Back when my feet were bothering me most with my American orthotics, in the summer of 2009, I had really hoped to be able to get my surgery done in the States. I had only seen one podiatrist in France for my feet, and in retrospect, he wasn’t that great. Had I gone back to him a second time, he may have turned out to be totally fine. But as it was, he never explained to me that hallux rigidus is a condition that is never really fixed, and certainly not by orthotics. I reorganized all my blog categories and tags yesterday (sorry if tons of posts showed up as “updated” in any RSS feeds…) and it allowed me to go back and see the progression of the problem, from 2006 till now. It was shocking to see in this post that I really thought orthotics might get me back into wearing heels within a month! I’ve long accepted that I’ll never wear heels again in my life (and frankly I think most people should never wear them anyway), so that’s no big deal, but the podiatrist could have explained to me that the arthritis was NOT going to be corrected.
It’s actually important to know that French podiatrists (podologues) and American podiatrists are not very similar. French podiatrists have more or less a bac + 3 (a three-year degree). They take care of people’s feet in terms of relieving pain, often doing things like reflexology or pedicures. They certainly create orthotics and know a lot about foot conditions, but they are in no way doctors. They can’t give a medical opinion on an x-ray, for example. American podiatrists, on the other hand, have a four-year medical degree, specialized in podiatry, a bit like a dentist’s degree. They are also foot surgeons.
Maybe that explains a bit why in 2009 I was more comfortable with American doctors and really wanted to get the surgery done before leaving the country.
But I was wrong, and here’s why: I just got my hospital bill for my stay and surgery. In all, through pre-surgery, pharmacy, and hospital costs, I’ll have paid:
- Post-surgical shoe: 16€
- Television access for two days in my hospital room: 11€
- Extra costs for the anesthesiologist: 49€ (dépassement d’honoraires, in other words, he charges more than the set rate, which I knew ahead of time)
- Anesthesiologist consultation: 1€
- Orthopedist consultation: 1€
My mutuelle is still with the MGEN, and I pay 59€ a month (for ten months) for the coverage I get, based on my salary. Here is what they and the Sécu have paid for so far:
- Frais de séjour (hospital stay): 1373,44€
- Prestations diverse (various services): 18€
- Forfait journalier: 54€
- Chambre particulière (1-person room): 86€
- Anesthesia: 83,92€
- Surgery: 169.29€
- Post-surgery x-ray: 34€
- Pharmacy costs post-operation (including the daily injections and bandages): 183€
- Anesthesiologist consultation: 45€
- Orthopedist consultation: 45€
- Five twice-weekly platelet counts: 54€
All that’s left to calculate are the cost of the nurse’s visits over these past three weeks. The last one is tomorrow so I got the bills this morning. The cost of the visits is around 300€ but the Sécu will pick up all but around 80€ of that, and the MGEN will probably pick up the rest.
All in all I think I’ll have paid about 80€ for the entire thing, unless some surprise bills arrive. Back in summer of 2009 when I wanted to do this surgery, I had just lost my parents’ insurance and was paying for the crummy UT student insurance. In September of 2009 I was on private insurance with high co-pays.
(I also am regularly reimbursed by the MGEN for other things—doctor’s visits, blood tests, allergy prescriptions, the pill, so even without the operation I take full advantage of what 590 euros per year buys me.)
I felt really well taken care of by the staff at the French hospital and I’ve felt well taken care of by the other health professionals involved in this operation. I have one more visit to the orthopedist the day before I go back to work but otherwise all the paperwork should be done. All that’s left is to start walking again! The stitches are gone (they were re-absorbable), but the shaved bone inside is still tender. I also got official notice from the Rectorat that I’ll be paid in full for the 50 days that I’m off work. (As teachers we have the right to 90 days of fully paid sick leave. After that we’re paid half for some other amount of time.)
So far, a win for the French medical system. And it’s a good thing, too, because I probably will do exactly the same thing next year with the other foot.