The dangers of private healthcare

Private healthcare is awesome. I feel blessed to have it. Without it, I refused to feel move to Chile, a new continent for me.

On the whole we’ve had awesome medical care here in Chile. But private healthcare is not always great.

I’m just a little concerned about the over prescription of drugs, the dash to surgery, the antibiotic cure all approach.

Is it just me?

Yesterday I took my son to be checked for parasitic worms. I came away with advice on which sun block to use, a vaccination prescription (not a routine, but an additional type), antibiotics, dehydration fluids, paracetamol and two types of lab tests.

I prefer to err on the side of caution, but I’m wondering if sometimes this isn’t all a little too much?

Are clinics even in it for the cash? Of course they’re private companies, not public organisations or charities and the staff need to make a living. I do hope it’s not at patients expense, however.

My son, Rafa, recently suffered a severe allergic reaction. Staff at the Clinica Alemana were fabulous. We are utterly grateful.

But the follow on admin has been a disaster. We’ve been prescribed drugs which we were later told by another paedriatrician at the same clinic were not necessary (and indeed the side effects could be rather nasty). We’ve been scheduled unnecessary appointments. After months of waiting for the tests, after emails, medication and consultations we’ve been told that actually we can’t even get our son tested there, so we’ll need to start all over again at another clinic.

They’re not all bad apples though. I found a new immunologist who managed to schedule allergy testing in the following week and told us to throw away his restricted diet plan. To do away with medication.

Yes, Rafa’s reaction was very, very serious and always we need to carry two Epipens with us. But now he can touch dogs and eat ice lollies like he did before.

Rafa was ‘absolutely fine’, he said. We just need to avoid pumpkin, pumpkin seeds and cow’s milk. My kid has never been so excited to eat avocado, hummous and courgette. And I’m less of a nervous wreck about ingredient labels.

This brings me to a point a British public hospital (NHS) friend once made. That private healthcare creates unnecessary anxiety in patients and their carers. At worst, it takes financial advantage, prescribing drugs and opting for surgery which do more harm than good. Pills are not sweets.

As my relocation lady pointed out, like everything, the system here in Chile is not necessarily better, just different.

On the whole, we’ve found the healthcare much better than in the UK, but not always. The British style ‘wait and see’ approach does not apply here. But sometimes, that’s exactly what we expats need to do.

Of course emergencies are emergencies, but if in doubt now I get a second, (or third or fourth…) opinion. I try to stay in control.

It’s my body. It’s my child’s body. I’ll decide.

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