Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Spending Some Time With Free Brasilian Healthcare

One of the nice things about being Brasilian is the free healthcare.

We got to test it out last night when we took Gabi to the community hospital. Her fever had come back with a vengeance, and along with her cold and vomiting, we just wanted to make sure that it wasn't something else. Like malaria or meningitis.

(A mom's mind wanders to things like malaria when in a foreign country with a sick child!)

We walked up to the registration desk and got Gabi signed in. Not even a minute later we were ushered into the back to see a pediatrician. She sent us for x-rays, which were immediately developed and handed to us to take back. After looking at the x-rays, a prescription was written, and we were on our way! In all, about 25 minutes.

My BIL told me it's different for adults, who often have to wait 8 hours or more to be seen. But children are considered top priority and seen right away. It's why my in-laws also have private health insurance and get to go to the swanky hospital.

Despite the great care, it was still shocking to see the condition the hospital was in. Plaster was peeling off the walls, used paper towels that hadn't made it into the trash bin were scattered on the floor in the exam room. The lighting was terrible, and there wasn't a computer in sight.

It was also strange to see all the hospital workers, including the doctors and techs, wearing street clothes. The pediatrician was even wearing flip flops!

But free is free. If we hadn't been satisfied with the care there, we had planned to go to my in-laws' hospital and pay out of pocket. I'm so glad that wasn't necessary.

At the pharmacy, we got Gabi's three prescriptions (an antibiotic for her sinus infection, a fever reducer and an expectorant for all the snot inside her) and I had to make a chart when we got home to keep track of when to give her each one and how much! One is every eight hours, one is every twelve, and the last is every six, each with different doses.

Gaib is already feeling much better, and I can now relax knowing she didn't pick up some mosquito transmited tropical disease while we were at my BIL's beach house. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that she's free of snot by the time we get on the plane to go home next Monday. Planes and sick kids do not mix well.


  1. oh, I'm so glad she's feeling better. It is scary and your mind does start to go nuts. We are unfortunately in a dengue and yellow fever zone - the later of which I've been vaccinated against. You're not thank goodness, but still you worry.

    It is by no means perfect, but I have been very impressed with the public health care here. That she could be seen that quickly for free without even registering with SUS is wonderful. I have private health insurance, but I also have a SUS card. Where my private leaves off, SUS sometimes picks up - especially with prescriptions (certain medications are classified as high cost and the government covers them.) They even covered me before I got my residency papers.

    The US doesn't even come close to that, even if the hospitals have spankin fresh coast of paint.

    Our last year in New York we were both denied NY state subsidized health insurance even though we were both out of work and made under the cut off. Our rent was too high they said, so we must be getting help from somewhere. (Our credit cards! Hello!)

    It was a big factor that pushed us in the direction of moving here. Especially after spending a miserable night in Belvue when Carlos got a kidney stone... I'd take a SUS hospital any day over the looney toons at Belllvue!

    Glad she's doing better!

  2. Aww...SO glad she's doing better!! Glad it's not malaria, too!!

    Sending you snot-free thoughts...

  3. I am glad that your daughter is feeling better. I would be freaking out if my kids got sick over seas!!

  4. Glad she's feeling better. My Legare got sick on his study abroad in London last year and had a pleasant experience with the public health system there. Every time I say anything to our friends about how wonderful it was they call me a Socialist...oh well...It WAS a good they want me to LIE about it??

  5. Glad she's feeling better. My Legare got sick on his study abroad in London last year and had a pleasant experience with the public health system there. Every time I say anything to our friends about how wonderful it was they call me a Socialist...oh well...It WAS a good they want me to LIE about it??

  6. Poor sweetie, that's no fun to go through that while on vacation. And poor you!! I can relate, as my littlest one was very sick last week and we took her to the ER here in Canada. We were seen immediately, b/c she had a high fever and was so young . . . and everything was free. Our health care is far, far from perfect, but I know there are times that I take it for granted.

    Glad Gabi is starting to feel better!!

  7. Glad she is feeling better! Poor thing, fevers are terrible! I bet she was glad to get a relief from some medicine! And lets hope she feels better on the plane! It is TERRIBLE to fly with congestion, you feel like your head is going to explode!

  8. Well, I didnt leave that very positively...So...what I meant to say is:

    Don't worry, she'll be GREAT by the time you get to next monday, those medicines will quick in, in NO time! :)

    And glad you had a good experience with the healthcare, that's always positive!

  9. The trip to the hospital sounds like quite an adventure! Glad that she's feeling better :)

  10. Yay!for Gabi feeling better. Your description of a Brazilian hospital sounds exactly like a county hospital in the U.S. Sad but true.

  11. Hope your daughter continues to feel better. I agree. When you get sick around here the mind starts to wonder about what you can have that we've never seen sight of in the US.

    It was interesting to read your hospital experiences. I've always heard that the free healthcare is not good at all. Fortunately we have private insurance through my husband's employer, and I hope I never have the chance to use it.

  12. Poor thing! Hope she is doing much better today!

  13. So glad you didn't have to wait long, and that Gabi is already feeling better. Also, I am loving your glimpses into Brazilian have such an eye for detail!

  14. I can't get over the doctors in flip flops here in Paraguay. Here you can pay for good health care, but the workers tend to be more casual. Its an interesting system

  15. Oh! I'm glad it was just a little sinus issue and not the scary stuff! LOL

    I can't believe it's almost time for you to come home! Wow! Are you ready?

  16. Good to hear that Gabi is feeling better!

  17. 8 hours wait for adults? huh, sounds a lot like OUR emergency rooms!

    Glad she's feeling better and that everything went quickly for her! That's reassuring!

  18. I hope Gabi is back to herself now. Its no fun being sick, much less in another country. What an experience. Hope you guys have a safe trip back. ;)

  19. I'm late in commenting: Hope your return trip was problem-free and that Gabi is better.

    A comment about the "free" healthcare: it's not really "free." I mean, SOMEBODY is paying for it, probably through high taxes. Americans always lament how expensive our healthcare is and how Canada (and other countries) have free and excellent healthcare, but their taxes are astronomical. Americans seem want "free" healthcare but don't want to pay for it through taxes.

  20. Glad to hear Gabi was seen to ASAP over there.

    I hate to say it, but the state of the hospital there is not altogether too different from hospitals in other countries where health care is nationalized.

    I spent more time than I care to recount in British hospitals and even visited one in France and whilst I appreciated not having to deal with things like insurance cards and copays, I was a bit shocked at how long it took to be seen and the less than stellar appearance of the facilities.

    I have been in very nice British hospitals...just outside of London and another in Wiltshire after a fall at Stonehenge nearly took one of my fingers off...and they were well kept and had pleasant surroundings...however a large percentage of people who are seen at both facilities carry something called BUPA which is the equivalent of British Private Insurance and it's pretty pricey!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.