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re: America having the #1 healthcare in the world. I know from personal experience that this isn't anywhere close to being true, but for the past 35 days I was in London, Paris, Monaco, and Barcelona. Upon arriving in Barcelona, I became seriously ill. My o2 dropped to 84 and was running a fever of 104. Being unable to walk, my friends grabbed a wheelchair and took me to the ER of one "Clinica Barcelona." Complicating matters was my preexisting condition, cystic fibrosis. Needless to say, to say I was scared was an understatement.

As soon as my o2 and fever was registered, along with a cursory glance at my considerable lengthy doctor's note from home detailing my condition, meds, procedures, etc, I was immediately whisked to a private room where I was given quicker and more efficient care than I have received at my very own ER that I've been going to for 13 years.

They placed my port without incident, drew two blood gases, started me on oxygen and antibiotics, and escorted me to a pulmonary ward upstairs where I was placed in another private room. For 9 days I was a patient and by day three, I was already fretting about the looming medical bill. I was put on the exact medicines that I receive at home so I knew how expensive this could possibly me, and I only brought $20,000 worth of health insurance with me. Once my o2 eclipsed 92% without the aid of oxygen I was discharged and allowed to board my flight back home from Paris a few days later.

Before I left, though, I had to go to "facturaziation," or billing. Sitting there with my spanish speaking friend, we anxiously looked at each other hoping my life wouldn't be drowned in a sea of medical bills. The lady furiously typed away at the computer, shaked her head a few times, and finally wrote down a number. I looked away at first. Finally, I looked down:
Total cost for 9 days in a private room, overnight stay in ER, multiple procedures involving blood gases, sputum cultures, xrays and blood, and a litany of IV meds and other assorted antibiotics: $3,400.

I almost fell out of my chair and had to ask her to repeat herself. She started laughing, "what did you expect?" I told her at home in America, my hospital stays run upwards of $100k+ with home therapy costing over $35k a week.

She printed out the receipt and my jaw dropped. Drugs that cost over a $1,000 here were $20. IV meds that didn't work were not included in the bill. No procedures were included. The ER visit and stay was free. The most expensive aspect was the room, a paltry $319 a night.

I paid with my American Express, did a happy dance, and went back to France.

Yeah, we're #1! I'm still in shock. I'm bringing the bill to my doctors appointment today.

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