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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Great Pregnancy Coverage in York, England #DAresists #Medicare4all

I support universal healthcare! I live in York, England. I use the NHS. It's incredible. I'm 8 months pregnant, was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, and have my scans, appointments, diabetes treatment free at point of delivery. When I found out I was pregnant, my father sent me money, thinking I'd need to pay out of pocket. I sent it back because the NHS will take care of you, even though I'm from the USA. I've used the NHS as an asthmatic and I cannot fault the system or care. I feel relaxed heading into delivery, as I'll discuss the options with my team without wondering about whether one option will cost more, will my insurance cover it, how long will my insurance cover me for staying in the hospital, etc. I've had all vaccinations, checkups, tests, without worrying about paying a dime out of pocket. This level of stress free pregnancy should be universal everywhere. I'm on a pregnancy forum, where many of the women are American and in the States. They discuss whether they'll be able to pay for the hospital bill, how they hope they don't have complications, that they cannot afford an ambulance to the hospital if something happens. It's heartbreaking and this just shouldn't happen. Andrea B. York, England

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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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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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Universal Health Care in the UK #DAresists #Medicare4all

When I lived in the US, I had medical care until I was 21 because my parents were working for the US military. After that, I had no medical coverage whatsoever until I managed to get a job with a company that was in an HMO network. Even then, I didn't want to see a doctor because of the co-pay and luckily I never had to go to the emergency room. Now, in the UK, I don't have to worry how much a doctor's visit will cost me. I can feel free to speak to a doctor about a mild pain I've had for years, or for a very bad migraine or illness. No, it's not perfect, but it's far better than what most people in the US have to deal with. Horror stories of people killing themselves because of medical bills don't exist in the UK. Cancer patients and car crash victims don't have huge bills that debilitate them for decades after surviving. Universal healthcare works!

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Wonderful health care in France #DAresists #Medicare4all

I have never lived in France but for seven years my husband and I owned a second home in a small town in Provence. I have allergies to just about everything that blooms there, and one year I had a particularly bad time with wheezing, sneezing and coughing so I visited Dr. Issot, our village physician. He spoke some English, thankfully since my French vocab for medical terms is limited, and he spent about an hour with me, asking about my symptoms, listening to my chest, etc. The charge for the hour visit was about $25 US. I also received three prescriptions - for an inhaler, an antibiotic and an antihistamine, and the total at the local pharmacy was about $35 US. I shudder to think what this would have cost in the States. We have American friends who live in France full time and are on the French health care system, and they love it. They are elderly and have some health problems, and they have had physicians even come to their home to check on them. They say there's no comparison with the terrible health care we have in the States. I don't understand why the U.S. can't look at other systems around the world, cherry pick the best parts, and then come up with some universal health care that will work for all of us.

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Prescription drugs #DAresists #Medicare4all

When I lived in the US, I had to pay a $200 deductible every month when I got my prescription asthma medication refilled. In Canada, the medicine is covered by the public insurance, so I don't need to make the choice to forgo my asthma medications.

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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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Romney Care was a life saver that should be available to all #DAresists #Medicare4all

