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.

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. 
Please note that the stories below are all user submited and reflect individual opinions. 

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I would rather pay more for better healthcare #DAresists #Medicare4all

In the United Kingdom, I routinely receive sub-standard care and worry anytime anything significant occurs. Almost all the major procedures I have had in the UK resulted in some malpractice. Older people here are terrified of going to hospital because many die and not of the illness they were admitted for. I have no trust in the system. Many times the doctors who can see you for only 10 minutes just give you what you ask for without any tests or google just as you did. Diseases are identified late because prevention is not priority.

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Great experience in UK #DAresists #Medicare4all

I have a history of very early preterm labor. With an injection from 16 to 36 weeks, that risk of early labor and premature birth is minimized. When I was in the US a few years ago, this drug cost $1,500 per shot (so $30,000, before insurance). It was a big deal for me to find insurance that would cover it, and it involved possibly moving states--in the middle of a high-risk pregnancy. The same drug here in Ireland...I walked out of the pharmacy with all 20 doses for about $80. This drug helped me reach full term for two pregnancies. I hate to think about the parents in the US facing another NICU stay or loss of a child because this drug is prohibitively expensive. (It used to cost $10/dose in the US before the drug company hiked the price a few years ago.)

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Two active children and no healthcare costs #DAresists #Medicare4all

I live in Denmark and have two wonderful, active children ... * Starting with two beautiful births, in water, with everything required for my wife's and the children's safety and comfort ... free, well planned and safe * Uncountable trips to the emergency room for ankles, arms, concussions, ... free, very close by and fast * Meningitis scare with fast specialist escalated treatment, two days in the hospital on a children's ward ... free, well-managed and compassionate * All dental up to the age of 18, annual check-ups, braces, and - even just yesterday - severely bashed front teeth ... free, on school premises or very close by Denmark is doing a lot of 'fiddling' with the healthcare system, but moving away from single payer is not on the agenda. The peace of mind it brings us to have free, high-quality healthcare available on demand for our children is immeasurable.

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4 Things Senator Saunders needs to learn from Canadian healthcare system #DAresists #Medicare4all

1. It relies on federal block grants (antithima to Dems) because even in a country as small a Canada, a national program would be too unwieldly and unresponsive (imagine DVA healthcare for all). Dems oppose state level programs because we are so shockingly thin in state government. This needs to be a co-priority in healthcare reform 2. Its not an instant process. Canada took 35 years from first provincial program to the current legal framework. So the US clock started running in 2006 with RomneyCare in Mass. The interim period for Canada featured intense political wrangling, industry push-back (Drs. Strikes, opting out, practitioners leaving the country) and constant tweeking and tuning. So US may be on or even ahead if course 3. Universal healthcare is not synonymous with affordable healthcare as all funding levels in Canada are acutely aware. 4. Finally and probably most importantly, since universal health care, universal health insurance and single payer healthcare are not synonymous he should look for a role model from amongst the dozen or so countries whose mixed funding universal systems regularly outscore Canada (and US) on both costs and health outcomes. We Americans equate choice with quality and choice and universality are not incompatible. Robert Thompson Kanata ON

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Universal healthcare is key to LIFE #DAresists #Medicare4all

I have several non-life threatening pre-existing conditions. They are inconvenient, at times painful, and at times wholly disruptive. They come with risks down the road. When I was in the US for a few years I was silently suffering — even with the ACA, my deductible was significantly higher than the cost of regular specialist checkups and screenings. The cost of my meds was literally prohibitive. Back in France, I am free to get the care I need, even as a freelance writer. I pay into the system and the value I get for my payments transcends any desire to have a market-based "freedom of choice" because I have the quality care and peace of mind that allow the rest of my life to continue normally. That's Real freedom of choice — the choice to have a LIFE. There's a reason people say "If you don't have your health, you don't have anything." Health and the care required to maintain it are fundamental to our existence, and France among many other countries in our world gets it. Moral arguments aside (there's no shortage of those) the US could be so much more if it cared about its human capital as much as its capitalism.

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No more worry about seeking medical attention #DAresists #Medicare4all

Before moving to Germany to study, I had two medical incidents (one of them requiring an ambulance) that my insurance declined to cover. My savings were completely wiped out from the financial shock and the prices for the procedures were exorbitantly high (an ambulance in NY costs about $100/minute which came to $2000 after a 20 minute ride). Since coming to Germany, I've discovered the benefits of a system that is not based on the monetization of healthcare. I no longer have to fear the small print on the contract pages of an insurance company, and I don't hesitate to seek medical attention when I need it.

