I'm back (at least I hope I am). Being sick, solo parenting, Kyra finishing the December run of her play and Allen getting sick have all thrown my life and schedule out of whack.
As I have recently had much experience with doctors and healthcare I'll start with that topic and work my way back into daily life and Belgian experiences.
Our main healthcare resource is the SHAPE medical clinic. This clinic serves all SHAPE families (except probably the Belgians). For the Americans it is part of the US military health care facilities around the world. Appointments, lab work, x-rays and prescription medications and over the counter medications are all paid for with tax dollars. So thank you for paying your taxes, we certainly appreciate the healthcare.
The SHAPE clinic handles much of the routine stuff a general practice/urgent care center could handle. The kids got their school physicals there, Allen gets his asthma meds there and I've been treated for a UTI and whatever I'm still battling there.
In September I started experiencing shortness of breath issues (which I now believe were caused by bathroom cleaners but this is undetermined). I saw a couple of doctors there (one Italian, one American) who gave me asthma meds but also realized they needed a bit more information.
There is no pulmonologist at SHAPE clinic, thus they had to refer me out on the local economy. There are staff at the clinic who make the calls to set up the appointments. They work with doctors who speak at least some English.
In Belgium the specialists work at the hospital. Thus when I went for my appointment I went to the hospital. (Now I know how to get there) There is a check-in system involving numbered tickets - like a meat counter at the grocery store.
After checking in I was directed to a different waiting area than the ticket waiting area. There my doctor came to get me. I met with the doctor as well as a technician who administered a breathing test. Even though I am still coughing, these tests indicated all is well.
I left without paying for anything. I am not clear if SHAPE clinic will be billed or if I will receive a bill later or if there won't be any bill. I'll let you know what happens (if it is notable).
Anyways next step is back to the referring doctor at SHAPE to see what follow-up if any is necessary. As all is well, I'm not sure there is any necessary next step. I think the answer to the issue is for me to stop cleaning the bathroom.
So there you go - SHAPE and Belgian healthcare. So far no out of pocket expenses and what I would call a good standard of care (and I'm pretty picky).