Insurance, Preparing for Incidents

international student voice magazine Da Hyun Kim
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Congratulations Da-Hyun Kim for being the winner of microscholarship #1! Writing about her experience with health insurance in the United States won her $100. Read her winning essay here.



The above photo was taken right after my motorcycle ride. The friend who took the photo didn’t know I just burned my skin. I tried to smile, but I was crying inside.

In fall 2011, I attended an international student orientation held by my college, Portland Community College. Frankly, my first impression of hearing about the college’s insurance system didn’t remain in my memory. The only thing I am sure is that it was a lot of information to process and remember, for me who barely knew what bus to take to safely go back to home.

Later, I wasn’t again happy about the fact that I needed to pay $256 on top of the expensive tuition. I even went to see my advisor to ask about the possibility of terminating my insurance. As I was assured that I was a healthy human-being, I explained her how I hadn’t had a cold for the past year and how I was positive about not being sick for next few years. My advisor took a minute and shared a story of a Chinese boy who was in the heaven. She said how he got into a bicycle accident that took his life. Because he had the insurance, all the fees including air-plane tickets for his parents were covered. It made me to think for a while, but then I again forgot about the importance of paying $276.90(as it increased) for insurance until I got into an accident.

During the summer, my left calf got burnt by an insanely hot motor of a motorcycle. It all happened in a second. The scar was my fist size. It was gross, nasty and it hurt. The worst part was that I could see my pinkish inner flesh. Although I knew I had insurance, I refused to go see doctor because I had a misconception of hospital ripping off patients. I bear the pain for a week. I ended up limping and unable to stand. My coworker took me to a hospital by force (I was crying on my way because I did not want to have big bill), and surprise! They cured me and help me to walk after few days. I awesomely only paid about $50 for antibiotics. After the incident I had few friends get sick for various reasons, such as appendicitis or car accidents. They ended up with the bill of over $20,000, but guess what, the insurance covered almost 99%.

My opinion of my college’s insurance system is very positive. If they did not make it mandatory, I wouldn’t even bother to have insurance. Then I am sure I would have ended up with a debt for paying medical expenses. We never know what will happen tomorrow or even an hour later. Having insurance is a way to prepare for any incidents. Nothing is worse than being sick in a foreign country; therefore, having backup solution is the best!

Da-Hyun Kim is from South Korea studying at Portland Community College. Her winning essay will be featured in the Spring 2014 issue of International Student Voice Magazine, shipped to universities across the United States.

We still have five more microscholarships to give away!

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Topic for microscholarship #2: The Friendly, Local American

2 thoughts on “Insurance, Preparing for Incidents

  1. Da-Hyun Kim, Thank you for sharing your story. It is unfortunate that you burnt your left calf so badly; but, as you said, luckily, you were forced to keep the health insurance provided in the US – and were able to get medical assistance to aid in your recovery.

    Did you just have to pay the one lump sum for the coverage (in addition to the payment for the antibiotics), or were you able to pay a portion of the amount each month during your stay?

    Also, based on your experience, how did the US health service and insurance compare/contrast to that of South Korea?

    1. Hi Jackie,

      Thanks for the nice words:-) To answer your questions, I did not pay for any fee except for the antibiotic which costs me about $50. Oh, now i think about that, I think i payed additional $15 since it was a drop-in. (I could make one but i insisted not to because of the misconception)

      Korea’s health insurance is totally different from US. First of all, the fee isn’t that expensive. So, we go see the doctor whenever we feel funky. We don’t tolerate the pain because of the fear of getting a big bill. I also believe Koreans have basic insurance which government provides as transfer payment.(Like Obama care?) Moreover, we have SO MANY types of private insurance companies. they have a ton of insurance that cover from your head to toes.

      US health service is really interesting. A friend of mine told me he payed nothing when he visited hospital a week ago. They could not estimate the fee so they sent the bill to his house later on. I thought it was funny since we give the bill when we are discharged from the hospital

      hope the answers satisfy you!

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