Going to the doctor with no health insurance

Dear blog readers!

It's already been a little while that we've been at the doctor, but "health insurance" is such an important topic that I am going to write about it.

Two weeks ago Daniel got really sick and had strong pain in his chest (not in his heart, but in his lungs). Now we know that he had a bronchitis. Being sick in a new country we stand there like two toddlers that have no clue about what protocol to follow. We knew that there would be a doctor at Daniel's job, but he felt too weak to travel the 1,5 hours to the Financial District to see that doctor and then all the way back to Queens. He had to make several phone calls to find out to which doctor he could go close by (in the US you can't just go to any doctor you like - it has to be one that is accepted by your health insurance - when you don't want to pay extra costs. In our case it had to be a doctor that was part of the network of the health insurance that is approved by the Deutsche Bank as Daniel's employer).

Now you probably think: "Guys you arrived at September 19th in New York! How can you still have no health insurance?!" We were really thinking the same thing. Already when we found out that we would move to the US we asked how it would work with health insurance and HR NYC said "That's all done when you are in the country." When we were here they said "First you need a Social Security Number." and when we had the SSN they said "It takes a while until everything is in the system and until we have green light.". That green light we just got last weekend! After six weeks of living here. Isn't that crazy? (Here talks the very German girl that loves to have lots and lots of insurances for everything.)

But lets hop back two weeks ago:

After tons of calls and checking out google maps (Praise the Lord for google maps - it's such an incredible help to have that!) we found an urgent care center close by. We just had to walk 10 minutes and just had a 15 minute waiting time until it was our turn.

The nurse (that didn't look at all like a nurse, because she wore casual clothes) asked Daniel many questions about his health in general and also about his actual pain. She checked his pulse and blood pressure. A little while later an older doctor came in (maybe late 50ies). He looked a little bit like Santa Claus. Besides the probable diagnosis he told us where are the best Portuguese and German restaurants in the city (something like that would never happen in Germany - haha, it was kind of funny). He was really a very friendly person with a lot of warmth.

The examination room was like a cubicle, but it was a closed room. With it's paperthin walls we still could hear the diagnosis from the neighbor room. In retrospect the doctor gave a wrong diagnosis - he said "Pneumonitis" and the doctor at Deutsche Bank where Daniel went in the next week said "Bronchitis" (with divergent diagnosis' like that I felt immediately safe in the US-health-system *yayme*!).

Daniel could hardly breathe into his chest, he had to inhale a medication through a bronchial inhaler. After a few minutes it made him feel very weak and dizzy, so that he even had to lie down. I was glad that I was with him and that he didn't have to be there all alone. Meanwhile I talked to Daniel's sister Sofia on the phone and Sofia talked to his mom (both of them are doctors) to tell her about what they are doing with Daniel. That was all a bit overwhelming for me. Doctor's slang is already complicated in German, but in English it's even more incomprehensible. And our English-genius was lieing k.o. on that doctors couch.

My poor honey! Here it started to get more dizzy for him.

In the end we paid 100 dollars for the doctors visit with the wrong diagnosis. Plus 65 dollars for the bronchial inhaler medicine. Afterwards we went to the pharmacy and paid 85 dollars for antibiotics and some more bronchial medicine. In less than one hour we had spent 250 dollars! In such moments I am wishing myself back to Germany where stuff like that was easier, because we knew how to handle it.

Actually the doctor would have done an x-ray and then it would have cost 500 dollars! But because Daniel is usually quite healthy we were able to not do it (the doctor said that as well - he was really nice, although he made an incorect diagnosis).

Now we'll wait and see how much of the 250 dollars we'll get back from the health insurance. Although our American health insurance just started last weekend it dates back to October 1st when Daniel started working at DB.

I didn't completely understood how it will work in the future with the health insurance. In theory I know the things, but not how it will be in real life. Either you are paying a higher premium each month and then less for the doctor visit and/or the medication or less permium but more for the other things. Every person has to make this decision before they know what will happen. And you have to stick to that decision for one year. We decided to make the "smaller-premium"-system (high deductible), because usually we aren't "I-have-to-go-to-the-doctor"-sick that often (besides that we always can call Daniel's mom and sister and ask for advice).

How much we'll have to pay in the end for a doctor visit I wonder. Also there's no dentist or eye specialist included. You have to make an extra insurance for that. We did that for the dentist and it's not as expensive as we had assumed. You really have to weigh up what you need and/or what you can afford. I think that's quite a challenge and I am happy that people in Germany don't have to do such things (what a blessing!). It scares me to live in a country where I don't feel really safe - at least not as safe as I felt in the German health system.

By the way: Daniel is healthy again said the DB doctor. Also at our second wedding anniversary (Oct. 27th) we could go out for dinner in our neighborhood. Here are some pics for you.

We had Thai food and just had to walk 10 minutes. It's a quieter neighborhood compared to Manhattan but there's still a bunch of dining possibilities around. That's one of the many advantages of city life.

It wasn't as good as we had hoped (we are some spoiled children!), but it was lovely to go out together and leave the apartment in which I am usually most of the time.

I send you kisses and hugs!

Kati

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