Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Wonders of Socialized Medicine

While some people are complaining back home in the US about the planned "Obamacare", I am relishing the benefits of European socialized medicine.

It turns out that my achilles tendon was completely ruptured from jumping to the beats of Cindy Lauper, as explained in my recent post. An ultrasound on Tuesday sealed my fate. I needed surgery and fast. Within 36 hours of seeing the ultrasound results, I was on a hospital bed undergoing surgery.

Yesterday I came home from the hospital after orthopedic surgery lasting 1.5 hrs and just over 24 hours in the hospital in post-op recovery. I now have 5 stitches behind my ankle, nylon thread and special mesh holding my tendon together and a cast up to my knee. I may not be happy about being immobile for the rest of the summer and into the fall, but the service has been great and free.

This is not my first bit of surgery. I have already had 2 major operations on my arm in the US. I know what surgery and recovery involves. I also know that as a US patient, not only do you have to deal with the physical ramifications of surgery but also financial woes. Even as an insured US citizen, you risk paying for surgery out-of-pocket. That's exactly what I had to do years ago when I reinjured my arm. The insurance company did not provide coverage on that area of my body because it had already sustained an injury. I was faced with a $16,000 hospital bill for something that was not unlike what I underwent in the last couple of days in Italy. Needless to say, when the bills started pouring in within a month of surgery, I got progressively more depressed. Here I was, trying to get my arm back to health, and I had to deal with how to foot that kind of bill, which felt enormous for a 26-year old woman who was out of work at the time. That financial legacy lingered on long after the wounds were healed.

Fast forward to now. I can concentrate on my leg without worrying so much about my bank account. This is a real relief.

When the Italian hospital staff was asking me about life as an American, they were implying that everything seems better across the ocean. But I pointed out that the very action of their care, which was free for me, is one of the great differences between there and here. Then they smiled. "E' vero" (That's true).


  1. Irene, sorry to hear that you had to undergo surgery on your Achilles Tendon and hope that your recovery will not hinder your mobility for too long. Take Care.

  2. Thank you, but unfortunately it will be 2 months before I can even start putting weight on my injured foot. This injury requires a lot of patience.