Healthcare Stories

Health care stories from abroad

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America needs to get with the program when it comes to healthcare #DAresists #Medicare4all

My name is MacKenzie, I'm 31 years old, and I currently live in Düsseldorf. Back in 2010 while I was still living in the US, I was diagnosed with MS. The disease process actually started in 2007, so as you can imagine, there was a lot of anxiety and emotional upheaval leading up to the diagnosis, as I tried to figure out what was wrong with me and what had changed in my body. When I finally did receive my diagnosis, I was given a presciption for Copaxone, a disease modifying drug. I was warned by my doctor that this drug was pricey (around $2500 a month without insurance), and insurance only covered 50% of the cost. Therefore, I was told that I needed to contact, Teva, the company that produces the drug, to procure additional financial support from their Shared Solutions program. At this time, I was just out of college, only partially employed, and living with my parents (I know, awesome time in my life). I called Teva and was asked to submit information regarding my monthly income and expenses so that they could determine whether or not I qualify for aid. I told the lady on the phone that I was making well below $25,000 a year and that I had a large student loan to service. She said that the aid program doesn't take student debt into account, and asked about my rent costs. I told her I lived with my parents at the moment, and she indirectly instructed me to lie and say that I am paying rent, and that if I didn't, I likely would not get suitable aid. I thank that lady, because the program did end up paying the leftover costs due to that small detail. Still, it was necessary for me to submit my income, expense, and insurance information, plus a form/questionnaire annually by a certain deadline in order to prove that I don't make enough money to pay over $1000 a month for a drug necessary to my well-being. This process was relatively involved, circuitous, and stressful for someone reeling from a recent life-changing diagnosis, and I feel very lucky that I had the support of my family at that time. I actually had to ask my mother to make some calls and pretend to be me on certain days, as I was too overwhelmed (and still recovering from the relapse that led to my diagnosis) to handle business myself. I also think it important to mention that my neurologist of choice was located in New York City (I am from New Jersey), and that my insurance would not cover the cost for these appointments, as he was 'out of network'. Therefore, I paid $350 per appointment to see him every 6 months. I also sunk thousands of dollars into bi-annual/annual MRIs, as my yearly $1500 deductible always needed to be met. Just for comparison, I am insured with TK, and I receive my current medication for 10 EUR a month. I do not need to submit any income/expense information for this, I just get my prescription from my doctor and bring it to the Apotheke. My last stay in the hospital (which lasted 3 days and included extensive testing-- MRIs, EEG, a visit from a physical therapist, and Cortisone treatment) yielded a 50 EUR bill. If I were still in the US, I would have needed to debate whether or not the attack was bad enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room and its associated costs. When Obama was president, my family used to ask why I don't come home. They have stopped asking, because do I even need to answer? It's a sad fact that America is a place where one literally cannot afford to be unlucky or unhealthy.

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#DAresists #Medicare4all

Bicycle accident. Two broken ribs, punctured lung. Ambulance, pump/tube to drain lung, x-rays daily, medications (including those normally taken), 4 days in intensive care, Cost: 65 euros (about $75 dollars at the time).

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German Healthcare is outstanding! #DAresists #Medicare4all

The German healthcare system is a blessing for people like me, who are retired and living in the German economy. I have had to undergo surgery (heart) and I can say with great enthusiasm that the care I received was outstanding. The cost of my treatments and medications are minimal and the care is excellent.. We need this kind of system at home!

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SUPPORT UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE #DAresists #Medicare4all

I am a US citizen and as an adult, have now lived and received healthcare in the US, UK and GERMANY. I recently--of my own stupidity--broke my hand by tripping on my stairs. A common household accident that could happen to anyone, but resulted in a broken hand which required surgery. I have normal, public healthcare--no special private or additional insurances. I first went to the emergency room on a Sunday, where I was seen within 15 minutes, had an XRAY and was deemed likely to need surgery. However, as the hospital that I went to were not Orthopaedic specialists, they wanted me to go to Charite, which was the large hospital in Berlin. I called Monday for an appointment and got one for Wednesday. The person I saw at Charitie was a surgeon who confirmed I would need surgery--and I was booked for the coming Monday with the SAME surgeon who saw me. The experience was fantastic care from start to finish. I had a private room, excellent care, and literally someone checking on me every 5 minutes. And after 2 emergency room visits, 1 splint, 2 day/1 night stay in the hospital, 1 cast and 5 meals later, the grand total that I had to pay out of pocket was THIRTY EURO. Nothing. Easy the same experience in the states with insurance would have been 10K out of pocket. There is no system that is perfect, but by and large I am happy to pay into a system that I will hopefully not need often, but when I do it does not bankrupt me or other people. I fully support the introduction of a universal healthcare system for the US. Bernie Sanders, let me know how I can help :)

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No healthcare worries at all since moving to the UK #DAresists #Medicare4all

I moved to the UK on April 4, 2010 and have lived here since. From April 4th onward I stopped worrying about health insurance coverage, premiums and health care costs, all due to the UK's National Health Service. What was once one of the largest sources of stress and concern in my life disappeared literally overnight. The US could have this too - after all, most developed economies in the world provide health care for their citizens. Healthcare for all isn't radical. It's obvious.

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Several experiences from many years in France #DAresists #Medicare4all

Aside from the usual and thankfully banal problems of bearing and raising three children, I can report on fairly major issues. NB: I also have a “mutuelle”—a collective non-profit complementary health arrangement that costs approx. €2000 a year and covers the 30% French social security doesn’t pay in some cases. Except in the last, worst item below I don’t remember which paid what. --A hard fall on cement the night before I was supposed to lecture in Oxford resulted in a hip replacement and hospitalisation for almost two weeks [Radcliffe Hospital] plus special transport arrangements home to Paris. French social security and probably the mutuelle reimbursed costs to the Brits. --Three fractured vertebrae and three “vertebroplasties” in which they inject resin cement: cost zero --Worst: in late 1999 my husband was diagnosed with a fairly rare form of cancer : He died a year and a half later after two operations, one very long and risky, intensive care, a whole variety of convalescent measures at home or in hospital, daily nursing visits when at home and, a particular blessing in the circumstances, he was able to spend the last two weeks of his life surrounded by his family at home, in a hospital bed with perfusion and three times daily visits from a nurse as well as regular ones from our family doctor. He could self-administer doses of morphine as needed and we were all with him when he died. Cost for us: Zero, entirely paid by French social security since he had a recognised “serious illness”. I sometimes tell this story now in talks to encourage the French and other Europeans to fight for all our public services, explaining to them we would have had to sell the house if we had lived in the United States. Since I have mentioned giving talks, it may be worth adding that after Smith College junior year abroad where I met and later married my French husband and living in France, I was able to win two higher degrees, a “licence” in philosophy, equivalent to a US master’s degree and allowing Immediate entry to the doctorate. Ten years later I got my PhD with honours in political science from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences sociales, a quite prestigious part of the French university graduate schools system. Cost—about $150/year in today’s dollars for inscription and insurance fees. Comment: Totally impossible for me cost-wise had I lived in the US. With 17 books and innumerable talks, articles and interviews for various social / ecological/ political causes since, mostly without fee, I feel I have “given back”, as Americans like to say. Note: My four grandchildren have now graduated from a variety of excellent, highly recognised schools [except for some at masters’ level with modest tuition fees] in several disciplines and—barring global warming disaster—are set for life.

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Perspective of a Dr. from California and Canada #DAresists #Medicare4all

I live in Canada and vote in California. I have worked as a family physician in both countries and the health system works better in Canada. People worry about their illness, not how much it will cost. Physicians worry about the health of their patients, not whether or not they will be paid. Care is not disrupted by changes in where or whether you have a job, or by an insurer deciding to change the network. I worked in the "safety net" in the US for years, where we had to stress out all the time about finding health coverage for our patients, constant changes in rules, intense scrutiny and red tape, and the frustration of trying to practice medicine in that environment. Since being in Canada that stress is gone. And when I need care, it is there for me too. My heart aches for the people in the US who still do not have universal coverage. Khati Hendry MD Summerland BC

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Strong endorsement based on experience in Germany #DAresists #Medicare4all

As a freelance professional who has lived, worked and paid taxes in Germany for forty years I cannot understand why many U.S. Americans do not appreciate the advantages of universal health care. I am covered, my pregnancies were covered, and my children are covered until they reach the age of 26 or start working and earn their own money. I do not have to worry about getting sick and not being able to pay the bills. Expensive treatments are just as much part of the care as simple vaccinations, preventive checkups,operations etc. Paying into health care has been worthwhile from day one.I cannot imagine living in a country where it is not available. Maria Lanman

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Perspectives from a lifetime of coverage in Algeria and France #DAresists #Medicare4all

