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. 

Click the textbox to share your story


Take a selfie with your sign.

#DAresists #Medicare4all

A comment I posted on the internet two years ago: "Insurance companies do not provide health care. They act as intermediaries between you and doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, etc. taking a part of the transaction cost. An insurance company’s objective is to make money. Often they say that they have profits only in the order of single digits, but it is their far greater organizational cost that accounts for the difference between income and outgo. They want to maximize the amount of premiums they take in and minimize the amount of their payouts. They employ oodles of people to check the validity of claims made for payments, others to sell their products and highly paid bosses to oversee these activities. From an individual’s point of view insurance companies are thus the antithesis of obtaining health care. Most health care in Europe is managed by its governments. Money to pay for it is obtained in the form of taxes. This income and the payments for health care are in the general budgets of the countries or adjuncts to it, similar to expenditures for education, infrastructure, armies, police, etc. Doctors participating in public health care systems are public employees and are paid salaries. They don’t have to carry expensive malpractice insurance; the government would sustain any successful claims for malpractice. Doctors do not have hundreds of thousands of dollars to repay for their educations because their education costs are significantly less than in the U.S. Most doctors have gone to state schools. Some medicines are free, some must be paid for by the patient, and some have a “co-pay” of a couple of Euros. One need not go to a doctor or hospital that is publicly funded; there are also private ones. Waits for non-critical specialists’ visits can be long and you can get quicker service going private, but when there is a critical need care is immediately available with the public system. Average life expectancies are longer. Thus health care costs less but is better in Europe than in the U.S. "

Share

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

Share

Simply happy to have coverage in Canada! #DAresists #Medicare4all

When I got my residency in Canada I was told I was covered by their healthcare system which is single payer, universal care. To my surprise I felt liberated and safe in a way I never felt in the US. I was no longer chained to an expensive, unforgiving insurance company whose primary purpose was not the health of Americans but their own profit margin. I remain a happy resident and citizen of Canada, and receive excellent if not perfect healthcare. Rachel Ps: no copay

Share

Life matters beyond conception #DAresists #Medicare4all

As an American woman who went through pregnancy and gave birth in Spain, I was impressed by the comprehensive, professional, and free healthcare that I was given every step along the way. The Spanish healthcare systems covers the following for all pregnant women: prenatal check-ups, sonograms, prenatal classes, birth, breastfeeding consultancy, and postnatal check-ups. In my second trimester, an ultrasound revealed that my daughter has renal pelvis dilation, a relatively common condition which usually resolves itself in time but requires periodic check-ups. All pediatric care, including her ultrasounds are covered through the Spanish healthcare system. During one of her recent ultrasounds, the technician discovered a cyst on her intestines which requires removal. We are sad that our small baby will need surgery when she turns one, but if it weren't for universal healthcare which would deem the surgery cost-free, our troubles would be further exacerbated by the stress of financial burden, not to mention that if it weren't for such thorough pediatric care, we wouldn't even have had found that cyst to begin with until it becomes a bigger problem. All children deserve the best possible care their society can provide, regardless of their parents' socioeconomic status. I cannot think of any reason that anyone who is pro-family or believes in traditional values would disagree with that.

Share

Accessible, Virtually Free, (but still) High Quality #DAresists #Medicare4all

French bureaucracy is infamous, and yet healthcare here is much more accessible and cheaper (duh) than it is in the States. My co-pays have always been a fraction of what they are in the States, even before I had a Carte Vitale or a French social security number. I'm sure this has been said, but women's healthcare in France makes American women's healthcare look dystopian. Birth control is available, cheap, and pharmacists are willing to help us out in moments of desperation, even if we don't have a perscription on hand (!!!). It's quite something to live in a country where the state doesn't perceive my body as its enemy.

Share

1 in 10 Women suffer with with #Endometriosis in the USA #DAresists #Medicare4all

My name is Karen McMahon. I'm from Los Angeles and have been in the UK for almost 17 years. Within a couple of years of living here, I was diagnosed with Endometriosis. Its a painful and crippling condition that is now recognized as disability in the UK. When I first started to feel the effects of endometriosis, I hadn't been here for very long and I didn't know how the NHS worked. So I suffered in silence. I then met a friend’s father who was a GP and he reassured me that if I was resident in the UK, then I was eligible for care regardless of what my needs were. That was it. I registered at my local doctor's office, saw a GP and I was never made to feel like I had to consider anything else than my health. Unfortunately it did mean that I had to have several operations, trying various medications during my care, but never once did I feel like I had to worry about anything other than my wellbeing. The surgeries were sometimes long and complicated, Involving several surgeons. I can't imagine the astronomical costs I would have incurred in the US. My care has always been excellent and I'm so very grateful for the NHS. I don't think some British people know how good they have it, but I do. I think everyone should be entitled to universal healthcare. My husband is also a haemophiliac and has been under the care of a doctor since he was a baby. The only time we ever worry about cost of healthcare is when we travel to the US on vacation and then we make sure we are well insured. Why should anyone ever have to worry about being sick? It’s not something I brought on myself. I'm happy to pay higher taxes and know that this is one thing I'll never have to worry about. Others will benefit when they're in need. Do on to others, right? #DAresists #Medicare4all

