When I started my teaching job in Saudi Arabia, one of the first things I did was go to the dentist. I knew I had at least one cavity, but it never occurred to me that I’d have seven. I was horrified when the dentist told me. He asked me why I hadn’t gotten them fixed. I told him I couldn’t afford to get it done in the States. When I tell people about the cost of healthcare in my country, they’re often shocked.
“But you’re from America?” a lot of them say. America has a great reputation overseas for being the land of opportunity amongst other things. For a lot of the locals I talk to, it doesn’t occur to them that some of us are seeking a better life elsewhere.
After receiving my healthcare package from the university in Saudi Arabia, I immediately considered any medical procedure I might need to get done. Fortunately, my biggest problem was that my teeth were basically rotting out of my head! That might be a bit of an exaggeration since most of the cavities were small, but if I had never left the United States, they would’ve gone untreated and gotten worse. I had one cavity filled before I left and it cost me around $150. That’s simply a luxury I can’t afford.
I’ve had other exams done and even opted for eye surgery during my time overseas. For me, it was an elective surgery, a luxury, and for a moment I felt selfish. Even the dental work was somewhat elective. You can live without perfect teeth. Here I am, paying roughly $3 per visit to fill cavities while I have friends back home battling cancer. I have friends who need surgery and can’t afford it. I have a former classmate from university who had to start a GoFund me page just so she could get a new pair of glasses.
When did America get this way? And why aren’t we more ashamed of it?
I don’t have a solution for the sorry state of healthcare in my country. And I’m not going to pretend like I know which system is the best. But we, as Americans, need to stop pretending like it’s okay for people to suffer from a lack of basic medical attention in what’s supposed to be “the greatest country in the world.” The fact that I get better healthcare in a 3rd world country is alarming.
If you’re in need of medical care, you might want to consider your options. With the current state of healthcare in the U.S., you’d probably be better off finding a job overseas like I did than waiting around for us to figure out how to take care of our own people.
The good news is, Saudi Arabia is hiring. Put me down as a reference and take care of those teeth!