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S.O.S. Mayor Delano and President Sarkozy! It’s an Emergency!

My daughter woke up Sunday morning with chills, fever, sore throat, a congested and runny nose and every symptom classic of “Le Rhume.” A search on the Net said that there are close to 200 types of virus that can cause it, usually lasting four or five days. Ugh…for a 22-year-old not used to sitting still for more than 15 minutes.

Sunday is a hell of a day to get sick, too — normally the doctor isn’t “in.”

Thank goodness, in France, the doctor is always “in” — at least, when you call “SOS Medicins.”

SOS Medicins is a nationwide “house-call” service founded in 1966 by a doctor named Lascar who had a patient die of a heart attack because he couldn’t find a doctor on a Saturday afternoon. (He should try Sunday — it’s much worse!)

The way it works is simple. If you’re in Paris, you dial either or and provide them with your address. Within one hour (usually about 30 minutes), a doctor knocks on your door. He’s carrying a bag of goodies, just like doctors used to carry (am I revealing my age?) and he/she does what doctors do…examine you. Then the doc on house call prescribes — medicine or ambulance or whatever is necessary.

He also filled out a “feuille de soin” (a form attesting to the visit) that
allows the visit to be fully reimbursable by social security or private medical insurance. Before the doc leaves, you pay by check or cash — usually a very reasonable fee. Yesterday’s visit was the most I’d ever paid — 70 ‘whopping’ euros. The whole process took a total of one hour and we were left with a prescription for four drugs and instructions to keep ‘miss antsy pants’ in bed for three days.

So, if this had happened to you in the U.S., what would you have done and how would you have been taken care of? According to George W. Bush, who won the coveted “Clueless Quote of the Day” from Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post for this gem of a quote, “The immediate goal is to make sure there are more people on private insurance plans. I mean, people have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room.”

Just what emergency rooms need…lots of runny-nosed patients in need of a prescription. Is that what you would have done? And how much would it have cost? Would your insurance have covered it? And if it had, how much does your insurance cost?

Just to make you really jealous, private health care insurance for those without the French Social Security is so inexpensive it’s going to shock you. The annual premium of the “Jefferson Health Care Plan” private insurance offered by “Adinas” insurance brokers for those my age (50 to 64) is the ‘break-the-bank’ sum of 1,692€ (141€ per month). Add dental coverage and it’s a ‘painful’ 393€ more. Believe it or not, the policy reimburses 100% of billings up to 100% of the French Social Security tariffs, plus 80% of billings up to three times the cost of the French Social Security tariffs (20% co-insurance), plus 40% reimbursement of billings between up to six times the cost of the French Social Security tariffs (60% co-insurance). Uh oh. There’s no reimbursement of billings above six times the cost of the French Social Security tariff! (Adinas Insurance, email [email protected], 17 rue de Chateaudun, 75009 Paris, Tel:

Are we complaining? Well, yes, in fact. Because once the doctor had left, I set out to find a pharmacy on a Sunday morning. This is where the system breaks down. I walked all over the neighborhood only to find every big green neon cross (that signifies a pharmacy) dark and not being its normal flashing self. I called SOS Medicins who couldn’t say where to find a pharmacy except one known to be open 24 hours a day on boulevard de Sébastopol. They suggested looking at the windows of the closed pharmacies for an emergency number. After another round to the pharmacies unsuccessfully, I gave up and went home to search the Net.

It wasn’t easy, but out of 1131 listed in “” in Paris, there are only 21 that are open Sunday and only one that delivers. I trekked down to boulevard de Sébastopol and within a few moments, the four items of medication were in a bag (paracetamol, antibiotics for 10 days, cough syrup and a prednisone), the pharmacist was explaining how to take the drugs and all for a total charge of 20€!

Okay, guess how much the same drugs would have been in the U.S.? My guess — maybe more than 10 times that!

But…(I’m talking to you, France!), it’s pathetic that so few pharmacies are open on Sunday! There should be at least one in each district quadrant! No?

HELP MAYOR DELANOË AND PRESIDENT SARKOZY! What good is it being the Number One health care system in the world, having a superior house-call program like SOS Medicins, but not being able to supply the medication? What’s the problem here? Can’t the pharmacies take turns being open? Can’t they be posted on every pharmacy window? Can’t there be a Web site where they are easy to find?

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

P.S. A few announcements:

1. If you haven’t already signed up, do so now for Judith Merian’s
Screenwriters Workshop this coming Saturday: “Plot the Perfect Crime and Find Fame and Fortune.” Visit /frenchproperty/conference/ for more information.

2. Stop in tomorrow to Parler Paris Après Midi to meet other readers. Visit /parlerparis/apresmidi.html for more information.

Erica on Canvas3. To all those in New York City, Roebling Hall is proud to present Facebook Profiles, a new exhibition opening Thursday, April 10th of Paul Campbell’s paintings and among them is Erica Simone Leeds on canvas! Roebling Hall, 606 West 26th Street, New York, NY 10001, Tel: 212.929.8180,

4. Scroll down to see our new rental apartment listing!: La Bonne Nobel


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