Share

Cancer coverage in Switzerland #DAresists #Medicare4all

Cancer sucks, but cancer in Switzerland does not bankrupt you and does not require a masters degree in Bureaucracy and Insurance Codes to get BETTER treatment than in the US. As a 2nd generation cancer person (mom had breast cancer in the US, I got it while living here) I can compare the level of care, the medicines used, and the paperwork burden (almost nonexistent here) and am planning to never return to the US system unless forced. Kay

Share

#DAresists #Medicare4all

I have lived in Canada for 15 years. In that time I have have had four pregnancies, resulting in three healthy children and one miscarriage. I chose to work with a midwife for each of my pregnancies, though I could have worked with an obstetrician. I received excellent, personalized care, including prenatal visits, home visits, childbirth in the hospital, one overnight stay, and follow-up care. While my friends in the US spent months arguing with insurance companies and paying off hospital bills after their children were born, I paid for nothing more than the parking garage use at the hospital and spent the first days, weeks and months of my children's lives caring for and bonding with them and not worrying about finances. When my friends asked if I would ever move back to the US, my response was often,"definitely not before I'm done having children!" Basic healthcare is a human right that should be available to all and it is shameful that the US does not provide this basic need for everyone!

Share

Universal health care in France #DAresists #Medicare4all

Hello, fellow Democrats Abroad! 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)

Share

Universal coverage is better in Canada #DAresists #Medicare4all

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

Share

#DAresists #Medicare4all

Last year, I hit the tropical disease double whammy of dengue and shigella! I'm just lucky to live in a country where 10 hours in a hospital at the specialist unit for tropical diseases, a battery of tests over three days and doctors and nurses calling me at home to check on my status cost me exactly: ZERO. And this year, I tripped and fell while running. The soft neoprene brace I use cut into my skin severely. Stitches, X-ray and antibiotics cost? £8.60 (for the meds). All tolled, including waiting for pharmacy, two hours. Long live the NHS. May the US see the light.

Share

Canadian Healthcare Saved Our Son's Life #DAresists #Medicare4all

I am a U.S. citizen who moved to Toronto in 1980 to attend graduate school. While there, I met and married my husband, who was a seminary student at the time. In 2010, our nineteen-year-old son was diagnosed with a life-threatening brain tumor. Although the tumor was benign, it was compressing his brain stem, and required complicated surgery in two stages. Two full days' use of an operating room and three surgeons were required, so there was a slight delay until the necessary scheduling could be worked out. From the time of his diagnosis until his surgery took place was only a matter of six weeks. He was hospitalized for two weeks, then had six weeks of radiation a year later, and has had a series of MRIs and follow-up appointments at regular intervals ever since. I would not be able to begin to estimate the cost of his medical care over the past eight years - and the ongoing care he will need for the rest of his life. In all this time, the only bill we ever received was for the rental of a TV while he was in the hospital. We are a single income clergy couple, with a daughter who has her own medical concerns, so we would have been bankrupted several times over had we not had Canada's universal health care. I am happy to say that our son went on to graduate with honors from the University of Waterloo, and now works full time for a computer software company in Toronto. He will always have some disabilities as a result of the tumor, as well as the surgery and radiation. But for now, he is doing well. I'd like to conclude with a story told to us by one of our son's surgeons, who did a post-doctoral fellowship at Stanford. He had operated on a man who developed complications, and required additional surgery. As the man was being wheeled down to the operating room, a message was received from his health insurance provider, stating that the gentleman had maxed out his insurance coverage. The hospital staff were advised to take the man back to his room and discharge him. At that point, our doctor decided that he would return to Canada to pursue his medical career. Based on our family's experience, I cannot imagine living in a country without universal health care.

Share

Universal health care in France #DAresists #Medicare4all

Happily, we have not had to seek health care in France (except for routine blood tests that were easy, quick and inexpensive) but we do have a story. The young son of French friends in Avignon was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthrtis when he was five years old. Their national health insurance paid 100% of all the costs for his diagnosis and care over the course of 2 years by the best specialists in Montepellier and Paris, including travel and hotel expenses. Of modest means -- father an electrician and mother a secretary -- this young family would probably have been ruined had they been living in the US. Sincerely, Woody Halsey

Share

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.

Share

crash / heal #DAresists #Medicare4all

This summer I had a mountain bike accident and broke both wrists, my collarbone, and two ribs. I was transported to the hospital by a helicopter in a difficult rescue and treated in the emergency room, immediately. The accident has thus far involved three hospital stays of 3 to 4 days each and two operations under full anaesthesia. Everything was covered including all future expenses for physical therapy and elective surgery to have plates removed. I come from Massachusetts and have always experienced good medical care. The difference is that here in Austria I work freelance but have state insurance that covers me for all medical needs at a minimal cost with little or no deductible. I can focus on healing and feel safe to just rest and wait till my injuries recover to go back to work. Although it feels unreal, it is an amazing and true privilege of life in a country where healthcare is a right, not a luxury.