My mother contracted Alzheimer’s in her mid 70s (about 20 years ago) after a fall and a hospital stay that required giving her morphine for the pain. Although she her broken ribs healed, her mind was never the same. Her general forgetfulness turned into otherworldliness. The cost of in-home daycare was prohibitive and after we got home, still wiped us out each night trying to keep up with her. She was still ambulatory, but was out of our control — sort of like a large 3-year old. After a few years of shuffling her back and forth between family homes every six months or so (my brother in Massachusetts, a cousin in Florida and eventually me in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico), It was obvious we couldn't care for her that way any longer. She had worked all her life at low-income wages, had her own home, but couldn't live there any longer alone and her income was only about 600 dollars in social security per month. We looked into rest homes in Massachusetts, where my brother could keep an eye on her, but we couldn't afford them — the minimum cost was about 3,000 U.S. per month. My brother and Icould only come up with about 400-500 dollars per month each from our meager incomes. So we sold her home and she stayed in Mexico, where a rest home run by a well-respected gerontologist could take care of her for less than 14,000 dollars per year, everything included.She got progressively less responsive and finally couldn't recognize her family. Eventually, after almost eight years here in Mexico, even with us chipping in the money ran out, and we looked for other options. Ex-Governor Mitt Romney had run for president and while bad mouthing government-paid health care to appease the Republican base, but had left a fantastic system in place in Massachusetts. So we flew Mom home from Guadalajara (not an easy task) and worked the system for a couple of difficult months with expensive in-home care until we were able to get her into a rest home in Hyannis, were my brother could see her a few times a week and other nearby relatives could check in on her. The state health care system paid for everything and even left my brother with a few dollars each month from what was left from her meager social security so he could get her hair cut, buy her new clothes, some glasses so she could see us, ect. She passed away three years ago at 91 years old.We were thankful that she was well cared for her last three years in her home state and that we weren’t bankrupt in the process. I think that people who work their whole lives and play by the rules shouldn’t be dumped because they weren’t in a high-earning bracket.Most of the people I know make less than their parents did in the 1950s ‘60s and ‘70s, when the U.S. working class had pretty good wages and benefits. My dad, a fellow who never went to college, but is one of the Great Generation, who went to WWII and worked for the federal and state governments, makes more with his various pensions than I can take home with my white-collar job running my own business. That sums up a lot of working folks situations these days. If health care for the working class isn’t a priority for a nation that spends more on health care then any country in the world, then why should national cohesion be expected?How can we be expected to be good citizens when the country takes us for granted? I don’t advocate a socialized economy, but I think what I’ve read and heard about universal health care coverage is part of what makes the United States a great nation. It takes care of its own.I do not think that leaving the half of the nation that can least afford it to fend for itself when the chips are down is part of the American dream, that the Great Generation fought for or part of the legacy they left us. I've lived in Mexico for the past 27 years and see what unequal systems can do to destabilize national cohesion — and this in a fairly homogeneous country. In a country like the U.S. where more than 30 percent of the population are immigrants, only the rule of law and the idea of fairness can keep the country united. Don't let inequality in one of the most basic situations in life —the health of the nation's people — make the country I have been mostly proud to call mine turn into a place where only the rich can survive. Sean Godfrey Former Massachusetts resident Registered Democrat

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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

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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

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First time mom in Italy #DAresists #Medicare4all

I moved to Italy after my Italian husband and I married; we considered starting in the US but the cost of healthcare was too prohibitive. My line of work is usually contract only which does not offer health coverage. After moving to Italy I received a health card almost immediately and felt like it was such a gift; though in retrospect it shouldn’t feel like that, it should be the norm. A few months later I was pregnant and all tests and checkups and emergency visits were covered. With the exception of an early (still in trial phase so not covered) genetic prescreening because of age, I paid next to €0 during pregnancy. Hospital stay, labor and delivery, all care was covered. When speaking with family in the US they were amazed that I didn’t have to worry about bills, I could invest all my time and thought to my child.

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Great experience from 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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Universal health care story #DAresists #Medicare4all

I had a bicycle accident in April. I am 69 years old and it was quite a 'break' in my life. I still work and like anyone who has an accident, i was no prepared. I broke my leg and my elbow (still recovering!). Passers by were helpful. Called the ambulance which took me to the nearest hospital where i was treated the same as everyone else and waited my turn for a very excellent bunch of services including x-ray, CT Scan, MRI and eventually surgery on both parts of my body. Complete with titanium implants. I was then taken to an amazing rehab facility which is attached to the hospital and given really wonderful care until i was able to walk with a cane and get up the 14 steps to my second floor upon returning home. Everything from start to finish was kind, compassionate and quite proficient. Once i returned home i was given 8 sessions of physiotherapy and assistance taking showers until i could manage it myself. all the wonderful care kept me from being depressed (they also provided me with pain killers and any other things i needed, which in my case was minimal). On account of this i was highly motivated to continue my own care after returning home. If i had had to make decisions about what to spend money on or not (i am not insured with work. My care was totally OHIP covered) it would have been a much more stressful and less successful recovery. As it was it took from April 13th when i had the accident to May 6th, when i returned home to get me more or less out of the system. Follow up was good as well. the surgeon kept his eye on me until the bones were successfully knitted. I shudder to think what it would have been like without universal health care. I have watched my niece in the USA decide not to go to the hospital for stitches after cutting herself badly with glass because she couldn't really afford it. Her pensioned mother had to offer. Ridiculous. My other, less specific input is that I was a single mother with a deadbeat ex for many years. I never had to worry about medical care for myself or my daughter. one less form of humiliation not to mention security. I am deeply grateful to live in a country that offers this to all it's people.

