I lived in The Netherlands for a year, in Amsterdam specifically. Although I wasn’t treated for SLE there (I had a rheumatologist back home I visited twice during my time in Holland and was aware where the nearest hospital was that focused on SLE treatment if needed), I did have several bladder infections that required repeated visits to the doctor.
Although I don’t speak a word of Dutch (well, that is an exaggeration, but I don’t speak enough to get by in a doctor’s appointment), a translator was never necessary as most Amsterdammers have excellent English skills.
During my visits, I was never examined. Ever. Each time, it was extremely business-like. I would be called over the loudspeaker in Dutch, the receptionist would watch me fumble, and then she would call me in English.
I would sit down with the doctor who sat at a desk and discussed my symptoms. Sometimes, I would pee in a cup and hand it to a woman downstairs who would test it and confirm or deny my bladder infection. If I did have one, I would be given a prescription to have filled at my local pharmacy and it never cost more than a few euros.
I would also visit the doctor for my lupus medication, and he or she would look at my previous prescriptions and simply order the medications to my pharmacy. Again, these were just a few euros each.
In Holland, everyone is required to have health insurance, which is a move America is trying to mimic. However, health insurance premiums are paid once a year instead of a once a month. It cost me, in 2011, around €1000 for my healthcare. After that, sometimes there were small fees to see the doctor and apparently in Holland, you are able to get supplementary “private” insurance that will cover all costs (please correct me if I am wrong). If you are unable to afford healthcare, the government will assist you with payments.
Because I experienced severe lupus symptoms in Hungary, I had to see several healthcare specialists both in the private and public sector. Although the government provides healthcare for those who work (if you do not have a job you are not covered, much like the United States, however healthcare costs are much cheaper for those not covered and a hospital stay can run you less than $500 for several nights — but being that the average salary of a teacher when I lived there was $550 a month, it makes it very difficult for Hungarians without coverage to afford access to healthcare), when I first arrived in Hungary, my job of teaching English to students had not yet begun.
This meant that when I came down with bronchitis (and had to take my first week off of work), I had to see a private healthcare physician who typically catered to foreigners. I paid out of pocket for this service, but I don’t remember it costing a significant amount.
During my brush with the Hungarian private healthcare system, I did not need a translator as everyone spoke English to a very high degree. Everything was clean and to the standards one would expect, coming from North America or Western Europe.
There were only two major differences in this private clinic: 1) There were no gowns for covering up if you had to be naked at some point during the exam. At one point, I had to be topless during my chest X-ray and was not given anything to cover up with. When I covered myself with my hands, the technician asked if I was cold. I simply informed her we weren’t nude like this in the US and she seemed to find it amusing.
2) The doctor who took my blood didn’t send my blood off to a lab, instead put it in a hand turning crank and scanned it herself. Although this is totally old fashioned, it still did the job and indicated whether or not I still had a high white blood cell count.
After my job started, I ended up getting a lot sicker, which led to visits with a regular Hungarian “family” doctor. Hungarian is notoriously difficult to learn, and as such, foreigners barely ever master the language. Likewise, many Hungarians, particularly of the older generation, did not learn English in school thanks, in part, to their communist education (but likely also because their language is so different from most other languages that it makes it difficult to learn).
Luckily, my school was dual English-Hungarian, so apart from a few members of staff, I always had someone on hand to translate during a visit to the doctor. Whether or not this translation was always correct is one thing, but it seemed to have gotten the job done.