In 2006, when I wrote my book on the hell my catastrophically ill husband and I went through at four different hospitals in an 8 1/2-month time frame, I made the following statement regarding health and healthcare:
“Economics aside, the most distressing reason for poor healthcare is the loss of the concept of care. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines care as ‘attentive assistance or treatment to those in need.’ Today, providing medical services to consumers is a business—a business that to the uneducated and the educated alike appears to care not at all about the human factors involved in the treatment of the body and the spirit.”
This past week, I have had the opportunity to revisit that statement as it relates to healthcare in Ecuador.
Greater health, more care
And, bottom line, in my opinion, there is greater “health” and more “care” in the Ecuadorian healthcare system than what I left behind in the United States two years ago.
And when you adjust that comparison to include what has happened to the Affordable Care Act since that time, the differences become even more dramatic.
The relative “size” of a typical American has increased while living in the United States, compared to the typical shrinkage that occurs when a former American resident moves to Ecuador.
Why does this happen? I am only speaking for myself here but I believe others would agree with my assertions.
- I eat “real,” not processed foods here.
- I walk everywhere since I do not have a car.
- I eat “locally,” consuming predominantly vegetables, fruit and chicken.
When I first arrived in Cuenca, I had an ongoing medical issue flare up and I needed help. Possessing NO local health insurance at that time, I headed to the free (yes, free!!!) hospital, got a full workup including a blood draw and urine analysis and paid nothing.
- This week I had a full CBC blood panel done this week on myself for a whopping total of $34.50. I do not know the current rate for this in the U.S. However when my husband was getting them monthly in 2001 – 2002, the cost was almost $400.
- I called my primary care physician here Tuesday in the morning and got in to see him on the same Tuesday in the afternoon. I had only seen him once before but he had personally keyed my medical history into his Mac desktop computer (not networked) on that first visit, enabling him to call up all my meds, family history, presenting symptoms, etc.
The cost of the 45-minute appointment (yes, 45-minutes!) was $35.
And, most importantly, he listened to me and never once looked at his watch or hurried me along in any way.
He also spoke and treated me in an extremely caring and compassionate manner.
With these simple examples, I think you will agree that “attentive assistance or treatment to those in need” has been provided!
And while healthcare providers here do make a living providing services to their patients, the “business” of healthcare is clearly secondary to the “human factors involved in the treatment of the body and the spirit.”
Do you have any positive (or negative) expat medical stories you’d like to share? Please let us know.