International Chair

  • tagged Jessica Mijnssen's mandatory health insurance changed my life #Medicare4all #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2018-02-19 08:19:14 -0500

    mandatory health insurance changed my life #Medicare4all #DAresists #Medicare4all

    I have Crohn's disease and am currently enjoying my first unmedicated remission (2 years so far!) since being ill for 20 years. My husband recently expressed his fear that my health might get that bad again. When I shared his fear with my doctor, the response "you'll likely never be that ill again" took me by surprise and my response was incredibly emotional. When I first became ill, I didn't have health insurance. I was being raised by a single mum and I hid my illness as long as I could until it became emergent. My father lived in a nearby state and put me on his insurance so that I was able to get care, stay in hospital for a month and have 3 life-saving surgeries in 9 months. That was me sorted until I aged out of my father's insurance, which resulted in my ignoring my illness until it got too bad, going to the ER, being admitted to hospital and given temporary medication and having medical bills too high to pay and signing on to state aid to pay the bills. Flaring that often and that hard as well as not having a relationship with one caregiver meant that my body was irrevocably damaged. A little over 2 years ago, I had a major surgery to remove the damage and outfit me with a permanent ostomy. This means that I can no longer move back to the US, as I need a regular supply of ostomy products, which can easily be covered with health insurance, but which would quickly become costly without. I know that my quality of life and care were only possible with insurance and a relationship with one doctor monitoring my health. This is what I tell my representatives when I call them from here in Zürich, Switzerland.

  • tagged ​My dual-national healthcare story #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2018-02-19 07:08:24 -0500

    ​My dual-national healthcare story #DAresists #Medicare4all

    I am now a dual French-US citizenship after moving to France 22 years ago. I have benefited from only quality care in France for myself​ and my family and have never had to worry about the cost. What I've seen and experienced in the US during these years has made me very grateful to live in France. ​During one vacation in the US, I got a terrible ear infection in the evening and was in unbearable pain. The only option at that time of day was to go to the emergency room, but I knew how much that would cost, so I accepted my father's offer of some ​very strong prescription pain medication that he was taking for his back. The pain went away instantly and I was high as a kite! The next day, I went to a clinic and ended up spending $150 for the visit, antibiotics and decongestants. This would have cost a quarter of that sum in France, IF I'd had to pay everything out of pocket, and I would not have had to weigh the risk of taking medication that was not prescribed to me against the financial strain of an emergency room visit. As a family, we had several other experiences during US vacations where we did not seek medical attention due to the cost. My son had a boating accident that ripped open the palm of his hand. We certainly would have taken him to get stitches in France, but decided to take care of it ourselves (luckily my sister is a registered nurse). My husband once had heart attack symptoms, and my sister again came to the rescue and snuck him into a back door of her office to give him an EKG, after we had gone to the hospital and were greeted with a price list detailing what we would have to pay for any treatment he got. Now we take out extra insurance when we go to the US, but the cost of what we would have to pay if anything happened is still a concern. I don't think anyone in the US goes to the emergency room without worrying about the cost. Here in France, my health comes first. Not having to worry about how to afford health treatment should not be a luxury, but unfortunately it is for many Americans. How can people pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness if they can't afford the medical care they need to stay healthy?

  • published Voting Registration and Cookie Exchange in News 2018-01-29 09:53:00 -0500

    Voting Registration and Cookie Exchange

    Democrats Abroad Czech Republic kicked off the midterms last Saturday with our first registration event of the year.  Combining registration with a cookie swap, members gathered together for wine, coffee and a tremendous variety of cookies. 

    While most attendees had not yet requested their ballots this year, we were all ready to get prepared for what all believe is a midterm year to remember. By the end of the night, more than half of the group had printed out their ballot requests and were ready to send them in to their local election offices back in the States.

    We also discussed the most important messages to remind our American friends abroad:  

    1. Yes, we should all request our ballots each election year if we want to make sure our ballots are federally protected in case of a recount. 

