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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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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Grateful for German Healthcare #DAresists #Medicare4all

My husband and I stopped to help a middle aged American couple who had been touring the Rheinland. They had been biking when the woman fell and hurt her leg. We helped them access the German healthcare system, where the woman was treated for a broken leg. She and her husband were so impressed with the quality of care and the cost of care that they returned for follow up from the state of Washington a year later. Having lived in Germany for 30 years I can only confirm their experience. I was treated for breast cancer 10 years ago. Not only did I receive excellent care and experience a positive outcome, there was absolutely no disruption of my family’s life due to financial pressures.

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#DAresists #Medicare4all

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.

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support at the bottom - subsidies for artists #DAresists #Medicare4all

Not only have I enjoyed the affordability of health care within the German system, (such as 5-10euro copays on prescriptions and even hospital stays!) as a freelance artist, my contribution to basic monthly costs is cut in half. This is because anyone who is employed, has the same deal by their employer. The system recognises a need for working artists to have this basic level of support. Additionally there are many extra services to catch people in crisis situations, which are provided separately by the government, and do not even go through the health care system. So that anyone in need can receive temporary help to get back on their feet. It's true that there is a bit more bureaucracy, and things can take longer to move through the system. But here in Germany, with patience and putting one foot in front of the other, you can get the help/support/health care you really need - when you need it. And they treat you as a human being, so that you just feel better during the process as well! Also as an artist, I can't even imagine having children in the United States, but the system here provides monthly subsidies for pregnant women, and even a small subsidy until the child is 18. Since moving here, is the first time in my life I ever imagined the possibility to raise a child on an unstable freelance artist income! It puts a smile on my face, to know I could continue my work AND have a family in the future.

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#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!

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We're having a baby #DAresists #Medicare4all

Thanks to exceptional healthcare in the Netherlands, my husband and I were able to start the family we always wanted. After learning that it would be difficult for us to conceive a child naturally, doctors suggested that IVF treatments were our best option. We were able to take advantage of our time abroad and go through the IVF process from start to finish- doctors visits, prescriptions, countless ultrasounds, embryo transfer- all completely covered by our insurance. We paid next to nothing out of pocket compared to the astronomical sum (tens of thousands of dollars) for this treatment in the USA.

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Several experiences from many years in France #DAresists #Medicare4all

Aside from the usual and thankfully banal problems of bearing and raising three children, I can report on fairly major issues. NB: I also have a “mutuelle”—a collective non-profit complementary health arrangement that costs approx. €2000 a year and covers the 30% French social security doesn’t pay in some cases. Except in the last, worst item below I don’t remember which paid what. --A hard fall on cement the night before I was supposed to lecture in Oxford resulted in a hip replacement and hospitalisation for almost two weeks [Radcliffe Hospital] plus special transport arrangements home to Paris. French social security and probably the mutuelle reimbursed costs to the Brits. --Three fractured vertebrae and three “vertebroplasties” in which they inject resin cement: cost zero --Worst: in late 1999 my husband was diagnosed with a fairly rare form of cancer : He died a year and a half later after two operations, one very long and risky, intensive care, a whole variety of convalescent measures at home or in hospital, daily nursing visits when at home and, a particular blessing in the circumstances, he was able to spend the last two weeks of his life surrounded by his family at home, in a hospital bed with perfusion and three times daily visits from a nurse as well as regular ones from our family doctor. He could self-administer doses of morphine as needed and we were all with him when he died. Cost for us: Zero, entirely paid by French social security since he had a recognised “serious illness”. I sometimes tell this story now in talks to encourage the French and other Europeans to fight for all our public services, explaining to them we would have had to sell the house if we had lived in the United States. Since I have mentioned giving talks, it may be worth adding that after Smith College junior year abroad where I met and later married my French husband and living in France, I was able to win two higher degrees, a “licence” in philosophy, equivalent to a US master’s degree and allowing Immediate entry to the doctorate. Ten years later I got my PhD with honours in political science from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences sociales, a quite prestigious part of the French university graduate schools system. Cost—about $150/year in today’s dollars for inscription and insurance fees. Comment: Totally impossible for me cost-wise had I lived in the US. With 17 books and innumerable talks, articles and interviews for various social / ecological/ political causes since, mostly without fee, I feel I have “given back”, as Americans like to say. Note: My four grandchildren have now graduated from a variety of excellent, highly recognised schools [except for some at masters’ level with modest tuition fees] in several disciplines and—barring global warming disaster—are set for life.

