I know that this is a politically charged issue, and that it’s a risk to bring it up here on Almost Frugal, where I really try to stay away from controversial topics like politics. But any discussion of my life involves at least some of the issues involved with living in France, and this happens to be one of them. The media in America have a hard time sometimes offering an unbiased view of what certain things are like in France, just as the French media often have their own particular bias about the United States. This post is not about promoting a political agenda, rather just describing my experience going to the doctor’s last Thursday.
I came home from work early Thursday morning after only being there for about an hour, and this after a five day weekend to boot, four of which had been spent with a fever and flu-like symptoms. I took a few aspirin for my pounding headache and fever, curled up in bed and tried to fall asleep. My husband came home at lunchtime however, and badgered me into making an appointment to see the doctor. So I called our neighborhood doctor, who is in fact a practice of three general practitioners who see the whole family. When one of the doctors answered the phone (no receptionist), I made an appointment for that afternoon.
My husband came home from work early, to take me to the doctor, and we drove the five minutes to her office, which is located in the center of our village, in a small apartment over the grocery store. We rang the bell and went inside to the small waiting room, which I assume used to be a bedroom. In fact, there are four units over the grocery store, and the other three continue to be used as apartments.
There was only one other patient waiting, so we didn’t have to wait long, which was good, because the reading material in French doctors’ offices leaves as much to be desired as in American doctors’ offices! Then the doctor called us in to her office.
After taking my social security insurance card, and inserting it into the reader, she started asking me how I was, what my symptoms were etc. Then I lay down on the examining table, she did a brief examination and a throat swab. While we waited for the results, she asked after the general health of the rest of the family, scolded me for not resting enough and reminded me that I need to get a tetanus shot. Then she wrote me a prescription for antibiotics and a work stop order, for two days off of work.
I paid her â‚¬22 by check. After finishing, we went downstairs and next door to the pharmacy where I again used my state insurance card. This time I received my antibiotics without any out-of-pocket expense, and the and private state insurance will reimburse the pharmacy.
The whole visit took about 1.5 hours, from when I left the house to going home again, and she might even have made a house call, had I been too sick to move. Admittedly, people living in Paris, or very rural areas won’t experience the same sort of treatment, but the general ease of the system is about the same. The cost of the visit will be automatically transmitted to the state insurance office, and I will be reimbursed â‚¬17 by them, and then another â‚¬4 by our private insurance company. While I won’t be paid for the two days that I didn’t work, if I had had a longer sick leave, I would have been paid at about 80% of my regular salary.