Friday, October 5, 2007

Thinking of having brain surgery during your stay?


I have yet to see Michael Moore's film, Sicko, but from what I understand I could qualify to be one of the people he interviewed. Back in June, I had a golf-ball sized tumor (a meningioma) removed from my brain here in Paris, and though my insurance didn't pay for my laundry, it did pay for a cleaning lady to come and clean my apartment during the first three weeks post-op. OK, to be honest, it was my supplemental health insurance. Still, I must say, I felt very well taken care of by the French version of Social Security. Not only did I get to pick my surgeon and my hospital (considered the best in France for neurosurgery), but I got to be operated in a facility that was established by Louis XIV. In the left-hand corner is what La Pitié-Salpetrière looked like in Louis' day. Today it resembles a small city. The neurosurgery building is brand new (those 17th-century buildings are lovely, but would your really want to have brain surgery in one of them?), I had a private room, and the nurses were great. I was particularly grateful to them for their willingness to dispense nerve-calming drugs the night before the big op. My surgeon was a wonder, and I feel a special bond with him now. After all, how many people can you say literally delved into your mind? The rest remains a euphoric blur, a mix of relief and heavy anesthesia (there are those who claim I am still feeling the effects). All this, and all I paid for was the TV and the telephone. No insurance forms, nothing. Just in case someone tries to tell you that you can't good care under socialized medicine...Paris Paris

5 comments:

David said...
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David said...

I just had a "discussion" with someone I work with who was telling me how terrible European health insurance is. He told me if you need an MRI it takes forever to get one (implying you might be dead by the time you got it). Any truth to this? How quickly can someone get a procedure done? Of course he also informed me that the only reason Europeans have a socialist system is because the USA foots the bill for protecting Europe. Therefore, Europe isn't actually working - if not for the U.S. the whole system would fall apart. I think he was drinking what someone I know refers to as the "Bush Kool-Aid."

Margie Rynn said...

True that you do have to plan ahead for an MRI (like 3 or 4 weeks), but you can get a CT scan right away. I wonder if it's not like that in the states too. And true that said person is probably drinking Bush Kool-Aid. And if he really thinks all of Europe is running on a "socialist system," his drink is really strong.

andrea said...

OK, go ahead and gloat, you well-insured-ex-pat-yooooo! But it's true that state-side insurance sucks! I recently had the experience with bills from 2 doctors submitted to my insurance company and "not received' no less than 5 times, even though they were even sent by registered mail and documentation exists that they were recieved by an actual human. I dunno if I'll ever be reimbursed! So, as scary as it was that you had yourself a brain tumor, I truly am happy for you that it presented itself in a place that embraces high-quality socialized healthcare. I raise my glass of anti-American Margeaux and toast your successful and debt-free recovery!

Robyn said...

Margi, having gone through the same thing (almost identical in fact!) I can't imagine how tough it would be to have to deal with money issues and delays etc. while trying to wrap your head (the good parts anyway) around the fact you have a brain tumour that someone needs to dig out. Living in Canada I had a great experience as well...swift diagnosis, I got a CT scan and MRI very fast (within weeks for the first due to Christmas and days for the second) and after 7 hours of surgery, consultations etc. I ended up being sent a bill for $4 for the use of the phone while in the hospital! That was a mistake too as I was supposed to be billed $12!!! My supplementary insurance paid for my drugs and all I really paid for was parking fees and copies of my scans on CD ($10 each CD). We are so fortunate but the bottom line is you are ok! Thank god!