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.

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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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Perspective of a Dr. from California and Canada #DAresists #Medicare4all

I live in Canada and vote in California. I have worked as a family physician in both countries and the health system works better in Canada. People worry about their illness, not how much it will cost. Physicians worry about the health of their patients, not whether or not they will be paid. Care is not disrupted by changes in where or whether you have a job, or by an insurer deciding to change the network. I worked in the "safety net" in the US for years, where we had to stress out all the time about finding health coverage for our patients, constant changes in rules, intense scrutiny and red tape, and the frustration of trying to practice medicine in that environment. Since being in Canada that stress is gone. And when I need care, it is there for me too. My heart aches for the people in the US who still do not have universal coverage. Khati Hendry MD Summerland BC

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Strong endorsement based on experience in Germany #DAresists #Medicare4all

As a freelance professional who has lived, worked and paid taxes in Germany for forty years I cannot understand why many U.S. Americans do not appreciate the advantages of universal health care. I am covered, my pregnancies were covered, and my children are covered until they reach the age of 26 or start working and earn their own money. I do not have to worry about getting sick and not being able to pay the bills. Expensive treatments are just as much part of the care as simple vaccinations, preventive checkups,operations etc. Paying into health care has been worthwhile from day one.I cannot imagine living in a country where it is not available. Maria Lanman

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Perspectives from a lifetime of coverage in Algeria and France #DAresists #Medicare4all

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)

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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

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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

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Perspectives from England and Wales #DAresists #Medicare4all

I've lived in the UK since 2003 and now have citizenship. I'm covered by the National Health Service, the universal health care system which has been so disgustingly misrepresented and lied about by so many American people and politicians. The NHS, like any other system, has its problems. Things do go horribly wrong sometimes and make the news (just like in the States), but less is said about the millions of people who go through their lives receiving excellent free-at-the-point-of-service health care. I live in England but close enough to North Wales that my doctor is in Wales and I'm therefore covered by the Welsh system. My experiences with the local doctors and hospitals, in England and Wales, have all been hugely positive. I love the NHS! I don't even pay for prescriptions because I'm over 60 and because prescriptions in Wales are free. People under 60 pay National Insurance each year, which goes to support the NHS. I'd happily continue to pay that even though I'm over 60. I'd also happily pay a bit more income tax to support the NHS, which is under threat from the Tories, who seem to want an American-style private system of insurance companies, etc. Some people do buy private insurance here, or go private for a particular treatment, but the NHS, struggling though it is at the moment, is always there when you need it. I will probably retire in a year or two. One thing I will never have to worry about is being driven to bankruptcy or starvation because of medical bills. Hope this helps. Dugie Standeford

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Great Experience with Universal Coverage in Ireland #DAresists #Medicare4all

I live in Ireland and have access to low-cost universal universal healthcare. Ireland is a little different as we are on a two-tiered system - public and private - and the public option isn't free (unless you have a medical card) but it is very cheap. If I go to the doctor, it cost me €50. If my doctor refers me to a specialist on the public option, it is free. Same for emergency room. I once had to go to the emergency room and have X-rays - that cost me only €60 total. We also have a prescription scheme here that caps the amount you pay for prescriptions at a certain amount each month. Once you hit that amount, if you need to fill more prescriptions within that month, you don't have to pay for them. This is useful for expensive birth control and other types of medication. I hope this helps! Hilary Gray

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More than 40 Years of Great Experiences in Israel #DAresists #Medicare4all

It seems completely obvious that everyone needs health care. I suggest a campaign based on my experience here in Israel, where I have been living for 43 years now. We have universal basic health care at no cost with various extras for people who can and want to pay for them. The HMO I belong to offers three levels – the basic one, at no cost; an upgraded level, which includes such extras as nursing home insurance (a rather low payment that turned out to be limited to three years when my mother was in a home) and various discounts on more expensive medicines that are not included in the basic list (for which the copay is 15%); and the highest level, which includes such luxuries as organ transplants abroad rather than at home. I have the second level because I need many types of medicine and I want to spare my children some of the cost of helping me if I should, God forbid, need to be in a nursing home. Occasionally I get calls from the HMO asking me to upgrade to the highest level. I always refuse because I can’t afford to pay for this level of insurance for all my children and grandchildren, and I think it would be wrong for me to insure only myself. If people would think this way about everyone – if Americans thought about other Americans as members of their family whom they want to help out rather than as strangers who should not be given anything they can’t buy for themselves – then it would seem obvious to them to that it is piggish to say that I deserve the best health care because I am rich but my poor brothers and sisters don’t deserve it because they didn’t inherit money and they can’t find a good-paying job. I hope you can use this idea. Naomi

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More than 50 years of great coverage in Israel #DAresists #Medicare4all

