I have not been following the US Health Care debate.
I actually don't know if there still is a debate or if the dust has settled.
I do know that I often get questioned about the French Health care system.
After my visit to the doc yesterday I decided I could give one pretty equal comparison. I'm going to try to make it as unbiased as I can.
In the immortal words of Joe Friday: …just the facts, ma'am.
Both doctors were Dermatologists. In both cases I went for an annual skin check.
I'm more descriptive of the French visit only because, unlike the US visit, it will be unfamiliar to most readers.
The offices were nice, not overly so, but carpet on the floor, upholstered chairs in the waiting room, magazines on tables, pictures on the walls, quiet music piped in.
There was a large desk with several staff taking information, checking insurance, updating records, etc. I filled out a 3 page form and gave it to them.
I don't know how many doctors worked there, but I assume quite a few.
I was shown into an exam room by a nurse, given a paper robe, paper sheet and told to undress.
The doc came in, dressed in white doc clothes, with a laptop and asked a few questions.
She did the exam, carefully not exposing too much of me at any time, and removed 3 moles that she said looked pre-cancerous.
She told me to get dressed and left the room.
The nurse came back and told me I could leave.
I went to the desk and paid $355.00 for the visit.
I have no US insurance so it was my expense. I have no idea what it would cost a typical person with typical insurance.
The waiting room had bare bulbs on the ceiling, linoleum on the floor, bare walls and plastic chairs.
There was no desk and no staff. It's your turn when everyone else currently waiting has been seen. After the doc walks the current patient to the door, he nods to the next one in line. There's a buzzer on the door that one pushes on the way in to announce one's arrival.
In the office proper there is an exam table and what appeared to be state-of-the-art equipment on one side of the room; a desk with a large screen computer and visitor chairs on the other.
The doc, dressed in a casual shirt and slacks, took my name and address, typed it into the system and verified my Carte Vitale (medical card). I'm guessing, although I don't know for sure, that he accessed my records on a national database.
After a brief chat he told me to undress – and walked with me to show me where to put my clothes. He gave me a hand on to the exam table. No robe; no sheet; no nurse. Actually, there was no one else anywhere. I was the last person in the waiting room.
He did the exam and removed 2 moles that he said were not a problem but not pretty (he asked first).
He told me to get dressed and went back to his desk to update the records. He hand wrote the bill, and I paid cash, about $50.00 for the visit. I'll send the bill to the local CPAM offices and they'll reimburse me in full.
He walked me to the door, shook my hand and I left.
These were 2 very different experiences and 2 very different costs.
No opinion is being rendered…. I just thought it was interesting.
Here's something else that was interesting…
And I want you to know I had to search hard to find something that had neither zucchin or tomatoes in!
Creamy Barley and Chard Gratin
1/2 cup quick-cooking barley
1 cup chicken stock
8oz (240gr) chard, stems and leaves
1 medium onion
1 tbs fresh parsley
1 tbs fresh basil
1/2 cup (2oz, 60gr) shredded cheese
2 tsp oil
1/4 cup Greek or plain yogurt
1/4 cup milk or chicken stock
Cook barley in chicken stock until done, usually about 15 minutes for quick-cooking.
Chop onion. Wash the chard and trim any bad bits. Stack the leaves together and fold over, the long way. Slice into thin strips, using both leaves and stems. Snip herbs.
Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion and chard stems to skillet and sauté until tender, about 7 minutes. Add the chard leaves and sauté until wilted. Remove from heat. Stir in herbs.
Whisk eggs, yogurt and milk together.
To finish: Spread chard / onion mixture in the bottom of a baking dish just large enough to hold everything. Add barley, spreading evenly over vegetables. Sprinkle with cheese. Pour egg mixture over the top and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, 400F (200C), until nicely browned and set. Remove and serve.
In case you're wondering why I went to the US doc last year… I had been seeing the same doc for years, although it had been 4 or 5 since the last visit. He always charged me around 55.00 for a visit. When I called for an appointment I was told he'd retired…. I made the appointment with his successor.