This morning I had to get a medical examination as part of my residence permit application. This helps prove you are not carrying any contagious diseases as well as show the government that you are not moving to China to freeload off their socialized health care system. I had readied myself for the worst, but it was actually a pleasant experience. After taking a cab to the Hong Qiao area (suburb popular with expats), I paid 702 RMB ($90) and handed over 3 passport-sized pictures, a copy of my passport and a copy of my firm’s business license. They gave me a brief medical questionnaire to fill out while waiting for my number to be called. The form was in English and all the employees seemed to be able to speak English. However, almost every Caucasian in the place was accompanied by an interpreter. When my number was called, they took my form, stapled a bunch of barcode stickers to it and took a digital photo. Then I was led to the assembly line of tests that many other people were already going through.
Step 1) Take off my shirt and put on a robe top.
Step 2) Have my height and weight measured using an ultrasonic scanner (bounces off my head to measure my height).
Step 3) Have two tubes of blood drawn. No immediate results.
Step 4) Quick eye exam while still wearing my glasses. I guess it’s a good thing I am not colorblind and that my prescription is correct.
Step 5) Chest X-ray. Again, no immediate results, but the x-ray sensor was labeled “X-ray autoloader” and seemed like it was capable of taking x-rays faster than my printer can print pages.
Step 6) EKG test. Print out was stapled to my form.
Step 7) Ultrasound. Never had this done before. The technician seemed surprised when she said “You’re normal!” I don’t even know what she was looking for, but I was relieved.
Step 8) Basic exam. Blood pressure check and cursory listening via stethoscope. The doctor asked, “Do you have any health problems?” I said “No”, but was really thinking, “isn’t that what you’re supposed to tell me?”
Step 9) Get dressed and tell them if you want to come back to pick up your completed results in a week or have it hand delivered for 30 RMB. Since 30 RMB is less than $4, and the round-trip cab fare alone is 50 RMB, I took the delivered option.
All in all, it took about 45 minutes and didn’t require anything really invasive. If all Chinese medical experiences were like that, I wouldn’t be afraid to go to the doctor.