International Chair

  • tagged Robert Kerr's Emergency lifesaving treatment as a student in Canada #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-26 17:00:18 -0400

    Emergency lifesaving treatment as a student in Canada #DAresists #Medicare4all

    When I was 18 during my freshman year at UofT, I started to have really strong, constant stomach pain and vomiting. It was really frightening, and for two days the doctors didn't know what was wrong with me as it worsened and worsened. It turned out my appendix had exploded, but because they couldn't see my appendix on their instruments they hadn't known what was wrong. I spent a week in hospital, had life-saving surgery, and was readmitted once when there was residual infection from the pus that had filled my abdomen. And even outside of the in-hospital procedures, there was one post-surgery medication that cost almost $1000 per bottle; if I lived in the United States, I would have had to pay for that out of pocket. And I couldn't have paid for it out of pocket. If I didn't live in Canada, I might not have been able to afford to be alive. And my whole extended family is full of stories of life-threatening situations that are treated simply and at no cost; from cancer and thyroid problems, to autoimmune diseases and mental illness. As a dual citizen of both Canada and the US, I can really see the difference between the two countries. Ill health comes for everyone, and a country that takes care of its people is one that provides health care for all. I would like my American family to be cared for just like I am here. Love, Miranda Alksnis


  • tagged Having a baby in Spain #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-26 11:22:25 -0400

    Having a baby in Spain #DAresists #Medicare4all

    I experienced my entire pregnancy and birth in Spain. I used private insurance, but it's only 30 euro per month and 3 euro per appointment because it is subsidized. Other than that, absolutely everything has been free, from appointments with obstetricians and/or midwives at least once per month, an ultrasound offered at every appointment and a Tdap vaccine to labor, delivery and a 48-hour hospital stay. It would not have cost any more had there been complications during labor. My prenatal classes were free. My lactation consultations and baby massage courses are free. (Or, one could say I got all that for around 33 to 36 euro per month. Had I gone through the public system, it would have been totally free.) It felt strange just waltzing out of the office without stopping to pay after each appointment. My care was and is top-notch, and I'm so glad I was able to have my baby in Spain rather than in the US, which would have left me buried in debt. I have also visited two doctors, a nurse and two midwives in the public system, and have experienced minimal wait times and excellent, thorough care. Here they practice preventative medicine. Of course there are trade-offs. I pay more taxes. It takes longer to go for blood tests, and wait times for non-emergency surgeries are long. But I'd take the Spanish system over the US one, no contest.


  • tagged Andrew Stevens' Healthcare in Taiwan #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-24 05:59:40 -0400

    Healthcare in Taiwan #DAresists #Medicare4all

    I've lived in Hsinchu, Taiwan since August, 2014 working as an English teacher. I've enjoyed the benefits of single-payer healthcare ever since. With only a monthly payment of roughly $25 USD, I have access to a whole range of benefits that, were I to remain in the United States uninsured, would probably be prohibitively expensive. For example, I pay only $2-3 out-of-pocket per visit to any health clinic, and dental work, such as teeth whitening, are priced similarly at $2-3. However, Taiwan's healthcare system is certainly not without its flaws. A quick search on Wikipedia will tell you its current challenges. The system doesn't take in the same amount as the value of the services it delivers, so it must borrow from banks. Also, there are few doctors per capita, so wait times can be long, and consultations with doctors themselves are often kept to a maximum of 2-5 minutes in most clinics. To alleviate these problems, the likely solution is to raise premiums on payroll taxes, but the government is reluctant to do so for fear of losing votes. That being said, I truly believe this is superior than the alternative. I think Taiwan's system is exemplary and has the ability to re-calibrate itself. Time will tell if the system here can endure, but it in my opinion, it functions pretty well for now.


  • tagged Maryah Lauer's Happy to have healthcare (UK) #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-22 02:33:08 -0400

    Happy to have healthcare (UK) #DAresists #Medicare4all

    I am a healthy young adult living in the United Kingdom. Although the NHS certainly has its problems and is underfunded, it is still fantastic! Just knowing that if I were to pass out at work again (I have low blood pressure) I wouldn't be telling the paramedics not to take me to the hospital because I can't afford it, as I did in the US. Even dental work, like fillings, costs about 20 quid, when it would likely cost hundreds of dollars without coverage. Even though I miss the US at times, I'm terrified to return if Obamacare gets repealed. The United States NEEDS a single payer system. It makes no sense to continue lagging behind the developed world. The peace of mind that if there were some accident or if I were to get sick, it wouldn't bankrupt me, is such a comfort.