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American brother died because of lack of health care -- from UK #DAresists #Medicare4all

I support universal health care for all my large extended family in Indiana, California, Georgia, Massachusetts, Illinois and Maine. My brother in Indiana died prematurely of Lyme disease and a stroke last week, due to the lack of affordable health care when he needed it, but couldn't afford it. PLEASE do not support the Republican Congress's changes and, instead, act to ensure universal health care for all. Pamela Ann Smith, London

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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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Preventive coverage in Canada #DAresists #Medicare4all

I have lived half my life in the USA and half in Canada. I have had positive experiences with the medical systems in both countries - because fortunately, up to this point I have been healthy and have not had any serious medical issues or emergencies. One benefit to the Canadian system that isn't often mentioned or considered is that it promotes wellness and preventative medicine. When one doesn't have to worry about the cost of a doctor visit one is more likely to go to the doctor to have minor issues diagnosed or checked out BEFORE they become a crisis or a more complicated situation requiring expensive and lengthy treatments. Universal health care gives me peace of mind and helps me to stay healthy. Thanks for all you do, DA! Sincerely, Stephanie

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Anecdote from Sweden #DAresists #Medicare4all

I live in Sweden. Last month my dad had an infection and spent 17 days in the hospital. Total cost: SEK 1700 (USD 213). Thank goodness for guaranteed, affordable health care. Not only that, on the doctor's recommendation, he was entitled to one month of paid sick leave to recuperate. Why anyone would oppose single-payer, universal health care is beyond me. I care deeply about this issue because my family and friends live stateside. I wish the same peace of mind for them that we have here.

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Let me put my support for universal health care this way.... #DAresists #Medicare4all

I sometimes think about returning to the USA to live but always reach the same negative conclusion that I do not wish to endure the unnecessary costs and complexity of the American medical system. It's a decisive consideration.

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Health Care in New Zealand #DAresists #Medicare4all

Last year I tore my ACL skiing in New Zealand while there on a working holiday visa. After a trip to the physio I learned about ACC; a program that provides healthcare coverage to everyone within the boundaries of New Zealand if they are injured in any type of accident. At the time I was 25 and had just lost my American health insurance the month prior when my dad lost his job. So my options were to stay in NZ and have knee surgery done without having to pay anything out of pocket, or return to America for surgery and be in debt thousands of dollars. As a recent graduate I was not too keen on adding medical debt on top of my student loans. I was due to leave New Zealand in 10 days and had no intentions of staying but obviously I had to for the surgery. It took me a while to get over how insane it was that I couldn't return to my OWN COUNTRY to have surgery where I'd have my family to take care of me. Lucky for me I had an incredibly generous group of Kiwis who got me through this difficult situation, both physically and emotionally. -Kaylyn Hobelman

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Things work GREAT in the UK #DAresists #Medicare4all

Less stress on Health, big benefits for society #DAresists #Medicare4all I moved to the UK over a decade ago to study music and stayed on, eventually marrying a Brit. Working in the arts comes with periods of financial uncertainty and not having to have the added worry of what would happen if I injured myself or got ill has always been a comfort. I have not had to pay for expensive private health insurance or premiums for the health concerns I've had and such savings allows me to direct my energy and income towards artistic/career decisions and continue to do good work in the arts. I think healthcare is a right and the basis of a well-functioning society. It allows space for people to fulfill their potential and contribute fully to their communities and society overall.

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Scorecard: Money and Longevity #DAresists #Medicare4all

United States Italy Gross Domestic Product per capita $57,467 $30,527 Health spending per capita $9,892 $3,391 Life expectancy at birth 78.8 years 82.6 years What’s Their Secret? As an American physician practicing in Rome I'm convinced the main reason Italians get more bang for their health care buck is that they have a single-payer National Health Service, financed out of taxes. Everyone can see their own primary care doctor and be cared for in the hospital without paying a penny, while medications, testing, and specialist exams require at worst a tiny co-pay. Add in low income inequality and a famously healthy lifestyle, and Italy has more than enough on the plus side to compensate for its medical system’s many flaws. Susan Levenstein, MD www.stethoscopeonrome.com

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Healthcare in Alberta Pt. 2 #DAresists #Medicare4all

Ten years later, 2017, I now have a new replacement of my left knee. Why? Arthritis, of course. So, I’m now bionic!! No Charge! My seven physio treatments following surgery - No Cost! The three further treatments my physiotherapist requested of Alberta Health were approved, No Charge! My husband enjoyed having Kidney Stones so much that he was hospitalized 5 times. Rarely did they pass on their own. Sometimes they used a lazer to break them up. No Charge!!! Our children are grown and have their own families. My husband and I are seniors. Our medications never cost us more than $25.00/prescription, and usually much less. An exception would be a medication which is not listed under Alberta Health. If the drug is needed, by Doctor’s request, our Pharmacist can contact Alberta Health, explain the situation, and the drug could then be added as a medication I need. All our hospitalizations, ambulance rides, No Charge! We no longer pay into Alberta Health. We never had the need to buy extra health insurance. American Congress, it doesn’t get any better than this. Your families across America could pay into Health Care by the quarter, at a rate determined by the family’s size and ability to pay. The top 2% can easily pay their own way and not draw on the monies needed for low income, working poor, and middle class. As I sit here in Edmonton, AB, Canada, I just shake my head at the cruelty of the Republican Party and what it is willing to inflict on the American People. None of that is necessary, and it certainly is not humane. America is not, and never has been, a leader in the field of Health Care. You are waaay behind the other free democracies of Europe. You, Republicans need to work with the Democrats to come up with a Health Care Plan as Great as the one I enjoy in Edmonton. If Canada, with more land, but fewer people, can do this the USA Should be able to do it. SHOULD, but NOT WILLING to, because of your silly politics and politicians. You put yourselves in the way of your Constituents, and Cooperation. I Believe America CAN do this. If you WILL do this, is the question.

