This was not the first time I have experienced socialized healthcare. My initial brush with the phenomena was when I was in Argentina on my gap year in between high school and college, and I had a truly awful case of laryngitis that wouldn’t go away for a week. I still have fond memories of wandering around that cavernous ancient building, being directed hither and yon, and observing glassed in shelves with instruments and flasks that looked straight out of a WWII film. I wrote about it my old blog, if you’d like I could try to dig it out and re-post it here. It was quite the doctor’s visit.
Unlike in Argentina, where I could walk in, say I’m sick, (well, in my case I whispered it- laryngitis, you know,) and be seen for free, I needed an insurance card to access the healthcare system here in Slovenia. I received one from the state by virtue of my student status. For free. I was grateful for my insurance when I developed an earache last week and wanted to check it out.
So, how was my brush with this much-maligned product of Europe? Quite nice! One of the best doctor visits I’ve ever had. I could also observe why healthcare costs so much more in the States than here. You do get something for what you pay for. The question that must be asked then, is, what do you want to pay for?
I went to the special clinic for students. It was not in the newest of buildings, but it was clean and well-kept, with clear signs marking where to go. Nothing was in English, but between my Slovenian skills and asking a few questions, I quickly found out where I should be. I waited for a while to be seen, (they were on lunch break when I arrived,) and they put me in for a same-day appointment for four hours later. In my appointment, I was seen right away by one doctor. She looked at my ear, and gave me a prescription for antibiotics. I had to fill it myself since I had the most basic insurance, but it was so cheap! So cheap I don’t even remember the exact cost.
-What I got: Fast, kind, and efficient help for my specific issue.
-What I didn’t get: I was seen only for my ear. You know how in the States when you come in for anything, you get seen by at least two people, and weighed and measured and asked a few basic questions in your own little room? That never happened. Nope. I went into a room where the doctor already was, and we only talked about my ear. I sat in a chair. Not on a fancy bed that moves up and down with a long piece of paper on it. She also wrote down my information in a notebook by hand, which will later go to somebody else to type into a computer- she didn’t have her own one to work with. I also didn’t get new furniture, fancy print-outs, or anything I didn’t ask for.
Yes, it was basic care. But that’s all I needed. It wasn’t shiny, it wasn’t fancy, but it did the trick. And it was free! You may wonder about the quality. I think it was quality. How quality? Well, one of my Slovenian friends has a sister who is in medical school here, and who recently did a rotation at a major hospital in Houston, TX, so the quality is probably about as high as I could get in the States, eh?
Look, there has got to be something wrong with socialized healthcare. Lots of people seem to think so. But having gone in and come out the other end, I’m not sure what exactly is so bad about it yet.