Healthcare Stories

Health care stories from abroad

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.

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We'll share these stories with Congress to help in their fight for affordable healthcare for all Americans. 
Please note that the stories below are all user submited and reflect individual opinions. 

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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


Great maternity support in the UK #DAresists #Medicare4all

I have had great care on the NHS during two complicated pregnancies. I would also have had great care in America -- if I could afford it. My treatment would have cost tens of thousands of dollars; in the UK, it cost nothing out of pocket -- as it should be. Healthcare is not a job perk. It is essential, and it should be available to all citizens at the point of need, fully funded through taxes.


Overseas and Homesick #DAresists #Medicare4all

My health care story is simple. We came to Israel in 2011, before there was an ACA, because after his retirement from the USPO, my husband no longer had health care. He was covered under Medicare, but I wasn't, and we just could not afford health care insurance as well as the medicines I needed for my COPD and other illnesses. We moved to Israel, and it's a country where I just don't fit in, but going home isn't possible. My husband has advanced Parkinson's Disease, so we're stuck in a country I hate.


#Medicare4All #DAResists #HealthCareRefugee #DAresists #Medicare4all

About 15 years ago while visiting the neurologist for migraines, an MRI scan (at a cost of $0) turned up 2 benign tumors. I had MRI scans annually for the next decade. About 3 years ago, the tumors were removed (at a cost of $0). I continue to have follow up MRIs. I see neuro ophthalmologists and neuro surgeons. No cost. I have had 2 D&Cs, 1 C section and 1 vaginal birth - all no cost. Medications are subsidized. Can’t go home to the US because of pre existing conditions and unable to get affordable insurance.


$7.00 for tonsillectomy in Canada (mid 70s!) #DAresists #Medicare4all

To Whom It May Concern in the USA— From my youngest daughter’s $7.00 tonsillectomy in the mid-70s to my recent hospital overnight sleep apnea test (“free”—covered by my taxes and an annual family insurance cost of just over $1,000 per year with no direct out of pocket expenses for the hospital stay or sophisticated testing), as a USAmerican citizen living in CANADA (and voting regularly in CO) it escapes me the resistance to universal, single payer health care coverage in the USA! R. G. Doll, BC


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


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


Mexico Health Care #DAresists #Medicare4all

I have for 10 years been under the care of an ENT(Ear,Nose&Throat) specialist in Texas. I receive a Medrol injection every 8-12 weeks for Reactive Airway Disease. This cost $40.00 once my United Health Care Insurance Deductable has been met. When I moved to Yucatán I had to seek this routine injection from the Physicians that are located at the Ahorro Pharmacies. The Physicians are rotating Physicians, who are usually young and new in the field and I presume are fulfilling their residency or intern educational needs. They do an assessment and provide a Prescription that I hand carry next door to the Pharmacy and fill. I then return to the attached clinic next door and the physicians then administer the injection absolutely free of charge. I just pay for the medication and syringe. This is very cost saving as there are Ahorro Pharmacies all around the city, Merida. I have to drive one hour in Texas to access my ENT Specialist.


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


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.


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!


$30,000 in U.S. vice 10 Euros in Germany -- and the 10 Euros goes further! #DAresists #Medicare4all

While I was in college Ohio, I had a severe staph infection and had to be hospitalizd for nearly a month. When I returned home, I still needed outpatient care for about 3 weeks. I had a Student Healthcare plan, but the insurance company denied payment b/c of pre-existing conditions. (I suffer from extreme neurodermitis since birth, and the staph infection is a common secondary effect). I wound up owing the hospital nearly 30,000 dollars. Fast forward 3 years. I am laying in a hospital in Germany for a month, and have only been insured for 10 months. I paid but 10 Euros (roughly the same in dollars) a day for care and treatment rivaling that which I received in the US. I also suffer from allergies, asthma, and Keratoconus, and require constant medical aid, which is only affordable through Universal Health Care. In the US, I constantly lost or had to give up jobs b/c of my condition. Thanks to Germanys fair and stable Universal Health Care system, I can work steadily and enjoy life with my family. -- Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach, for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have all of them ready on your lips. - Proverbs 22:17-18


