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. (Read our press release here)

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.

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.

My grandson's treatment #DAresists #Medicare4all

My grandson, who is now 11 years old and living in Montreal, was diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was 1 year old. This particular tumor does not metastasize, but it is life-threatening because as it grows in the brain it destroys other brain tissue. Especially in a child’s brain, it can be quite damaging. My grandson has been in active treatment for about six of his eleven years and under observation and monitoring for four years. Active treatment has included several kinds of chemotherapy and a 12-hour surgery to reduce the size of the tumor. Monitoring includes weekly appointments at the pediatric hospital for assessments including regular MRIs to track the tumor’s size, checks on his physical and cognitive development to assess the impact of the tumor on his brain, nutritional consultation given the impact of the chemotherapy on his appetite, etc. He has therefore had regular treatment by a large team of pediatric specialists. Total cost to his parents: nothing. Both his parents are musicians and could not have afforded private insurance that would have paid for this treatment. Throughout this, and except for the regular hospital visits, he has led a normal life. He is a charming and active young person with a very positive outlook on life, even though the tumor has affected his vision and his physical coordination. Early in this process, we checked with some medical contacts at major hospitals in the United States. They confirmed that the treatment he was receiving was exactly the same as he would have had at the best hospitals in the United States. In short, the Canadian health care system has provided excellent care over a long period at no direct cost his parents, in a case where he would have died long ago without treatment. I don’t know how much this would have cost in the US if the parents had paid directly, but I can’t imagine it would have been less than a million dollars.

Share

To the HEART of the matter #DAresists #Medicare4all

Soon after the birth of our son, he was diagnosed with Tetrology of Fallot. At age 3 he had surgery to provide a shunt for temporary relief. At age 4 he had open heart surgery. All of this was done with no cost to us, other than the income tax we happily paid. These life saving surgeries were done at Montreal Children's Hospital. Since then he has lived a productive, healthy life. Then, this year, as a 54 year old, he underwent open heart surgery again, in order to repair his original value problem, this time in Toronto. Again, at no cost to him, and a positive outcome. I personally have had a number of surgeries, e.g., gall bladder surgery and prostrate surgery. The most significant surgery, however, was in 2013, when I suffered a heart attack and had open heart surgery to deal with an aneurysm and a seriously blocked aorta. That surgery was performed in Hamilton General Hospital in Hamilton Ontario. To sum up, both my son and I have had our lives saved by heart surgery. This has been cost free under Canada's Universal healthcare. Sure, we sometimes have long waits to see our doctors for routine aches and pains. But when it came to life threatening heart problems, help was immediately at hand. The only expenses associated with were for television and, for visitors, parking fees. And, of course, taxes, which spread the cost to all, sick and well, to support such a significant healthcare system. As an American abroad, I thank the gods for Canada's healthcare. Here, healthcare is a right, not a privilege. It pains me to see what turmoil American healthcare is in, and how politicized the issue is. For my fellow citizens 'south of the border,' I wish you 'well' and hope for better healthcare soon.

Share

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.

Share

Motherhood at any income #DAresists #Medicare4all

My story is about my two daughters. The first was born when I was just finishing my graduate degree and my husband was working full time. I had no maternity leave - not even the statutory benefits given in Canada - because I was self-employed and a student so I had not paid enough into employment insurance to receive any assistance. I relied on my husband's income to get us through. We had an amazing experience with a dedicated ob-gyn doctor and a hospital stay with lovely nursing staff. I was referred by my family physician to my ob-gyn and was never stressed about the cost. Cost was simply non-existent. I focused on having a healthy pregnancy at every stage, a gorgeous daughter was born. My second daughter was born when I had just started a new job and after my husband had been let go during the 2007-2008 economic downturn. He had been looking for a job for nearly a year. I did not qualify for my workplace's maternity leave as I had not worked there long enough prior to needing leave, but I did have the statutory benefits of government maternity leave. It wasn't great timing. We didn't have a lot of savings if things went wrong. But my experience did not change one bit. In fact, I was at higher risk so I received more attention than during my first pregnancy. I had the same ob-gyn, the same hospital, and the same lovely experience. I was not stressed about cost. Cost was simply non-existent. I focused on having a healthy pregnancy, and a bright, gorgeous daughter was born. To imagine that one of the most precious moments in a mother's life could be overshadowed by the stress of needing to make hospital bill payments is daunting. How could it effect my child's health? Would I have made decisions to compromise my care while pregnant? Should any mother be put in that position because of her economic status? Healthcare for all is about living through change and knowing you will be ok, knowing you will be well. It means our children will be born as healthy, contributing citizens with a legacy of care - literally. Should motherhood be a health risk? Just ask your mother!