I am happy to share my story. I have lived in Israel 48 years counting my 1st year when I came on Sherut La'am in '65-'66. From the beginning, whenever I had health care needs they were taken care of by the Israel healthcare system. My anemia was properly treated enabling me to have children. Maternal and child health was marvelous! Hospitalization was covered. Child and adult immunizations were and are covered. As my children got older 2 of them developed mental illnesses. Thanks to our system, both of them are being treated. It allows them to work and be self supporting and pay taxes and have full lives. Two of my children have attended university. Again it is due to our government subsidizing higher education and making it affordable. They work part time and I have been able to swing the rest. My husband developed cancer in 1999. My only out of pocket expenses came to $35 a month. Even on my nurses' salary I could manage that and keep the family supported. Now I am retired. I became ill with Systemic Lupus Erythematosis 2 years ago. From the beginning from diagnosis to care I have been able to afford to buy medications and eat. The state provided me with a caretaker for 8 months of that first year until I could manage to take care of myself. There is always room for improvement in any system, but I am so grateful to be here in Israel and not in the US. I vote absentee in Texas, Federal offices only. I write my senators and representative all the time but needless to say they are Republicans and really do not care what happens to people. Still all the rest of my family is in Texas so I keep writing. Wishing all of you a Shana Tova u'metuka. Sincerely, Shoshana Katz

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Perspective from Malaysia #DAresists #Medicare4all

I support Universal Health Care for the sole reason so that everyone has health insurance coverage and that is affordable. We are from New Jersey and have been living in Malaysia for the past eight years and both me and my wife are 100% covered here with the cost of medical care, which is 1/4 th compared to the USA. Americans need affordable health insurances for poor, rich and for all segments of the population. We are against the Graham-Cassidy ACA repeal bill! Looking for a better America for all. Ken Chakravarti

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Perspective from Israel #DAresists #Medicare4all

Thanks for the e-mail. Living here, universal health care seems such an obvious feature of life. Doctors fees are much less since I think they have to participate in the health plan to get tax breaks, and also they do not have to hike up their fees to cover malpractice insurance. At any rate, at my age, I need to see several doctors, and each one costs $5 per visit, and the health plans do not seem to be suffering financially. In the States, my experience is that a routine visit costs $150-200 and the service is worse in the US -- most of the work is done by a nurse practicioner who might be only marginally qualified (the one I saw did not know how to remove a bandage) whereas in Israel you see the doctor directly. There is competition among the health funds here, and this seems to me a good thing, to avoid complacence. Sincerely,Louis Rowen

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Compelling story from Canada #DAresists #Medicare4all

If I didn't have access to free health care in Canada, I might have died from ovarian cancer.

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Great Experiences in Norway! #DAresists #Medicare4all

I live in Norway. Children up to 18 years old do not pay for Medical or dental assistance. Last year I had heart pain and went to the emergency room, I had an EKG and they kept me all night for observation, all free of charge, never received a bill. I have also birthed 2 children and had an appendectomy. All these were also performed with no co-pay. We do have co-pay for doctors visits and if you reach your income class limit you do not have to pay for the rest of the year. The limit is set based on income ranges. Best regards, Celeste

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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

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Great experience with orthopedic care in the UK #DAresists #Medicare4all

I am proud to pay taxes that support healthcare. At the moment, I am on a low income (having been in the second-highest - 40% - tax bracket for many years). I injured my knee a few weeks ago and have now had two visits with my local 'GP' (family doctor), an x-ray to rule out a floating bone fragment and have now got an appointment with a physiotherapist and soft-tissue scan in the pipeline. How much have I paid? Nothing, apart from my taxes. On my current income, my knee would go untreated if I had to pay. I'm proud of the NHS, and I am proud that I have contributed to paying for it. And I am grateful that when I need it, regardless of my income, it's there. #DAresists #Medicare4all

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Observations from Turkey #DAresists #Medicare4all

RE: What can Turkey teach the US about healthcare I would love universal healthcare for US citizens. Under the current Medicare for All proposals by Senator Sanders, it won’t cover US citizens living overseas. I would hope that Medicare would allow recipients to receive benefits while living or traveling overseas. Currently I need to buy a policy as part of my Turkish residency permit. I have a private insurance policy with a Turkish/international company. However good it is, the Turkish government makes me buy a worthless policy for about $1000 in addition to the excellent policy I buy. The required government policy is just another corruption to give money to the governing party’s friends. Saying that, Turkey has an excellent universal insurance for its citizens (SGK) in which some private hospitals participate. It’s not rocket science to give such a system for all US citizens, whether they live inside the US or overseas. The mentality of the Republicans is that healthcare is a privilege. Until they see it as a basic human right for all Americans, we are doomed. Universal coverage for all Americans can be affordable if we control prices, especially from the pharma sector. Thank you for hearing my voice. Andrew Barrer Istanbul, Turkey

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Great long term peace of mind in the UK #DAresists #Medicare4all

The NHS has been my sole health care provider for the last 17 years. Whilst I am in good health I have spent virtually no money on my healthcare except through taxes. I am able to get an appointment with my GP when required within a reasonable timeframe and am sent on the specialists when required. I personally have not had to wait very long for an appointment. When my son was born both he and my wife needed to spend an extra week in the hospital because of a minor complication. Again, the extra stay did not incur any expenses to us. I find staff at the NHS to quite competent. Having the NHS is very reassuring. I never have to think about whether I am covered and whether I can afford medical services. While perhaps not perfect, it is awesome to have, especially when compared to the millions living in the US whose healthcare is precarious. Long live some sort of version of publicly funded medicine!!! David Wasserberg, US citizen, London, England

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