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)


Another Health Story #DAresists #Medicare4all

My husband and I retired to Baja California, Mexico 10 years ago because we simply couldn't afford to retire in the US, especially since neither one of us had health insurance and had been without it for almost 20 years previously. We found that the Mexican socialist system of universal health care took care of all our needs. We have had two major operations here, performed skillfully by well-trained doctors, and paid cash for both of them - combined cost $18,000. Those operations in the US would have ruined us financially. We'd be bankrupt. Here's an important fact to note. There are millions of other senior citizens like us who have retired to Mexico and other Latin American countries. Every year we get our social security checks deposited in our bank accounts in the US. Then we go to the ATMs in these foreign countries and we withdraw that cash and spend it in these other countries, NOT IN THE UNITED STATES! Can you even begin to estimate how much of that money could be stimulating the American economy, instead of Mexico's? And most of it is because of the insanely high cost of medical care in the US. Add to that the low wages and poor prospects for owing your own home or retiring on an income that's affordable (the cost of food alone is at least 4 times higher in the US than in Mexico), and you have a truly nonfunctional system. It works great for the 1% at the top, but the rest of the country is going to hell - or to Mexico - and lest you think we are suffering here, let me assure you that we are living in a beautiful location that is much safer than our former home in the US. Not all stereotypes are true. That's our story. Thanks for listening.


Universal health-care in Spain takes care of me in my retirement #DAresists #Medicare4all

I have been living and working in Spain since 1964. There was a moment that I thought it was a temporary situation. Then I went back to the US with the thought of relocating there. After talking to friends and discovering what they were paying for health insurance, I changed my mind. Plus a horror story from my own family definitely changed my mind. A brother-in-law had a heart attack IN A HOSPITAL. He was later presented with a $40,000 bill that his insurance refused to pay and they cancelled his policy. This after years of paying $800 a month! Four years later and a court case, the hospital settled for $25,000. Something doesn't make sense. I am now retired and receiving wonderful medical attention cost-free. This does not mean that it is free. I paid into Social Security for years but am now enjoying the benefits of stress-free medical care that allows me to live comfortably on my pension without worries. So, wake up, America. Health-care should take care of you not bankrupt you.


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


Singing 30 years of praises from Canada! #DAresists #Medicare4all

I can't sing the praises of universal health care enough. When I immigrated to Canada I was pregnant. I went from paying for each prenatal visit and not knowing how I'd pay for the delivery to free prenatal care both from my family doctor and the local health nurse. Free hospitalization during even during a nursing strike and free post natal care. I had complications requiring a week stay in hospital. I paid nothing. Now, over 30 years later my family and I never worry about how we are going to afford health care nor health care premiums. In my province the poor pay no premiums. And we choose a doctor of our choice (not limited to any one HMO plan). My son requires ongoing specialist care - completely free. No problem with a sub-class of service due to his lack of income (disability pension only). He sees the same specialists as everyone else. I hear from my family in the US about their worries about health care both quality and cost. I have a sister who had to refinance her home just to afford the deductible for a surgery. I have never had to worry about obtaining or affording quality health care since residing in Canada. It's a blessing beyond measure.


Talk radio strikes again! #DAresists #Medicare4all

It's frustrating when my friends living in the US - who have never lived outside the US - tell me about how poor healthcare is in the UK. In reality, the UK system beats the US hands-down. One weekend I experienced problems with vision in one eye. I called my local GP who said the problem could be serious (a detached retina) and get to the practice immediately. He had a look and referred me to the world-class London Eye Hospital. They saw me on Monday, diagnosed non sight-threatening vitreous detachment, and sent me home relieved. There was no bill. Think about how this would have been dealt with in the US, and what it would have cost.


I live in Germany. #DAresists #Medicare4all

As an EXPAT it was required to have a German healthcare insurance.While the insurance, plus other than health included, it seems to be reasonable in cost. Expats in Germany "do not cost Germany one cent. #DAresists #Medicare4all


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.