American Health Care. For Europeans.

After posting two weeks ago, I realized that it mostly explains to my American friends what we would loose going there. It lacked in explaining to my European friends how expensive health care in the States is. I am not an expert enough to give you all the ends and outs. But two personal examples should give you an idea on how it affects your every day life.

Case 1. Just a simple visit to the doctor.

A while ago my friend Julie told me about her doctor’s visit. She went in for a vaccination and she also got her ear rinsed. The pictures show the bill.

This is part one:

And this is part two:

Yes, my dear European friends. You get a bill when you went to the doctor. And just to be clear, Julie has health care coverage, but that still doesn’t mean that your insurance covers your doctor’s visit! And almost never for the full amount. And just let me summarize the bill for you (as American medical billing is impossible to understand). For the visit as such, she paid around $148. (Around $60 was covered by her insurance.) She also was charged for the vaccin, for the injection of the vaccin and for the administration of the vaccination, setting her back $44, 75. Her ear cleaning costed her $64,64. And her phone call to the doctor’s office was also billed: $60, 27. She told me that she went back in after her first visit, as her ear was still bothering her at no extra cost. In total: $306,86.


Case 2. Amy’s Tweets.

My friend Amy, the Comic Artist, posted this thread on Twitter on December, 12th. I repost it here, because it is so telling.


As a result of the costs, lots of Americans simply don’t visit the doctor and the results of that strategy are often desastrous: people get diagnosed way too late if at all and when costs are even higher. My American dentist told me once that a lot of people just choose to have their teeth removed instead of having them fixed because it is simply much cheaper.

Just to compare: Frederik went to the doctor in Belgium over the holidays. He had an infection in his lungs and got antibiotics. As we were not in Germany, he had to pay the full amount out of pocket. Our German insurance paid us back in full including what we paid for the antibiotics: €26 for the doctor and € 22,49 for his medicine.


2 Replies to “American Health Care. For Europeans.”

  1. Julie Margulies says: Reply

    Amy’s comments make me so sad to be an American. While we ourselves have been lucky enough not to have serious illnesses or bills that made us choose between food or medical expenses, or heat and medical expenses, we are both about to retire and then we’ll see! Medicare is not free or cheap, and now that my husband has a disease causing his muscles to whither, we could actually lose our home and everything we have one day, if his health called for enough medical intervention. (even though we have saved for retirement all our lives and have more than most Americans.) It’s a very scary and sad way to live.
    I like to tease Annelies that one day we will show up on her doorstep to move in with her!!

  2. Well this is a weird way to find out that Julie and I see the same physician.

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