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.
If we lived in the US prior to the ACA, we would either be bankrupt or my husband would be dead or in assisted living and in pain for the last fifteen years. He was diagnosed with an aggressive prostate cancer in 2000, herniated a disc in 2001, needed a hip replacement in 2007, and has had radiation for the cancer and multiple operations related to his knees, hips, back, and other problems. The bills would have been staggering in the US. He received all the care and treatment he needed and is still at home and as comfortable as possible at the age of 88 thanks to Alberta Home Care, who sends assistants twice a day to help with dressing and showering and an RN every two weeks to check up on him. I cannot tell you how important it is to know that his needs have been and will be looked after without the prospect of losing our life's earnings or selling our house. I also cannot believe that people in the US don't understand that they spend far more per capita even now on health care for much worse outcomes. Wait times can be long sometimes, yes, but they are determined by need, not the size of the wallet. I trust that I will get critical care immediately if necessary. And no, they don't do death panels here. That only happens in the US or third world countries when people can't afford to pay. Please, please, come to your senses, look abroad and see what has worked elsewhere. Canada's system is not perfect - I'm not sure any system can be perfect - but it is better than the US by a long shot. I sincerely hope, for the sake of most of your populace, that you are able to join the rest of the civilized world and provide basic health care to all. And it isn't just my husband. Here's my husband, a best friend who was diagnosed with brain cancer last year, and his wife with MS, all of whom have received good and compassionate care because of this health system.
In 1980 I was poor and in a catastrophic car crash. I have had, since then, 22 major operations, the latest one just last year, thirty-seven years later. I've had multiple CTT scans, MRI scans, and so many tests and doctors that I can't keep track. There was one extraordinary example.The accident happened in rural Ontario and I was taken to a local hospital where doctors saved my life. One night, as I was recovering there, I developed an extreme case of bleeding ulcers. The next morning a helicopter flew all the way from Toronto for no other reason than to bring medication to stop my bleeding. I cannot calculate the hundreds of thousands of dollars it has taken to keep me in good health, And it is ongoing. Do I worry about my health, yes. Do I worry about the cost, not one second. This is Canada's universal health care.
When I lived in the US I only went to the doctor when the malady was super serious because I was afraid of the cost. Living in Canada I am able to go to the doctor before the malady is super serious. I've always been able to chose my doctor and have never had to wait an unreasonable length of time for an appointment, even when referred to a specialist.
Living and working in Germany sincentre 2008. We pay a bit more monthly for our basic healthcare...But it's predictable. A set % of your income, maxing out around 400$/month...forever. No additional costs for emergency care. No surprise fees. Moderate to short wait times. Very happy so far compared to my American experience of surprise! high bills. We have a private dental plan and private hospital supplementary insurance on top of the basic plan. A good mix!
I have had the pleasure of having free health care in Sweden and the UK. I am a native born New Yorker, so that I had good insurance through my teachers union, UFT of New York. When I expected my first child I was charged $5000 for doctor and hospital days. With my insurance I only had to pay $500. But, I moved to Sweden in 1981 and my second child cost me nothing. This included 12 days in hospital to help me nurse my child before I came home. Heath care was free then. Then I moved to England and I get free health care. Now that I am 60+, I also get free prescriptions . I do not have to pay for my medicines . My husband, had cancer and his operation was free and included free 12 days in hospital. His surgeon was excellent and now he is cancer free. I thank the NHS,the National Health Service, started in 1948, for my and my husband's piece of mind.
Recycling my 30-second pro-single-payer [Canada] vid from when I was urging it on Obama 8 years ago:
#DAresists #Medicare4all Text of my 30-second vid: "I am an American in Canada. We have single-payer health care — provincial government. All I need is this card. Universal coverage. No paperwork. No premiums. No claim forms. No deductibles. No co-pay...."
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!
I think the best explanation you will find is in Denis Leary's book, where he describes what happened in London when his pregnant wife had health problems. What I found extremely worrying when I lived in America was not knowing whether or not a doctor's advice was based on his or her own financial interests.
Thank goodness for the NHS - this is something that my husband and I, and our friends and colleagues, say all the time. Not only are our preventative and day-to-day medical needs meet with a minimum of expense and bureaucracy, but we do not have to worry about what would happen if one of us had an accident or developed a serious illness. A few years ago my husband had a life-threatening asthma attack and needed to go to the emergency room in an ambulance. Thanks to the NHS his life was saved and the only expense we faced was the cab fare back home when he was discharged before the Tube started running. I have had broken bones and athletic injuries that I didn't have to worry about causing permanent disability, and friends have recovered from cancer and other dangerous illnesses without going broke. All because we had prompt and affordable treatment on the NHS. Universal healthcare works - it's good for individuals, families, businesses, and the economy.
