14 Comments

  1. Avatar Laurel Barton
    July 7, 2017 @ 9:22 am

    We had terrific experiences with healthcare in Italy. It is one of the positive aspects of our life there that I miss. We were not on the national health plan since we weren’t on a permesso that long (several years as US embassy employees), but our private U.S. insurance kicked in and covered most everything we needed. No doubt the insurer was delighted since Italian doctors’ fees are so modest by comparison. Although our insurance still serves us well in the U.S., we can see the fees for services are insane here. What a racket! And in Italy we had quality time with doctors, not the 15-minut bites one gets in the U.S. We have joked about setting up annual appointments with our doctors in Italy and just making an annual trip for medical purposes.

    Interestingly dental services were more expensive in Italy. No deals there.

    Reply

    • Avatar Guðmundur
      July 15, 2017 @ 8:20 am

      good luck with your eye

      Reply

  2. Avatar Donald King
    July 7, 2017 @ 9:38 am

    Getting older sucks…but look on the bright side, you can still see and your hernia is “too small.” Good luck with everything!!

    Reply

  3. Avatar natalie marchetta looman
    July 7, 2017 @ 9:53 am

    “Insightful” article, thank you for sharing. I too have had varied healthcare experiences while living in Italy….however the same is true relative to my experiences in the US…at an exceptionally higher cost. As is true everywhere, we must research extensively and be educated consumers, especially with our healthcare!
    Wishing you much luck in the search for the right team of professionals to aid you with your vision.

    in bocca al lupo~
    nml

    Reply

  4. Avatar Jen Leslie
    July 7, 2017 @ 12:57 pm

    Ciao John,

    I had heart palpitations just reading about the scare with your eye! I’m happy to hear you are getting some answers. It’s not surprising your U.S.-based insurance doesn’t cover what you need. (Curious, after being a resident for the past few years, why do you carry U.S. based insurance?) I think that MRI estimate is conservative – about 1/2 of what I’ve seen. Your glasses look great!

    Reply

    • Avatar Christopher
      July 9, 2017 @ 12:38 pm

      From 2004 to 2014 we lived in Malta, Sicily and then Portugal. We are moving back to Portugal to retire as soon as our house in Virginia sells. I could write a book about my experiences in the healthcare systems of the above as well as Germany. I had a spinal cord injury that could’ve/maybe should’ve made me quadriplegic in 1983. It was misdiagnosed here in the US for 15 years despite seeing a small army of specialists over that time who regularly insulted me, ignored me or gave me the brush off. No one ever took an x-ray or did an MRI in those 15 years. I ended up having 2 spinal surgeries, one in Virginia in 1998 and one in Munich in 2007. Because of the delay I have serious, permanent neurological damage. The experience was like night and day. In my opinion the US system is a thinly disguised form of racketeering. I will be 60 this year. There is only one participating insurance company in the area. 90% of the medical care in central Virginia is through the university of Virginia system. Our insurer informed me that they will no longer cover ANYTHING that is through the U VA system and that next year our policy, (for 2), will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $24,000 a year with a $10,000 deductible each. In 2014 I had 2 MRI’s in Evora, Portugal. 1 for my spine and one for my brain. I had private insurance through AXA, London that paid for both and the private hospital that I went to gave me a discount for getting 2! 175 Euros each. A regular blood test at the same private hospital, a complete metabolic panel with lipid and hormone screening is 60 euros. Last year here in the US the same exact test was billed to my insurance company for $2,000. It’s criminal. (Your glasses are awesome).

      Reply

      • John Henderson John Henderson
        July 10, 2017 @ 1:37 am

        Racketeering? Great comparison. I always wondered why so many people have so many of the same surgeries on the same body part. Don’t they ever get it right the first time? Or, as you suggest, they just leave a little left undone so they can go back in again? Your anecdotes were fantastic. Thanks. I hope a lot of people read them.

        Reply

    • Avatar L. Gerloff
      July 15, 2017 @ 8:55 am

      I’m just curious: Are you officially an Italian citizen? Can any American simply move to Italy and get access to the Italian health care system?

