Saturday, December 29, 2007

Medical Care & Medications in Arabia

The third day after I arrived in Saudi Arabia, my ear started hurting really bad. I had a horrible headache and sharp pain in my right ear. By the next day, Adnan had to take me to see a doctor. At about 10pm, we went to the Magrabi Eye and Ear Hospital, a huge, brand new, state-of- the-art, spotlessly clean specialty clinic. The place was really hopping and so crowded with patients, it was incredible. Because it was during Ramadan, the clinic didn’t open until 5pm and would be open til after midnight.

We registered at the front desk and we were then directed to the 2nd floor to the ENT Department. I was told to wait in the women’s waiting room, while Adnan, Adel, and Adam waited down the hall. I was the only woman in the crowded waiting room without a veil covering my face. Of course I was wearing the abaya and had my hair covered. After only about ten minutes, I heard a tiny Indonesian nurse call my name, “Madame Suzan Annie.” I followed the nurse to a nearby examination room. Adnan came in too.

The doctor was a man who spoke very good English. I had to remove the hijab or tarha (head covering) so he could examine my ears. He determined that my right ear was quite inflamed – likely a result from having a slight cold before I left the States, plus the ten take-offs or landings I endured over the five day period prior to leaving America. The doctor wrote me four different prescriptions – an antibiotic, a pain reliever, an antihistamine, and nasal drops. We were in and out of this crowded clinic in well under an hour. I don’t know if we received special service because I was American, but it was excellent service. Plus we were able to instantly have the prescriptions filled at the affiliated pharmacy. The doctor visit cost about $20 US and the four prescriptions cost about $25 US all together. All this with no appointment, no insurance, no co-pay!

It took several weeks for my ear to finally clear up and for my hearing to return to normal, but the pain and headaches were gone pretty quickly after I began the medication.

When I left the States, I brought with me a 3 month supply of the medications I take. I thought I better start trying to see if I can get them here, so we went to a pharmacy with my pill bottles. I was able to get all 4 of them filled on the spot. The total cost was about the same as what my insurance co-pay was back in Florida. People don't have insurance here. So, I got all my medication without seeing a doctor here, without a prescription, and without any insurance! I was amazed. I know that I wouldn't be able to afford the medication back in Florida if I didn't have insurance.

I also have since been to another clinic to have blood drawn. Again the service was stellar, and the place was immaculate. No appointment, no insurance, no problems. In fact, the nurse that took my blood was so good, I didn't feel a thing!

We also had to take my son to yet another clinic and we had amazing service there as well too. This clinic was actually closed (for prayers) when we arrived, but they immediately saw my son, gave him a shot, and then we returned there later when the clinic was open to see the doctor. And another time when my son relapsed, the clinic was closed and no doctor was in, but a guy who works at the clinic actually accompanied us to a nearby pharmacy with my son's file so we could get a refill of the proper medication!

So far I have been really impressed with the medical care here - the service is incredible and the doctors and workers are very knowledgeable. I have no qualms at all about getting sick here!


  1. While we do have excellent doctors in the States I am never shocked to hear about the differences in the cost of care. The US is terrible when it comes to taking care of it's own people, which makes no sense to me.

  2. Hey, I hope I'm getting this right.

  3. I am glad you were taken care of so promptly. I know the cost of medical care in the USA needs to be addressed, but don't know if it will ever happen. I am just happy I still have coverage from Rai's military service, otherwise I would be in trouble.

  4. Here also in Algeria, healthcare is better more affordable then in US without insurance. But only difference here is that here is public and private ... free and paid doctors visits. 80% of meds prices are reembursed.
    And also well the wait is very long both public and private.

    On this topic, I say elhamdullah I am living rather sick here (not in US)

  5. It is nice to hear from you that you got a very good treatment from KSA, but ask for any person from Asian countries they will tell you the true stories.