  • tagged Robert Kerr's A genuine experience from Austria #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-21 17:22:52 -0400

    A genuine experience from Austria #DAresists #Medicare4all

    Here´s a little anecdote of mine: While I was a student in Austria, one night my left ear popped as if I were in an airplane. I couldn´t hear much out of it, but went to bed hoping it would sort itself out by morning. When I woke up and still couldn´t hear, I decided to go to my doctor to check it out. He said, if I wanted, he could refer me to a specialist, and I got an appointment the same day with an Ear Nose Throat (ENT) doctor. This doctor quickly informed me that sudden hearing loss needs immediate treatment and referred me to the hospital where I was admitted that evening. After exhausting different treatment options, I had surgery about a week after my first symptom and then follow-up appointments for the next 6 months. Unfortunately, neither doctors in Austria, nor private specialists in the US have been able to tell me exactly what the cause was, but since the surgery I have regained about half of the hearing that I lost. All in all, I had over 10 doctor´s visits, more than a week´s stay in the hospital, and surgery. My monthly premiums at the time as a student were about 50-60 dollars. The only additional cost I had was 10-15 dollars per day in the hospital to cover meals. Austria´s government insurance program works quickly and affordably and gives the people a sense of security that I´ve never felt in the US health market.


  • tagged Robert Kerr's An emergency experience in Hong Kong #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-21 17:21:08 -0400

    An emergency experience in Hong Kong #DAresists #Medicare4all

    About a year and a half ago, my then-boyfriend (now husband) was out for a bachelor party in Lan Kwai Fong, one of Hong Kong's nightlife districts. As he walked down the street, a crazed man ran by brandishing a broken glass bottle, which cut my husband's arm quite severely. He was taken by ambulance to a public hospital, where he waited several hours to be seen/admitted. He ended up staying in the hospital for a few nights, awaiting exploratory surgery to ensure no glass was embedded in his arm and no nerves were damaged. Thankfully, the eventual surgery went well and he has had no complications to date. Although I was shocked that my husband had to wait hours/days at various points during his treatment, I believe he received a high quality of care, especially considering the cost. Upon leaving the hospital, he paid only about US$50 to cover the entire experience. Subsequently, he needed to go for check-up visits to have his dressings changed, and I think the charges were something like US$2 each time. Hong Kong does not exactly have universal healthcare, rather a combination of public and private systems. I am very grateful that the public option here is extremely affordable and accessible, otherwise my husband's experience could've been much more costly. Thanks, Sydney


  • tagged Robert Kerr's A comparative story from Australia #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-21 17:20:39 -0400

    A comparative story from Australia #DAresists #Medicare4all

    Hi there, I’m a NC voter living in Australia and working for Bupa, a UK-based health insurer and care partner. Long before I had up-close experience with a functioning healthcare system and a private insurer who genuinely cares for its customers, I grew up in rural North Carolina with a chronically ill mother. Suffering from Lupus, cancer, and a wide range of related issues, my mom was often in and out of the hospital. Despite working gruelling hours, my dad always found it difficult to make ends meet. Any child who grew up with a seriously ill parent knows all too well the anguish of seeing a loved one in pain, the pitying head pats from Sunday school teachers, and the stomach-dropping discovery that someone you care about had to be rushed to the ER again. My time abroad has taught me that many Australians can commiserate with experiences like these. But most can’t understand the constant battle my parents waged just to make sure my mom could have health insurance. With so many pre-existing problems, it was always hard for my mom to secure a plan that could account for her many needs. The ramifications of poor health are acute enough; children don’t need to overhear their parents crying because they aren’t sure how to pay their medical bills. Thank goodness most Australians already understand this. While no system is perfect, Australia’s public/private hybrid allows consumers extra choice and extra comforts if they can afford them, while supplying basic care for those who can’t. This likely contributes to the comparable cleanliness, safety, and overall better quality of life that Australians tend to enjoy. President Obama took on great political risk to try and fix our own broken system. He did this by selecting a bipartisan compromise: a market-based solution that originated from the Heritage Foundation. While the ACA is definitely flawed, I know that it helped other little girls avoid at least some of the pain I felt. I am repulsed by the moral failure of politicians who have decided that cynical machinations are more pressing than fixing the ACA’s flaws. Their disregard for American lives is alarming. Other countries have recognised that investing in their citizens’ well-being pays dividends; I pray that one day America will wake up to the value of a similar investment. 


