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The Cough

I guess socialized medicine really does work.

Shortly after we arrived in Israel, I developed a really bad cough. I was coughing constantly — a really painful cough that sounded awful and included gobs of phlegm. After a week of it getting progressively worse, I decided that I really needed to see a doctor.

We use the Macabbi health plan. It is one of four competing, quasi-governmental health care organizations. I explained (in English) to the clerk at the Macabbi main office that I needed to see a doctor right away and she gave me a book. The book contains all the approved doctors (throughout the country) covered by the plan. It is a thick book. The book has small letters. The small letters are all in Hebrew. They don’t have an English edition.

Hmmm, one more time. I explained again that I needed to see a doctor right away and that I only speak English and that I didn’t know where any of the doctors are located and that I could not read the book. There was a brief pause while she stared at me and then, she suddenly realized that I was actually asking for help finding a doctor. She grabbed the book, leafed through it, and then circled an entry and explained that he speaks English and that his office is just outside the facility to the right.

The doctors don’t actually work at the facility; they have their own offices scattered around the county. This doctor apparently was located very close, although it did take me a while to find the office. I think the main problem was that the doctor’s office was actually just outside to the left.

When I entered the office and explained the situation, I was told that I needed to make an appointment. When I explained that I was there to make an appointment, I was told that I need to make the appointment over the Internet. However, since I was new (and didn’t yet have an Internet connection and wouldn’t be able to make the appointment on an all Hebrew website anyway), they would make an exception this time. My appointment was scheduled for later on in the early afternoon.

At the appointment, the doctor asked about my medical history and then listened to my lungs with a stethoscope. He then declared that my lungs sounded clear, that I probably just had a virus, and that it would all clear up by itself.

The coughing continued for a couple of weeks, but I just realized a few days ago that all my symptoms have vanished. I don’t know when it stopped, but it is now gone. So, the socialized health care really did work!

Categories: Israel Tags: , ,
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