Thursday, March 27, 2008

Healthcare in Europe

I've had this killer flu for three and a half weeks now, and it's still lingering as a persistent cough, so I figured I'd go see the doctor in Chris' building. She said, yep, you've got the flu that everyone else has, and you might have a chest infection. Her prescription? Get an X-Ray. Ugh. An X-Ray. Does my insurance cover it? If so, how much? So, I paid the whopping 22 Euro (33 bucks) bill to the doctor, in cash (she paid me my change out of her purse), and called Blue Cross to see if they cover me while I'm abroad. After a good 20 minute phone call, I found out that if my French X-Ray center isn't "in network" then I have to pay a $300 deductible and 70% of the cost. At this point, I figured I'd better find out how much this X-Ray is going to cost, since for $300, I'd rather just have the doc dope me up on antibiotics and screw the X-Ray. The doc warned me that X-Rays are much more expensive than doctor visits. So I just called the X-Ray people and asked how much a chest X-Ray costs. Are you ready? 45 Euros. That's 67 bucks or so (and it would be only 45 bucks if the exchange rate weren't so out of whack). I just looked online and found that chest X-Rays go for around 200 dollars in the states. Amazing. So I'm going to suck it up and pay my 67 dollars for the X-Ray out of my own pocket. Tell me again how European "socialized medicine" is so bad?

Okay, just got back from the doctor (the x-ray was fine). I scheduled my appointment a few hours in advance, it was for 3:30pm (or 15h30 as they say here), and they took me at 3:33pm. I was out of there in 15 minutes, and that included seeing a doctor afterwards to explain what the x-ray said (and I then promptly left my x-ray in the check out line at the grocery - someone's in for a surprise with their creme brule!) Bottom line: Still not seeing what's so bad with the health care system over here.

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