I never really knew much about other countries’ healthcare systems until I started to read Fat Acceptance blogs. Later I joined a fibromyalgia support group on LiveJournal, as well as a message board about chronic illnesses in general, and since then I have learned a lot. Being German, I grew up with universal healthcare and automatically assumed that seeing the doctor was free everywhere – because, after all, you didn’t become sick on purpose, right? Haha, yeah. I wonder why they didn’t teach us this stuff in school. I was completely clueless.
Costs aside, there is one other thing that I found rather mind-boggling when I first heard of it: misdiagnoses getting stuck in your medical record forever. I mean, wow. The whole idea that there exists such a thing as a list of everything you’ve ever been diagnosed with creeps me out. Over here, I can just go to a new doctor and practically start from scratch. Sure, my insurance company must be keeping track of me to an extent, but that information is not available to anyone else and certainly doesn’t seem to include diagnoses – er, what I meant was, my diagnoses don’t seem to affect their behaviour towards me. My head, it is disorganised.
Just a few weeks ago I had to send a few documents to a hospital that I’m planning to stay at. My doctor gave me copies of reports from the few specialists that I had seen last year, and to my surprise I discovered that among them was one by a neurologist who hadn’t believed a word I said and got angry with me for “refusing” to take antidepressants when in reality I had merely told him that I’d already tried three different ones and they’d made me manic instead of helping. Needless to say, that report was full of shit. And guess what? I decided not to include it. End of story.
I never really liked my country before I heard of all this. Now I’m pretty glad to have been born here, although I’m worried about where we’re heading. First they introduced co-pay, now more and more hospitals are being privatised. I don’t want anyone whose main interest is making profit to be in charge of my health. No, thanks. I hope we never reach a point where every new doctor I meet knows my entire history already … because I can’t afford to emigrate.