I get a daily news letter from an ex-pat that has lived in Paris for quite a long time. She gives some helpful tips on surviving in the City of Lights. Today's newletter was about healthcare, I thought a couple of things while reading it - why didn't I know this before and how come we don't have this in the good ole USA? Here is what she says:
My daughter woke up Sunday morning with chills, fever, sore throat, a congested and runny nose and every symptom classic of "La Rhume." A search on the Net said that there are close to 200 types of virus that can cause it, usually lasting four or five days. Ugh...for a 22-year-old not used to sitting still for more than 15 minutes.
Thank goodness, in France, the doctor is always "in" -- at least, when you call "SOS Medicins."
SOS Medicins is a nationwide "house-call" service founded in 1966 by a doctor named Lascar who had a patient die of a heart attack because he couldn't find a doctor on a Saturday afternoon.
The way it works is simple. If you're in Paris, you dial either 01.47.07.77.77 or 08.20.33.24.24 and provide them with your address. Within one hour (usually about 30 minutes), a doctor knocks on your door. He's carrying a bag of goodies, just like doctors used to carry (am I revealing my age?) and he/she does what doctors do...examine you. Then the doc on house call prescribes -- medicine or ambulance or whatever is necessary.
He also filled out a "feuille de soin" (a form attesting to the visit) that allows the visit to be fully reimbursable by social security or private medical insurance. Before the doc leaves, you pay by check or cash -- usually a very reasonable fee. Yesterday's visit was the most I'd ever paid -- 70 'whopping' euros. The whole process took a total of one hour and we were left with a prescription for four drugs and instructions to keep 'miss antsy pants' in bed for three days.
Just to make you really jealous, private health care insurance for those without the French Social Security is so inexpensive it's going to shock you. The annual premium of the "Jefferson Health Care Plan" private insurance offered by "Adinas" insurance brokers for those my age (50 to 64) is the 'break-the-bank' sum of 1,692€ (141€ per month). Add dental coverage and it's a 'painful' 393€ more. Believe it or not, the policy reimburses 100% of billings up to 100% of the French Social Security tariffs, plus 80% of billings up to three times the cost of the French Social Security tariffs (20% co-insurance), plus 40% reimbursement of billings between up to six times the cost of the French Social Security tariffs (60% co-insurance). Uh oh. There's no reimbursement of billings above six times the cost of the French Social Security tariff! (Adinas Insurance, email email@example.com, 17 rue de Chateaudun, 75009 Paris, Tel: 01.44.63.53.82)
I trekked down to boulevard de Sébastopol and within a few moments, the four items of medication were in a bag (paracetamol, antibiotics for 10 days, cough syrup and a prednisone), the pharmacist was explaining how to take the drugs and all for a total charge of 20€!
Okay, guess how much the same drugs would have been in the U.S.? My guess -- maybe more than 10 times that!