I know healthcare is a controversial topic, especially in the States. Joern and I often end up in long discussions when we are home with people about universal healthcare, and how it works here in Germany. Many arguments against universal healthcare are long waiting times, lower technology, lower quality medical care. I have also heard quite a few people mention that Europeans have sub-standard medical care. Having dealt with arthritis while living here, I would not agree that I am receiving substandard care. I see my rheumatologist every six weeks, take Enbrel, and have monthly blood work for monitoring. I pay out of pocket 10 Euro per quarter as a co-pay, not to each doctor, 10 Euro per quarter period. I also pay 5 Euro per perscription, this means that my ultra-expensive medicine that I take for arthritis, I pay 5 Euro every 12 weeks. If my prescription co-pays come to more than 10% of my income annually, I am no longer required to pay these co-pays. If I lose my job, I am still insured the same way I am now.
This week I have dealt with another problem. I lost a baby. No, I'm not writing this to garner sympathy for what happened. Really, I'm okay with it. I just feel strongly that people understand my German medical experience.
I had bleeding on Tuesday at work, so I got scared, and called my OB-GYN. I have not gone to this doctor before, and had my first appointment scheduled for October 13th. She took me in right away when we told her about the bleeding. She scheduled me in for 11:30, and at 11:40, she took me in. She immediately did an internal ultrasound, and found nothing. The doctor responded to this very kindly, which was what I needed at that moment. So, she sent me for blood work, and warned me that it might be an ectopic pregnancy, but she couldn't see anything certainly. She called us the next day with the results of the blood work, and made another appointment for me on Friday. Before leaving the office, she gave me a stern warning that if I should feel any pain in my lower abdomen, I should go to the hospital.
Last night, I started getting bad cramps and felt very dizzy. Joern took me to the hospital. They sent me immediately to the gynological ward, and I saw a doctor straight-away. After he listened to the story, he gave me a urine test, which came out positive. He then did an internal ultrasound, found nothing, and then did a blood test. He told us to come back in 2 hours for the results. 2 hours later, another doctor had taken over the shift, and shared my blood test results with me. He wanted to do another internal ultrasound, because he wanted to look at the situation for himself. Again, nothing. So, he gave me the paperwork for my OB-GYN, and sent me home, with the same warning that if I felt more pain, I should come in again.
10 Euro for the co-pay (there is a 10 Euro per quarter hospital co-pay as well,) and I was out the door.
This morning, it was back to the doctor, for another blood test and a visit. She did another internal ultrasound, to see what things looked like today. Again, nothing is there. It seems now to be a miscarriage and not an ectopic pregnancy. I will receive the blood test results this afternoon.
I have another blood test scheduled for Monday. The doctor will continue to monitor the hormone levels in my blood until they reach zero again.
I am so pleased with the level of care I have received here in Germany. The doctors have all squeezed me in, and have treated me kindly. After speaking with my aunt, I learned that the doctors here treated me medically the same way that they would have done at home.
I feel comfortable here, and believe that I am receiving good medical care. I am not saying that medical care is sub-standard at home, just saying that Germans too can trust in their healthcare system.