I may have mentioned that we don't have actual television here in Vlad's House. We do have a DVD player. We were in FNAC (huge multi-media store) last week and went a bit crazy at their 'Holiday Specials' table. We had already watched all of our boxed sets of videos, which we have already owned for years, three additional times since moving in here.
We needed a break.
We bought 'Sicko'. You all remember: Michael Moore's famous/infamous eulogy of the American health insurance system.
I'm going to exercise my self-restraint here (it's been a bit of a couch-potato lately…) and not add my, always invaluable, comments about the American system.
I will (naturally) add my comments about the French system.
When mon mari went in hospital last spring I had a lot of American friends and family express concern over whether he would receive adequate care.
I had an equal number of American friends and family express relief that he was in the French system, rated by the World Health Organization as the best in the world.
Regardless of everyone's concerns and expectations, the care he received was excellent, thorough, and careful, with appropriate use of the latest technologies and top specialists when needed.
We haven't a clue what it cost.
We've never seen a bill.
For any of it.
Okay, that last bit isn't quite true.
We did see the pharmacy charges, and one or two office visits we had to pay cash for and wait for reimbursement.
But we still haven't seen a bill from the hospital.
We're told, that at the end of the year, we'll receive a recap of all of our medical expenses for the year.
Note I didn't say a bill; I said a recap.
We really expected to have to pay something.
Frankly, I'm still waiting, but it's been more than six months…..
Not everything is covered here in France, of course.
Mon mari had a tooth pulled the other day (the one blamed for all of the problems in the first place).
The dentist didn't accept the Carte Vitale as payment, but wanted cash.
No, she's not a quack with her degree from the back of a matchbook cover. It's very common for small practitioners to want cash. We receive an official receipt that we send in and the reimbursement shows up in our checking account in about 2 weeks.
Anyway, back to the dentist. Mon mari had to pay cash for the extraction.
Admittedly, she said it was fairly easy; he was only in the chair about 45 minutes.
The charge was 43.00 euros – total. That's around $55.00
My annual office visit/check-up at the GYN is 28.00 euros.
A regular office visit to a GP is 22.00 euros.
And that is what you would pay whether or not you were covered by insurance. My last visit to my US GYN was $340.00 for a 15 minute consultation. When I asked how it could possibly be that much, I was told that, as I didn't have insurance and was actually paying for the visit myself, they charged MORE!!!!!
Not the same, MORE!
The uninsured in the US are charged MORE!
Oops, sorry… my self-restraint slipped. I told you it hadn't been getting much exercise…..
Back to the French docs: Sometimes they don't charge at all.
When was the last time anyone went to an American doctor who said, after a 15 minute consultation: "But you're fine, how can I charge when I didn't do anything?"
The veterinary doctors are the same.
I just took both dogs in, to meet their new vet, have their chips read, their passports updated, and get some med's for the German Bitch.
Makes you wonder, doesn't it?
For the record (for you nosy ones) most of the doctors we have encountered drove nice cars – Mercedes or BMW's, took nice vacations, lived in nice houses and are generally considered to be 'well-off'. They are, on the whole, conscientious, caring and generally concerned about their patients.
Makes you wonder, doesn't it?
And speaking of….
Ever wonder how to use up a whole head of cabbage?
Next time you buy one, start with these for a cute little first course.
Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
Small cabbage rolls, stuffed with a bit of leek, ham and polenta and braised, make an easy first course. The rolls can be made ahead, then left to braise for 30 minutes before serving, making them an easy party dish as well.
4 cabbage leaves
2oz (60gr) bacon
1 tbs olive oil
1/3 cup (3oz, 90ml) chicken stock
1 tsp dried basil
1 tbs polenta
2 tbs shredded cheese
2 tsp Dijon-style mustard
1/3 cup (3oz, 90ml) chicken stock
1/3 cup (3oz, 90ml) white wine
1/3 cup (3oz, 90ml) Greek yogurt
3/4 tsp paprika
2 tsp cornstarch (corn flour, maizena)
1 tbs water
you may need 1/3 cup more stock or water for braising
Cabbage: Remove any damaged outer leaves from the cabbage and discard. Remove 4 outer leaves for the rolls (see note). Bring a large pot of water to boil and blanch the leaves for 1 minute. Cover the pot if you can't keep the leaves submerged. Remove, drain and set aside.
Stuffing: Trim leek and cut in half the long way. Cut each half in half again, so you have long quarters. Thinly slice. Roughly chop bacon. Heat oil in medium nonstick skillet. Add leek, bacon and sauté until leek is tender and bacon cooked. Add stock, basil and heat through. Pour into a bowl, add polenta and stir well. Add cheese and stir.
Rolls: Lay the cabbage leaves as flat as reasonable. Cut out the tough stem in a deep, narrow 'V'. Normally this cut will be about half the length of the cabbage leaf.
Take a leaf and lay it with the round end toward you and the (former) stem end away. Place 1/4 of the stuffing on the round end and fold the cabbage leaf over snugly. Tuck the sides of the leaf in, folding over the rest of the leaf to the size of the roll. Roll it up and set aside, seam side down. Repeat. If there are tears in a leaf, just adjust as you roll.
Cooking: Place the cabbage rolls seam side down in the skillet. Add stock, white wine and paprika and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a slow simmer, cover and braise for 30 minutes. Check occasionally and add water or stock as needed.
Finishing: Remove rolls when done. Increase heat under braising liquid. Add more stock or water if needed, to make app. 2/3 cup. Dissolve cornstarch in water and add to skillet, stirring until thick. Remove, stir in yogurt. Divide the sauce into 2 flattish soup bowls or plates. Top with cabbage rolls and serve.
Note: To remove cabbage leaves first locate the outermost leaf. Cut the stem end from the main stalk. Starting opposite the stem end, carefully roll the leaf backward (like you would roll down a sock) until you can loosen it from the stem end. Try not to tear it, but no problem if you do; all will be hidden when you make the rolls. Repeat for each leaf.