Falling off the map...A Buenos Aires Adventure

Believe it, it´s true | October 23, 2009

And so here it is.  I knew eventually it would come to this, but I wasn´t sure how long I would last without HAVING to talk about this.  I have had a nasty cold all week.  It got a little worse, then it got a little better, then finally came to head today where I had to actually say the words, ¨ok it´s time to brave the South American health care system.¨ Hmm.

As I got on the subway today to head to the merry medical land I couldn´t help but think that maybe I should just skip it, go home and try to sleep it off.  Then, after hacking on some lady accidently as I am leaving the subway, I thought maybe I should just brave it.  I walked a total of 10 blocks to my destination.  What stood before me was a small room filled with 2 or 3 not so happy people.  I took a deep breath and went inside.  As I approached the front desk, the lady had already stood to her feet to greet me, of course in Spanish.  I asked politely if she knew English and was graciously smiled at and told yes.   As I explained my symptoms she wrote furiously.  Then, as I finished I expected the next words I was going to hear was if I had insurance.  I was pleasantly surprised when the next words I heard were ¨wait right here and we will call you in a moment¨. Sure enough, it really WAS a moment.

I walked slowly back to this well-lit room, where the table was, peering at everything in sight.  I immediately had my vitals taken and was offered a glass of water.  So far so good.  Then, the doctor came in, and to my surprise and amazement, he was British.  ¨Good day¨he says. ¨What seems to be the problem?¨I then started to explain the weeks worth of symptoms and complications.  Then, the most dreaded question of all, ¨do you have any other prior medical conditions?¨I answered with great concern fearing that I had just opened a Pandora´s box of bad things to follow.  The response I got was a smile and ¨don´t worry we´ll get you fixed¨.  After this, I was given a xray, consultation and medication.  Inside, I winced at the thought of what my bill would look like post-appointment.  I am, in fact, American and not a citizen therefore not making me eligible for the free government health insurance.  As I walked to the receptionist, my fingers crossed and head down, I handed her my discharge paper.  Äh ok, that will be 20 pesos.¨ Umm, not quite sure I heard what she said.  ¨Are you telling me that for everything I got it was only 20 pesos (for those of you not in tune with the exchange rate, thats about 5 dollars)?¨ The receptionist looked down and looked back up at me ¨one xray, consult and meds right? Yes, 20 pesos.¨

Ok, so there´s my story on health care in Argentina.  Sounds like a joke huh?  I wish it were to be honest.  Before I wrote this blog today I looked up the prices for the same service in the states with no medical insurance.  For my area the price would have been around 250 dollars.  5 dollars versus 250 dollars, and not only that but I never had the same friendliness I received today in the states.  Men and women here actually care about more than the bottom line.  They care about health.  My health, your health, the wealthy, the homeless, whoever walks into the door.

My mind goes blank in thought.  These people are not socialist, they are not communists, and they don´t live in little red houses with posters of Stalin or Castro.  They live as citizens of life, of healthy living, and believing that government money is important to spend of the lives and health of others no matter how broke, or wealthy or middle class, or foreign you are.  There is no crime or shame in any of it, it´s just how they live.

So go ahead and listen to your respected parties ideas on this or that.  But do you think any of those people have been in a foreign country while they were sick?  Have you? Therefore I say the only people who are allowed to put up an argument on this blog are people who had the same experience as me today.  There are some experiences that change your life, and your views on the reality that people in government try to give you.  Although, you can never really make up your mind until your in the shoes of another, can you.  Think about it.

Chao

Erika

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1 Comment »

  1. Even when our health system is not THAT pink and beautiful as u describe it, i have to say i always thought we are really lucky of having this much easier than other people on the world. 🙂 I’m glad u’re fine now.

    Comment by ceciliette — October 29, 2009 @ 9:56 pm


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i'm a 25 year old who traveled to Argentina is search of a new scene. Hope you enjoy my blog of several adventures

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