  • tagged Robert Kerr's Perspective of a young American living in Brazil #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-21 17:19:30 -0400

    Perspective of a young American living in Brazil #DAresists #Medicare4all

    young, independent, and empowered Universal healthcare is a fundamental right to all human beings. Recently graduating from college and no longer on my parents healthcare plan, i moved to Brazil where I teach English in Vitoria, Espirito Santo. As a young person making money for the first in my life I feel empowered knowing that no matter what health adversity, I can handle this situation. That language is my only hindrance to receiving assistance because financially, Im guaranteed treatment. This is empowerment and true freedfom. Best, Mary Mary E. Nagel


  • tagged Robert Kerr's Great experience for husband and wife living in Canada #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-21 17:19:12 -0400

    Great experience for husband and wife living in Canada #DAresists #Medicare4all

    My husband, then 65, needed a knee replacement. He was able to get it after a 5-month wait. After a group information session--which included one old patient maybe in his 80's--we booked the surgery for September 30, 2013. Everything went like clockwork. Until they noticed that his extremities were showing a lack of oxygen. Worried about a blood clot in the lungs, they sent him immediately down for a CT, which was fine. He stayed in the hospital for 2 days, until he could climb five stairs without help. They released him with a set of bandages along with pain and anti-blood-clotting medications. We followed up by getting him into ten cost-free physiotherapy sessions which started about two weeks after the surgery and went until late November. All went according to plan, and now he is able to golf 18 holes and walk 5 miles a day. Cost: $155 for parking at the hospital, $200 for brand new cane, walker, and cold packs. Thanks for the opportunity to tell this story. Patricia Kirby


  • tagged Eric Jackson's Tales from 9°N, on the skinny part of Latin America #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-21 17:18:51 -0400

    Tales from 9°N, on the skinny part of Latin America #DAresists #Medicare4all

    1. For starters, I grew up colonial, in a place with socialized medicine. That is, the former Canal Zone. When people object to calling the Canal Zone socialistic on the grounds that it was racially segregated, I have to agree, up to a point. The townsites were segregated but the hospitals were not, at least not among Canal Zone residents or PanCanal or US military base employees. But Panamanians without such ties could not get treated at Canal Zone hospitals. It was a tiny and odd microcosm, but it's a lie to say that socialize medicine could never prosper under the American flag. 2. My brother, who was not born in Panama and thus was not a Panamanian citizen like me, died a little more than a year ago. It was liver disease, and since he was not a citizen and had no Panamanian Seguro Social benefits, he went to Santo Tomas Hospital, on the Ministry of Health side of the dual public health care system here, and had to pay. He was there for two weeks, with all sorts of tests. It cost the family a little over $3,000. When they referred him to the Instituto Oncologico for further tests to see if it was liver cancer, at that point he was not allowed further access to the Panamanian system and had to go back to the USA for treatment. As in going on SSI and having Uncle Sam pick up the tab, at great expense. He was pretty sure that he was dying when he left and they pretty much confirmed that with a well advanced Hep C diagnosis. He spent the last six months of his life in Colorado, when his preference would have been to die in Panama. And Uncle Sam would have saved an awful lot of money had there been an agreement to reimburse Panama, maybe plus a surcharge, of the cost of what things are here, and treat my brother here. 3. The private side of health care here? The Seguro Social / Ministerio de Salud system drives private costs down, but the private hospitals are rapacious. One example of that was the first of three criminal defamation charges I have fended off over the years here. During the Mireya Moscoso administration one of her key aides was one Álvaro Antadillas, who owned a chain of private kidney dialysis clinics. So the public system did not invest in dialysis and referred patients to his private clinics. And for the US-funded health care plan for the Panamanian PanCanal employees from before the Carter-Torrijos Treaties, Antadillas had a monopoly and jacked the prices WAY up. A prominent nephrologist came to me about it with a story under a pseudonym. I got confirmation from a private hospital owner who told me that none of the importers would sell anyone any dialysis equipment for fear of being put out of business by the government. So I made an exception and published that story under that pseudonym. I got a call from Antadillas, who demanded that I identify the author. I told him that betrayal might be a fun sport in his political circle but that ain't me. I got slapped with papers charging me with criminal defamation. I told Antadillas that he could buy all the judges and prosecutors and stomp me down whatever the facts, but that I would first do my best to make a public stink on the court record about what he was doing in hopes that other media would cover it, and that he could then get his conviction -- and SEE how long his contract with a US-funded health insurance plan lasted once I went to jail -- because I would not be buying my way out with a fine. He dropped the prosecution when he figured out that I meant it, that I did not intend to be ruined with lawyer bills by his nuisance charge but would fight him in a most unorthodox and harmful to him way. 4. My nephew, a banged-up´and lacerated knee from jumping in the wrong spot off of a waterfall: x-rays, tetanus shot, stitches, bandages, medications fo rh pain and swelling and all? $13. 5. When I had a serious case of gout, so x-rays, bloodwork and all that, then medication (allopurinol)? $23. 6. When I had dengue, with a bit of bleeding? All the tests and exams, then palliative medications? $18. 7. I had a check-up and the doctor told me that I should have a colonoscopy as part of it. It cost me $25 at Santo Tomas Hospital. Had I been part of the Seguro Social system, all of the services I described would have been free. Had I been indigent, they would have been free regardless of whatever ties or lack of ties with that part of the public health care system. Such is the socialized medicine that the small part of corporate America that profits from the current system fears....


