Sunday, June 19, 2011

Healthcare in Hyderabad

While sitting through on boarding last week I was shocked to discover what my company sponsored "insurance plan" did and more importantly, did not offer. I put "insurance plan" in quotes because there were no mentions of well visits or preventative care. No annual physicals covered or vision and dental plan. They way I understood it, I was getting 1.5 lakhs (approx $3300 USD) of coverage that could be used only in the event of a 24+ hour hospital stay. On a bright note, the "plan" also lacked monthly premiums.

I admit, I panicked. I've never been one to run to the doctor at the earliest sign of a sniffle, but having good insurance coverage is peace of mind. I've always availed the buy-up plan, the extra add-ons, and any other extra cushion offered. It didn't look like there were any other cushions being offered here.

A co-worker had been experiencing some stomach discomfort and mentioned going to the hospital this weekend. I was shocked thinking how awful the pain must be go to the hospital instead of just visiting a Dr's office. What about the cost? He explained because the hospital had walk-in care, there was no reason to worry about scheduling an appointment or the severity of the condition and availing walk in care was certainly a convenient option. I asked to tag along.

We visited Image Hospital, located in Madhapur. They advertise that no one is too poor to avail their extensive list of specialty care options, which range from Dermatology to Orthopaedics and everything in between.

We walked into a huge and rather barren seating area. We approached the main desk next to which was a chart clearly stating all of the standard fees associated with the various services offered. To the left you'll see the fee schedule for an overnight hospital stay based on the type of room you'd like.

The clerk took only the necessary information: Name and Phone number. There was no mention of seeing an insurance card or verifying a referral. They did, however, ask if we could pay the consultation fee for the Emergency Care doctor. The fee was Rs 275 ($6.00 USD). Upon paying that, we were issued a receipt and immediately taken back to see the doctor who was waiting in the room for us. There was no 20 questions game played with the nurse, no describing the symptoms to her only to have to describe them to the doctor later. The doctor asked a few questions followed by a full physical examination then provided some recommendations as well as a few meds to get my friend back on track.

Leaving the exam room, we walked just ten steps to the pharmacy where we were immediately given the meds the doctor recommended which came to an additional Rs 200 ($4.50 USD) and we were on our way. The entire visit from walk in to walk out was short of 30 mins and cost just over $10.00 USD with no insurance necessary.

When I returned home, I visited the hospitals website and was shocked to see a scroll bar on their home page listing prices for many of their services. They put it right out there for you to see. Nothing hidden. No fear of how much the bill is going to be. Just an easy to follow, clearly labelled fee schedule. See for yourself here:

I must say this eased my mind regarding my current "insurance plan." The facility was excellent, the exam thorough, and the entire experience convenient and worry free.

Celebration Traditions

In the US, if you're celebrating your birthday, it's anticipated that you friends and family will treat you. Maybe a lunch date, or some cake and balloons, or perhaps even gifts.

In India, it's done the opposite way. While I was still stateside and celebrated my most recent birthday, my Indian friends inquired as to what I was treating my friends with. I was completely puzzled. "What do you mean what am I treating them to? It's my birthday, shouldn't they be treating me?" Here, if you are celebrating an engagement, or a birthday, or promotion, you are responsible for treating them.
[Photo courtesy of]
The standard "treat" is any assortment of Indian sweets. There's a huge variety of unidentifiable things to chose from, and you'll find a sweet shop every few feet. I must admit, the Indian sweet is an acquired taste. I accepted them only out of sheer politeness in the past, but over time, they've grown on me. I've even identified a few favorites such as Gulab Jamun (which I've even helped make).

Not only is it customary to provide the sweet if you're the one celebrating, but typically, you'll also place it in the mouth of the person you're offering it to. I've been scolded a few times for not doing so.

When celebrating a birthday, you'll find the standard delicious cake (although the Indian's really do an amazing job of decorating them).
What happens with the cake, however is a bit of a "sticky situation." After the singing (yes the same birthday song we all know) and blowing out of the candles, the individual celebrating will cut the first piece of cake, and hand it to an elder or boss. After receiving the piece of cake, the elder will then smear the piece of cake on the birthday girl/boys face. Several other folks joining in the celebration may also do the same.
As you can see, it turns into quite the sticky situation. Everyone always takes it well and it can be a lot of fun provided you're the one doing the smearing!  

Friday, June 3, 2011

Finalizing Employment In India

Monday June 6th will mark the end of my employment hiatus and have me reporting to the office. In the past month since I've worked, I've certainly taken boredom to new levels and I'm looking forward to working and getting into a routine not to mention having some money coming in.
As per the eight page employment contract I was required to sign upon accepting my position, there is a long list of items I need to arrive with the first day I report to the office. I thought I'd share this with you, as well as a few comments on what is being requested.

Highest Degree Certificate     
      Easy Enough. I had to provide a copy of my college diploma and transcripts in order to be considered for this position, so although they've already been provided to HR, there's no problem providing them again on my first day of work.

Document Showing Date of Birth/Passport
      I have copies of both my Passport and Birth Certificate so this is no problem, and completely reasonable.

Class X Certificate
      I have no clue what this is. If anyone can clue me in, please feel free.

Photocopy of PAN ID
      I equate this to a Social Security Card. I have applied for a PAN card online, but need to submit my Resident Registration and copies of my Passport in order to complete the application process, except no one can tell me where to send these documents. Even on the website I filled out my PAN application form, there are no instructions on where to send the remaining documents.

2 Passport Sized Photographs
      Indian society is so big on having a photo in order to make any document legal. I've had to provide photos for my apartment lease, my cell phone, and Internet service. Any legal contract or service requires this. There are photo shops everywhere that can do this for you, and once I realized how often I'd need to produce these photographs, I just went and had several printed up and carry them with me every where I go. It seems to be an expectation that you'll be able to produce one any where at any time.

2 Copies of Relieving Letter/Experience Certificate From All The Previous Organizations
      That's right. India requires that you produce a letter showing that every former organization you list on your resume has accepted your resignation. Thankfully I only listed two on my resume, however with as young as we start working in The States and the number of jobs most Americans have in their lifetime, can you imagine having to produce a letter showing that each organization accepted your resignation?! My thought is, the fact that I no longer show up to work there is proof enough of their acceptance.
      Additionally, they want a letter detailing your experience at each of your past employers. They won't simply take your word for what you have listed on your resume. I've been told that if you leave an Indian company without putting in the proper notice period, they will refuse you the Experience Certificate/Letter basically nullifying your time spent at that company. I've heard it's virtually impossible to get hired on anyplace without having these certificates/letters from your former employers.

Copy of Latest Salary Slip From All The Previous Organizations
      Since the dawn of direct deposit, I have never printed a pay stub unless I was applying for a loan. I don't have a single one of these from my most recent employer, and certainly not from past employers.

Copies of Requisite Approvals and Work Permits/Visas for Continued Residence and Employment in India
      This makes sense. Of course you only want to hire people legally allowed to work in your country.

So I'll be able to show up my first day with a few things, but will have to talk to them about the other items they are requesting that I might have trouble getting. The company I worked for prior to this one no longer even exists so hopefully they'll go easy on me over some of these items.