I thought I would share what I have found out about the healthcare and its system here in Chile. I haven’t read formal documents about this but I am sharing from our experiences.
Everyone gets 7% of their paycheck taken for health insurance and they can choose either public or private insurance. Sometimes, if your salary is too low, you have to go with the public. However, I don’t think they are horribly different. I have heard some good things about both types.
When you decide your plan the first choice is the hospital that you want to use. Typically, you choose a hospital closer to your home. Once you decide the hospital you choose the amount of coverage. For instance, 70% of surgeries, 80% of doctor visits, etc. We are fortunate because we live near a fairly new hospital that is only about 2-3 miles from our house.
The employer pays part and the worker pays part of the premium each month. Sidebar: I have also found that talking about wages here are usually in monthly terms. For instance, I was having a conversation today with a Chilean man and I said something about someone making x dollars per year. He replied that he wasn’t used to that and let him take a second to figure that out in monthly terms.
Once the plan is chosen, the agreement is processed and the person places their pointer finger on a small machine to get the print. (They do this at banks too). Then when you go to the doctors office you place your finger on the machine and the computer figures out your percent of the visit you are responsible for. You pay the amount and you are done. No more paper work. No more dealing with the insurance company.
I have only been to one doctor visit which was a yearly exam with a gynecologist. Our friend Valerie called the office of her doctor for me to set it up. I was expecting for it to take a few weeks to get an appointment. Surprisingly, she asked me do you want the appointment tomorrow or the next day? The next day I waited in the reception area and the doctor walked out to get me. I went to her office and we talked at her desk. She spoke English because she had gone to college in California. She had an exam room attached to her office. She did the normal exam and also added an ultrasound of my uterus. She also asked me to get some other tests done so she would have a baseline of numbers for my folder.
The main difference I saw in the visit was I didn’t see any nurses. I think they must mostly work in the hospitals. Another difference in the healthcare is all of my friends have their doctor’s names and numbers on What’sApp so they can text them anytime. I want to ask a doctor exactly how that works since they can’t be on call all the time. I will the next time I go. Also, there is no referring to a specialist here from a primary care physician. You start with the specialist. Lastly, the pricing here is very reasonable as well and I will share with you about that on the next post about my lab experience.
Next post, mammogram and laboratory.