Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A hot cup of lemon and honey...

I'm sick, I have been since after Reyes, lots of coughing and nose blowing, and stopping at the farmacias, and I suppose this is a good opportunity to write a little about being sick here. First off, unless you have homemade remedies, like home lemonade with honey, there is no way to self treat yourself. Farmacias in Spain force you to talk to the pharmacist if you want any medicine as everything medicinal is kept in the back (Pharmacies also stock general health care supplies in like skin care products, band-aids, chap-stick, basically any product that has to do with health). Usually you have the chance to tell the pharmacist about your symptoms and they will offer you a few choices of what to take. It's pretty nice to get a professional opinion, even if it is just a runny nose or a cough. If you have a perscription, any medicine will cost you 5 euros, a perk of the socialized health care here in Spain, and a bonus for those who are retired, there is no charge for any perscription. Yes, Spain enjoys socialized health care, so everyone in the country has medical help available for free at any public clinic or public hospital at any hour of any day of the year. There are a few problems with the system, for example many times you have to put your name on a long waiting list for a specific treatment (of course, if it is an emergency there is no wait), and emergency rooms can be filled with people who really do not need emergency treatments, but are either hypochondriacs or use the wait and treatment to socialize (these are usually bored older people), and in the public system you have no control or choice of who your doctor is...but you don't have to pay for any treatment! To offer an alternative to the socialized care, there are also private clinics that you can choose to go to and pay for yourself (or use medical insurance to cover the costs). In a private clinic you can make and appointment the same day and choose your doctor without being placed on a waiting list. One last note, all health treatments are covered under Spain's socialized medicine, except going to the dentist and getting plastic surgery. These are always private practices, and dentists tend to be the most well paid doctors in the country.

Ps...In the Spanish speaking world Tuesday the 13th is the equivalent of Friday the 13th...so beware...dundundun!!

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