Monday, November 23, 2009

French healthcare: Part I

I called the doctor at 2pm today and got an appointment for 4pm, same day.

Gave the receptionist my info and paid in full, to be reimbursed later. 22 euros (Three times my American co-pay, if you account for the exchange rate. Yes, we're comparing copay to full cost.)

Waited for about 10 minutes. Peeling paint and ugly furniture are not problems that can be fixed on a government-run budget, apparently.

Saw the doctor. She was certainly competent and efficient, and although I could have wished for a more cosmopolitan outlook from her, she was not unkind. I had a hard time understanding her, not so much because I was lost on the medical terms (I actually got all that), but just because there are some people who are harder to understand than others. I left her office feeling depressed about that, because I hate being the stupid foreigner who asks you to repeat yourself again and again. Let's face it, there's no way to sound intelligent while saying, "I don't understand." On the other hand, I'm a little proud of myself, because, while it was not gracefully executed, I did get myself through an entire doctor's appointment in my second language.

I left the doctor's office with my prescription print-out of four items, which I took to the first pharmacy I passed. The woman who helped me there was very helpful and patient about my foreignness. She collected the medicines, explained to me how to use them, explained to me how to get reimbursed by my insurance, made sure I had the proper papers, etc. The total cost for two things of antibiotics, anti-septic spray, anti-septic cream, and bandaids was 37 euros.

Because doctor's visits are reimbursed at 70%, some medicines at 65% (including my bandaids) and others at 35%, my 59 euros worth of healthcare will end up costing 23 euros.

What do you make of that?

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