Share

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

Share

Thanks to universal healthcare my son avoided a tracheostomy #DAresists #Medicare4all

There isn't a day that goes by that I am not grateful that my son was born in Japan, where we enjoy universal healthcare. My husband, son and I pay $500 - 650/month depending on our income the previous year, which covers 70% of my husband and my medical expenses and 100% of our son's. My son is now a healthy vibrant 7-year-old, but I can say with almost complete certainty that he would be much less verbal than he is - if he would be speaking at all - had he been born in the United States. Theo was born with Down syndrome and with some of the medical issues that most newborns with Down syndrome have. In his case, this was a complete AVSD requiring open heart surgery and esophageal atresia (his esophagus not connected to his stomach). He spent his first 9 months in the hospital and required six surgeries in total. After his second operation, it was discovered that he had tracheal malaise (which meant that the cartilage was not strong enough to keep his trachea sufficiently open). The doctors had two options: (1) move his open heart surgery up and include a secondary procedure that would tie his trachea to his aorta and keep it open enough until his cartilage was strong enough to keep his trachea open on its own or (2) a tracheostomy. Here in Japan, there are no insurance companies to approve or reject a doctor's recommendation, and my son's doctors were able to decide their course of treatment on their own, with our approval. They opted for heart surgery with the secondary procedure, even though it was not guaranteed to work and it would require an extra two weeks in the ICU. Thankfully, they did, because in my son's case the secondary procedure did work and he is now in first grade at the local elementary school - a healthy, active, happy boy. In the US, insurance company-driven protocol requires that patients who cannot be extubated within 10 days receive a tracheostomy. The only other option would be out-of-pocket payment for an extended ICU stay. We would have been bankrupted (most likely way before this with the initial surgeries required), and my son would've had a tracheostomy that would've stayed in place until he was 4 or 5 years old. His speech would've been delayed, as would his physical development. The subsequent therapies, not to mention the ongoing care for the tracheostomy itself, would've generated a great deal in additional expenses. In our case, thanks to universal healthcare, we paid $100 - 200/month (in addition to our monthly insurance bill) while he was in the hospital to cover diapers, food, and a cot for his parents to sleep next to him at night. Not a day goes by that I don't reflect on how very lucky we are.

Share

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!

Share

When Government & Healthcare Work Together #DAresists #Medicare4all

I'm an American, and now Canadian, working as a professor at a Canadian university. Moving to my new home country was one of the best and most serendipitous decisions my family and I have ever made. A few years ago, I was diagnosed and treated for a significantly large aortic aneurysm. While recovering in hospital, I was told that I had a large mass (cancer) on my kidney. This single-payer healthcare system saved my life twice so that I can continue to be a father, husband, and researcher/educator. My doctors routinely monitor me via scans, etc. The only things that I have been required to provide in return is my name, birthdate, and positive attitude. Great healthcare does exist beyond US borders.

