October 12, 2005
Another Hurdle Surmounted
Choose a doctor from the eight in our village listed in the phone book - CHECK
Make an appointment - CHECK
Same day, find out that a neighborhood mom who has children in both of my kids' classes (and whose daughter also is also affected by asthma), with whom we carpool once a week, is herself a family practitioner in the next town over, and hear from her that the doctor we picked is okay - CHECK
Wait two days - CHECK
Venture out on a cloudy, cool, drippy afternoon and find a parking spot - CHECK
Enter the doctor's office to find no receptionist, no staff visible, no check-in process, no sign-in sheet, no request for an insurance card or copayment, no new patient forms to fill out, just an echoing waiting room with a tall ceiling, and spiral stairs straight ahead leading up from a hallway - CHECK
Verify with the other two patients present that one is just supposed to sit down and wait, and take a seat (orange plastic for me, pink for Emily) - CHECK
Wait 40 minutes, whilst a couple exits with their baby, and another newborn cries upstairs like it's being tortured (Emily asked, in what she thought was humor, if they were killing it), and six other hopeful clients enter and settle - CHECK
Remember carefully who was there before us, and when it's our turn, so we can leap up and claim our spot at the right time when the lady comes down the stairs to greet us - CHECK
Discover to our surprise that the "lady" who goes up and down the stairs with each patient is, in fact, the "the doctor," and all by herself in the office, with no nurse, no helper, and no administrative person, privately raise eyebrows in surprise - CHECK
Find that she is young and blond, despite an arabic-sounding last name, and is very pleasant, despite the sign in the waiting room that tells patients not to be surprised if the doctor is angry due to the poor pay and hours and lack of benefits for physicians here in France - CHECK
Explain reason for visit, translate names of vaccinations received on immunization record - CHECK
Show American medicines, be relieved that doctor recognizes one of them immediately and confirms they have it here too, and that she has a computer on which to track down the equivalent of the second one - CHECK
Encourage Emily to cooperate happily with weight, height, and stethoscope procedures - CHECK
Cheerfully hand over twenty euros ($24) straight to the doctor (weird to hand currency straight to the physician's hand; a new experience), this being the extent of what we are charged for the whole visit, without involving any insurance companies - CHECK
Take prescription to pharmacy; be surprised that a bottle of prescription cough medicine costs less than two euros ($2.40), and a canister of emergency asthma medicine only about 5 euros ($6), while a month of preventative asthma pills (Singulair) cost 41 euros ($49); vaguely wonder whether we will see any of this money again from either the French government (if we figure out how and where to submit the forms) or our U.S. health insurance company (a nebulous affair at the moment) and how long it would take to get to us - CHECK
Be surprised in retrospect that the doctor never asked for our address, our phone number, any health history (other than to inquire after any allergies); that we didn't have to sign anything or write anything down; that the doctor didn't wash her hands between patients that I noticed, yet shook all their hands upon greeting and saying goodbye; and that our three prescription medications received were not labelled with anyone's name or dosage information - CHECK
Be thrilled that I've conquered this feat, the first French doctor's visit and first prescription pick-up - CHECK
Blogger Ezra Klein here explains the French health care system. For example, he says, "France has a basic system of public health insurance that, as of January 2000, covers everybody in the nation. [...] The public system covers around 75% of total costs. [...] French physicians only make US $55,000, about 1/3rd what their American counterparts pull in."
New French Medical Vocabulary for me:
ordonnance = prescription
And, of a bit of concern, I saw signs in the waiting room talking about sophrologie and mesothérapie. Wikipedia says "Sophrologie was created by Alfonso Caycedo in the 1960s. It is a psycho-science that studies the human consciousness.The Study of the Consciousness' Harmony." Hmmmm. Sounds very suspicious to me. Furthermore, wiki says mesotherapy is a technique using microinjections to reduce or remove lipids, originating in France (chemical fat reduction process). I am extremely dubious about both. I think I'll go have a bowl of ice cream and watch a romantic movie with my husband so our consciousnesses can be in harmony.
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Wow! My hat is off to you Katherine. That is one amazing experience. It makes me thank God for Kiaser.
Posted by: Cindy G | Oct 13, 2005 3:27:27 AM
Fascinating! Keep posting . . .
Posted by: Martin LaBar | Oct 13, 2005 11:24:25 AM
Yikes! Not washing hands between patients? Taking out anger at low pay on patients? Kinda scary. I'm glad you got the medicine you needed, though.
So what is the translation of that sign you posted, for those of us who don't read French?
Posted by: Sami | Oct 13, 2005 6:36:21 PM
Using thew Google translation tool and my VERY limited understanding of French, I come up with this:
Did you know?
Know that your general practitioner:
- if it worked 35 hours (loads payees) would not gain more than year nurse's aide or at best only one nurse in hospital.
- donot can take its retirement which has 65 years.
- right to same unemployment does not have if it y cotise. (cotise- unemployed?)
- is not covered by the mode of the industrial accidents. (No workers comp coverage)
- If it is sick, touches allowances journalieres (workers?) only at the end of 90 days.
- If it is a woman, right to the ore baskets maternite does not have.
- Pay a professional Tax 3 times higher (than) coffee-tobacco.
- (is)obliges to work for the cases of sickness insurance has its expenses.
- (is)obliges to ensure its formation apart from its working hours.
Bottom line- The doctor has no benefits, earns the same or less than a nurse, pays higher taxes than the tobacco companies, and has no right to the ore baskets. (that's probably some kind of maternity benefits program.)
Posted by: gaw | Oct 19, 2005 7:43:48 PM
Thanks, Glenn...for a really good laugh at that computer-generated translation!
You might not have seen that I have my version of the translation (as requested by Sami above) in the next post, at http://30seconds.blogs.com/archives/2005/10/aggravated_doct.html
"cotise" means pays regular amounts of money for something
"journalieres" is the plural feminine version of the adjective "daily"
ore baskets - now that's a very funny translation of the word "cong," which means vacation or a leave. I really don't know how it could have come up with "ore baskets." Seems like a random word thrown in to confuse people.
Posted by: Katherine | Oct 20, 2005 9:23:14 AM