Going to the doctor in Chile

Well now. There certainly is NOTHING more pleasant about being a woman than the annual visit to the hoo-ha doctor.

And as much as I usually hated it in the U.S., I was 2.2 seconds away from freaking out about it here in Chile since today was my first doctor’s appointment since moving here and as luck would OF COURSE have it, THAT was the first doctor I had to see. Oy.

You’ve heard (or read) my rants about the inefficiencies here and trust me there are tons. The bureaucracy that exists here to do the simplest of deeds leaves the U.S. in the scope of living, say, in Candy Land. I was expecting the same thing when visiting the doctor, but I was, thankfully, pleasantly surprised.

To begin, contrary to the norm in the U.S. (and thus all I’ve know), “clinics” in Chile = good and “hospitals” in Chile = not so good and even bad. I realize that there are people that aren’t fortunate enough to go to clinics and thus may have a completely different version of events I’m about to describe. However, I went to Clinica Las Condes which is by far, the most modern, efficient and aesthetically pleasing medical facility I’ve ever visited. Granted, it’s one of the top medical centers in the country so of course, what was I expecting? Cows in the lobby? Probably.

But that certainly wasn’t the case.
I located the appropriate building (there are many) and the floor where my appointment was and checked in by introducing myself and merely placing my right forefinger on a sensor. With that, and the equivalent of my SSN, the medical attendant located all the information they needed about me on the computer screen in front of her: my age, where I live, my contact info, the doctor I was seeing, what I was seeing the doctor about, my insurance and hell, probably my bra size!

The doctor was running a little late but when we were finally escorted back, I was expecting a regular exam room where I’d find the usual patient half-bed covered by white paper, cupboards (gray), a scale, a blood pressure machine, etc, etc and a computer and chair for the Doctor. This is what I saw back home. However HERE, we were escorted into the doctor’s OFFICE. Yeah…OFFICE. Now, call me crazy and perhaps unfortunate but I don’t think I’ve EVER been in a doctor’s OFFICE. In the 50s and other decades I’m sure, this was probably normal, right? I mean, I see it on Mad Men so it must have been real. Anyway, the doctor’s office was connected to the doctor’s personal exam room, which also had it’s own, private bathroom. Um what?! It’s like as big as my apartment back in CA!!

The cool thing was that she sat down with US – not just me, but US – and asked me all kinds of questions and took her time to get to know me. What? I’m not being shuffled in and out of an exam room as if on a conveyor belt? And the thing is, after hearing me out, hearing my past, hearing about my plans for the future, jotting down family history, etc, etc she didn’t just decide to do a regular exam but she asked for tests and exams that I’ve never had done in my life! [Ex: I come from a long line of diabetics in my family and though I don’t currently have diabetes, I have to take blood tests ALL THE TIME in order to monitor this. She asked for a test that involves my blood being taken on an empty stomach AND a test where they themselves give me sugar and test how my blood reacts to that sugar while still in my system!] Sure it MIGHT sound to some like too much trouble, but I was stoked! A doctor actually CARES?! Wow.

This did have a hefty price though and I felt it. I have insurance (however, should you have an issue with your insurance for any reason, the clinics conveniently allow insurance or “isapre” companies small desks/office areas on the premises of said clinic – imagine if we had that in the States!) but unfortunately my “isapre” only covers 60-70% of the costs. That means that the remaining amount comes out of pocket! Ouch! I do have the option to have some of the more day-to-day exams done by smaller clinics (not affiliated to the one I went to today) and that will save me ton. And instead of having the tests results “forwarded” to my doctor, I pick it up instead and make an appointment to see my doctor after I have them. Thus I save the cost of being forced to take these tests at the expensive clinic. So on one end, they do allow some flexibility.

But I’m done boring you to tears about the in’s and out’s of going to the doctor in Chile. All you need to know is that there aren’t cows in the lobby and I didn’t have to sit in the waiting room with a woman holding a rooster.
It seems I’ll actually be able to go to the doctor and have things flow… well at least this seems to be the case on the UBER expensive end. We’ll see what it’s like when I go to the less expensive clinics to get tests taken. It might be a WHOLE different ballgame.

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5 thoughts on “Going to the doctor in Chile

  1. Hahahaha, lucky, this was NOT my experience and I dont know if I'll ever go back to that type of doctor here. A lot seemed the same as what you write about, like giong into the actual office, but my doctor didn't ask me a thing about myself or my medical past. In fact, he didn't ask me a darn thing about why I was at his office, which was for a urinary tract infection, he just wanted to talk about gringas and his english. Finally after about 20 min of that i started trying to change the subject back to my health, but he wouldn't respond to that (Seriously it was like "another interesting thing is that gringas love halloween" "doctor, seriously, it burns when i pee" "oh, here in chile we dont really celebrate halloween…" etc). Then abruptly after never talking about my health at all he suddenly said he had other patients to see and handed me a slip of paper and rambled some directions about tests and pharmacies and making another appointment as he shoved me out the door. Obviously I skipped that second appointment and just begged the pharmacist to interpret my lab results herself!

    …Maybe I should get insurance and go to the fancy cilnic. You do make it sound surprisingly above expectations.

  2. Good to know! I've heard some not so nice medical experiences in Chile and I was dreading going to the "hoo-ha" doctor! I'll have to keep Clinica Las Condes in mind.

  3. I went to a doctor two years ago (oops!) at the Colegio de Ginecologos who was fine but nothing special (the place was recommended by a tia, but her doc was on vacation). Will be switching now that I have Isapre.

    Clinica Las Condes and Clinica Alemana are supposed to be the best, and as you said, you pay for that. I've never been to either and don't see a need to. My Isapre gives me a convenio with Clinica Indisa, which is still a good, modern place where I feel like the equipment is up to standard and the doctors know what they're doing. Also, I like having my regular place reasonably close to my house – if something happens (like I fall off my bike and need stitches…not that I've ever done that, of course) I'm close to a place I'm familiar with rather than having to go somewhere new or make the long drive up to Las Condes. Of course if they actually were more advanced in a treatment I needed, I wouldn't hesitate to head to CLC or Alemana and be thankful I could afford it!

    To put it in Bay Area terms, I'd say it's like going to Palo Alto Medical Foundation for the usual stuff but having the knowledge that if you need some cutting-edge procedure Stanford's right there 🙂

  4. DUDE. That was NOT my experience at the hoo-ha doctor. It's a bad memory so Ive tried to block it out but I'll tell you in person when we finally meet (how's that for first introductions. Hi, I'd love to be your wedding photographer. But first, let me tell you about the time I had a doc. appt. with the most violenta doctor in all of Chile!).

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