I have been under universal health care coverage for nearly all my professional career, first in Algeria, and now in France. I have had some harrowing experiences on the health scene, less by questions of policy coverage than by circumstances which necessitated health care. I was nearly always taken in and cared for without question, and indeed without personally incurring expenses. In Algeria public health policy had covered all my immunizations yithout my having to advance even the slightest payment. I once broke an ankle wnile playing basketball with fellow teachers, and although I had to drive to the nearest hospital thirty kilometers away I was properly examined and treated without having to pay. I did have to insist on being cared for, when the opening hours at the clinic expired, but I prevailed, and did not have to pay out of pocket. Near the end of my sojourn in Algeria, I was stabbed in the back in downtown Algiers, and I was taken into emergency care at first and then into intensive care with securitz guard, all without any outlay on my part. To the contrary my care was considered as a responsibilitz of the country because of the "indignity" of having been attacked on the street of the nation's capital. Laterm during my retirement in France, I was covered by the nation's public health care system, but did pay for enrolment in the health care system, a rather nominal sum, but less than the care yould have cost in the United States, although that cost was covered by employer's health care. I have been in relatively good health, but asthmatic and diabetic, for which I receive medication covered at 100%, and see the doctor as needed, usually without an appointment, without undue waits and no payment other than the nominal €23 for the visit, which is, incidentally repaid by my mutual health care policy! I am totally happy with this system, and would not willingly submit to the US health care system in its current disorderly state. Rev. Dr. Hugh G Johnson (BA, STB, MDIV, MA, PhD)

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Advocacy from years of experience in Canada #DAresists #Medicare4all

As an American who has lived my whole life in 🇨🇦 and having first hand experience with universal health care as the sole way to deliver quality health care I fully support this measure. Vaibhav "We shall overcome, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice" Martin Luther King Jr. 1968

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Advocacy from years of experience in Canada #DAresists #Medicare4all

As an American who has lived my whole life in 🇨🇦 and having first hand experience with universal health care as the sole way to deliver quality health care I fully support this measure. Vaibhav "We shall overcome, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice" Martin Luther King Jr. 1968

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Perspectives from England and Wales #DAresists #Medicare4all

I've lived in the UK since 2003 and now have citizenship. I'm covered by the National Health Service, the universal health care system which has been so disgustingly misrepresented and lied about by so many American people and politicians. The NHS, like any other system, has its problems. Things do go horribly wrong sometimes and make the news (just like in the States), but less is said about the millions of people who go through their lives receiving excellent free-at-the-point-of-service health care. I live in England but close enough to North Wales that my doctor is in Wales and I'm therefore covered by the Welsh system. My experiences with the local doctors and hospitals, in England and Wales, have all been hugely positive. I love the NHS! I don't even pay for prescriptions because I'm over 60 and because prescriptions in Wales are free. People under 60 pay National Insurance each year, which goes to support the NHS. I'd happily continue to pay that even though I'm over 60. I'd also happily pay a bit more income tax to support the NHS, which is under threat from the Tories, who seem to want an American-style private system of insurance companies, etc. Some people do buy private insurance here, or go private for a particular treatment, but the NHS, struggling though it is at the moment, is always there when you need it. I will probably retire in a year or two. One thing I will never have to worry about is being driven to bankruptcy or starvation because of medical bills. Hope this helps. Dugie Standeford

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Great Experience with Universal Coverage in Ireland #DAresists #Medicare4all

I live in Ireland and have access to low-cost universal universal healthcare. Ireland is a little different as we are on a two-tiered system - public and private - and the public option isn't free (unless you have a medical card) but it is very cheap. If I go to the doctor, it cost me €50. If my doctor refers me to a specialist on the public option, it is free. Same for emergency room. I once had to go to the emergency room and have X-rays - that cost me only €60 total. We also have a prescription scheme here that caps the amount you pay for prescriptions at a certain amount each month. Once you hit that amount, if you need to fill more prescriptions within that month, you don't have to pay for them. This is useful for expensive birth control and other types of medication. I hope this helps! Hilary Gray

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More than 40 Years of Great Experiences in Israel #DAresists #Medicare4all