    2. Yes, US House and US Senate races are federal elections and Americans abroad can and should vote in them. 

    3. Yes, our votes are counted and make a difference in elections both at state and federal level. 



  • signed up on bc_signup 2017-10-26 03:51:55 -0400

  • Why are US healthcare costs ten-fold higher? #DAresists #Medicare4all

    In 2012 I was advised by my cardiologist that my heart beat irregularities were such that I urgently needed a pacemaker. I was not a part of the French health care system but had retained my old American Foreign Service insurance(AFSPA) which reimbursed us for coverage in France. We went to a private clinic in nearby Lannion and I received a top of the line American Metronics pacemaker, with the surgery, hospitalization of three days costing $2,800. We paid this and the AFSPA happily reimbursed us. They informed me that in the US they and Medicare would have to pay between $25-30 thousand for the same procedure. The private clinic in France presumably made a nominal profit. So my question is why are costs in the US ten-fold higher? Roy

  • tagged Theresa Moran's A Universal Healthcare system can coexist alongside capitalism #DAresists #Medicare4all with pictures 2017-10-10 03:55:02 -0400

    A Universal Healthcare system can coexist alongside capitalism #DAresists #Medicare4all

    These Australian health care photos demonstrate that a Universal Healthcare system can effectively coexist alongside of capitalism. South Australia Health has brilliantly partnered with David Jones department store at Adelaide's Rundle Mall, for a space to provide free screening mammograms to all woman--even me as an American citizen residing in this great country. All woman to access the BreastScreen SA clinic had to pass through David Jones's shoe and lingerie department. I am sure products were purchased. A brilliant synergestic example of Universal Healthcare and Capitalism for a mutual financial benefit. Not to mention the ease, and reduction in fear for women to slip into pleasant store rather than an intimidating clinic for a mammogram. This also, provides for an increase in early detection as women more likely will get the recommended mammogram when either shopping or even better yet for some women, an opportunity to meet a friend at a nearby cozy cafe. I loved my mammogram experience and hope to share this partership opportunity back in the United States.

  • No more worry about seeking medical attention #DAresists #Medicare4all

    Before moving to Germany to study, I had two medical incidents (one of them requiring an ambulance) that my insurance declined to cover. My savings were completely wiped out from the financial shock and the prices for the procedures were exorbitantly high (an ambulance in NY costs about $100/minute which came to $2000 after a 20 minute ride). Since coming to Germany, I've discovered the benefits of a system that is not based on the monetization of healthcare. I no longer have to fear the small print on the contract pages of an insurance company, and I don't hesitate to seek medical attention when I need it.

  • tagged Robert Kerr's Suggestion from Panama #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-10-07 07:30:46 -0400

    Suggestion from Panama #DAresists #Medicare4all

    I am a dual citizen, born in Panama to American parents, so I qualify for Panama's public health care system. My late brother, who was born in the USA, was living in Panama as a non-citizen and when he came down with liver disease he had to return to the USA to be treated. He was dying and would have preferred to die in Panama. Those last six months in the USA cost Uncle Sam a LOT of money. Had there been a Medicare arrangement with Panama's public health system (the rapacious private hospitals are another matter), the US government could have paid the cost in Panama plus a mark-up and still saved a lot of money. So as the Medicare for All proposal gestates and progresses, will you consider coverage to Americans living abroad, for treatment abroad? Eric Jackson

  • tagged Robert Kerr's An experience from Mexico #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-10-07 07:28:37 -0400

    An experience from Mexico #DAresists #Medicare4all

    I had colon cancer surgery in Sept. 2012 and 6 days released from the hospital with a staffed infection in my left arm which was twice as my right and I lost 12lbs in my eight day stay.My Medicare paid and Blue cross/ bule Sheild paid.In 2015 I had a heart attack while in Mexico and the surgeon installed stilt on 9/2015 and my insurance paid the hospital.Three mouths later. I had my right kidney removed with a 2.5 cm cancerous tumor. It took two years to settle with the insurance company and the dollar exchange changed by a loss of 1200.00 usd.which I lost because of stupidity on the insurance company.Then two weeks I get a letter needing more info for the same claim. The company has to many hands on claims at different locations and the brain power is lost.