Share

Advocacy from years of experience in Canada #DAresists #Medicare4all

As an American who has lived my whole life in 🇨🇦 and having first hand experience with universal health care as the sole way to deliver quality health care I fully support this measure. Vaibhav "We shall overcome, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice" Martin Luther King Jr. 1968

Share

Great Endorsement of Universal Coverage from the UK #DAresists #Medicare4all

Dear Democrats Abroad, I'll gladly tell you what it means to have The National Health Service, free for all and a small charge for non EU"s. First, it's a load off your mind, phew. Secondly, although the buildings may not look swish, although some do, there is nothing you can't be treated for. I have had a heart valve replacement, and also Non Hogkins Lymphoma, needing surgery and radiotherapy. I paid not a penny and had excellent treatment throughout. The NHS is the Britain's finest achievement. The measure of a county's greatness is not in the size of it's armies and weapons, but in it's education of children, and it's care of the sick and elderly. I so hate ithe idea that many Americans just don't 'get' this. Shirlee Matthews

Share

Peace of Mind in France #DAresists #Medicare4all

Single Payer works in France. Top notch care, no waiting, and no cost. #Medicare4all I cannot express the peace of mind that comes from having access to the French healthcare system. The care is excellent and I have never had to wait for an appointment with a specialist or a generalist. When you get sick in France, you go see the doctor. You don't wait for two weeks to see if you really HAVE to see the doctor, you just go. You get the diagnosis and medicine you need immediately, and for virtually no cost. In addition to these visits and normal screenings, I have given birth to two children, had an emergency appendectomy, and had MRIs, X-rays and CAT Scans related to various injuries. I didn't have to pay anything, and never gave a thought to the cost of any of these procedures. The only issue at hand was the health of my babies and myself. This is how healthcare should work. Quality care for everyone, regardless of ability to pay, since it is a public service. I was recently in the US, where I caught strep throat. The out-of-pocket cost of the visit to the doctor, the strep test, and the antibiotics was over 200 dollars. The same process in France would have cost "the system" approximately 50 dollars, and my out of pocket would have been 2 dollars. It is true that taxes are high in France, and that part of this is related to the health care system, and it is clear that there is some abuse in the system, but all in all, the per-capita cost of healthcare in France is significantly less than that in the US, with outcomes that are just as good, if not better. The French system can be improved upon, but single payer works!!

Share

COLOMBIA CAN TEACH THE UNITED STATES A THING OR TWO ABOUT MEDICAL CARE #DAresists #Medicare4all

It was with a sense of dread that the wife and I, both American citizens, moved from New York City to Cali, Colombia, in 2009. Retired and approaching an age when medical issues begin to weigh heavily in people’s lives, we worried about pre-existing conditions and exorbitant medical expenses. Our worries turned out to be completely unfounded. A couple of months after our arrival, we purchased medical insurance for a monthly fee which is today, after eight years of annual adjustments, a bit less than $250 per month. To this we have to add about $150 or $200 in medications. Quite a few medications, I might add. We could ask for them, because they are covered by the insurance, but we choose not to in order to help the system better serve those who cannot pay anything. Colombia can teach the United States a thing or two about medical care. For those who earn an income, the country’s medical insurance has two components: a compulsory portion that all Colombians (or their employers) must purchase in a free market, and a voluntary portion, known as pre-paid medicine. There is a third type of insurance, for those with no income, entirely subsidized by the government. All users have access to superb medical care, medications included, and no one can be denied service. The only difference among these three types of insurance is that those who purchase pre-paid medicine can choose their doctors and in most cases their hospitals. The reader might be excused for thinking that less than $500 a month could not possibly buy decent medical care for two seniors. Nothing could be further from the truth: the fact is that we have access to the best doctors and medical centers in town. This year alone I underwent cataract operations in both eyes and my wife had a cornea transplanted and a malignant nodule removed from one of her breasts. She is currently undergoing radiation therapy to supplement this surgery. Meanwhile, I have undergone blood tests, x-rays and MRIs in preparation for a hernia operation. All of these tests and medical visits have only required co-payments of about $10 to $20 each. For those less fortunate they might be closer to $1 or $2, or they might be zero altogether. Yes, Colombia can teach the United States a thing or two about medical care. #DAresists #Medicare4all

Share

The best system in the world #DAresists #Medicare4all

17 years in the UK and I've had kidney surgery and have suffered a heart attack. For the latter the treatment was immediate, of course, but also the followup care was terrific. For the kidney stone surgery I had to wait four months but I wasn't critical and it was very successful. Since I've turned 60 all of my medications are now free. Great system! #DAresists #Medicare4all

Share