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A perspective from Ecuador #DAresists #Medicare4all

Yes we have universal health care here in Ecuador and even the poorest is received at either the public hospital and health care system. In addition there is the Ecuadorian Social Security System (IESS) for those who voluntarily subscribe or those subscribed through their employers. On paper it is great - until you have to use the system! Although there is some level of care for everyone there are serious problems too! There are shortages of doctors, nurses and administrative staff and since there is a parallel system of lucrative private hospitals and doctors operating private clinics, the good, well trained medical and laboratory personnel tend to migrate to these private institutions in the major cities like Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca, leaving smaller and rural areas without good private care nor with decent government operated facilities. So while I applaud a government run health care system providing services for ALL, all the time, without a parallel private system, it needs to be universal, efficient, employing the best medical and administrative people. Will this be possible? Look at the Veterans Administration for an answer to this question! So if we can't run the veteran's administration correctly, how will we do it for the entire nation? So it is not so simple, requires a lot of planning, mammoth resources, a steady supply of well trained medical and administrative personnel and huge outlays for hospitals and related medical infrastructure, unless we simply nationalize existing private facilities and convert them into government institutions. The transition from what we have today to a public system will be a complicated and difficult task. Good luck. Robert Flick

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I never have to worry alone #DAresists #Medicare4all

I'm an American living in the UK. My story is simple. Whenever a health problem arises - or I start worrying about a strange ache, I don't have to worry. And we all know worrying makes your health worse. I go to the doctor and most of the time, I'm ok. Sometimes I need a blood test. It's all free. I pay for this through my national insurance - and so does everyone in this country. Because we don't pay and indebt ourselves, we go to the doctor at the right time and we prevent conditions from worsening. It makes sense and it's what right. 'Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness' - but only if you're rich? America, time to grow up.

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A Veteran and Cancer Suvivor #DAresists #Medicare4all

I am an Amry Veteran who moved to my Wife in Sweden following the completion of my service. It was while living here, that I was diagnosed with cancer. Recently uneployed and with an infant at home the news was initially devistating. However the Swedish medical system not only treated me with incredible care and expediency, they did so completely without cost to myself. I am now three years cancer free and well into my five year treatment plan. I have had many MANY MRI’s, CAT Scans and other diagonistic treatments that would have likely been prohibitively expensive in the states. I have often reflected as to what would have happened had I faced the same situation in the States. Unemployed with a Cancer Diagnosis. I honestly cant think of a way that it wouldn’t have bankrupted my family. Setting us back years if not permanently keeping us in poverty. However because I had the fortune to be treated in a country with Universal Healthy Care I am now happy and healthy. I am Currently pursuing a degree (free of charge) and my family is in a good way. Because the country I live decided to invest in people and not insurance corporations I have been given the opportunity not only survive but thrive. I urge every member of congress to invest in the American people and to serve them like I did during my 8 years of military service. Please, this is more important than politics and more important than money, this is peoples lives. Please vote down the draconian healthcare reforms being pushed right now and stand with the American people and help ensure to no American is forced to choose between healthy care and being able to provide for their families. #DAresists #Medicare4all

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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

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A cancer DX in France means 100% coverage #DAresists #Medicare4all

I am an American who has been living and working in France since 1991. Even as far back as my first days here I had access to healthcare through my boyfriend's (now husband) policy. Some 20+ years later, following a routine mammogram (some costs covered by National healthcare the remaining costs covered by my private additional insurance) I was diagnosed with an early stage breast cancer. During this frightening time, one thing I never had to worry about was how I was going to pay for treatments. In France, a cancer diagnosis means that your National healthcare coverage goes automatically up to 100% for all treatment related to this diagnosis. Two operations, radiation therapy and a 5 year daily chemotherapy regime have all been covered. My only out-of-pocket expense was a bone density scan, 39€, which my private health care policy reimbursed. I am cancer free now but live with the lingering back of the mind fear that the cancer could come back, but I never have to worry that this "pre-existing" condition will stop me from reaching for and obtaining my professional and personal goals. Since my diagnosis and treatment, I have changed jobs and during a pre-hire medical check-up I was able to freely talk about my medical history without fear that would block me from getting hired....I'm year into my new job and loving it!

