Everything was going swimmingly: I got my passport, found a cheap flight, and got my two weeks off of work. I was ready for the ultimate vacation. On a tip from a friend of mine, I decided on a package tour of Meditopia, an island nation often called the jewel of the South Pacific. The brochure sent to me by Meditopia Adventure Travel displayed pristine white sand beaches, lush jungle waterfalls, charming locals, and, strangely, a photograph of their brand new hospital. ‘Our health care is free to all,’ the caption under the photo read. An avid scuba diver and lover of nature, this obscure nation seemed to provide it all.
I connected to Meditopia Air flight number 13 from Bangkok, and after sixteen hours of travel, I arrived into Healthiopolis Airport. Customs was a pretty standard procedure, although it was strange when the official seemed disappointed that I did not have any pre-existing medical conditions.
As it turned out, I arrived in the middle of monsoon season. Despite securing a very quick and efficient taxi to the hotel, I was soaking wet and shivering by the time I reached the front desk. I wasn’t going to let some rains dampen my spirit: I celebrated the first night of my vacation with a couple pork dumplings known to be a local delicacy. Before long I was dreaming of the swimming, hiking, and diving I would be doing.
The next morning, I awoke to an intense, pounding headache, a severe sore throat, sweats, and a case of diarrhea the likes of which I never had before. It was terrible, and I wasn’t sure if it was the rain that soaked me or the dumplings I had eaten the night before. There was a knock on my door.
“Meditopia Adventure Travel! I am your guide! Good morning!” a bubbly voice called.
“I am sorry, I’m very sick,” I sputtered, opening the door.
“Sir, you are not well!” a portly, amiable looking local said.
“Yes, perhaps I should sleep it off,” I tried to close the door, but the guide would not let me.
“We must take you to our brand new hospital, sir,”
“No, no, I don’t have any insurance,” I said, “at least none that would be accepted here.”
“Sir, you must understand that here, in Meditopia, we pride ourselves in our free health care. Even Yankee travelers such as yourself can get access to our state of the art facilities.”
I did not believe him, but before long I found myself in an ambulance, on the way to the hospital. Wrapped in blankets, upon entry to the hospital, I tried to fish out my HMO card, but the exceedingly friendly nurse waved it away. I waited no more than ten minutes before a two Doctors waved me into an examination room. In my feverish delirium, I continued to wave around my insurance card, knowing full well that my plan had no coverage for foreign hospitals. The doctors diagnosed my acute food poisoning, and set me up with a lavish hospital room, as well as a free prescription for the necessary antibiotics. Good lord, I tried to give the staff money every time they visited, but they refused.
I spent my entire vacation recovering in the hospital ward; it was amazing. There wasn’t even any paperwork for me to fill out. This land of Meditopia was the perfect place to get sick. Feeling refreshed, rested, and thankfully, in peak physical condition, I boarded the plane hoping to get sick here, again sometime.