  • tagged Donna Martin's UK NHS provides peace of mind #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-21 17:18:17 -0400

    UK NHS provides peace of mind #DAresists #Medicare4all

    I have lived in the UK for almost 20 years and have very much depended on the UK for my healthcare. I know that when I am ill I can see a doctor fairly quickly with little waiting time. I can then walk into the pharmacy and get whatever medicine is prescribed for me for around 8 pounds. I don't have to worry that I am not able to seek out a doctor of fill a prescription. Healthcare is always available for me. As an expat. I also know that there is no real option for me to return to the US until I am old enough to be covered by Medicare as I would be unable to pay for insurance coverage even if I was unemployed for only a short time. Medicare is socialized medicine so logically it really should be a short jump to the concept of providing healthcare for everyone. Healthcare in Europe is considered a necessity and a right for all citizens and so it is astonishing to most of the world that the US doesn't recognize the importance of providing some level of healthcare to its own people.


  • tagged Robert Kerr's Overview from nearly 20 years in the UK #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-21 17:18:05 -0400

    Overview from nearly 20 years in the UK #DAresists #Medicare4all

    I have been living in England since 2001. My health care here has been excellent. I don’t have a single “story” of why the care here is excellent but I do have a general ability to get on with my life and manage my own health because of the support I can count on from the NHS. I’ve experienced minor illnesses, a skin problem that required minor facial surgery, and mental health difficulties that required months of treatment. None of this cost me anything (okay, a small medicine co-pay but REALLY small – and limited since the NHS prescription card is a thing). Any time my son, who is now 19, was ill I could take him to the doctor (I’ve never lived anywhere more than 15 minutes’ walk from the doctor’s office) because no matter how little money we had, he was taken care of. I think back to my life in the US as a child - where my parents had to decide not only if I needed the doctor, but if we could afford to go. That is not my life and not my reality. I can take risks. I can travel. I can extend and renovate my home. I can buy a new car. I never have to hold money back to make sure I can afford the doctor or the hospital. I can be less than perfect with money and not die because of it. I want that for everyone. I want my friends back home to have the freedom I have that comes with universal health care. Regards, Arwen


  • commented on The experience of a senior citizen couple in Canada #DAresists #Medicare4all 2017-09-21 17:17:10 -0400
    Great line: All countries ration health care. In the US it’s rationed based on who can pay. In Canada, it’s rationed more on need.
  • tagged Robert Kerr's A great experience from Canada #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-21 17:16:16 -0400

    A great experience from Canada #DAresists #Medicare4all

    My wife & I were both unemployed when a checkup found out she had life threatening anemia. She was admitted to hospital immediately, given multiple transfusions, and a barrage of tests including cardiac stress test, ultrasound, MRI, and colonoscopy. It was a horrible week; I was terrified there was something serious and she was too weak to care. We were lucky - we didn't have to worry about the cost wiping out all our savings. The medical team was terrific, and because she shared a room and didn't rent a TV, and we left the hospital with a bill for zero dollars. Every time I think about that summer I am profoundly grateful for the Ontario Health Insurance Plan, and I shudder to think where we'd be had that happened while we were in the US. Yes, it took me longer than I would have liked to get an MRI for a minor shoulder injury, but the Canadian system came through when we needed it most and if my wait meant someone else with a more serious condition had their life saved after a timely MRI, I'm ok with that. S Stephens


  • tagged Robert Kerr's Great coverage stories from Canada #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-21 17:15:25 -0400

    Great coverage stories from Canada #DAresists #Medicare4all

    I am grateful for Canada's health care system One reader's comment to the New York Times this week captured my feelings exactly: however imperfect our Canadian health system might be (it still needs to bring pharmaceuticals under its umbrella, for example), how reassuring it is to me, to know that my health care will be taken care of, always, even if I have a pre-existing condition, even when I am old, whatever my degree of wealth or destitution. Examples: we are not billed for having babies in hospital - and the birth of my daughter turned into an emergency, with a lengthy hospital stay for baby; my husband's kidney stone was removed - no bill. We pay higher taxes, but in return there are such high dividends in peace of mind - and excellent care. I am deeply grateful for all of this -- it is the polar opposite of what my siblings, still living in the U.S., go through, what with drug prices, insurance and administrative complications. The ones that now qualify for Medicare


