Thank you to everyone who has sent in their universal health care story. As you can see from the very many stories in the pages below, many Americans living abroad feel strongly about this issue. We believe that our stories will make a difference by showing the many sides of universal healthcare - from an average check up, to a hospital stay, to stories about our lives being saved thanks to universal health care.
Would you like to add your story? It's not too late, here's how: Take a selfie with our selfie card (or draw your own!), then add your picture and story in the texbox. You can also make a video and send in the url (just add the link in the textbox).
We'll share these stories with Congress to help in their fight for affordable healthcare for all Americans. (Read our press release here)
Please note that the stories below are all user submited and reflect individual opinions.
I'm a US citizen living in Canada since 1983. Since the U.S. evokes God under whom it exists, a confidence that runs deep, I wish to contrast the U.S. and Canada in terms of bottomline... I too am a religious/spiritual person. The bottomline is this...which God does the U.S. of A choose to live under; the God of compassion or the god of mammon. You either reign in the health care industry gorging itself on profits - essentially profits wrapped in body bags or you apply universal compassion that undermines obscene profits where everyone has coverage - it's either one or the other. From what I know, both country's have waiting lines, my US friends like to point fingers...the difference is people up here wait in line to see a doctor, down there people wait to die. I love my country, my heart swells when I hear the anthem, but I am sickened by the lack of backbone of political leaders who continually sell their souls out to the "in god we trust" on a dollar bill. To my country, go the distance to be universally compassionate...
These Australian health care photos demonstrate that a Universal Healthcare system can effectively coexist alongside of capitalism. South Australia Health has brilliantly partnered with David Jones department store at Adelaide's Rundle Mall, for a space to provide free screening mammograms to all woman--even me as an American citizen residing in this great country. All woman to access the BreastScreen SA clinic had to pass through David Jones's shoe and lingerie department. I am sure products were purchased. A brilliant synergestic example of Universal Healthcare and Capitalism for a mutual financial benefit. Not to mention the ease, and reduction in fear for women to slip into pleasant store rather than an intimidating clinic for a mammogram. This also, provides for an increase in early detection as women more likely will get the recommended mammogram when either shopping or even better yet for some women, an opportunity to meet a friend at a nearby cozy cafe. I loved my mammogram experience and hope to share this partership opportunity back in the United States.
I would be bankrupt and dead three times over without Sweden's universal healthcare system. As long as we've lived here I've been grateful for knowing that everyone is covered, everyone has health insurance. We're a community, we help each other. Then I had reason to need that help myself.
1. In 2010 I had HPV-induced tongue-base cancer which had spread to a lymph gland. I received six weeks of daily radiation plus weekly chemotherapy, followed by brachytherapy (radium inserted directly into where the primary tumor had been). I got a radiation burn which got infected and I was in the hospital for a week, plus another week with the brachytherapy and complications. I was on a feeding tube for three months because of extreme pain in my mouth and tongue. The cancer has shown no sign of recurring. I was charged $10/day while in the hospital to cover my food. I got heavily-subsidized food pouches for the feeding tube. I paid about $125 for all medical visits during the year, and about $225 for all prescriptions. I've had excellent follow-up care at the dental-surgery clinic because the radiation damaged the circulation in my jaw. A wisdom tooth became loose and was just removed after 4 weeks of hyperbaric (high-pressure) treatments breathing pure oxygen for two hours each day -- plus another two weeks after the tooth removal.
2. In 2013 I had bladder cancer. One polyp was "shaved" away and three smaller ones were cauterized. Later I had six weeks of BCG (weakened TB virus) treatments twice, and still later six weeks of chemo treatments directly in my bladder. There have been 6-month follows throughout this period. Costs are similar to those above (except that I haven't been in the hospital -- and the tests and procedures weren't as high-tech -- so okay, I might not have been bankrupt that time).
3. In 2016 I had heart failure -- my heart was beating irregularly and at three-times it's normal rate -- and could hardly breathe. I was in the hospital for two weeks during which there were all kinds of high-tech (and expensive) tests conducted (angiogram, MRI, ultrasound), culminating in atrial ablation (a tube was inserted into an vein in my groin, then threaded through to my heart where small patches were burned out (scarred) to prevent electrical signals from firing irregularly. Since then I've been on four daily medications, at least one of which is quite expensive. All this with costs as above.
