Regional Vice Chair & Communciations Director at Democrats Abroad

  • tagged Frank Gradilone's The ACA: A path from fear to peace of mind #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-20 20:30:43 -0400

    The ACA: A path from fear to peace of mind #DAresists #Medicare4all

    My wife and I segued fro the corporate sector and had private insurance. My wife developed lung cancer and the initial treatment was paid, after that we were dropped and couldn't get health insurance because of her preexisting condition. We lived in abject fear for 3 years that we would lose everything we had built over our careers and would not be able to afford treatment if it came to that, until the ACA was passed and we were able to get health insurance again.


  • tagged Nancy Schimkat's All Covered #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-20 20:30:09 -0400

    All Covered #DAresists #Medicare4all

    As an American living in Germany, I’ve never had to worry about my healthcare. We could choose our insurance company, with half of the cost being covered by us and the other half by my husband’s employer. I gave birth to two children, and had fantastic follow-up visits from the midwife to make sure the babies and I were healthy and to be sure I knew what I was doing with my newborns. When I broke my elbow, I went to the hospital and had it set, and then had the necessary follow-up visits. When I recently had a big operation, I could choose my surgeon, my hospital, and had great follow-up care. One of our children has a dustmite allergy, and the insurance not only paid for desensitization shots, but also the mattress and pillow covers. And so on. Germany has a modern industrialized economy like the United States, but there is this idea of “solidarity” here which means that citizens understand the moral obligation to take care of their fellow countrymates. And while people may have some things to worry about, whether or not they can afford healthcare is not one of those worries.


  • tagged Douglas Mertz's Don't believe the Republicans! #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-20 20:28:41 -0400

    Don't believe the Republicans! #DAresists #Medicare4all

    I have to laugh when I hear the Republicans using "horror stories" of Canadian healthcare as a way to scare people into voting for them. My experience couldn't be further from that. I moved to Canada just over eight years ago, and after having only been here a couple of months, I suffered a bout of extreme and intense pain in my chest/abdomen. I took a taxi to the emergency room of the nearest hospital and after a series of tests and examinations, I was diagnosed with gallstones and set up with a specialist to operate on me. I was not yet working, so unsure how I was going to pay for everything. My surgery was initially scheduled for about a month later, but I had to postpone it due to my getting a job. The surgery took place just over a month later (so much for the long wait times) and I had to spend one night in the hospital post-surgery for observation. The cost for all of this? For a trip to the ER, numerous tests, laparoscopic surgery and a stay in the hospital? $13.54 - that was the cost of the taxi I took to the ER. Everything else was paid for by the wonderful healthcare that all residents are entitled to. I wasn't yet a citizen, or even a permanent resident at the time, but just a new transplant from the US. I hesitate to think what all of that would have cost in the US!


  • tagged Hungary's Ex-pat Health Care in Hungary #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-20 20:26:55 -0400

    Ex-pat Health Care in Hungary #DAresists #Medicare4all

    I moved to Hungary 4 years ago and my husband and I decided to sign up for the TAJ (Hungarian Health Care). We have paid an average of $200 per month each as we are required to pay into their social security system for the first five years. In 2018 our cost will be reduced to $40 per month as we will have our permanent residence cards then. There are no co-pays or deductibles. In January this year I broke my elbow when I slipped on some ice. We went to the emergency room as it was 13:00. I went it and was registered right away. I was seen, xrayed and casted in less than one hour. Everyone was professional and helpful and it didn't cost one dime more. I had numerous folliw up visits and, again I was not charged anything. In the US I would have waited for at least 3 to 6 hours and, with insurance, it would have cost me a minimum of $500 out of pocket costs. Before Obamacare I was hospitalized twice, once for a heart attack and once for a serious food poisoning. Both times a weeks stay in the hospital and doctor expenses cost me over $12k.


  • tagged Tracy Mitchell-Bjorkman's Swedish health care system is great! #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-20 20:24:13 -0400

