When I transferred from NYC to Montreal in August1970, I thought it would be for a few years - just the time to complete my education and work on improving my French. That fall paperwork arrived announcing the beginning of universal healthcare. I filled it in, and received my card. I thought nothing of it; I was a healthy 24-year-old. At 25 years and 11 months, I married. At 27 years and 8 months, our son arrived. Had we not asked for a private room, there would have been no fees for my few days in the hospital post-delivery. The exorbitant bill came to all of $25. At 29 years and 7 months, our daughter arrived; same scenario, though a day or two less in hospital, and same bill. All their well-baby checkups were free of charge. As were all their vaccinations, every trip to the ER for ear-aches, fevers, colds, minor injuries, one ambulance ride and all the x-rays needed to verify that clumsy son's header into the shallow end of a pool hadn't done great damage, the collar he had to wear the rest of that summer. When I felt under the weather, it turned out I had inherited my mother's hypothyroidism. Radioactive iodine uptake test showed it was about three-quarters kaput. Lifelong followup and daily pills. OK, the pills aren't exactly free, but the cost of the prescription - even before the provincial government began its prescription plan - didn't cause me any hardship, and we were living paycheck-to-paycheck and never in the black. The testing and followups are all covered. In 1989, I was diagnosed with diabetes. All the testing and followups, all the diabetes education classes, ALL entirely covered. The children's vision and dental care was covered until age 18 (or 21? or end of post-secondary schooling? They're in their 40s now, and I don't remember when it ended.) And the absolute best part of all this carefree medical coverage is that, beyond renewing the healthcare card every four years, there is NO paperwork on the patient's end. No, it's not really FREE. The personal tax rate in Quebec isn't low by any means, but it's a price that's easily and painlessly paid. When I'd come here, I knew nothing of all this. I had fully intended returning to the US to make my life. I'll never relinquish my US citizenship, but I don't believe I'll ever be returning either. Picture this: I was visiting my mother in NYC. I helped her corral a cat that needed to be taken to the vet. Her cat was uncooperative, and sank her teeth into my hand in the process of capturing. I immediately washed and treated the puncture wounds. By the time we got to the vet, my hand had swollen up like a rubber glove; the vet told us to get me to an ER. Well, we'd already decided to do that. So, off we went to the ER of the hospital my mother usually used. After four hours sitting unseen in the waiting room, I was called. Much to my mother's distress, the hospital refused to have anyone even look at my swollen hand! There was no way they could treat me, since I wasn't my mother!!! No amount of cash could change their ruling!!! WTF!!! So across town to another ER which the first said would care for me. Another long wait. I was finally seen, treated, prescribed a course of antibiotics, and sent on my way. I haven't a clue how much my mother had to pay, but I'm betting it was at least triple digits. Had that occurred here in Montreal, ANY hospital's ER would have treated my injury without a lengthy wait - open wounds get cared for before most other cases excepting those arriving by ambulance. From arrival to exit would probably have been under an hour, and - because treated without twelve hours delay - I probably wouldn't have been off work for a week after my two-week vacation. