Healthcare Stories

Health care stories from abroad

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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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Compelling story from Canada #DAresists #Medicare4all

If I didn't have access to free health care in Canada, I might have died from ovarian cancer.

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Great Experiences in Norway! #DAresists #Medicare4all

I live in Norway. Children up to 18 years old do not pay for Medical or dental assistance. Last year I had heart pain and went to the emergency room, I had an EKG and they kept me all night for observation, all free of charge, never received a bill. I have also birthed 2 children and had an appendectomy. All these were also performed with no co-pay. We do have co-pay for doctors visits and if you reach your income class limit you do not have to pay for the rest of the year. The limit is set based on income ranges. Best regards, Celeste

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1 in 10 Women suffer with with #Endometriosis in the USA #DAresists #Medicare4all

My name is Karen McMahon. I'm from Los Angeles and have been in the UK for almost 17 years. Within a couple of years of living here, I was diagnosed with Endometriosis. Its a painful and crippling condition that is now recognized as disability in the UK. When I first started to feel the effects of endometriosis, I hadn't been here for very long and I didn't know how the NHS worked. So I suffered in silence. I then met a friend’s father who was a GP and he reassured me that if I was resident in the UK, then I was eligible for care regardless of what my needs were. That was it. I registered at my local doctor's office, saw a GP and I was never made to feel like I had to consider anything else than my health. Unfortunately it did mean that I had to have several operations, trying various medications during my care, but never once did I feel like I had to worry about anything other than my wellbeing. The surgeries were sometimes long and complicated, Involving several surgeons. I can't imagine the astronomical costs I would have incurred in the US. My care has always been excellent and I'm so very grateful for the NHS. I don't think some British people know how good they have it, but I do. I think everyone should be entitled to universal healthcare. My husband is also a haemophiliac and has been under the care of a doctor since he was a baby. The only time we ever worry about cost of healthcare is when we travel to the US on vacation and then we make sure we are well insured. Why should anyone ever have to worry about being sick? It’s not something I brought on myself. I'm happy to pay higher taxes and know that this is one thing I'll never have to worry about. Others will benefit when they're in need. Do on to others, right? #DAresists #Medicare4all

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Great experience with orthopedic care in the UK #DAresists #Medicare4all

I am proud to pay taxes that support healthcare. At the moment, I am on a low income (having been in the second-highest - 40% - tax bracket for many years). I injured my knee a few weeks ago and have now had two visits with my local 'GP' (family doctor), an x-ray to rule out a floating bone fragment and have now got an appointment with a physiotherapist and soft-tissue scan in the pipeline. How much have I paid? Nothing, apart from my taxes. On my current income, my knee would go untreated if I had to pay. I'm proud of the NHS, and I am proud that I have contributed to paying for it. And I am grateful that when I need it, regardless of my income, it's there. #DAresists #Medicare4all

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Observations from Turkey #DAresists #Medicare4all

RE: What can Turkey teach the US about healthcare I would love universal healthcare for US citizens. Under the current Medicare for All proposals by Senator Sanders, it won’t cover US citizens living overseas. I would hope that Medicare would allow recipients to receive benefits while living or traveling overseas. Currently I need to buy a policy as part of my Turkish residency permit. I have a private insurance policy with a Turkish/international company. However good it is, the Turkish government makes me buy a worthless policy for about $1000 in addition to the excellent policy I buy. The required government policy is just another corruption to give money to the governing party’s friends. Saying that, Turkey has an excellent universal insurance for its citizens (SGK) in which some private hospitals participate. It’s not rocket science to give such a system for all US citizens, whether they live inside the US or overseas. The mentality of the Republicans is that healthcare is a privilege. Until they see it as a basic human right for all Americans, we are doomed. Universal coverage for all Americans can be affordable if we control prices, especially from the pharma sector. Thank you for hearing my voice. Andrew Barrer Istanbul, Turkey

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Great long term peace of mind in the UK #DAresists #Medicare4all

The NHS has been my sole health care provider for the last 17 years. Whilst I am in good health I have spent virtually no money on my healthcare except through taxes. I am able to get an appointment with my GP when required within a reasonable timeframe and am sent on the specialists when required. I personally have not had to wait very long for an appointment. When my son was born both he and my wife needed to spend an extra week in the hospital because of a minor complication. Again, the extra stay did not incur any expenses to us. I find staff at the NHS to quite competent. Having the NHS is very reassuring. I never have to think about whether I am covered and whether I can afford medical services. While perhaps not perfect, it is awesome to have, especially when compared to the millions living in the US whose healthcare is precarious. Long live some sort of version of publicly funded medicine!!! David Wasserberg, US citizen, London, England

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crash / heal #DAresists #Medicare4all

This summer I had a mountain bike accident and broke both wrists, my collarbone, and two ribs. I was transported to the hospital by a helicopter in a difficult rescue and treated in the emergency room, immediately. The accident has thus far involved three hospital stays of 3 to 4 days each and two operations under full anaesthesia. Everything was covered including all future expenses for physical therapy and elective surgery to have plates removed. I come from Massachusetts and have always experienced good medical care. The difference is that here in Austria I work freelance but have state insurance that covers me for all medical needs at a minimal cost with little or no deductible. I can focus on healing and feel safe to just rest and wait till my injuries recover to go back to work. Although it feels unreal, it is an amazing and true privilege of life in a country where healthcare is a right, not a luxury.

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Great Experiences in Portugal #DAresists #Medicare4all

Everyone should have access to affordable health care, like we have here in Portugal. When we were in the US, if you didn't have health insurance through your job (and there were plenty of folks who worked full-time and still didn't have this benefit), you were in a lot of trouble if you got sick. In Portugal that doesn't happen. Elvira Barry

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Great Endorsement of Universal Coverage from the UK #DAresists #Medicare4all

Dear Democrats Abroad, I'll gladly tell you what it means to have The National Health Service, free for all and a small charge for non EU"s. First, it's a load off your mind, phew. Secondly, although the buildings may not look swish, although some do, there is nothing you can't be treated for. I have had a heart valve replacement, and also Non Hogkins Lymphoma, needing surgery and radiotherapy. I paid not a penny and had excellent treatment throughout. The NHS is the Britain's finest achievement. The measure of a county's greatness is not in the size of it's armies and weapons, but in it's education of children, and it's care of the sick and elderly. I so hate ithe idea that many Americans just don't 'get' this. Shirlee Matthews

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Great Pregnancy Coverage in York, England #DAresists #Medicare4all

I support universal healthcare! I live in York, England. I use the NHS. It's incredible. I'm 8 months pregnant, was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, and have my scans, appointments, diabetes treatment free at point of delivery. When I found out I was pregnant, my father sent me money, thinking I'd need to pay out of pocket. I sent it back because the NHS will take care of you, even though I'm from the USA. I've used the NHS as an asthmatic and I cannot fault the system or care. I feel relaxed heading into delivery, as I'll discuss the options with my team without wondering about whether one option will cost more, will my insurance cover it, how long will my insurance cover me for staying in the hospital, etc. I've had all vaccinations, checkups, tests, without worrying about paying a dime out of pocket. This level of stress free pregnancy should be universal everywhere. I'm on a pregnancy forum, where many of the women are American and in the States. They discuss whether they'll be able to pay for the hospital bill, how they hope they don't have complications, that they cannot afford an ambulance to the hospital if something happens. It's heartbreaking and this just shouldn't happen. Andrea B. York, England

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Peace of Mind in France #DAresists #Medicare4all

Single Payer works in France. Top notch care, no waiting, and no cost. #Medicare4all I cannot express the peace of mind that comes from having access to the French healthcare system. The care is excellent and I have never had to wait for an appointment with a specialist or a generalist. When you get sick in France, you go see the doctor. You don't wait for two weeks to see if you really HAVE to see the doctor, you just go. You get the diagnosis and medicine you need immediately, and for virtually no cost. In addition to these visits and normal screenings, I have given birth to two children, had an emergency appendectomy, and had MRIs, X-rays and CAT Scans related to various injuries. I didn't have to pay anything, and never gave a thought to the cost of any of these procedures. The only issue at hand was the health of my babies and myself. This is how healthcare should work. Quality care for everyone, regardless of ability to pay, since it is a public service. I was recently in the US, where I caught strep throat. The out-of-pocket cost of the visit to the doctor, the strep test, and the antibiotics was over 200 dollars. The same process in France would have cost "the system" approximately 50 dollars, and my out of pocket would have been 2 dollars. It is true that taxes are high in France, and that part of this is related to the health care system, and it is clear that there is some abuse in the system, but all in all, the per-capita cost of healthcare in France is significantly less than that in the US, with outcomes that are just as good, if not better. The French system can be improved upon, but single payer works!!

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20 Years of Coverage in the UK #DAresists #Medicare4all

(This was printed in my local paper – Montrose Daily Press- earlier this year.) Dear Editor, I was raised in Montrose, Colorado from the age of 5-18. I moved to London, UK directly after college and have been here ever since (going on almost 20 years now!) Universal health care is all I have known for the duration of my adult life. I have never had to worry if I could afford insurance or if I qualified for insurance even though I have some pre-existing conditions. When I lost my job , I didn’t have to worry if I would still be covered. When my husband changed jobs or when he decided to work for himself, the health coverage of our family was never in jeopardy. Breaking Bad is one of my favourite shows but it could never happen in the UK. If you get lung cancer, you don’t have to become a drug dealer in order to pay your medical bills and feed your family without going bankrupt! We are human beings. And our bodies break. And I can’t tell you how comforting it is to know that with or without money, my family’s healthcare is taken care of -- and I look at my own country in disbelief. The idea that some Americans get the finest medical care on earth, while tens of thousands of others are left to die for lack of care -- doesn’t sit well with me. British health care isn’t always perfect - but it allows me to sleep at night without worrying that one I might have to choose between healthcare for my daughter and a roof over our heads. I so wish my fellow Americans had the same freedom. Yours Sincerely, Ms Jerramy Fine

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