Today was supposed to be a catch up and relax day, since we’ve been run around by various well meaning tour guides for the last few, being shown the sights of Losie and area. I don’t think any of us expected there to be anything to see here, let alone the multitude of attractions we’ve been taken to and / or told about.
Instead of relaxing, we ended up taking a trip to the hospital.
Health Care Polish Style
The tick bite Stephen got almost two weeks ago has been getting slowly worse, and yesterday it seemed to double in size. So, off to Polish hospital! For those of you who still think of Eastern Europe as some hinterland, I’m happy to report that the Polish hospital is quite like an English hospital, but cleaner. Unfortunately, no one spoke English, so Stephen had to explain his problem with the usual combo of Google translate, sign language, and pointing at the huge tick bite on his leg.
Ticks are common here, so that message was pretty easy to communicate. Harder to figure out was the insurance question. Did we have it? If not, we would have to pay. But how to pay and how much? It’s unusual for non-EU foreign visitors to end up in the hospital in a tiny town in the south of Poland, I guess, since no one really knew how to bill us.
We were hoping that would mean free service, but no such luck.
Within 10 minutes of our arriving in the hospital, Stephen was whisked into an exam room, where the doctor gave him a local anaesthetic, sliced the last tick parts from his leg, and slapped on a bandage.
We then moved into the admin room where the nurse wrote out our bill and the doctor wrote our a scrip for antibiotics. At first he put someone else’s name on the scrip, but I savvily noted that under the word “pacjent”, the doctor had written someone else’s name. Stephen pointed to the name and then pointed to the doctor. “You?” he asked. The doctor shook his head and pointed at Stephen. “You,” he said in Polish.
We quickly got that little mix-up sorted out, but it did leave me wondering if he’d managed to give Stephen the right drugs. (We later found out it was Amoxicillin, a pretty generic antibiotic, so we’re OK on that account).
Affordable Health Care Is Not An Oxymoron
Then it was time for the bill. When we saw the total of 106 zloty, we definitely knew we weren’t in America anymore. That’s $33. They don’t even blink at you in the U.S. for less than $100.
The doctor told us we’d need to go to the bank to pay our bill. The bank? Really? What bank? Any bank, apparently. We double-checked with the EMT we’d spoken to earlier who had a few words of English. He, and the other ladies at reception, didn’t really know. Again, no one usually has to pay for service here, since medical care is free. Finally someone was able to confirm that yes, we’d have to pay at the bank.
Hrm. So, we just got our care and our prescription and left the hospital and now it’s up to us to go pay the bill elsewhere. There was absolutely nothing compelling us to keep up our end of the bargain except for our sense of right and fairness. So we dutifully went to the bank and paid off our bill.
Total time for treatment: 35 minutes. Total bill including prescription: $42.
Yup, I can see why so many Americans don’t want socialised medicine at home.
The Three ‘R’s
After running a few errands and taking a few pictures in the big city of Gorlice, we escaped to our little guesthouse.
We’ve spent the day with our feet up, taking care of the three ‘r’s: writing, researching, and relaxing.
We did find time for a short walk while the sun was setting.
I’ve been staring at a map of the world for hours now, trying to figure out where we want to go, where it’s safe to go, and how we will get there. No firm plans yet, but I think we have decided to continue on our route north, and try to get to St. Petersburg via ferry from Helsinki. This will allow us a 72 hour window in the city without the need for visas.
Maybe Rome to Russia will happen after all. ♥
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