Saturday, January 8, 2011

#5 Healthcare

Okay, so I haven't actually talked to a Dane yet about their opinion of their healthcare system. This topic is just an excuse for me to write about a recent trip to my new Danish doctor. That's not to say there isn't a country full of people outside my window wating to wax poetic about their most recent colonoscopy.

In the absence of finding any real Danes to speak with (note to self, make more friends) I found these nifty things today called "Eurobarometers" on the European Commission's website. They are public opinion surveys on every kind of topic imaginable. In 2008, Danes were asked to judge their country's current healthcare situation - 65% rated it Very good or Rather good. A more recent poll taken in the Spring of 2010 found that 83% of Danes had seen no change in the affordability of general healthcare in the past six months. Whether you like your healthcare or not, the fact that it's not getting any more expensive, even in the midst of a global financial crisis, should be something to rejoice over.

But back to my real story. So my doctor's visit. I'll give you the basic run down. I needed to refill a prescription. Within five days (including a major holiday weekend) I managed to set up an appointment with my new doctor, get a personal confirmation of said appointment, see my doctor with no waiting or paperwork, chat amiably with him while my son ran around his office, and later that day picked up the prescription he emailed over to the pharmacy.

Just so you don't go accusing me of making that all up, my doctor's name is Anders. (That whole "chatting amiably" thing includes addressing him by his first name.) He has a lovely, bright office with a waiting room full of nice toys for my son to play with and informative books that I'm sure would be useful if I understood Danish. You "check in" by swiping your healthcard through the card reader on the wall. At your assigned appointment time, he calls you in to his huge office/exam room and you talk while he taps out notes on his sleek iMac. Ten minutes later you leave with all your questions answered and directions to the pharmacy where you can pick up your medication. That's it. Really.

No waiting months for the first available appointment. No stacks of paperwork to fill out. No copays or deductibles to calculate. No sitting in a backless paper gown in a claustrophobic cell under harsh flourescent lights that would make even the healthiest person look sick. No disgruntled, overworked, still-in-debt-from-med-school doctor hustling through the appointment, hastily scratching out a prescription for the latest drug whose company recently bought his lunch. If Danes don't actually "like" their healthcare, at least I've found nothing to be horrified by so far.