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Medical Care Quality in Europe
Old 06-26-2019, 04:37 PM   #1
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Medical Care Quality in Europe

I'm writing this as DW and I are on vacation in Aruba. I had a severe asthmatic attack requiring visit to the local hospital. The care was excellent. But it got me thinking, as we make plans for trips to Europe, to contemplate medical care. In my case, getting suddenly sick is not unusual as I am immuno-compromised, so this is a real concern.
I've always presumed, but haven't actually researched, that the traditional western European countries have good medical care. Is that presumption correct? And would that include Spain? We are also planning to visit some Eastern European countries, at some point, but right or wrong I'm having second thoughts.
Appreciate any input.
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Old 06-26-2019, 04:40 PM   #2
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Medical care is excellent in Europe. I don’t how far east you are going, but if it’s in Central Europe, I’d have no concerns. I have no experience with anything further east.
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Old 06-26-2019, 04:44 PM   #3
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Everything I have read indicates that European medical care is on a par with North American care.

My only personal experience was early this year when I needed to visit an emergency room in Norway. Great experience and I was totally satisfied. The people were first class and the doctor who saw me not only spoke perfect English but explained things in a totally understandable way.

It was also interesting to see the payment system. I paid with a credit card through a kiosk after my visit, and my understanding is that I was charged the same as any Norwegian citizen would have been charged, about US$45. The only difference is that Norwegians have a maximum of around US$500 and once that is met the rest of their visits that year are at no cost.
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Old 06-26-2019, 04:48 PM   #4
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We have found all the countries in Western Europe to be completely modern. If I can put my ATM card in and withdraw funds from my home checking account, their doctors can treat asthma--or do dental implants.
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Old 06-26-2019, 05:00 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by mystang52 View Post
I'm writing this as DW and I are on vacation in Aruba. I had a severe asthmatic attack requiring visit to the local hospital. The care was excellent. But it got me thinking, as we make plans for trips to Europe, to contemplate medical care. In my case, getting suddenly sick is not unusual as I am immuno-compromised, so this is a real concern.
I've always presumed, but haven't actually researched, that the traditional western European countries have good medical care. Is that presumption correct? And would that include Spain? We are also planning to visit some Eastern European countries, at some point, but right or wrong I'm having second thoughts.
Appreciate any input.
My 71-year-old cousin lives in Germany with a 2nd home in France. I visit her for about a month every year. She has had various medical issues while I've been there, and I've been astounded at how quickly she is able to get an appointment to see her doctor or a specialist, as needed. (Like within the next day or two.)

Also, when we were traveling in St. Petersburg, Russia in 2016, my cousin's husband tripped and fell on his face in the street, with his metal-rimmed glasses making a deep, bloody gash on his forehead. We were only a few blocks from our hotel, so we walked him back to the hotel to figure out what to do. The front desk instantly called the Europa Clinic, who dispatched an ambulance to fetch him from the hotel. I didn't accompany them, but my cousin said the care was first-class ("like the best hospitals in western Europe") and the language spoken was English. He was examined, possibly x-rayed to see if anything was amiss with/inside his skull, stitched-up, and released in a few hours. The total bill, including the ambulance was something like 300-350 Euros, which their German private insurance reimbursed.

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Old 06-26-2019, 05:03 PM   #6
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Spent three nights in a private hospital in Malaga last October. Excellent care/facilities/equipment.
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Old 06-26-2019, 05:19 PM   #7
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Spent three nights in a private hospital in Malaga last October. Excellent care/facilities/equipment.
The only thing missing was an English breakfast, as I recall.
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Old 06-26-2019, 05:28 PM   #8
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The only thing missing was an English breakfast, as I recall.
They did finally catch on that I wasn't that partial to olive oil and bread for breakfast.
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Old 06-26-2019, 05:31 PM   #9
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We have found all the countries in Western Europe to be completely modern. If I can put my ATM card in and withdraw funds from my home checking account, their doctors can treat asthma--or do dental implants.
Are you suggesting that if your ATM card works to draw money from your chequing account that you are going to trust the medical and dental care in a foreign country?
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Old 06-27-2019, 04:55 AM   #10
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I have had two very good experiences with European medical care. About 15 years ago in Amsterdam my daughter's friend who was traveling with us had abdominal pains needing attention. A doctor saw us at the end of day ($25 charge). He felt she needed hospitalization and drove us to the hospital on his way home. She was admitted to the hospital and needed surgery. When I asked if they need a credit card they looked at me like I was nuts and said, this is not the US. I assume her parents were billed later. When I was in France about 5 years ago I broke my shoulder and ended up in an ER in Avignon, Again, no lengthy forms or pre-payment. They wanted to keep me for surgery but I wanted to fly home so they bandaged me up and sent me on my way. I was ultimately billed $1000 Euro which was covered by insurance. All care was excellent.

