I was going to answer this comment from loyal reader Dev Tobin, then realized it was too complicated to do it as a comment and it needed to be a whole entry.
Dev Tobin Says: March 15th, 2008 at 4:49 am e
Great post, you and/or JM might want to rework it some and share it with the world at Daily Kos and European Tribune.
nyceve at DKos would love it.
Are those remarkably low prices for medical procedures the co-pay, or the total cost that the national system pays?
If the latter, which I presume is what Depeche du Midi meant, no wonder the doctors are complaining.
House calls to take blood (and any non-emergency house call by a doctor) never happen in the richest country in the history of the world.
Thinking of a 1-to-1 euro/dollar parity is so 20th-century, much to my dismay.
When I visited you guys 14 months ago, it cost $1.28 to buy a euro; today it’s $1.56.
And the dollar gets cheaper every day. Tough luck for me, who hopes to return to the Aude/Ariege region some day, and probably for you, if you have dollar income of any kind.
The “current abysmal state of the dollar” is due to Bushite policies that cannot effectively be reversed until sometime next year, and then only with a Democratic president leading the way.
Best of luck to your mom in negotiating the bureaucracy, with your help.
Prayers and (((hugs))) for the sick boy.
First, Dev, JM did put a diary on Dkos, but I don’t know about Euro Trib.
As to the prices; those are the prices for the procedures themselves, whether paid by patient or insurance. What we have here is actually a bit of a hybrid. We all have to have it, and if we can’t afford it, we do get covered under a kind of global, national umbrella. But it is broken down into three principal regimes: the General, Agricultural and the one for Independent workers (although there are some “special” categories as well). For example, when we first moved here, because we didn’ t fit into any special category, we were under the general regime, with me being covered as his dependent. Then, when JM briefly became a real estate agent, we moved into the independent workers, with me still covered as his dependent. Now that he is no longer a “business” we are going back to the general regime, but because I worked for the city for 80 hours last year, JM is now MY dependent and the paperwork is being redone.
For most things, Social Security will pay 70% of the cost, although there are some things for which they will pay 100%. I THINK that surgeries are covered 100%, but I have to admit that I’m not totally sure. I do know that if one has a chronic condition, then all treatments dealing with THAT condition are covered 100%.
Now, to cover the difference in cost, most people have what is called a Mutuelle, which is basically a private insurance coverage so that we don’t have to pay that 30% out of our own pockets. It is much less expensive than a private insurance in the U.S., and we can get different types of coverage depending on our needs. For people with income below a certain level, both the Social Security insurance itself, and the Mutuelle coverage are free, so those people never have to pay a penny out of pocket.
So, between one thing and another, those prices would be 100% covered for almost everyone, one way or another. And, as low as those prices are, no one here, including the doctors, think they should go up to U.S. levels! Just maybe be reimbursed at a bit higher rate.
In a village like ours, with such a high percentage of elderly people, I don’t think there is much choice but for the doctors to make house calls for certain things. In fact, we could have had a nurse come to take the blood, but our doctor thought that with JM’s sensitivity to the whole thing, it was safer for him to do it. It was funny, because I have gotten used to the idea that they do this sort of thing here, but JM, who doesn’t have much trucking with the medical world, found it extremely surprising as well.
As to the dollar; to be honest it makes us weep. Costs are going up here too for stuff like food, etc. In fact, I’m just reading a magazine article in the French equivalent of Consumers Report, and for some things like milk, etc., prices have gone up as much as 40% since last September. Now that I’m feeding three adults, I really feel the hit when I shop and I have to say that I’m seriously worried, along with everyone else I know. You can only cut back so much and still manage to feed everyone in a healthy way.
Since we also lose money in the exchange rate, we feel it even more than people who earn their living over here. I’m sure that we will see a summer with very few tourists, which will only hurt the local economy even more.
Ciao for now,