Share

Healthcare in Czechia -- Putting Children and Families First #DAresists #Medicare4all

I've been living in the Czech Republic for almost 15 years and gave birth to both of my daughters here. Infant and maternal mortality here is lower than in the United States, in large part due to access to high-quality prenatal care through a government health care system. Last year, my younger daughter was hospitalized with meningitis and spent 10 days in the hospital, with 5 of those in the pediatric ICU. We were terrified, but she received excellent care that was in line with international good practice, and we were able to focus on her medical care without having to worry about our medical bills -- everything was covered by our national insurance. Yes, everything: the neurologist, follow-up appointments, the ICU stay...everything! I'm self-employed, and I can't imagine how we could have managed this emergency in the U.S. I sleep better at night knowing that my family is covered here, but all Americans deserve peace of mind and access to high-quality healthcare for their families!

Share

Operation fully covered by government healthcare #DAresists #Medicare4all

I live in France. Four years ago I had a major operation requiring three nights stay in a hospital. I could choose the hospital and doctor that I wanted. I checked out the American Hospital and a public hospital recommended by my French doctor. The American Hospital would have been covered by the supplemental insurance I receive from my employer and the public hospital completely covered by the French insurance. The public hospital looked so much more clean and modern -- I took that option and had great care. The only thing I paid for was wifi access in my room. Everything else was covered directly with no cash out required for me. After 26 years in France, I am a firm supporter of universal healthcare.

Share

Healthcare in Taiwan #DAresists #Medicare4all

I've lived in Hsinchu, Taiwan since August, 2014 working as an English teacher. I've enjoyed the benefits of single-payer healthcare ever since. With only a monthly payment of roughly $25 USD, I have access to a whole range of benefits that, were I to remain in the United States uninsured, would probably be prohibitively expensive. For example, I pay only $2-3 out-of-pocket per visit to any health clinic, and dental work, such as teeth whitening, are priced similarly at $2-3. However, Taiwan's healthcare system is certainly not without its flaws. A quick search on Wikipedia will tell you its current challenges. The system doesn't take in the same amount as the value of the services it delivers, so it must borrow from banks. Also, there are few doctors per capita, so wait times can be long, and consultations with doctors themselves are often kept to a maximum of 2-5 minutes in most clinics. To alleviate these problems, the likely solution is to raise premiums on payroll taxes, but the government is reluctant to do so for fear of losing votes. That being said, I truly believe this is superior than the alternative. I think Taiwan's system is exemplary and has the ability to re-calibrate itself. Time will tell if the system here can endure, but it in my opinion, it functions pretty well for now.

Share

Ernie lived 12 additional years. But what about our children? #DAresists #Medicare4all

Ernie was a loving husband, father and grandfather, the president and COO of his company and a tireless volunteer. He was a US citizen living in Toronto, Canada. In the year 2002, at the age of 68, he was diagnosed with Prolymphocytic Leukemia (PLL). According to medical estimates, he had 6 months to live. With the care of the best doctors and the Canadian universal health system he lived 6 more years! -- until his Canadian doctors told him he needed a medical treatment they were not able to give him at that time. Because he was eligible for US Medicare we were able to go to Chicago, where superb doctors gave him the treatments he needed. -- and he lived an additional 6 years! -- a vital productive life. Our primary expense was the cost of travel between Toronto and Chicago. But the actual cost of the medicine for just one treatment was $8,000.00 -- plus the cost of fees for medical personnel and the cost of the facilities and equipment where the treatments were given. We could barely afford one treatment; he had hundreds. Because Medicare paid the costs, we were able to have him with us for an additional 6 years. But without universal medical care, how will 40- 50- and 60-year olds be able to receive the life-giving treatments now available for leukemia and other cancer patients?

