Here I am thinking I at least have command of my native tongue, when it seems I can’t really express myself in english either. Maybe pig latin is where it’s at for me.

Anyways, wanted to clarify my post on french healthcare, thanks to an astute comment calling me out for trashing a healthcare system I have championed in the past for being free. So yeah, let your eyes glaze over for a minute while I get all political – I promise this is the last time!

I’ll basically just say what I replied back in my comments: My fear and hesitation to seek treatment here has nothing to do with the healthcare itself, and everything to do with being in a foreign country, speaking a foreign language, and not knowing exactly how the system works. As I stated, the system worked out just fine, it just works differently than it does in the U.S., like in the simplest of terms – for example, here the doctor does almost everything, nurses play a smaller role. The waiting room is different – not bad, just not set up the way it is in the States. So I was nervous not because I thought I was going to get bad care, but because it was wholly possible that I would misunderstand something in French and end up asking for fertility treatments when I really just needed some eyedrops. I have the exact same feeling of panic when I have to call and order takeout over the phone. Nothing to do with the French, everything to do with my tenuous grip on the french language. Sorry I didn’t explain that better.

Is the french system superior? Quality-wise, it seemed from my limited experience the same as it is in the States. Except it’s free for French people. Does that make it better? That’s fodder for some other blog. I’ve got champagne to drink.


Add Yours
  1. Shelley

    The health care in France is also free for us internationals who are working in France (i.e. my husband, therefore me.me). It may be similar quality-wise, but in terms of quantity — there’s LOTS of it. My husband got an appt for an MRI in under 3 weeks. You can get in to see your family doctor the same day, not weeks later. And you can get a house call from a doctor. None of that is available to us Canadians when we’re back home 🙂
    ~ me.

  2. Ann

    Hi, I’m new here, but I just had to chime in on this post. I’m currently living in Israel, and every time I have to go to the doctor I’m a nervous wreck. I always get good treatment, but I may or may not get a doctor who speaks English, I may or may not be able to find my way to the correct clinic/floor/room, the receptionist may or may not be able to understand my insurance documents (they are different for foreigners), and I may or may not get the results (sometimes they call, sometimes they get sent to my address, sometimes they have the wrong address and I never get it). You also have to fight for a place in line at the doctor’s office, even though you made an appointment. People stand by the doctors door and try to sneak in when a patient leaves. It sucks when you are sick and you have to be on your guard to make sure that your time slot won’t get poached. I recently went to see an ObGyn that didn’t speak English. Imagine how awkward that was. I admit that sometimes I wait until I come back to the US for a visit to see a doctor. I have to pay out of pocket (and that’s not easy on the pocket, especially since I’m a student), but the experience goes a lot smoother because I know how things work here. Now I understand how a lot of immigrants feel when they come to the US for the first time.

    Anyway, I just wrote in to say I really relate to this post. Thanks for writing it!

    • jfwillson

      thanks Ann! you got it – it’s just a matter of how many things could get lost in translation! Which is funny when you’re at the grocery store, not so funny at the hospital.

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