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Healthcare abroad: specific issues
The issue of healthcare abroad often bewilders French nationals who are used to a much more protective system. Away from home, healthcare practices and systems are often very different.
Different healthcare systems abroad
You don’t need to go to the ends of the earth to find healthcare systems and facilities which differ greatly from those in France.
In the UK, for example, the public healthcare system (NHS) allocates a referring physician (General Practitioner) depending on where you live. If you fall ill, you have to see this doctor, even if you require specialist care. In this case, the GP sends a letter to a specialist in the patient’s geographical area to request an appointment.
This system denies free choice of doctor and waiting times are very long, especially for non-vital health problems. Hence the use of very expensive, private health systems requiring high levels of reimbursement!
The language barrier and isolation
As healthcare is a highly personal area, the language barrier may also complicate the relationship with the medical profession. It’s not always easy to explain your symptoms to a doctor, especially in a foreign language. Medical vocabulary is very specific and understanding diseases, treatments and recommendations can be particularly difficult.
Moreover, you may miss the support of your family if you have a major health problem. The arrival of a relative in the event of a long stay in hospital may provide comfort to the patient and help them cope better.
Anyone can experience a difficult situation abroad (the death of a loved one, marital problems, stress at work etc.). Away from home, this type of "bad patch" can quickly get out of proportion. A counselling service is therefore helpful to alleviate stress and restore equilibrium.
Inadequate health facilities
High healthcare costs
Finding out about healthcare facilities in your host country