For local Chinese, this is normal practice and is simple as they have Chinese credit cards. Anyone who has traveled to China, however, knows that unless an establishment caters to international clientele (like hotels and government stores), foreign credit cards are not accepted. Cash is king. We brought bundles of cash every day. If I did not have a good friend and partner in China, I don't know where I would have gotten that much cash. I suppose I would have had to find a bank and had the money wired.
Caveat: Even though we did need a LOT of cash to pay for my mom's hospital procedures and stay, the total cost gives us an understanding as to why we had to pay for meals, clothes and pads. Before I write the actual number, I want to recount what we were paying for. In the US, eight nights in a hospital are approximately $80,000, but we do get food, clothes and pads. She had a private duty nurse assigned to her, 24 hours a day. In the US, I can't imagine that would be less than $10,000. I read that a heart stent in the US would be about $40,000. My mom had two stents, but it was only one procedure so let's assume $50,000 for two. She had xrays and scans and EKG's and loads of other tests. I can't imagine the cost in the US of all of that. Add in the initial ER visit and all the doctors' fees, blood tests, and cost of hospital nurses/doctors coming to check on her multiple times each day. I'm guessing $150k-$200k in the US. Drum roll please. My mom's total bill: $14,000. That's socialized medicine for you. And unlike what we might read or hear, the care is phenomenal.
Tune in next week for the last Chinese hospital installment.