      Reply

      • John Henderson John Henderson
        July 15, 2017 @ 10:57 am

        I’m not an Italian citizen. I don’t even have an official resident’s card. All I have is a Permesso di Soggiorno, which is permission to stay in Italy. I have to renew it every one or two years. I was as surprised as you are that I had access to the system. However, Italians with family doctors pay less for medicine and other services. I plan on getting my own family doctor Jan. 1.

        Reply

  5. Avatar Christopher Hyland
    July 10, 2017 @ 5:13 am

    Thanks John,

    The surgery in 1998 was indeed not complete. I made some calls to the University of Virginia hospital administration office and the neurosurgeon’s office and pushed for answers. Among my questions were why after a difficult 5 hour surgery that ended at 10PM they tried to throw me out of the hospital at 6 AM the next morning. (I managed to hold them off until 9 AM) I had to push hard but I finally spoke, off the record, with a billing nurse who told me that the insurance company insisted they do a “quick and dirty” and get me out of the hospital before the bill went up. In 2007 I was fortunate to have a referral from a very good Maltese surgeon, who looked at my MRI which showed my spinal canal in my neck was at that point 90% compressed and the cerebral spinal fluid was not able to pass the block, and he called Munich and set me up with one of the finest neurosurgeons in the world. In Munich I was in the private hospital wing, they were extremely thorough, the room was like a 5 star hotel, and it was a suite so my wife could stay next door in a beautiful room with a stocked mini fridge and, essentially room service. The surgeons operating equipment was made for him personally by the medical division at Carl Zeiss optics. It allowed him to operate down to 1/10,000th of an inch accuracy. They kept me for a week after the operation. They wanted to keep me for 3 weeks but it was olive harvest in Sicily and we needed to get back to our farm. The entire cost was paid by AXA insurance, London. The cost was 19,000 Euros. I have been told that here in the USA it would have been more than 100,000 dollars.

    Reply

    • John Henderson John Henderson
      July 10, 2017 @ 6:10 am

      Amazing recovery story, Christopher! The Munich hospital sounds remarkable. How’d you find out about AXA insurance in London and how much is it a year? I may not re-up with International Medical Group. Also, how much good did the operation do? You said you still have pain?

      Reply

  6. Avatar Christopher Hyland
    July 10, 2017 @ 8:04 am

    John,

    When we were living in Malta we needed private insurance and the best fit for us was Atlas Insurance. When we moved to Sicily we needed to replace that coverage and it turned out that Atlas was a part of AXA so I looked up AXA online and found their PPP International cover. It was great insurance and because we had not lapsed in coverage they did not hit me with a pre-existing clause. In fact the operation in Munich was only about 6 months after we started with AXA. Back then you could choose the Europe only cover and for the 2 of us it started out at around $1,500 each, no deductibles, very little co-pay and for most things 100% cover. When we came back to the US in 2014 it had increased to about $3,000 each. I would look them up online and then give them a call.

    The surgery in Munich saved my life. There are still a lot of muscle spasms and the last 10 years or so it’s obvious that there is also autonomic damage which is frankly quite challenging to live with. It’s kind of an ambulatory quadriplegia which has a lot of overlaps with the shock wave damage that football players suffer from. One appears quite healthy and fit but the truth is something else.

    Reply

  7. Avatar hope
    September 16, 2017 @ 11:15 pm

    hi…enjoyed the post on the young pope as an extra. just watched the whole thing. beautiful.

    re: your eyes. there is an herb. Triphala…actually 3 herbs in one. can get it online at http://vadikherbs.com/?s=triphala&lang=en. take a teaspoon or less, soak in water overnight. then rinse eyes w it in am (some strain the liquid, or just spoon it out – may want to use one of those eye cups). also useful, yoga or whatever to invert oneself – have blood run to the head. it gets the blood to the eyes. even one week of inverted for 13 min….building up to that amount over a few days will make a marked improvement in the eyes.

    Reply

  8. Avatar hope
    September 16, 2017 @ 11:17 pm

    eyes: https://lifespa.com/home-ayurvedic-eye-treatment-ghee-netra-tarpana/ – another option. May you see better very soon. Pray for eye healing-the attention on the eyes will help.

    Reply

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