  • tagged Joel Parthemore's I'll gladly take Sweden over the US #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-21 17:14:48 -0400

    I'll gladly take Sweden over the US #DAresists #Medicare4all

    I worked for the US Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, DC, for 3 1/2 years. I bought the best health insurance I thought I could afford from the options we had available. And I was still scared of getting sick because of all the bureaucracy and caps and exceptions. People think that anyone who works for the US government gets a platinum healthcare plan -- Congress sure, but not ordinary government workers. And we still had things better than people who could only afford more basic plans, if they could afford anything at all. Things here in Sweden aren't perfect -- in no small part due to the creeping privatization of the healthcare system around the edges promoted by the previous government -- but if my healthcare expenses for the year go above a certain modest amount, I don't pay anything more. And the healthcare system here is not only per capita cheaper than in the US, in functions better on a whole bunch of indicators, from infant mortality to life expectancy, too.


  • tagged Edward Weiss' I wouldn't give up Canadian health care for anything! #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-21 17:14:15 -0400

    I wouldn't give up Canadian health care for anything! #DAresists #Medicare4all

    Not only am I an American living in Canada, but I'm a doctor as well! Having grown up in the US and seeing how much my family suffered when trying to deal with insurance companies, it's no wonder that I gravitated towards single-payer health care. I've been practicing in my adopted home for several years, and although the system is not perfect -- what system is? -- it gives me great comfort to know that I can treat all of my patients without having to constantly worry about their ability to pay for care, or if their insurance company will cover what's medically necessary for them. If only Congress had the boldness and courage to think about what sort of healthcare _all_ Americans would really benefit from, they would enact a single payer system today!


  • tagged Healthcare in Austria #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-21 17:12:39 -0400

    Healthcare in Austria #DAresists #Medicare4all

    My family in Montana are all jealous of my health care in Austria. I can go to the general practicioner without an appointment and have to wait 20 minutes at the most. If a specialist is required I can make an appointment if the condition is not urgent or the GP gets me in immediately if it is. Doctor visits are free. Prescriptions cost approximately € 5. I had a friend who had leukemia and another who had a stroke. They both spent weeks in the hospital with excellent care - all paid by the system. It gives one peace of mind to know that an illness or accident will not result in your savings being depleted. When politicians tell the American public that "we don't want to be like socialist Europe", they are only speaking for themselves. The rich can afford their medical care. The vast majority of Americans would love the socialized system if only they knew what it does for them. - Brenda in Austria


  • tagged Anna Cowden's #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-21 14:10:25 -0400

    #DAresists #Medicare4all

    Last year in Iceland, we welcomed our first children, a beautiful baby boy. We arrived at the hospital with the birth plan of having a natural birth, but open to invention if we should need it. Everything was going well, but about 8 hours after we arrived, I had stopped dialating and labor has moved to a glacial pace. In order to try and get things going again, my water was broken and I was given an IV to help things moving. By this point, the pain was becoming very difficult and, with no near end in sight, I got an epidural. It was also during this time that I started becoming very cold and shivering, so I was given a second IV with antibiotics. Soon followed a catheter and constant surveillance by obstetricians, nurses, and midwives, as my baby's heartbeat was also taking unexplainable dips for no apparent reason. After the dilation had stopped completely, the obstetrician was monitoring his wellbeing and found that he was becoming distressed. I was then prepared for an emergency C-section and after 20 minutes, I finally had my beautiful baby boy in my arms. The day after his birth, while recovering from my C-section, the pediatric doctor took my baby to the NICU, as he was breathing way too fast and wasn't eating that well. It was discovered that he had water in his lungs, and while it would go away on his own most likely, he needed a feeding tube while it resolved itself and we had an extra 3 day stay in the hospital. Four days after we arrived at the hospital, my husband, my son and I were finally ready to go home, but we had to settle our bill first. I didn't know what to expect, but then we found out it was $35 - $35!! And that is only because my husband stayed at the hospital with me and was basically a bill for the meals that he ate while there with me. After all that - IV antibiotics, extra doctors, epidural, emergency C-section, and a 3 day stay at the NICU, plus countless procedures while he was there - that was our bill. I am so grateful for the Icelandic healthcare that helped me bring home a healthy baby and didn't leave my family with piles of bills to pay. Our first day's as new parents were spent falling absolutely in love with our new bundle of joy and not in a panic attack about how to pay for some ungodly bills.