Friday, July 8, 2011

Love/hate relationship with Czech health care system

So, I know I've already posted the fun times visiting the Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor.  While the experience wasn't pleasant, the outcome was - I haven't been sick in months *knocks on wood.*

I've been dealing with pain in my right foot since I ran the San Francisco half-marathon last July, and I have been working on fixing the problem since I've been here.  Thanks to a good Czech friend, I found a new doctor who is wonderful and seems to be helping a ton!  So again, the moral of the story is that all is well (or getting there), however, getting there isn't always so fun.  And such is life...

So, I originally started seeing a private doctor (meaning health insurance didn't cover it), who didn't spend much time with me and charged a lot of money.  After several months of not seeing many results, I asked a friend for help and he helped me find a new doctor who is great.  He recommended some exercises to help strengthen my leg, some medicine to help with the pain/inflammation, xrays to see what's going on, and special inserts made for my shoes.  The first two tasks were very easy to accomplish.  The last two, were a bit more challenging...

I went to the shop to get the shoe inserts and no one speaks any English.  So, I wrote what I wanted to say on my phone translator and showed them the poorly translated words.  It was basic, but it worked.  I have to admit, I get a little anxious going to shops to accomplish something like this, because my Czech is really poor.  I don't like assuming people will speak English - many people here do - however, I am finding that the number people speaking English in the medical field is low.  Thankfully technology helps the translation a bit easier, but still, I don't like not knowing what the heck is going on!

And finally, I had to go get xrays.  My doctor just said, "Go to the hospital in your neighborhood."  Well, I didn't know where that was, so I turned to the internet and found two options.  I went to the first and found the radiology department, but there was no one there.  Even though I had wandered around aimlessly for an hour to find it, I decided to try the other option.  I asked for help at the information counter, and she just pointed and said "next door."  I couldn't find anyone to help and no one at this place seemed interested in helping the crazy lady (me) who was wandering the hallways.

So, back to the tram and off to the next hospital.  Again, grateful to have gps on my phone to help me find it.  However, I thought I knew where it was rather than looking at the map, so after about a 2 mile wander, I finally found the hospital and radiology department.   Thankfully my foot hurts, but I can obviously walk.  However, I do find it ironic that I had to wander around the city for a few hours to figure out where to get an xray on my foot.  This was mostly because I was being stubborn and didn't want to ask directions.  I thought a hospital would be easier to spot - there I go making assumptions!  ;)

I finally found the hospital and the radiology area, gave them my x-ray order and my health insurance card, and within 20 minutes, I had my x-ray, a cd of the x-ray and I was on my way home.  Oh, and by the way, I didn't pay a cent!  Health insurance here is amazing and when you see a doctor, the patient's co-pay is only costs 30 Czech Krowns (about $1.75).  So, while I find it frustrating to figure out this new system of health care, partly out of my stubbornness and will to figure it out on my own, and also partly because many people I did ask along the way in the hospitals were not helpful and seemed annoyed with my questions, the ultimate results are positive!

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