Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Shout out to Brazilian health care

I’m going to say it again: I admire the Brazilian health care system. OK - what I’m really referring to is the system when you have supplemental private insurance.

Regular readers know that I had gastric bypass surgery back in July.

Since then I have had to do a great number of follow up tests to be sure all is going well.

Significantly, Luiz and I live in the epicenter of doctor’s offices and diagnostic labs. We can literally get any test done within a four block radius. All our doctors: cardiologist, endocrinologist, dental surgeon, dermatologist, physical therapist, allergist, and of course the fat-to-skinny surgeon have offices within a ten minute walk.

Everything is covered by the insurance we have. No co-pays, no limits - the doctor takes the hit (low reimbursements) not us.

Recently I had to have a CT scan, multiple blood tests, and a 24 hour blood pressure mapping. Done. Done. Done. Everything was done within two days. No waiting. No delay. And I paid nothing (aside from my affordable monthly insurance payment).

The worst of it is waiting in the waiting room for a long-delayed appointment (my fat-to-skinny surgeon guy is ALWAYS one or two hours late for appointments -- thank the goddess for iPods!). Waiting in Brazil is most certainly NOT the exception to the rule.

But the best of it is the kind and personal conversations you have with doctors who seem to care about you and who want to know more about your life than just your situational illness.

I could not be happier. Easy, quick (to set appointments - not to see the physician), efficient, great quality, and by USA standards - ridiculously cheap.

It must be said that the free public system has its problems. - especially in rural areas. But we have a dear friend, with no extra insurance,  that was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer and he was in for surgery within a week. It seems if your case is dire, you get immediate attention. There are of course horror stories of those with non-emergency situations that had to wait...

For me, the lesson is that if a community - a country - commits itself to providing universal health care -- it is possible. Even if they have scarce resources. There are ways to make it work. Take note US America.

[Did I mention that 100% of Luiz’s cancer treatment/medication (totally separate from our insurance) is free?] ‘nuf said.


Jennifer Souza said...

The US sooooo needs a public option!

Anita said...

What I liked in Brazil is that I could choose which doctor I would like to go to. If I needed a dermatologist I would have my two preferred ones. The same with gynaecologists. The health care in Holland is great, however i has many limitations. Ex.: if I need a specialist I have to first go to the family doctor and hope he will give me a recommendation letter to a specialist in the hospital. And when I call the hospital I cannot request a certain doctor, it's going to be who's is available. Oh, and I cannot change my family doctor either. (Luckily he's great ! Minus point: the appointments take max 9 min. always). The doctors here are very moderate with anaesthetica, even during (small) surgeries. My son (he was then 3) had a small tumor removed like that, while my man and my father in law held him still and the doctor made the incision. And women giving birth can absolutely forget about peridural. Not done !

Meredith said...

I couldn't agree more! I was just telling a friend of mine this today. She's an American who works with me who has been to the doctor one hundred times in the past month for multiple reasons. She hasn't paid a cent.

I have been to my OBGYN, the lab (for blood tests), the clinics for my ultrasounds and it's been a relatively easy experience. I've never paid a centavo. Luckily for me, my employer pays for my insurance so it's free for me. No co-pay, as you've said. There is one downside, as you mentioned, the wait. I usually wait 2 hours to see my doctor (and I have an appointment). But it's worth it.

MariaLuvsNOLA said...

Great post! It really saddens me how the whole health care system is run here in the States. While we do have a lot of great doctors here, the insurance companies are the devil. I just don't understand why so many people are against universal healthcare? It's actually one of the biggest reasons why I'd really like to move abroad. I am 31, healthy (not on any medications, not overweight, etc.) yet because I delivered my children via C-section and because I have hand dermatitis, NO insurance company will ever accept me! I've been turned down by all of them due to "pre-existing conditions". Ha! I laugh every time I think about that. But it's really depressing, because there are so many "little" things I wish I could get done - like go to a dentist to get my teeth checked out (without having to go hundreds of dollars into debt, etc.) Anyways.. there's my rant for the day!