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The right to health care is written into the Costa Rican constitution #DAresists #Medicare4all

Costa Rica has a government health care system, for which I pay only about $20 per month, which covers everything, doctor's visits, labs, meds, etc. ; and a private health care system that is a whole lot cheaper than in the USA. The gov. system or "Caja" is excellent for life-threatening situations, but for non-life-threatening situations there are long waits. For a hip replacement, for example, you'd probably have to wait 5 years. Many people use both gov. and private health care, for faster service such as doctor's visit or an X-ray, if they can afford it. The gov. system is under threat of privatization, unfortunately. I tell Ticos to protect the "Caja".

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Nearly 50 years of great health care from an American living in Canada #DAresists #Medicare4all

When I transferred from NYC to Montreal in August1970, I thought it would be for a few years - just the time to complete my education and work on improving my French. That fall paperwork arrived announcing the beginning of universal healthcare. I filled it in, and received my card. I thought nothing of it; I was a healthy 24-year-old. At 25 years and 11 months, I married. At 27 years and 8 months, our son arrived. Had we not asked for a private room, there would have been no fees for my few days in the hospital post-delivery. The exorbitant bill came to all of $25. At 29 years and 7 months, our daughter arrived; same scenario, though a day or two less in hospital, and same bill. All their well-baby checkups were free of charge. As were all their vaccinations, every trip to the ER for ear-aches, fevers, colds, minor injuries, one ambulance ride and all the x-rays needed to verify that clumsy son's header into the shallow end of a pool hadn't done great damage, the collar he had to wear the rest of that summer. When I felt under the weather, it turned out I had inherited my mother's hypothyroidism. Radioactive iodine uptake test showed it was about three-quarters kaput. Lifelong followup and daily pills. OK, the pills aren't exactly free, but the cost of the prescription - even before the provincial government began its prescription plan - didn't cause me any hardship, and we were living paycheck-to-paycheck and never in the black. The testing and followups are all covered. In 1989, I was diagnosed with diabetes. All the testing and followups, all the diabetes education classes, ALL entirely covered. The children's vision and dental care was covered until age 18 (or 21? or end of post-secondary schooling? They're in their 40s now, and I don't remember when it ended.) And the absolute best part of all this carefree medical coverage is that, beyond renewing the healthcare card every four years, there is NO paperwork on the patient's end. No, it's not really FREE. The personal tax rate in Quebec isn't low by any means, but it's a price that's easily and painlessly paid. When I'd come here, I knew nothing of all this. I had fully intended returning to the US to make my life. I'll never relinquish my US citizenship, but I don't believe I'll ever be returning either. Picture this: I was visiting my mother in NYC. I helped her corral a cat that needed to be taken to the vet. Her cat was uncooperative, and sank her teeth into my hand in the process of capturing. I immediately washed and treated the puncture wounds. By the time we got to the vet, my hand had swollen up like a rubber glove; the vet told us to get me to an ER. Well, we'd already decided to do that. So, off we went to the ER of the hospital my mother usually used. After four hours sitting unseen in the waiting room, I was called. Much to my mother's distress, the hospital refused to have anyone even look at my swollen hand! There was no way they could treat me, since I wasn't my mother!!! No amount of cash could change their ruling!!! WTF!!! So across town to another ER which the first said would care for me. Another long wait. I was finally seen, treated, prescribed a course of antibiotics, and sent on my way. I haven't a clue how much my mother had to pay, but I'm betting it was at least triple digits. Had that occurred here in Montreal, ANY hospital's ER would have treated my injury without a lengthy wait - open wounds get cared for before most other cases excepting those arriving by ambulance. From arrival to exit would probably have been under an hour, and - because treated without twelve hours delay - I probably wouldn't have been off work for a week after my two-week vacation. Other seniors retire to sunny destinations. I don't even consider it, because the healthcare costs are scarily high.

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Lower Premiums, Higher Level of Covered Care #DAresists #Medicare4all

My monthly premium, even with additional services riders, is approximately 2/3's the cost of my premiums as a U.S. Federal government retiree. I have an annual deductible, but no copays for professional visits, medications, and/or diagnostics. Overall, my cost of care is approximately 1/2 of what it was in the U.S. I recently had a total knee replacement with all the pre-care, surgery and 4-day hospital stay, and post-surgical rehab covered through my insurance premium--no extra costs!

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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!

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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.

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