Tackling Foreign Health Care
I'm spoiled with the Belgian healthcare system. As an American who still keeps insurance in the States, I'm paying and using both. When I signed up for Belgian insurance years ago, they gave me a sheet outlining the plans and their month costs. The Royals Royce of plans cost me €27.93 a month. That's right, basically $30 a month gets me amazing healthcare. I carry a Gold plan through Obamacare for more than $400 a month (just in case I get really sick or hurt and also one of my Crohn's drugs isn't approved in Europe, so I still go to my slew of US doctors annually.) and that basically gives me nothing.
It took me a few years of living here to feel comfortable with tackling the healthcare system. Before this year, I'd only gone to a general practice doctor when I was sick and a dentist when I cracked a tooth. But after a very expensive 2015 year in the US when it came to insurance and medical cost, I decided I had to figure out the Belgium system. Add in all my new health issues, and it simply made sense. I dipped my toe in by going to the dentist for a check up. I'm not a fan of the dentist but this experience went smoothly and my out-of-pocket costs (with x-rays) were around $10. I was sold.
This January, my feet had deteriorated to the point that I knew I needed an expert. I found a foot orthopedic surgeon and my journey into the Belgian healthcare system began. I've now had x-rays, minor surgery and seen rheumatologists, a gastroenterologist and an acupuncturist. The wait for an appointment can be long, but I've learned that if you need to get in, they get you in. There are times that I think they are a little more conservative in their approach than I would like and there is a sense of passing the buck around, but all in all, I'd say it's a good system.
After my first trip to the hospital, I dreaded getting the mail and finding the bills. In America, I would be racking up thousands. My first bill for the x-rays came and I cringed while I opened the letter. The bill, obviously all written in Dutch, showed I owed €1.56 out of pocket per x-ray, so around $2 and that included getting them taken and getting them read. I was shocked.
I'm about to dive into the Belgian health care system a little deeper. My foot issues have gotten worse and worse and after delaying nine months, my doctor decided I finally needed surgery. We scheduled it for this upcoming Monday. It is the best time of year to make this happen because I have a few weeks of no travel, so I'll spend that on the couch recovering. The Roommate will be home, so I'll have a nursemaid. I'm not looking forward to the surgery at all, (I'm actually quite terrified) but I am looking forward to walking pain free. He said that'll come about six months post-op. So here we go on another expat adventure.....