The biggest surprise to me was in Amsterdam where the hospital was quite open to dealing with a 15 YO girl about exploratory surgery without consultation with her parents (or in loco parentis me). At home,no one will deal with underage kids. Her parents were World Bank employees who had been stationed all over and were not surprised or concerned.
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Old 06-27-2019, 09:02 AM   #11
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The only horror story I've ever read was related to a life-threatening injury...there's no way to know if your health care POA will be honored if your health care agent wants to remove life-sustaining care.

So the advice was to always have a travel insurance policy covering medical evacuation back to the U.S.
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Old 06-27-2019, 09:19 AM   #12
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OP here. Thanks everyone. On a lighter note, DW remains a major obstacle, but at least now I can still harbor hopes of visiting Sad Hill Cemetery in Spain.
As an aside, I've always purchased trip cancellation insurance due to my medical situation anyway, but it was comforting to know this recent episode won't cost me beyond that premium.
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Old 06-27-2019, 09:33 AM   #13
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With the danger of jinxing our 2 week trip in France starting tomorrow I think the medical care in Europe is very good. My sister’s MIL fell and badly broke her leg in Spain a few years ago. Surgery that needed bones pinning was done before she and her husband returned home. While Britain is still in the EU we carry EU health insurance cards but fortunately we have not needed them so far. This trip will have 5 of us sharing a house and we are all in our 60s these days
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Old 06-27-2019, 09:50 AM   #14
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Typically, when one needs immediate care, what’s important is not finding the best care, but finding care that is close by and good enough. From that perspective, there’s no reason “average or easily accessible care” is better or worse Europe or most other major population areas around the developed world.

If anything, emergency room care in the US is not as easily accessible as elsewhere.
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Old 06-27-2019, 01:24 PM   #15
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In Scotland, my mom fell and got a nasty gash on her head. An ambulance arrived, she was taken to a hospital, cleaned up and stitched up, and they didn't charge single pound sterling.
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Old 06-27-2019, 02:01 PM   #16
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I never worry about medical care when traveling in Europe. Haven’t needed any though.
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Old 06-27-2019, 02:29 PM   #17
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I wrote about this in a thread awhile ago. While visiting DSI who lives in Italy, Bologna at the time, I had extreme abdominal pain. Could not stand up. Ambulance took me to University of Bologna (I think oldest hospital in the world). I saw 3 specialists. They thought appendicitis, gall stones and something else, don't remember. Ambulance drove me around the campus, it's huge. Turned out (ladies know this one, fibroid tumors). They eased the pain and we flew back to US the next day. $50. They offered surgery but I wanted to go home.
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Old 06-27-2019, 02:42 PM   #18
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Around 5 years ago, I had a 4 day hospital stay in France. As to the quality of care, I would say it is very comparable. Some observations:
- Private room was not available (or not offered)
- Common shower down the hall (unsanitary)
- Some nurses were great. Others loved messing with a non-French speaker
- Google translator was my friend.
- At discharge, asked for an itemized bill and it wasn’t possible. Charge was a
Flat rate per day.
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Old 06-27-2019, 06:57 PM   #19
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My DH developed pneumonia while we were walking in England. Got right in to see a doctor who prescribed two kinds of antibiotics, which were free. The cost of the doctor visit was $109. The Medicare Advantage plan covered about $20, and the travel insurance should cover the remainder.
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Old 06-27-2019, 10:17 PM   #20
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In Scotland, my mom fell and got a nasty gash on her head. An ambulance arrived, she was taken to a hospital, cleaned up and stitched up, and they didn't charge single pound sterling.
Interesting. I just got back from Scotland where I had a tear in my retina repaired. All was great until they realized I was an American not a Canadian. Then the topic of money came up and I was sent a bill for $3000 the next day. My travel insurance should cover it, but I, too, thought I was off "Scot free".
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