Now living in the UK, we never worry about having to go bankrupt due to medical bills. We never have to devote hours each month to challenging denials by insurance companies of doctor's office or hospital charges. I have seen relatives here getting top-drawer care for cancer and other diseases. In two instances, I have seen my relatives provided with the kind of compassion end-of-life care that any of us would want. Informally, I have been following the costs and benefits of the American system versus the UK system since the early 1980s. In terms of cost efficiency, the two systems have remained virtually identical in morbidity and mortality rates -- but the UK has been doing this for half the cost in terms of GDP.
As a longtime resident in Canada (I am a dual citizen, born in 1937 in NYC) I have benefitted from Canada’s medical system. It is not perfect, by any means—wait times, for example, are all too often excessive—it is much much better than the chaos that exists all over the United States. In the US, health care is difficult to comprehend, too many people are left out, and the Trump administration aims to make this worse. I think many Americans are getting fed up: that’s why Senator Sanders has attracted a significant number of Democratic members of the Senate who will support his “single payer” bill. Deborah Gorham
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.
My husband has had juvenile diabetes since he was 11 years old. Today he is 63 and in remarkably good health considering. His doctor in the US was at one of the best diabetes centers in the US, the Jocelyn Clinic. But since we moved to Sweden over 20 years l ago and following Swedish treatment for diabetics, my husband's blood sugar levels are substantially lower and more consistent over the short and long term which significantly improves his health while reducing the risk for terrible long term damage that so many diabetics in the US suffer from. As part of the normal healthcare regime, he also has regular checkups with a nurse who specializes in diabetes foot care - this is an excellent preventive measure as well as providing care if problems arise. Note that foot problems in diabetics are potentially dangerous and if left unattended can lead to amputation. His insulin, blood testing equipment and other diabetes care supplies are provided as part of the health system. This excellent care - all part of the public healthcare system - enables him to lead an active, full life as well as pursue a career in teaching.
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
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.) -Jennie Sutton, Dublin, Ireland
I am a US citizen who is living in London because my husband of nearly 14 years is British. A very persuasive argument for convincing me to move back to London was the NHS. We met while I was teaching in France on a Fulbright Exchange and lived in London after marrying, which is how I learned how much better life is with universal healthcare. Although I talked my husband into living in the US with me, we found our health insurance payments were overwhelming--approaching the cost of our mortgage, although the standard of care was not better than the care we received when living in London. We knew how great the NHS is, and appreciated the excellent care we received when my husband was hospitalized for pneumonia for 17 days treatment at Kingston Hospital here in the U.K. As I looked at retirement and the end of my employer sponsored insurance, the cost of and quality of healthcare was daunting, so we returned to London. I have many friends who have expressed envy at my choice. I cannot accept the heartless sacrifice of lives in the USA that is required to fund the profits of the healthcare and insurance industries. My own two daughters from a previous marriage struggled to find any healthcare after they grew too old to be covered by my plan. In their twenties, neither was able to find an employer who offered health insurance or an affordable plan until the ACA was passed. As a result of this healthcare, each daughter was able to receive treatment for problems that had worsened for lack of treatment. I worry about how they will suffer if the Republicans are able to repeal the ACA. When I look at the healthcare available to so many countries, I am distraught that my daughters, and now my grandson, will face lifelong struggles to remain healthy as well as possible bankruptcy and financial ruin just because we are all Americans, born in the richest, most powerful nation on Earth but seen as nothing but consumers. I hope my thoughts on this life-or-death issue are of some assistance in any appeal you can make to our legislators. I have called and emailed my home state's senators to thank them for fighting each of the continual attacks on the ACA, and have contacted through phone calls and postcards other senators to ask them to reject the Cassidy-Graham bill. Kind regards, Debra Daniels
I pay 178 euros per month for fairly decent coverage for a senior. However it is on the price rise every year. I am still grateful for the service and I am appalled at the state of America. kind regards M.L.Moher
