So apparently dentistry really isn't free in this country. Socialist medicine? Slightly different than originally led to believe.
I thought I had gotten off scott-free when a few weeks later, I received a bill in the mail:
So that's why they really scan your medical card...it's to get all of your information...including your address, where they send you a bill later on. It's all so convenient - not needing to give your credit card information there and dealing with the receptionist again after a procedure is done. But really what they're doing is waiting to see what you really had done THEN charging you for all services rendered.
Really, it's an incredibly intelligent system.
And what makes it more intelligent is that you don't even need to send them anything else in paper - you just transfer money electronically to their bank account. The city health bank account. And then you're done forever. Your bill is paid. You owe nothing else.
It's incredible. And I dig it. The only thing to be scared about is that you'll never actually know how much you'll owe until that bill shows up in the mail. There is no catalog of procedures dictating how much things cost, they just assume you'll be able to pay for it once it arrives, since you already had it done.
From what I understand, things are at reduced cost as long as you go to a public place instead of a private one...so I guess this should be reasonable. Should be. My procedure (less than 30euros) is less than it would have been in the States (where it would have been maybe $100-200, depending on insurance coverage)...but still, there's no way to know how much this varies on a case by case basis.
So I guess I still give this entire thing the thumbs up, though it's a hesitant thumb. Let's just hope that no more procedures are necessary, so this situation can be avoided in the future. It's great to know the system works, and it works pretty well, but in general, I'd rather not have to use it.