Share

The price of health should not be stress and debt #DAresists #Medicare4all

I am an America who has lived in a number of different countries (now in the UK). I gave birth to my daughter in France. Due to complications, I ended up in hospital for 4 weeks before she was born, prematurely, by C-section. After another 2 weeks in the hospital in a special unit for premature babies and their mothers, we left the hospital together, both healthy. My costs for all this? A small fee for the hospital meals I had eaten, in the final week in which I was discharged but allowed to remain with my baby. That's it. A very stressful time was not made more stressful by fears of mounting hospital bills, and there was no question that we would not get the care we needed. We moved to Norway, did not pay any supplemental health insurance, but were taken care of wonderfully by the state. Now I live in the UK, where our health care is likewise available without massive stress and worry and cost. It saddens me to visit my family and friends in America, and hear stories of their struggles to pay for the care they need or worse, to go into debt or to go without and suffer, as they cannot finance it. It is to me, by far more sensible, and by far more civilised, to make universal health care a right, not something that anyone should have to worry about having access to. Health care should be affordable and accessible; much of the world has realised this. Isn't it time that America woke up to the fact that capitalism can be compassionate? It does not have to mean brutal survival of the fittest/richest (i.e. those able to earn enough to afford the "luxury" of health). We need to be a society that recognises basic human dignity and needs; a healthy and secure society is a happy and productive society.

Share

I left Tennessee and moved to Canada so I could access healthcare. #DAresists #Medicare4all

I chose to come and live in Canada so I could access affordable and high-quality healthcare, something I was not provided as a US citizen and resident of Tennessee. I was born with a genetic disorder and I have several autoimmune issues. But thankfully I was able to live a pretty good and happy life in Tennessee. However, several months before graduating from Middle Tennessee State University I received a letter from my parents' health insurance (Blue Cross Blue Shield) saying that I was being kicked off because of my pre-existing conditions. I also received a letter from my school loan company saying my payments were going to begin soon. I had just graduated from college, I was unemployed, and it was the peak of the recession. Receiving these letters was a cold and cruel wake-up call for me. Needless to say my family struggled for the next years to find me access to healthcare. I was on COBRA payments for a while, which cost $320 a month just for me. At certain points I was uninsured and doctors told me to fund the surgeries I needed by applying for charity. Charity. Me, born, raised, and a faithful taxpayer in the US should apply for charity to pay for medical needs. At that moment I decided to leave the US. I now live and work in Canada and I have been able to access all the care I need. The healthcare here in Canada is high quality and most importantly, I do not have to worry about being denied care, nor do I worry about how I will afford to pay rent and food, and also pay for healthcare bills. Because here my care has been publically funded. And yes, sometimes I wait two months to see a specialist (when it's not an emergency), but I waited years upon years to see doctors in the US and I was denied each time (all before Obamacare). I want to one day return to the US, but until some sort of universal coverage is passed, I'm too afraid. I feel too secure and safe here in Canada.

Share

I left Tennessee and move to Canada so I could access healthcare. #DAresists #Medicare4all

I chose to come and live in Canada so I could access affordable and high-quality healthcare, something I was not provided as a US citizen and resident of Tennessee. I was born with a genetic disorder and I have several autoimmune issues. But thankfully I was able to live a pretty good and happy life in Tennessee. However, several months before graduating from Middle Tennessee State University I received a letter from my parents' health insurance (Blue Cross Blue Shield) saying that I was being kicked off because of my pre-existing conditions. I also received a letter from my school loan company saying my payments were going to begin soon. I had just graduated from college, I was unemployed, and it was the peak of the recession. Receiving these letters was a cold and cruel wake-up call for me. Needless to say my family struggled for the next years to find me access to healthcare. I was on COBRA payments for a while, which cost $320 a month just for me. At certain points I was uninsured and doctors told me to fund the surgeries I needed by applying for charity. Charity. Me, born, raised, and a faithful taxpayer in the US should apply for charity to pay for medical needs. At that moment I decided to leave the US. I now live in Canada and I have been able to access all the care I need. The healthcare here in Canada is high quality and most importantly, I do not have to worry about being denied care, nor do I worry about how I will afford to pay rent and food, and also pay for healthcare bills. Because here my care has been publically funded. And yes, sometimes I wait two months to see a specialist (when it's not an emergency), but I waited years upon years to see doctors in the US and I was denied each time (all before Obamacare). I want to one day return to the US, but until some sort of universal coverage is passed, I'm too afraid. I feel too secure and safe here in Canada.