It seems completely obvious that everyone needs health care. I suggest a campaign based on my experience here in Israel, where I have been living for 43 years now. We have universal basic health care at no cost with various extras for people who can and want to pay for them. The HMO I belong to offers three levels – the basic one, at no cost; an upgraded level, which includes such extras as nursing home insurance (a rather low payment that turned out to be limited to three years when my mother was in a home) and various discounts on more expensive medicines that are not included in the basic list (for which the copay is 15%); and the highest level, which includes such luxuries as organ transplants abroad rather than at home. I have the second level because I need many types of medicine and I want to spare my children some of the cost of helping me if I should, God forbid, need to be in a nursing home. Occasionally I get calls from the HMO asking me to upgrade to the highest level. I always refuse because I can’t afford to pay for this level of insurance for all my children and grandchildren, and I think it would be wrong for me to insure only myself. If people would think this way about everyone – if Americans thought about other Americans as members of their family whom they want to help out rather than as strangers who should not be given anything they can’t buy for themselves – then it would seem obvious to them to that it is piggish to say that I deserve the best health care because I am rich but my poor brothers and sisters don’t deserve it because they didn’t inherit money and they can’t find a good-paying job. I hope you can use this idea. Naomi

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More than 50 years of great coverage in Israel #DAresists #Medicare4all

I am happy to share my story. I have lived in Israel 48 years counting my 1st year when I came on Sherut La'am in '65-'66. From the beginning, whenever I had health care needs they were taken care of by the Israel healthcare system. My anemia was properly treated enabling me to have children. Maternal and child health was marvelous! Hospitalization was covered. Child and adult immunizations were and are covered. As my children got older 2 of them developed mental illnesses. Thanks to our system, both of them are being treated. It allows them to work and be self supporting and pay taxes and have full lives. Two of my children have attended university. Again it is due to our government subsidizing higher education and making it affordable. They work part time and I have been able to swing the rest. My husband developed cancer in 1999. My only out of pocket expenses came to $35 a month. Even on my nurses' salary I could manage that and keep the family supported. Now I am retired. I became ill with Systemic Lupus Erythematosis 2 years ago. From the beginning from diagnosis to care I have been able to afford to buy medications and eat. The state provided me with a caretaker for 8 months of that first year until I could manage to take care of myself. There is always room for improvement in any system, but I am so grateful to be here in Israel and not in the US. I vote absentee in Texas, Federal offices only. I write my senators and representative all the time but needless to say they are Republicans and really do not care what happens to people. Still all the rest of my family is in Texas so I keep writing. Wishing all of you a Shana Tova u'metuka. Sincerely, Shoshana Katz

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Perspective from Malaysia #DAresists #Medicare4all

I support Universal Health Care for the sole reason so that everyone has health insurance coverage and that is affordable. We are from New Jersey and have been living in Malaysia for the past eight years and both me and my wife are 100% covered here with the cost of medical care, which is 1/4 th compared to the USA. Americans need affordable health insurances for poor, rich and for all segments of the population. We are against the Graham-Cassidy ACA repeal bill! Looking for a better America for all. Ken Chakravarti

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Perspective on mental health coverage from Oxford, England #DAresists #Medicare4all

Universal health care, free at the point of access, is one of the many reasons I have enjoyed living in the United Kingdom and am ambivalent about returning to the United States. This is not only because I have personally benefitted from the NHS, but also because of what it says about society in the UK: as compassionate, empathic human beings, we do not tolerate the suffering of those around us. Having spent six years for graduate studies in Oxford, this compassion manifested most explicitly with the homeless. Beyond the mental illnesses that often go undiagnosed and therefore untreated, universal health care meant that those most in need received proper medical attention. Often, this meant that the NHS would arrive with an ambulance and paramedics to treat an individual on the street or transport them to a hospital. The fact that this occurrence was not out of the ordinary in the UK makes this extraordinary. Universal health care is most important for the compassion of society that it demonstrates. Vassili Bazinas PhD Candidate Department of Economics

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Perspective from Israel #DAresists #Medicare4all

Thanks for the e-mail. Living here, universal health care seems such an obvious feature of life. Doctors fees are much less since I think they have to participate in the health plan to get tax breaks, and also they do not have to hike up their fees to cover malpractice insurance. At any rate, at my age, I need to see several doctors, and each one costs $5 per visit, and the health plans do not seem to be suffering financially. In the States, my experience is that a routine visit costs $150-200 and the service is worse in the US -- most of the work is done by a nurse practicioner who might be only marginally qualified (the one I saw did not know how to remove a bandage) whereas in Israel you see the doctor directly. There is competition among the health funds here, and this seems to me a good thing, to avoid complacence. Sincerely,Louis Rowen

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