minutes and after a consultation had an x-ray and urinalysis done. I was also given an injection & a pill for the pain. There is nothing like the sweet relief of pain killing drugs when you are in agony .

I had to wait a fair bit as I jumped through various hoops at the different stations. After about 4 hours the doctor suspected a kidney stone but was unsure, so I was admitted into the general ward. I was put in a wheel chair and brought to a hospital room with six beds, 4 of which had other patients. A single flat screen TV was on the wall for everyone to use and as I was the lone Englishman, the default channel was Cantonese. Fortunately I had my iPod Nano with me loaded with music, podcasts, and episodes of 30 Rock!

I was eventually taken for a CT scan which immediately identified the painful culprit; a small 2mm kidney stone making its way from the kidney to the bladder. Think of a small BB traveling through a hair follicle. Ouch!

I was immediately transferred to the ward that deals with this area. Of course it was 11:00 PM by this time and as the nurses wheeled me into my new overnight digs they gave no noise consideration to the 3 sleeping patients in my new room...causing me no little embarrassment.

I was monitored the next day and then finally discharged about 6:00 PM. Now in Hong Kong you have a private option as well as a public. Although I have insurance and could have gone private with much nicer personal care and accommodation, in my pain, I simply went to the closest hospital I could get too...which was a public one. Granted I saw multiple different doctors (whichever one happened to be on duty) and my bed sheets, while clean, had a couple small holes and a faded stain or two. I shared a room with multiple other patients and we shared a single, albeit clean, bathroom. The meals were hardly appealing but my nurse allowed me a quick run to the Starbucks in the hospital lobby where a nice sandwich wrap was available.

But the reality was I had:

* an emergency room visit
* an x-ray
* an EKG
* a urinalysis
* bloodwork
* a CT scan
* a night in the hospital
* a weeks worth of medication at discharge

and the grand total I paid: HK$ 200 (about US$ 26).

Now keep in mind...this is Hong Kong. A territory that is so capitalist it makes the United States look like a socialist Eastern bloc country. This is a city where the national past time is to stand around TV's tuned to the business channel to watch the stock price crawls on the bottom of the screen. Arguments about it being "socialist" don't work here.

So it is a relief to know that in this "capitalist mecca" there is a safety net available to me and my family in the event of an insurance problem...or lack thereof. I think many Americans would welcome that relief as well.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

World Cup FAQ

After getting all stoked and trying to get into this "World Cup" thing, today's England vs. USA match ended in a draw...a draw. Even in a world wide tournament, a football (soccer) match can end in a tie!! And the reason it can't go into a "sudden death" overtime is probably that since hardly any scoring ever actually happens in this game, the teams could possibly end up playing an extra hour before another goal is scored.

So to honor this sporting phenomenon, I reprint a World Cup FAQ I discovered here Enjoy!


So there’s like that soccer championship going on again. It’s pretty much like the most important thing ever to most of the world. So what does that mean to us? That means if by some chance the Americans win it, we need to at least act like we care about it and know what it is. Because if we win the World Cup and the whole world is devastated by the American win of the most valuable prize ever and we’re all still like, “What’s a World Cup?”, that could ruin our relations with everyone. So here’s an FAQ so if we win it we can all act like we care and know what it is so the world won’t get too angry at us.


Q. When is the World Cup?
A. According to the buzz on Twitter, it’s like sometime around now.

Q. How long does it last?
A. I think like a week or something.

Q. How many games are there?
A. I dunno. I’m going to go with… eight.

Q. What country is it in?
A. South something, I think. South Mongolia?

Q. What channel will it be on?

Q. Is it true the rest of the world calls soccer “football”?
A. I’m pretty sure that’s an urban legend.

Q. Is the World Cup anything like a World Championship in our sports?
A. No, because instead of it being played among the greatest athletes in the world — other Americans — it’s played against other countries so it’s much easier.

Q. Why is it so popular when it’s so boring and stupid?
A. I dunno. Why is socialism popular in other countries? Because they’re weird and foreign and not smart.

Q. What’s with all the violence with soccer fans?
A. If soccer was the only thing your country had going for it, wouldn’t you be angry and violent?

Q. How long has the World Cup been around?
A. At least since the 80s.

Q. Are there any famous soccer players I should know about?
A. There is this guy called like “Pegleg” or something.

Q. Is Obama a soccer fan?
A. Come on. Let’s stop taking cheap shots at President Obama.

Q. So do we get like an actual cup if we win, like one we could put beer or soda in?
A. I’d hope so, or the whole thing really is completely asinine.

Q. Is there a cash prize for winning?
A. I think you get $20 American, which is like a lot of money everywhere else in the world.

Q. Why are you doing an FAQ on the World Cup when you don’t seem to know anything about it?
A. Hey, I don’t tell you how to run your blog.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Homeland INsecurity

A good friend of mine is reading a book that he is dying to give me when he finishes it. Its called Son of Hamas and it tells the story of Mossad Hassan Yousef who is the eldest son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, one of the key founders of the terrorist group Hamas.

The twist in this tale is that in 2005 Mossad was invited to a Bible study and subsequently became a Christian. He went on to go undercover for the Israeli intelligence agency Shin Bet providing key information that proved invaluable to the war on terrorism.

I haven't read the book yet but a news article caught my eye. It appears that despite Mossad's change of allegiance and subsequent work that saved many lives including Americans, on June 30 he is facing deportation from the U.S. Homeland Security because "there were reasonable grounds for believing [he] was a danger to the security of the United States and because [he] engaged in terrorist activity,"

Come on Homeland Security... The guy was undercover...working on our side!

Personally, I can't wait to read the book but because it came out in March, it won't include his recent encounters with those wonderful Keystone Cops at Homeland Security that are protecting us from evildoers.

What are they going to do for an encore...round up the Canadians?