Not prepared for this “Private Doctor” experience

Today I needed a doctor.  I had a popping in my ears for days, but today the pressure, pain and hearing loss was unbearable!  I needed to see someone right away!  It has been difficult for me to find a doctor using our insurance because the few times I called the main number, the prompts were all in Hebrew.  There had not been any serious health issues to this point, so I put It off.  

In Israel, you can also pay for doctors privately. Our insurance plan also allows for some reimbursement when you play for private doctor visits. With the reimbursement, it turns out to be roughly what a Copay is in the states.

Today it didn’t matter if it was through our insurance, private or an emergency room clinic!  I just needed to see a doctor!  I called a few places and could not get anything until the next day.  I had Jim and his colleagues also looking for me since they could get further than I could without speaking Hebrew.

I had an Israeli babysitter working for me this day and told her about my issue. After a few short phone calls, she was able to get me and appointment in about an hour and a half with a private doctor. The bonus was he was located near the soccer field where I had to drop off my daughter for soccer practice. I was not prepared for what came next.

Luckily the babysitter offered to drop Summer off and drive me to the doctor since it was my first time.  It was also taking a minute to translate the address into English from Hebrew. We arrived at what looked like a high rise apartment complex. She pointed out the building and I went inside.   Inside, it still did not look anything like a clinic and a lot like a small apartment building lobby. I asked the janitor in the lobby if this was an office building and he looked at me strangely.  I realized he didn’t understand my English. Since I knew I was not at a clinic,  I went to the building next door.   I was even more confused because this was DEFINITELY an apartment building!  It wasn’t open like the first building and I needed a code to enter. I went back to the babysitter’s  car and told her it was the wrong building. She got out of the car and went inside herself. She came back and assured me it was the right place. “Just go to second floor and it’s apartment number 5.” Apartment 5?  

At apartment 5, a nice elderly man came to the door, escorted me inside the apartment and took me back to a small room beside his living room with a desk and a chair.  He sat behind the desk and asked me where I was from. After I told him America, he quickly told me his girlfriend was black and from Kenya. Next, he asked me if my husband was Israeli and how long we had been married. I thought this strange to get so personal so quick with the doctor I had just met in his apartment to diagnose my ear situation.  But, I realize I am not in America anymore and the whole apartment thing was still a shock to me!  The doctor asked me to come to the chair so he could examine my ears. After doing this, he had a fast diagnosis that I had an ear infection. He quickly filled out paperwork for the bill and wrote a prescription. The doctor reminded me my 750 nis payment had to be in cash. The babysitter has told me this before we left, but I wrongly assumed cash meant I could use my debit card. In Israel, CASH MEANS CASH!  Luckily, I had taken out cash earlier that day to pay the babysitter and I had enough to take care of the bill.

While he was filling out the paperwork, I noticed two photos of Benjamin Netanyahu on his wall.  He told me Netanyahu was one of his patients and how much he loved him AND Trump. He uttered a Hebrew word for “crazy”‘referring to Trump, but said he loved him and how he protects Israel. We had another longer conversation about politics before I left. The doctor invited me back to talk more about politics not as a patient.  He was a nice man and asked me to call in 3 days to let me know if my ear was better.

This entire experience was very strange for me being an American. I have never visited a doctors’ personal apartment for an appointment and then handed over CASH for payment. I can’t lie, it felt strange. I’m told this is typical for private doctors in Israel. It’s just another thing that I guess I will have to get used to when #notinamericaanymore.

Does this ring a bell? Have something to share?