During the last few days I have been really sick. Being sick here in the States consists of over-the-counter cold meds, cough drops, and maybe a trip to the doctors office with a $15-30 co-pay. You are fairly quickly seen by a doctor and given a prescription, followed by a trip to Walmart and a $10 bottle if lucky. Then you go home and sleep it off.
This is not the scenario in the Czech Republic. First of all, before I left Nebraska I did some research and found that there is no such thing as over-the-counter medicine in the Czech Republic, everything requires a prescription. Knowing that I tend to get sick often, I packed a few boxes of Tylenol cold and sinus and a large bag of my favorite cough drops.
If you don’t know, the Czech Republic has a compulsory healthcare system. Everyone pays the government a fixed fee and most types of healthcare are covered, with exclusion of acupuncture and cosmetic surgery. See here for more details: http://www.vzp.cz/en/public-health-insurance.php
Fortunately, I only got sick badly enough to need to go to the doctor once while living in the Czech Republic. I used my whole supply of cold meds. Once I knew I wasn’t getting better without an antibiotic, I went to the doctor.
My roommate went with me to the closest hospital. She spoke better Czech and volunteered to be my interpreter if the doctor didn’t speak any English. We went inside and up the elevator to the floor for general practitioners. Their were no waiting rooms or secretaries just a line of offices. I had to fill out a form in Czech and show my insurance card and ID because I was not a resident.
The doctor was very nice, but as I expected, did not speak any English. My roommate and I struggled for words to describe what was wrong with me, using like mucus and Eustachian tubes hoping she would understand. After an exciting game of charades, I left with a prescription and promised myself to learn phrases about being sick when I got home.
The next adventure was across town to the RX store. The pharmacist looked at me sympathetically and went to a shelf to grab my pills. She told me the possible symptoms in rapid-fire Czech and I pretended I understood. I paid a nominal fee and thanked her for the help. Luckily, the pharmacist was not chatty. I tried my best to respond in Czech, and hoped she attributed my silence and nodding to my sickness.
The final trek of our journey was the most dreaded. We had to walk two miles up hill to our dorm in the rain. Upon our return my roommate made me a nice cup of tea; I gobbled up my meds, and fell into a fitful sleep.
What are your experiences with the Czech healthcare system?