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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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Thank God For My German Health Insurance #DAresists #Medicare4all

I've lived in Germany since 1999. In 2006 I was working in Miami for business when I was diagnosed with pericarditis and had to have a surprise heart surgery. I was 36 at the time and thought I had a bad cold. I was at the hospital almost a week and the costs were over $100,000.00. I repeatedly called my German insurance company, and they insured me that I was covered for up to 3 months outside of Germany. I was instructed to provide all of the hospital bills and informed that I'd be reimbursed, but that I'd be responsible for paying the hospital back. I returned to Germany, submitted the reams of bills and sure enough over 80k EUR was in my checking account(!) 3 weeks later. That was the easy part. It took me over 6 weeks to actually pay the bills. The process was byzantine and there was very little transparency or logic to all of the charges. Collections agencies were calling me, and when I snapped back, clearly not intimidated and irritated that TRYING TO PAY had become a full time job, they dropped their bullying schtick. It really made my heart to go out to those who couldn't afford care. An Illness like the one I had is terrifying and life changing, how cruel to have to suffer a personal financial catastrophe on top of such an experience. FIX THIS!

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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

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Great coverage in UK #DAresists #Medicare4all

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

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I confirm that I strongly support universal health care. #DAresists #Medicare4all

The answer to the question if every American has the right to Health Care is self-evident. It is clear that the our government is in the pockets of the pharmaceutical and insurance lobbies. The question we need to be addressing is why every everything to do with health care in the US is priced exponentially more than in other countries. We may not be able to get to this question, however, until we address the issue of campaign finance reform.

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US citizen living in Canada since 1983... #DAresists #Medicare4all

Health care is never free, someone pays for it. My experience in Canada is everyone pays a little more in taxes so that everyone has coverage. What do I mean by coverage...anyone who needs heart surgery, visits a family doctor, or is referred to a specialist, needs an MRI, or is diagnosed with cancer and needs chemo treatment, or have a stay in a hospital...these are just examples...what you do is present your CardCare that has a number to admissions, they record the necessary data...you have your appointment...that's it...no bill comes in the mail ever! Also, I have complete freedom to choose the doctor I want. This is what I know to be true!

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Working in both the US and Canada as a doctor #DAresists #Medicare4all

I am both a US and a Canadian citizen. I am in the unusual position of having practiced in Canada before the development of universal government-funded health care known as Medicare, followed by practice in the US without universal health care, followed by practice back in Canada when Medicare had been established. Having experienced the worst of US medical care, I decided to never again practice in the US. I fear today for Canadian health care as it drifts toward a US-style private model. I developed and ran a three centre health care network in Rochester New York 1970-75, where I also practiced. I had good contracts with Blue Cross for the employed of Kodak, Xerox and American Optical, and I had a good reimbursement rate for those who were destitute on Medicaid. In the middle we tried to care for the marginal poor or sometimes employed. It can’t be done. What I faced as an administrator in trying to be fair to those who cannot pay eventually put the system in jeopardy. This loomed large in my decision to return to Canada, where I ran a similar system in Montreal from 1975-1993. There I no longer worried about providing cost effective care. Our Canadian health care system has not had a major overhaul since its inception in the 1970s, but we need to work on fixing those problems through comprehensive health care reform, without destroying a system that most Canadians feel is an expression of the highest values in our society. Those who see an increase in private care as the main way to fix the system seem unable to separate their own financial benefit from the needs of the nation. While I looked in the US for a warm place where my wife Bonnie, who is handicapped, could be independent, in the end I was so distressed with the US private-for-profit system that permeated everything from how poor people were cared for to the educational system that seemed blind to what was happening around them, that I felt that I had no choice but to return to Canada. It is useful to think about how Bonnie was flown without charge from Quebec to Ontario on a specialized intensive care jet to receive landmark surgery unavailable in Quebec, how the costs of her many months in hospital were the price of room TV. Or when I required back treatments then unavailable in Canada, Quebec paid for me to receive care in Minneapolis. Unlike what many in the US believe, there are no restrictions in Canada on choice of physician, assuming availability. In fact, our system is largely entrepreneurial and uncontrolled, unless the doctor is on salary, which is still rare. Some would say that ours is not a health care system at all but a system of paying doctors and hospitals for providing services according to a schedule of payments. And we are unique among comparable Western societies because we do not fund essential drug costs for the patient. I am astonished, though I ought not be, that many Americans, who are one disease short of being destitute, believe that single payer health care is bad for them. Part of the US population’s refusal to embrace the obvious is achieved by scaring them with terms like “socialism” and the spectre of a Canadian system where people cannot choose their own doctor and they will not receive the care that they need. Canadians of course can see their own doctor, and as many times as they need, without cost to them, just by showing their Medicare card. Lies about the Canadian health care system are willfully propagated by US private insurance interests, and ignorant legislators in the pocket of lobbyists are believed by a naïve and unsophisticated public. While there are undeniable problems in the Canadian health care system, compared to the US we are in much better shape, and we can fix our problems, within the existing system-- if we put our minds and pockets to it.

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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.

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