I feel totally healthy. I'm 70 and slowing down, sure. But I'm not dead. I saw my daughter graduate medical school last June and start her first job as a doctor, and have also seen my son (who is younger) get his first job and thrive. My wife seems to like keeping me around too. (She was also a major help, of course, in getting me through each of these episodes, especially the oral cancer and heart failure.)
Thank you to Swedish universal healthcare!
I arrived to my new Edinburgh, UK home on December 29th. By the 10th of January, my tonsils had swollen up so much I couldn't eat, couldn't talk, couldn't swallow. What to do in a country with a completely foreign-to-me health care system? I hadn't even been set up with a GP (your local doctor you sign up with) yet! I found that I could go to A & E (Accidents and Emergencies) and be seen there. After hearing lots of American right-wing paranoia about socialized healthcare, I expected to arrive at this A&E hospital and experience rushed service, long wait times, and bare minimum care. Couldn't have been farther from the truth. I was seen within 20 minutes of arriving, my nurse was extremely thorough and gentle, and I was given antibiotics on the spot ( and for free since I had paid my yearly NHS surcharge as an American student). Fast forward to Spring. I've been signed up with my local GP for months now. It's a 5 minute walk from my house. I've seen several doctors at this location, and they are all friendly, thorough, and knowledgable. I've woken up one day with a severe eye infection; my eye has swollen shut. I call at 8am for an appointment with the doctor, and they see me a few hours later. I'm given a prescription for medicated eye drops and I walk one block from the doctors to the pharmacy. Within 15 minutes, I'm given my eye drops without any money being exchanged. Fast forward to Summer. I'm in my first serious relationship in many years. I've never had birth control in the States; the added cost had convinced me not to use it unless necessary. I decide to now research my birth control options and choose one to use in the here and now, in the UK, administered under the NHS. I made an appointment with a lovely, confident, knowledgable doctor at my Bruntsfield Medical Practice, and within 30 minutes had the BC implant inserted into my arm. I'm in awe and gratitude every time I experience the health system here in the UK. I've watched a fellow American friend here discover a diagnosis with skin cancer and be fully tested, treated, and cared for, with as many visits and procedures administered as needed to improve and manage her health. I've never felt more safe, secure, confident in being able to control my health and happiness because of the National Health Service here in the UK. Healthcare is not a privilege. Health care is a human right. Healthcare is not a privilege. Health care is a human right. Healthcare is not a privilege. Health care is a human right. Healthcare is not a privilege. Health care is a human right. Healthcare is not a privilege. Health care is a human right.
We moved here in 2006-my wife has dual citizenship, and I became a permanent resident shortly afterwards. They gave me access to their health care system. I had a massive hearth attack in 2010- had surgery and they patched the pericardium. Im also a diabetic taking insulin. Im grateful to the care I receive here ,not sure we’ll be able to make in the Us
I have Crohn's disease and am currently enjoying my first unmedicated remission (2 years so far!) since being ill for 20 years. My husband recently expressed his fear that my health might get that bad again. When I shared his fear with my doctor, the response "you'll likely never be that ill again" took me by surprise and my response was incredibly emotional. When I first became ill, I didn't have health insurance. I was being raised by a single mum and I hid my illness as long as I could until it became emergent. My father lived in a nearby state and put me on his insurance so that I was able to get care, stay in hospital for a month and have 3 life-saving surgeries in 9 months. That was me sorted until I aged out of my father's insurance, which resulted in my ignoring my illness until it got too bad, going to the ER, being admitted to hospital and given temporary medication and having medical bills too high to pay and signing on to state aid to pay the bills. Flaring that often and that hard as well as not having a relationship with one caregiver meant that my body was irrevocably damaged. A little over 2 years ago, I had a major surgery to remove the damage and outfit me with a permanent ostomy. This means that I can no longer move back to the US, as I need a regular supply of ostomy products, which can easily be covered with health insurance, but which would quickly become costly without. I know that my quality of life and care were only possible with insurance and a relationship with one doctor monitoring my health. This is what I tell my representatives when I call them from here in Zürich, Switzerland.