  • tagged Robert Kerr's Great experience from New Zealand #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-10-07 07:27:59 -0400

    Great experience from New Zealand #DAresists #Medicare4all

    Last year I tore my ACL skiing in New Zealand while there on a working holiday visa. After a trip to the physio I learned about ACC; a program that provides healthcare coverage to everyone within the boundaries of New Zealand if they are injured in any type of accident. At the time I was 25 and had just lost my American health insurance the month prior when my dad lost his job. So my options were to stay in NZ and have knee surgery done without having to pay anything out of pocket, or return to America for surgery and be in debt thousands of dollars. As a recent graduate I was not too keen on adding medical debt on top of my student loans. I was due to leave New Zealand in 10 days and had no intentions of staying but obviously I had to for the surgery. It took me a while to get over how insane it was that I couldn't return to my OWN COUNTRY to have surgery where I'd have my family to take care of me. Lucky for me I had an incredibly generous group of Kiwis who got me through this difficult situation, both physically and emotionally. -Kaylyn Hobelman

  • tagged Robert Kerr's Great experience in UK #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-10-07 07:27:45 -0400

    Great experience in UK #DAresists #Medicare4all

    I have a history of very early preterm labor. With an injection from 16 to 36 weeks, that risk of early labor and premature birth is minimized. When I was in the US a few years ago, this drug cost $1,500 per shot (so $30,000, before insurance). It was a big deal for me to find insurance that would cover it, and it involved possibly moving states--in the middle of a high-risk pregnancy. The same drug here in Ireland...I walked out of the pharmacy with all 20 doses for about $80. This drug helped me reach full term for two pregnancies. I hate to think about the parents in the US facing another NICU stay or loss of a child because this drug is prohibitively expensive. (It used to cost $10/dose in the US before the drug company hiked the price a few years ago.)

  • tagged Robert Kerr's Great experience in U.K. #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-10-07 07:27:36 -0400

    Great experience in U.K. #DAresists #Medicare4all

    When I lived in the US, I had medical care until I was 21 because my parents were working for the US military. After that, I had no medical coverage whatsoever until I managed to get a job with a company that was in an HMO network. Even then, I didn't want to see a doctor because of the co-pay and luckily I never had to go to the emergency room. Now, in the UK, I don't have to worry how much a doctor's visit will cost me. I can feel free to speak to a doctor about a mild pain I've had for years, or for a very bad migraine or illness. No, it's not perfect, but it's far better than what most people in the US have to deal with. Horror stories of people killing themselves because of medical bills don't exist in the UK. Cancer patients and car crash victims don't have huge bills that debilitate them for decades after surviving. Universal healthcare works!

  • tagged Robert Kerr's A comparative perspective from the U.K. #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-10-07 07:26:27 -0400

    A comparative perspective from the U.K. #DAresists #Medicare4all

    I want to take some time to talk about usual discussions comparing different healthcare systems: Most comparisons in the US are between the US system and nationalized systems (in Canada, UK, Germany, Australia, Sweden, France...etc); often times such comparisons talk about waiting times of elective procedures. (1) Talking about Elective Procedures is the wrong measure/yardstick! Just because a country has a national healthcare system does not mean it has no private healthcare -- all the countries (Canada, UK, Germany, France..) have private healthcare and citizens can choose to have private in addition to their nationalized systems (talk about CHOICE). (2) Talking about waiting times for procedures (elective or non) is also the wrong yardstick: Waiting times in nationalized systems are related to the amount of funding (or lack thereof) in the system; in the UK, funding cuts in the last several years have led to increased waiting times -- if cuts did not happen (especially in highly populated areas), wait times would not have increased. Same as MN having better bridges if the capital spend had been approved. (3) Competition reduces costs and improves products/services: While competition is good in general, it is better to reserve the competition for more complex/elective needs while offering a universal healthcare for at least the basic health services (level to be defined). This way, one can have the benefits of competition AND have the citizenry access basic healthcare. Current not-for-profit hospitals are not a low cost delivery method of healthcare, certainly not basic care. Not-for-profit hospitals employ large finance teams, issue and refinance bonds almost annually, hoard billions of dollars of cash reserves (2x level of debt) in order to get favorable Moodys and S&P credit ratings so they can issue bonds, therefore hire other finance teams and asset managers and consultants to manage those cash reserves, etc -- in essence everything but "basic and essential care". All these points have something in common -- dialogues in US comparing the systems appear to be all-or-nothing-at-all (black-or-white) while there are several shades of grey (I have heard the number 50 thrown around). It does not need to be only-private or only-national. Let us get our American can-do attitude and solve this elegantly. US systems in general appear to be very complicated (128% of Federal poverty level -- who comes up with numbers and tables like that) and complexity adds costs to any system. Just as the Government is trying to simplify and overhaul our tax system, we should also consider removing complexity from our healthcare system.