Share

Healthcare is a human right #DAresists #Medicare4all

I'm an American living in Canada. In September 2017 I was diagnosed with stage III gestational trophoblastic neoplasia. GTN is a rare cancer that develops after a woman has a baby or a miscarriage. I lost my baby at 13weeks earlier this summer, underwent 2 surgical procedures, a post-op infection, and was ultimately diagnosed with cancer. Having health coverage in Canada, I have not received a single bill for the tests/procedures/specialists I have required. The last three months have been devastating- from the heartbreak of losing my baby to now facing the scary realities of chemo, I am so fortunate to be supported by a health system that does not increase my stress with a financial burden. I am a 37 yr old healthy woman with a dream of having a family- and now I have a pre-existing condition. If AHA is repealed, and coverage of pre-existing conditions is no longer mandated, women like me would suffer. I would not be able to consider even moving back to the US. Healthcare is a human right, and the question Congress should be asking is not IF but HOW to make the system work for all US residents.

Share

A New Lease on Life #DAresists #Medicare4all

At my heaviest, I weighed over 310 lbs. I was dealing with diabetes, with high blood pressure, with all sorts of chronic illnesses. Even walking a city block left me out of breath. Life, put simply, sucked.

I had been recommended for weight loss surgery while living in the U.S., but it would have cost nearly $30,000. And my laundry list of ailments meant I would have never found health coverage on the private markets before the Affordable Care Act came into force.

In the interim, I moved to Canada, where even though I waited a while, I did end up having the surgery at a hospital in Montreal.

The cost? US$60. And that's because I wanted a private room.

Since my surgery, I've lost almost 110 lbs. I can run and walk without pain. Climbing stairs is no longer an impossible task. My ailments have mostly resolved themselves. I have a new lease on life. And all this without having to seek bankruptcy.

Universal healthcare has restored my hope for a future. The time has come to ensure that all Americans are able to access the healthcare they need, without having to leave the United States. Full stop.

Share

From Canada #DAresists #Medicare4all

My wife is from the US and I am a UK citizen; we are living in Canada at present. Four years ago I developed Stage III melanoma and went through all the usual scans, surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and months of home care nursing. The single biggest expense? Hospital parking!

