I've formed quite a strong opinion about the Dutch health care system since I've been here. Up until 2 years ago the country used socialized medicine. Now every person (resident and expat) has to purchase their own health insurance, and are obligated to do so. Employers may or may not offer health insurance, but the employer only covers a minimal portion of the cost of the insurance, if any at all. The most basic of the 'basic' insurance plans cost 85 Euros a month.
That being said, the type of medicine provided still has the feel of socialized medicine. Each person is required to have a home doctor, the first line support in their medical needs. The home doctor will then refer the individual to a more specialized doctor if needed. The individual's home doctor must work no further than 1 kilometer from the individual's residence, in case the doctor needs to make a house call. That doesn't provide one with many options.
Last year I had my first encounter with my home doctor. My confidence in her medical knowledge wasn't very strong after that visit. So, when my mom (who's a nurse practitioner) persistently urged me on a weekly basis to get my iron levels checked, because I have anemia, I didn't immediately pick up the phone to make an appointment. I wasn't thrilled at the thought of visiting my doctor again. I managed to pushed off making the appointment for months, but finally took the plunge this week.
This time my expectations for the visit were not as high, and the doctor managed to fulfill every one of them. As I stepped into her office she shook my hand, which was the only contact we made. She sat down at her desk, and I sat on the other side. Our conversation was as follows:
me - "I have low iron/anemia, and would like to get my levels checked."
Dr -"Oh yeah? And are you taking medicine?"
me - "Iron pills."
Dr - "And you still have the problem?"
me - "Yeah"
Dr - "Wait...what?"
me - quizzical look in response to her quizzical look
Dr - "Why do you have the anemia?"
me - (in a half chuckle) "uh... I don't know, I just do."
Dr - "Well, what's caused it?"
me - "Um, probably the low iron in my blood?"
Dr - (again) "And you're taking meds?"
me - (again) "Just the iron pills."
Dr - (again) "And that hasn't resolved the issue?"
me - "no!"
Dr - "It's strange that the medicine hasn't resolved the issue."
me - blank stare, since I'm afraid if I open my mouth I'll say exactly what I'm thinking.
Dr - "And how long has this been going on?"
me - (in a state of disbelief that this conversation has lasted this long) "My whole life."
Dr - "Is it genetic?"
me - "Uh, yeah... sure."
Dr - "Does anyone else in your family take medicine for it?"
me -"No, just me... and really, I'd just like to get my levels tested... that's all."
And after another minute or two of useless banter, she finally gave me a form that I needed to take to the health center to get my blood drawn.