    Swedish health care system is great! #DAresists #Medicare4all

    Here're my two cents about the health care debate in the US after living in Sweden for 30 years. I never thought that a single-payer health system would gain as much positive attention in the US as it has these last months, but it has. Having been both on the giving (through my taxes) and receiving (mine and my family’s health care) end of Sweden’s well run single-payer health care system, I can heartily recommend a similar system in the US. While I´m sure I pay a bit more in taxes than I would in the US (given the same income), there are a lot of things I don’t have to worry about or consider when it comes to health care. It makes no difference who my employer is – I can work for a private company, a public agency, freelance, run my own business, be between jobs or retired – I know that I have full medical coverage no matter what. And so does my family and basically everyone else in Sweden. It’s an economical and efficient way of taking care of millions of people’s health care needs. We are part of a huge risk pool made up of the whole country – most of us, who are healthy and need very little health care, as well as those of us in need of urgent care every once in a while or those of us who are chronically ill. No cap on lifetime costs, no medical situations that are exempt – if I fall and break an arm, if I get cancer, if my pregnancy is complicated, if I need physical therapy, if my child is born prematurely or with serious health issues, if I need to adjust my insulin dosage – you name it – quality health care is a given. Since it is in the county’s best interests to keep medical costs down, preventive procedures are easy to prioritize – that can save not only money but suffering and future ill health. Such large groups of patients mean great leverage when it comes to negotiating costs for medicine. It creates incentives to streamline complex and relatively uncommon procedures and treatments, which can result in higher quality specialized care for more people. While no system is perfect, and Sweden’s is certainly no exception, the advantages of a single-payer health care system are huge – both on a national scale and on an individual basis. It makes economic as well as medical sense and it is humane. Sweden is a rich country whose success is firmly grounded in private enterprise and ownership coupled with a compassionate and pragmatic social agenda. While Sweden’s health care is basically a single-payer system, private and non-profit providers play an important roll alongside the public sector. The US is an immensely rich country but it is squandering the potential for both harnessing huge economical savings and providing exceptional health care to millions of Americans by not creating a more effective system of health care than the unequal and insufficient hodgepodge we have today. I hope that our congressional leaders can get past polarizing partisan politics and take steps to create a truly excellent health care system that is worthy of our great country and benefits its citizens better.


  • tagged Sofia Johannesson's Free birth control #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-20 20:20:42 -0400

    Free birth control #DAresists #Medicare4all

    The easy accessible free birth control here in Sweden is great. It promotes a healthy outlook on sex, especially amongst young people like myself. Apart from the obvious benefits of reduced unwanted pregnancies it helps young women deeling with menstrual issues such as extensive pain. There is also a follow up on side effects which help you find what is right for you and your body. And it's completely free resulting in no one being excluded from this much needed but not always prioritized care.


  • tagged Alan Crook's Healthcare for all #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-20 20:17:01 -0400

    Healthcare for all #DAresists #Medicare4all

    I am a dual US/Canadian citizen resident in Canada since 1978. Over those almost 40 years, I have experienced almost every aspect of universal health care, from moving provinces to GP checkups to minor surgery to emergency assessment for a mini-stroke. In every case I received prompt, caring service from our medical professionals, with no significant wait times. I can't speak highly enough of the experience, and I did not pay a single penny out of pocket. Alan Crook Kawartha Lakes, Ontario


  • Universal Healthcare - It Makes Sense on So Many Levels #DAresists #Medicare4all

    The first question one should ask oneself is, here, in a civilized society, why should one person be able to buy better healthcare than another? Aren't we all supposed to help each other? Isn't a healthy nation a successful one? Shouldn't we be leading the world instead of seeing some parts of the country reduced to third world levels of care? In the UK, we all put in, like for any insurance scheme, and when we fall ill, it's there for us. Until then, we subsidize the health of our neighbors. If you read about any problems nowadays, it is because private for-profit interests have been allowed into the system to the extent that when the government says it is investing more in the NHS, it isn't a question of how much, it's where it's going. And of course, Brexit won't help in terms of staffing. But at it's heart, the National Health system is a wonderful thing. Knowing that if you fall ill or need an operation you will be taken care of, frees you up to be a more positive and productive member of society. A healthy nation is a strong nation. Yes one must rein in profiteers to make it affordable - but no one is saying they can't make a profit - just not at the life and death expense of the country as a whole. National Healthcare is good for all and would be great for America - we would be unbeatable.


  • Universal healthcare helps keep healthcare cost in check!#DAresists #Medicare4all

    Friends of ours from California were visiting us where we live in France and one of them needed emergency gall bladder surgery. He had to spend 5 days in the hospital and the surgery, hospital stay, medications and follow-up care (daily house calls by a nurse) came to a total of 5000€. He of course had to pay for this as he's not covered by the French healthcare system but the cost of this life-saving surgery did not land him with a bill that would destroy his life! Thank you universal healthcare!


