This afternoon we had a little glimpse of the German medical system. As we stuck Johann in the bath we discovered a tick had crawled into his side right under the waistband. Having seen signs in the local pharmacies about Lyme disease and other scary things, we were of course eager to get it out, and we even had our very special scary-sharp tweezers along for the job. But this little bugger was definitely burrowed in, and after some work at it (and a lot of resistance from J) we gave up and did a little more research. Asking around to our hosts, our German relatives and our clinic at home confirmed the notion that we should see a doctor to get the thing properly removed.
So, off to the hospital --of course the only thing open on a Sunday evening anyway. Our hosts graciously gave us a ride and seemed not to think that this was an extreme reaction for a tick. When we arrived we were directed to the medical clinic, where two women at the desk informed us that usually they only treat adults there – but, since it was just a matter of a tick, why not ask? They did, and we were soon ushered into an exam room. There was 30 seconds of screaming bloody murder while the doctor did the job, and then we were out again with reassurances that things would probably be fine from here, but if he develops the telltale ring to come back for antibiotics.
Then, we paid. They did ask about insurance at the beginning of the whole affair, but of course our U.S coverage meant nothing to them. Our efforts to determine our insurance coverage or get any pre-approval came to naught, because the 800 numbers supposedly provided for that purpose don’t work from here.
“Hmm. .. “ the woman at the desk said. “You’ll have to pay cash, and because it’s Sunday it will be more expensive.”
“Like, how expensive?” we asked timorously, thinking of the bills that have come our way from J’s previous trips to the ER for stitches.
“Maybe fifty euros!” she answered.
I’m thinking, that’s a bargain!
In the end, the total was 34 euros. . .about $50
The other big difference in the whole affair was something we didn’t have to do – sign things. In the hurry I completely forgot to bring any ID, and, let me add, the Germans are usually quite fond of asking for passports for such minor offenses as renting a bicycle. But no one asked for ID. No one even had us fill out a form. Will gave his name, Johann’s name, and a local address to the woman at the desk. We signed nothing – not one single piece of paper. No waivers, no release of medical information, no lengthy medical histories, no authorization to treat, nothing.
Imagine that, a health care system in which the focus is on getting people treated, rather than making sure it’s paid for, or preventing lawsuits!