Not so long ago, we had two small children, the youngest 9 months old,. Winter was nearly over when the baby came up with a strange cough, then his breathing wasn't right. In the wee hours of the morning, off to the hospital we went -- his lips were blue by the time we entered the Emergency Room. We were surprised when he was diagnosed with bronchiolitis -- no, we didn't have asthma in the family... We were able to focus on our baby's health, and the pediatrician team's care, because my new home country has Medicare for everyone -- 2.2% of our income tax goes to fund the Medicare levy, Australia's universal healthcare. Having had an autoimmune disorder in my early twenties before moving abroad, I'd experienced first-hand NOT HAVING health insurance -- as a recent college graduate awaiting my first career break. That illness cost me many thousands of dollars., once I was well. I had put off going to get treatment, because of the cost, further endangering my health. I was fortunate, I recovered, and had a supportive family & friends -- and I lived near one of the best research hospitals in the US. Once I was able to return to work, it took me 4 years to pay off my medical debt -- while watching friends buy health insurance, afford dental care & regular medical services, cars, houses, travel, or investments. More than ten years later, having moved overseas and married, I was able to take our baby home from the hospital, without the shadow of financial stress. Winter continued, and between work commitments, and young children's pre-disposition for bringing home viruses -- I came down with pneumonia. Our local doctor advised my husband to take me directly to the hospital. Dropping the 4 year-old and the baby at the neighbour's on the way, off we went. I was in the hospital for four days, my husband bringing in the baby every 6 to 9 hours for a feed -- mastitis was a threat, with bacteria strong in my body, so it was essential to keep up the breastfeeding, for everyone's sake. Once again, I was lucky, I lived in a metropolitan area, with excellent medical support -- again, we left hospital to concentrate on our family, no bills overshadowing my recovery. Within a week or so, my husband also came down with pneumonia -- caring for the children, and me, and trying to go to work, took its toll. Once again, we sought treatment because it was easy and not a financial choice between paying a doctor's bill, or for electricity, food or keeping a roof over our heads. As our family grew up, my husband and I were able to contribute more to universal healthcare coffers, through our growing incomes. We feel blessed to do so. Our young people are now also tax-payers. They see the doctor when they need to, instead of waiting until a condition worsens or becomes debilitating -- like I did. As a parent, I am especially glad that my young adults have access to universal healthcare -- as they work up to five jobs weekly to pay for their education and build their careers, and their independence. So c'mon my Fellow Americans, supporting universal healthcare is like supporting the building of roads and infrastructure and schools -- it benefits Everyone, every day, no matter what our stage of life, or health score. In Western countries, it's been substantively proven that universal healthcare is profoundly more efficient at providing quality medical care than privatized medical services -- check the annual survey done by The Economist. All Americans deserve affordable, achievable, accessible healthcare. Throughout countries with universal healthcare, there is no evidence that people overuse accessible medical services. All Americans deserve to leave the doctor's office, hospital or Emergency Room, without the shadow of financial burden. Our neighbours, aunts, sisters, uncles, brothers, nephews, children -- don't ask to have multiple sclerosis, ALS, cancer, or other debilitating conditions; our children don't go out of their way to get bronchilitis, asthma, leukemia, broken arms, cuts needing stiches. This all just part of life, and so should a percentage of our income taxes to fund universal healthcare be normal. Good healthcare for all means a healthy society, workforce, quality family life, quality time to devote to the community as well as personal goals; and less costly medical interventions. Medical staff can focus on their core purpose – treating people! Stop lining the pockets of private insurance companies driving up costs. Thank you for reading.
My partner has beaten cancer twice. Her spirit and willpower to beat it are a daily inspiration to me. But under any of the GOP's plans, her survival is considered a pre-existing condition and we would not be able to afford insurance. Here in Australia she received the medical care she needed to beat cancer, as have so many others that we met during her treatment, and she has gone on to get her Masters degree and contribute to Australia. Forcing Americans to choose between death and bankruptcy will not make our country great. It's time to not repeal the ACA, but develop it into Medicare for All.
Oh baby! Hong Kong style In 2015, my husband, son and I were living in Hong Kong, and my husband lost his job. We had enough savings to last us a bit, but I was 7 months pregnant and we didn't have enough to get back to the US and pay for the birth. Luckily the visas held, and we were allowed to stay in Hong Kong. Jobless. When the time came, I gave birth, stayed in the hospital an extra night (total 3 nights) for mine and the baby's observation, and the whole thing, including every bit of prenatal care, cost me about 36 USD. Friends of ours who went back at that time (also unemployed, also pregnant) walked into their local hospital in the US and asked how much for just the birth, and were told $8000. That's just for the bed and the doctor. No medicine, no intervention, no overnights, no emergency situations. I am glad I stayed.