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

ARTHRITIS KNOCKED ME DOWN #DAresists #Medicare4all

I have arthritis in my lower back, presumably as the result of a fall from a tree many years ago. I don't have arthritis anywhere else, which I guess is pretty good for a man of 81, but the arthritis in my back is a doozie. It has caused misc. pain from time to time over the past three or four years, and last year, just before Christmas, I was in so much pain that I could scarcely walk or stand up straight, or sleep through the night, or sit at my desk for more than a few minutes at a time. When my son happened to come by for lunch one day, he took one look at me and said, "Dad, look at yourself! You're incapacitated! You've got to go to the hospital!" And without further ado, I went to Hospital #1, a public hospital. (I chose the hospital, just as I have always chosen my doctors and dentists, after researching Paris hospitals on the internet and talking to friends and my GP.) At Hospital #1, I was given lots of morphine to keep me comfortable, and I was finally given two cortisone shots directly in the spine, on two successive days. The shots were administered under a local anesthetic, and they were administered so skillfully that when I asked the doctor to tell me when she was going to begin she told me that she had already finished. Apparently the shots eliminated (or substantially reduced) the swelling of the spine caused by the arthritis, but my problems were far from over. According to the doctors, the sciatic nerve that comes out of the spine and goes down the leg all the way to the big toe had been severely injured by the compression caused by the arthritis, and my entire right leg and foot still hurt like mad. In other words, in terms of pain I was really not much better at the end of my hospital stay than I had been at the beginning. But after the cortisone shots, I was discharged from Hospital No #1, which did not do rehabilitation. I was discharged, but ........ the hospital social worker (social workers are a regular fixture of French hospitals) made arrangements for me to began treatments in a hospital that does do rehabilitation. Several days after I left Hospital #i1, therefore, I began rehab treatments at Clinalliance, a "private" hospital. All of the arrangements for my admisssion to and treatment at, Clinalliance had all been made by the social worker at Hospital #1, a public hospital. I don't see any particular difference between the private and public hospitals in France, except that Clinalliance is a much warmer and friendlier place than the public hospitals that I have known. (Clinalliance also has marginally less terrible food.) At Clinalliance I was a patient of the "hopital du jour," the day hospital. (I guess that's "outpatient services" in the US. ) That meant that I went three times a week (subsequently reduced to two)-- to spend one hour in a therapeutic pool and one hour doing PT. In both the pool and the PT room, the patients -- there were usually between 4 and 8 of us -- were accompanied by several physical therapists, who gently gave us directions on proper exercises and movements. Every two weeks I had an appointment with the doctor to evaluate my progress. The PT room at Clinalliance is elaborately equipped with high-tech treadmills, ladders, rubber balls of all sizes, stationary bicycles and exercise beds that move up and down. There is even a machine with a tipping and moving floor and a TV screen that shows the patient's attempts to remain on balance as the floor moves around. (This machine was too high-tech for me. I prefer exercises that demand less intellectual rigor.) When I started out at Clinalliance, the doctor-in-charge gave me a prescription for some kind of morphine-based pain medicine. She told later me that she had given me the highest dose of that medicine that she had ever written. On her scale --and she sees a lot of patients -- I was apparently in considerable pain --and on mine too! I gradually reduced that pain medicine to zero, although I admit that on those days when I had to do a lot of running around, I sometimes took a small (not morphine-based) pain pill. I spent a total of 5 months at Clinalliance, going twice a week for PT and the pool. At the end of that time, I had pretty much returned to normal, although the doctor told me that the sciatic nerve had been damaged, and that nerve regeneration takes a long time. She urged me to continue a regular course of swimming and exercise, and I have followed her advice, using a public pool and my adaptation of the exercises I learned at Clinalliance. By the end of the first two months at Clinalliance, I had gone from a person who was doubled over with pain and could not walk two steps without a cane, to a person who used a cane only when I had a lot of walking ahead of me. For short trips, I did not use the cane at all -- and I walked upright, although usually at a somewhat reduced version of normal speed. I was even able to walk up stairs in a normal way. I no longer needed any pain medicine, and today, nearly a year after I first entered Hospital #1, I never take pain medicine and I walk pretty well, although usually at a reduced speed, and often with a cane, particularly for long distances. I sleep and sit normally. That is a big change. I'll close with a word on the French medical system. All of this superb treatment -hospital stays, hospital visits, doctors, medicines, X-rays, RMIs and everything else -- cost me nothing. Nor did I have to pay for the hospital- taxi that took me to and from Clinalliance, which is on the opposite side of Paris from my home. I do have a mutuelle, a private insurance policy that supplements my membership in the French system. Without going into details, I'd say that my mutuelle pays for everything that the public system does not cover. With my mutuelle, everything is paid, 100%, from soup to nuts, including a large private room. For all of these benefits, I pay my mutuelle about $150 per month. I think is not too bad for a person of 82. Getting into the French health care system was a hassle, not because the requirements were forbidding but because the French bureaucracy is forbidding. I have now been in the system for 10 or 15 years, and because I am a foreigner, until recently I made a small annual payment of (something under $1000) to continue my membership in the system. The law has now been changed and I pay nothing. The bottom line is that the entire saga of my painful back basically cost me nothing but the $150 per month that I pay my mutuelle. And the treatment that I received --which is the same treatment that is given to poor people, middle class people and as far as I know, to rich people everywhere in France-- was superb. As Marie Antoinette said to one of her courtiers, What else could the people ask? And why has America so categorically rejected this superlative system?

Share