  • tagged Robert Kerr's More than 40 years of coverage in Spain #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-10-07 07:26:12 -0400

    More than 40 years of coverage in Spain #DAresists #Medicare4all

    My name is Kate Seley and I was married to a Spanish national who passed away on January 20 2017 - doubly horrible day for me. I have lived in Spain for over 40 years and have 3 adult children who I gave birth to here with the national health care system with a minimum of pain and maximum of joy and supportive care. I want to clarify that in European countries with a National Health Care Service, it is NOT considered "socialized medicine". Conservative PM's or presidents, i.e., Cameron in the UK, Sarkozy in France and Rajoy here in Spain have never thought of repealing and replacing. They may increase copayments a bit as they're more austerity- oriented but that's it. It's too popular and they don't see it as it socialism! The GOP seems unique. To return to my family's and my own experience: In this long period we have all been in national health care hospital, my daughter for a bad case of salmonella over 20 years ago and my younger son for a complicated broken wrist and leg.. I myself have undergone a lumpectomy and a titanium bar implant to repair broken humerus, both with with totally satisfactory results. But perhaps the most dramatic case is my husband's. He eventually passed away but he had 4 different types types of cancer -prostate, bone colon and throat as well as chronic congestive heart failure. They managed to defeat the odds and keep him alive almost 4 years, during which he received excellent and sensitive supporting care. Sometimes, during the final year, I used to think that he preferred staying at the public health hospital to being at home cause he felt more secure there. There are no limited visiting hours anda loved one can sleep there in an armchair that opens up into a bed, rather like 1st class airlines seats.. On some floors, you could actually feel positive vibes.. The cancer facilities and especially the Coronary intensive care unit are very state of the art. The Gps in the local clinics or "ambulatorios" are in general competent and caring and medication has only a relatively small copay.

  • tagged Robert Kerr's A perspective from Ecuador #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-10-07 07:25:17 -0400

    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

  • tagged Robert Kerr's Great experience in Ireland #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-10-07 07:24:44 -0400

    Great experience 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

  • tagged Robert Kerr's 15 Years of Great Coverage in the UK #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-10-07 07:24:36 -0400

    15 Years of Great Coverage in the UK #DAresists #Medicare4all

    Dear Julia, 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

  • tagged Robert Kerr's Many experiences in France #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-10-07 07:24:16 -0400

    Many experiences 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. Long live Bernie Sanders!

  • tagged Robert Kerr's The experience of a North Carolinian living in Australia #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-10-07 07:23:50 -0400

    The experience of a North Carolinian living in Australia #DAresists #Medicare4all

    I’m a NC voter living in Australia and working for Bupa, a UK-based health insurer and care partner. Long before I had up-close experience with a functioning healthcare system and a private insurer who genuinely cares for its customers, I grew up in rural North Carolina with a chronically ill mother. Suffering from Lupus, cancer, and a wide range of related issues, my mom was often in and out of the hospital. Despite working gruelling hours, my dad always found it difficult to make ends meet. Any child who grew up with a seriously ill parent knows all too well the anguish of seeing a loved one in pain, the pitying head pats from Sunday school teachers, and the stomach-dropping discovery that someone you care about had to be rushed to the ER again. My time abroad has taught me that many Australians can commiserate with experiences like these. But most can’t understand the constant battle my parents waged just to make sure my mom could have health insurance. With so many pre-existing problems, it was always hard for my mom to secure a plan that could account for her many needs. The ramifications of poor health are acute enough; children don’t need to overhear their parents crying because they aren’t sure how to pay their medical bills. Thank goodness most Australians already understand this. While no system is perfect, Australia’s public/private hybrid allows consumers extra choice and extra comforts if they can afford them, while supplying basic care for those who can’t. This likely contributes to the comparable cleanliness, safety, and overall better quality of life that Australians tend to enjoy. President Obama took on great political risk to try and fix our own broken system. He did this by selecting a bipartisan compromise: a market-based solution that originated from the Heritage Foundation. While the ACA is definitely flawed, I know that it helped other little girls avoid at least some of the pain I felt. I am repulsed by the moral failure of politicians who have decided that cynical machinations are more pressing than fixing the ACA’s flaws. Their disregard for American lives is alarming. Other countries have recognised that investing in their citizens’ well-being pays dividends; I pray that one day America will wake up to the value of a similar investment. Kind regards, Shanna Hall