  • tagged Wendy Abondolo's A superb national health service #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-20 06:02:41 -0400

  • tagged Jennifer Bohle's A Tale of Two Nations: Struggles with Crohn's Disease #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-20 05:36:03 -0400

    A Tale of Two Nations: Struggles with Crohn's Disease #DAresists #Medicare4all

    I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease at the end of my sophomore year of college, in 1998. The disease has no cure, and while it can be managed, it is at times excruciating --- both due to the physical manifestations and symptoms, but also for the mental anguish involved. It takes a toll, especially on youth. I had never given a thought to insurance or deductibles, never given a thought to chronic illness or preexisiting conditions. Health insurance was a nightmare. I will never forget my doctor telling me after I was diagnosed that I would have to find a job after college with a corporation or somewhere with a large coverage pool. In essence, Insurance would determine my fate. My fate and freedom were tethered to health insurance. It would tell me when I had to leave graduate school, where I could work ---that I had to, because of a malfunctioning protein, find a job, indeed career, almost solely based on health insurance.

    I'm fortunate I had parents who had the resources and wherewithal to do things like hire attorneys and file complaints with the state insurance commissioner every time I was denied medication and treatment – what happened to the folks pre-ACA who couldn't do these things? At one point, when my doctor prescribed an expensive miracle drug fresh off FDA approval, he was forced into sending pleading faxes to the insurance company, lobbying on my behalf. The profiteers and money makers were clearly in charge --- telling the doctors what they could and could not do and prescribe. Like some sort of modern iteration of the greek gods, I can only think the insurance bureaucrats must have enjoyed the trials and tribulations they insouciantly and nonchalantly doled out, all to maximize profits for their corporate shareholders. There was the time I had fasted for 24 hours in preparation for a test, only to get to the hospital and have the nurse tell me that when she tried to run a pre-approval, insurance wasn't going to pay for the test. There was the time I had my expensive infusion of medicine at the hospital and insurance had changed the rules about where they would pay for patients to have it done. There are dozens more of these „There was the time“ tales. Every time I got something in the mail from insurance it meant I would be out a few hundred or thousand dollars or have to make fraught phone calls. It was stress on top of stress. And I had the best, most expensive, most premium, top tier insurance offered by my employer.

    In 2007 I quit my teaching job and moved to Germany, my (German) fiancee/soon-to-be-husband and I agreeing that things would likely be better for me here, both for a saner and slower pace of life as well for the universal healthcare. After getting into the insurance system upon marriage( for which my husband pays a small percentage of his salary that is matched by his employer) I was almost immediately able to visit a leading university specialist through a call from my then-new General Practitioner (with whom I have ALWAYS, without exception, gotten a same day appointment, likely within an hour of when I call, for matters both minute and more serious)The specialist put me on a similar (exceedingly costly) medical regime to what I had back in Kentucky except that instead of insurance rigamarole like EOBs and copays and deductibles I get, every two months, a 10 euro invoice from the clinic pharmacy. I pay 60 euros a year for infusions that total approximately 42,000 euros each year. I recently paid just 5 euros for antibiotics, and my three year old son, like all children under 18 in Germany, gets all of his medication for free. All his appointments are free. Furthermore, I think back to my pregnancy --- a time when I have never felt more supported and cared for by a medical system. Me --- a foreigner whose German is pretty dubious at times --- getting better, more reliable care than I had ever had in my native country with seemingly the best of everything.  I had a midwife I saw with no out of pocket costs from 12 weeks of pregnancy to three months after delivery, as well as two Ob/GYNs (my regular one and a specialist for potential complications). There were never bills in the mail for any of these services (I suppose they were simply sent straight to insurance and because the health insurance industry is so heavily regulated in Germany and not dependent on turning a profit, they just pay for things. No quibbles, no arguing).  Our almost weeklong hospital visit for our son's birth consisted of free buffets 3 times a day and sharing a room with my new baby and husband. At the end of the 6 days we went to the hospital discharge area and paid 60 euros for everything and we even had free parking at the hospital. That was it. And that's the beauty of healthcare here in Germany --- that really is it. There are no hidden charges anywhere, no traps set by bureaucrats, no bankruptcies looming for a devastating illness that could come out of nowhere. You start to feel safe with this kind of system.  

    To this day, though, when I receive mail from our insurance company here, I still shudder and open it nervously, expecting denial of coverage or trickery and an obscure reason why they don't want to cover something. It always ends up being a customer satisfaction survey, a free stress-reduction massage, or a reminder about free prevention programs. I am a refugee of the American Healthcare system, pre ACA. I don't say that to denigrate the experiences of true refugees from war torn countries who are in imminent daily danger of death, and I am fully aware of the privileges afforded to me as a white middle class American --- namely, I am considered an expat, as opposed to an immigrant or a refugee --- someone who moved to Germany voluntarily. But I felt as if my well-being and life were in danger under the old health insurance system and it seems it would be doubly so now. It struck me as a good idea to move here in 2007, but it's a necessity to stay here now. I'd never get insurance again. It bears saying again: I am a refugee of the American Healthcare system.


Regional Vice Chair & Communciations Director at Democrats Abroad