MALADE IN FRANCE
This post is both an insight into the experience of going to the doctors in Paris and also a cry for help.
Ok, so you’re ill. You’re able to eat, drink, move and breathe ok-ish, but feeling rotten enough to want to go to the doctor. Good news: there are loooooads of doctors in Paris, and you’re probably even living in the same building as one*. All you have to do is look online, give one a call, and organise an appointment.
You’ve been diagnosed. You are concerned. What you assumed to be a common cold appears to be much worse. Your prescription contains terrifying words and animal-subduing dosages
scribbled so frantically that the doctor clearly does not want to waste one of your precious remaining minutes on legible handwriting. You’re fairly sure you’re going to die before you reach the pharmacy.
PAY BEFORE YOU CROAK.
You know that precious Carte Vitale that you waited a year and a half to get?
Not a single doctor has taken my Carte Vitale since I received it. Like when you hit 18, and you are aching to brandish your no-longer-fake ID, no-one asks. I thought it was supposed to be a sort of credit card for doctors appointments and pharmacies…one that you don’t ever pay back. But apparently not. I’ve had to pay my 20 euros (in cash) every time. Sometimes I get reimbursed. Sometimes not. Never the full amount.
- God only knows how, but you get to the pharmacy. Alive.
- The prescription is handed over and the pharmacist shuffles off to find your medicines.
- She can be seen grappling with what you assume is the annual medical delivery for the local hospital. Ok, fine, I’ll just wait then.
- It is when she wobbles over and starts explaining the dosage for each box that you realise that you are the sole recipient of this hoard of drugs.
- You tentatively offer your PASS GO COLLECT 200 POUNDS Carte Vitale.
- Card is taken (hurrah!), swiped, given back.
- Bill is printed out. 25 euros. Ouch.
- OVERALL REDUCTION:
I didn’t understand. I still don’t understand.
If you are brave enough to ask, your response will be somewhere along these lines:
Translation of what I vaguely understood:
“In France you have health insurance, but it is divided into two parts; private (20%) and public (80%). To have the public you must have the private. To have the private you must have a public number. You have public insurance but your private insurance is no longer valid because you have not announced to your public insurance that you are now working. It also depends on what percentage of a percentage the insurance is willing to pay which changes according to the doctor, problem and prescription. Oh, and your work doesn’t have a health insurance policy so you don’t get that either.”
Cultural observation n°2