Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Vile bodies

People tell me they are never swayed by advertising. Not me; I see an ad for something that looks useful and I'm there. That spray to stop the water stains on the glass shower screen, for instance, is great.

I saw an advert for some stuff to stop fungus growing on your toe nails. I hadn't realised that I had fungussy feet till I saw the advert. Gross. I just thought it was, well something else. So adverts are informative too. My feet and hands tingle a lot, it's not exactly painful but it's not nice either. The last time I asked a doctor about it he or she (I forget which) told me it wasn't anything that showed up on tests, none of those normal but nasty things like diabetes. Their expert advice was that I put it down to getting older, grin and bear it. Last night on the telly I saw an advert where some people were grimacing as they twiddled their feet or shook their hands. The advert described circulation problems being eased by their medication. It looked like me.

I went to the chemist today and asked for the circulation stuff by name and, whilst I was there, something for the fungus and a box of aspirin. The forty three euros price was a bit of a shock but not exactly a surprise. Prescription drugs are charged at different rates depending on your circumstances. Don't quote me on this but I think that the very rich have to pay 60% of the cost, normal level workers either 40% or 50% and pensioners 10%. Some people are exempt of all charges. The prices for these prescription drugs always seem reasonable to me, I remember some antibiotics were about 3€ so the full price must be around 7.50€. Mind you I don't need stuff every week nor have I ever needed anything exotic. On the other hand over the counter stuff, the throat sweets, the cold remedies, the antiseptic creams and the like are exactly the opposite. "What!?" - "Eleven euros for some crushed paracetomol with a lemon flavour?" That's why the price didn't surprise me.

Like I say I don't go to pharmacies very often. Thankfully I go to the doctor's even less. There is a free health service here just as in the UK, at least it's free for me because I pay my social security and so I'm covered. British pensioners are covered by the health system too through EU legislation. There is a registration process, which I hear is pretty lengthy, but, in the end, it allows the UK to pay the Spanish Government for any treatment given to UK pensioners without the individuals having to pay. Lots and lots of Spaniards believe that older Britons come to Spain specifically to take advantage of the healthcare system and no number of official statistics will ever persuade them otherwise. There are lots of people who aren't entitled to free healthcare and there are lots of contradictory reports about the right to healtcare and to emergency treatment because rules keep changing about either excluding or including non legal residents, about including or excluding the long term unemployed etcetera. Often in these news reports there is no link made between health care rights and payment. I suspect, though I don't know, that although nobody will be left to bleed to death that doesn't mean there won't be a big bill afterwards.

Just to round off, neither everyday dentistry nor eyecare are included in the free system. I'm talking about fillings or a crown and getting yourself some nice new specs, not about cataract operations or jaw rebuilds. Opticians are just as bandit like as in the UK. I was quoted 936€ for a pair of specs and ended up paying about 500€. Dentistry seems pretty inexpensive to me. There is a lot of competition which keeps costs down so that a decent crown costs around 180€ and a filling is in the 30-40€ bracket.

I'm sure that pretty soon, as the months and years roll by, I'll become much more au fait with Spanish healthcare.

1 comment:

John Moore said...

Trish has just spent over £2,500 quid on her teeth, Chris, so think yourself lucky. I try to obtain any treatment I need in Spain due to the price but recently had a bit of an emergency which ended up costing about £400 !