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18 month old daughter with severe case of bronchiolitis #DAresists #Medicare4all

My daughter was 18 months old and had been suffering from congestion for about a week. I didn't think much of it until she woke up one night and I noticed that she was having labored breathing. She laid still in her crib, her chest collapsing. She wasn't crying so it was clearly evident that something was wrong. We immediately took her to the hospital where she was admitted immediately. We spent 3 days in the hospital, the first night being the most intense. She was connected to an IV, had a catheter, and had to wear an oxygen mask. Every few hours the nurses came in to administer her dose of steroids. They bathed her and did their best to keep her from crying. It was difficult to watch because she was just a baby and was being pricked by needles and forced to endure other scary moments that would be difficult even for adults to handle. After a few days, she was cleared to go home. When they handed us the paperwork we weren't quite sure what to do. The nurses looked at us like we were crazy because we just stood there waiting to be handed some kind of bill. Prior to this, I don't think I really had a strong opinion because I had never had an experience to know otherwise. However, from that day on, I feel very adamant about socialized healthcare. The pediatricians, pediatric nurses, and ER staff provided excellent care. Had this happened in the United States, we would have had to have paid a few thousand dollars, not taking into account the medicine that was required afterward either. Her nebulizer and salbutomal inhaler, together, cost less than €20. This is just one example, but I have many others. Both my children were born in Spain so we have numerous experiences dealing with the healthcare system. No parent, or anyone for that matter, should have to worry about the cost of medical treatment when it comes to the health of a loved one.

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I strongly support universal health care #DAresists #Medicare4all

I love universal healthcare because ... as a American citizen firstly studying abroad and now, having earned my PhD, working as a university lecturer in the UK, I have zero health care in the US. In the UK, I was seen twice at Moorfields Eye Hospital and more than seven times in hospital under the NHS (including once by the xray department) without a single co-pay charge. This meant that I didn't have to worry about how I was going to pay for my treatment as well as worrying about an ongoing condition itself.

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No Need to Fear the Ambulance #DAresists #Medicare4all

I was hit by a car while crossing the street last year and, naturally, concerned passers-by called an ambulance. This ambulance and the care I then received in the hospital would have caused me to go into 4-figure debt in the US. Luckily, I live in Luxembourg. I was billed $120 that was then fully reimbursed by the national health fund - along with the bills for all of my physical therapy. This kind of healthcare saves lives and I wish desperately that my loved ones back home could benefit from the same kind of system, instead of having to plead with onlookers not to call an ambulance after an accident because they can't afford it.

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Health care is important in all countries of the world .... #DAresists #Medicare4all

Health care is important in all countries of the world and not just in the United States and he shows human Governments towards their people and not only that but the State reduce health care disbursements and reduce chronic diseases and thinking people advises health programmes and will cost less and have to be Everybody can get it for free and there are a lot of programs you can use to live healthy and healthy food and I support health care because I can't stand seeing anyone lying on bed and cannot enjoy this beautiful life and man deserves to be used in the service of peoples development

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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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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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German health care - AOK #DAresists #Medicare4all

I live in Germany, where I worked for 25 years. I am now retired and have full health care coverage for me and my family. Last week my wife woke up in the middle of the night with severe chest pains. I drove her to the emergency room in the local hospital. (only because it was quicker than waiting for an ambulance.) She was admitted immediately and began numerous tests, blood pressure, EKG, blood makeup, Xrays, Ultra sound and more. She stayed for three days, two nights, for observation. She was given various medications during her stay. Luckily it was determined to be a sever asthma attack with shortness of breath and a panic reaction. Today I received the Hospital invoice. 10€ a day for a total of 30€. When we were raising our kids, the Kinderartz (pediatrician) came to our home, and within minutes of a call, when we thought it was am emergency. Ambulance rides, free; Doctor visits, free and never any wait, other than the usual Doctor office wait. A few months ago I had a Hiatal Hernia. Diagnoses, MRI for confirmation, prep, surgery, recovery with 3 days in the hospital, again total cost was 30€. I can't afford to retire in the USA. I'm stuck here in Bavaria. Prost!

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