Posts Tagged ‘Securite Sociale’

I haven’t been feeling up to par for the past few days – my throat has gotten progressively scratchier (did I make up this word or should it be “more scratchy”? lol) since the weekend – and finally, yesterday I just felt horrible. So after realizing that my illness was not going to go away on its own and that this couldn’t be a worse time to be sick (Elise arrives Thursday and we leave for our crazy Christmas adventure on Saturday), I called up my doctor and scheduled an appointment (yes, I actually talked to him – he is his own receptionist/nurse/cashier) for the next day (today) at 8:45 a.m.

This morning feeling I woke up feeling even worse (my gum has also been bothering me and is quite inflamed – not sure if it’s because there’s a wisdom tooth under there or if it’s something else), so I couldn’t wait to jump out of bed and walk 3 minutes up my street to the doctor’s office.

Once chez le médecin (the doctor’s office), I let myself in and headed toward the salle d’attente (waiting room). I was surprised to see five other people already waiting in the small room (guess everyone wants a morning appointment…), and sat down with a magazine for what I figured would be a decently long wait. Sure enough, 40 minutes later, the doctor opened the door to the waiting room and called “entrez” to the next person in line (moi), shook my hand once firmly and led me into his office.

For someone who plays every role in the office, it’s amazing to watch this man work. Women are notoriously known for their multitasking abilities, but this man’s also got skills. Here’s what he must have been thinking during my visit:

Greet patient. Ask what’s wrong. [door buzzer rings] Press buzzer to allow person to enter office corridor. Back to patient. Take blood pressure. Check health history and find out what actually is wrong (i.e. do you get sick often, what hurts, say “ahh,” etc.). Translate occasional work into English when patient looks confused. Back to desk. Begin writing prescription. Ask why patient is in France (this part’s just in my case). Ahh, English assistant from Louisiana? (Get sidetracked and start talking about how it’s a shame that so many languages – like Cajun French – are in danger of or have already been lost.) [phone rings] Answer phone (“un moment s’il vous plaît” to patient). Lady just had operation – needs house call tonight. Schedule house call. Back to patient and loss of languages. Finish prescription. Receive payment (“That will be 22 euros.”) Make change from wallet. [door buzzer rings] Press door buzzer. [phone rings again] Schedule another appointment. Say goodbye to patient. [phone rings again] Schedule another appointment. Get up to call in next patient. Previous patient is in hallway – forgot doctor’s excuse. Give patient “avis d’arrêt de travail” (excuse from work) and explain how to send it to MGEN. Say goodbye to patient for the second time. Call in next patient. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Honestly, I have no idea how he does it all. There’s so much going on at every moment, yet he is extremely friendly, knowledgeable and actually manages to carry on a sincere conversation in the midst of everything! It is clear, however, that he could use someone to help him get a bit more organized – the glass shelving units in his office are crammed with papers, medicine bottles, and other random medical instruments, and half his desk is piled high with paperwork. Guess he can’t do EVERYTHING himself…lol.

I walked out of the office feeling the same physically but mentally more optimistic, and headed to the nearby pharmacy with my prescription in hand. I had only taken about three steps when I noticed what looked like little flecks of dandriff on my coat. I looked up and sure enough, these mini-flakes were swirling all around me in the air. “Now this kind of snow I can handle,” I thought,”…tiny flakes of the fluffy, powdery stuff.”

I arrived at the pharmacy a few minutes later and handed my prescription/information to the pharmacist without even attempting to explain anything in French. He asked me if I had a carte de securité social. I said no – that’s why I gave him the official MGEN paper with my social security number on it. He asked me if I had a mutuelle (supplemental insurance for what the general securité social does not cover). I said no. He looked a bit puzzled for a minute, conversed with another pharmacist, and the proceeded to search for my medicine. I was still debating on whether something was wrong and wondering whether I had enough cash to pay for the medicine (surely 30 euros would be enough?) when he came back to the cash register, placed two little packets on the counter and said, “That will be 1 euro 88, please.”

“C’est vrai?” (“Really?”) was my shocked response. He laughed and assured me that yes, that was the price. I explained that I was from the US and had never paid so little for prescription medicine. Cheap in my mind is under $25 (usually medicine from the LSU Student Health Center), but 1 euro 88??? I stepped outside feeling lighter than air and oh so happy to have had such luck. (I know this doesn’t mean that French national health care is cheap – all those taxes – or free of problems, but I can’t wait for the day when the US finally solves its own health care debate and manages to lower health care costs for everyone without sacrificing quality of care/etc. At least one can dream, right?)

And that concludes my adventure “chez le médecin.” Now onto feeling better ASAP!


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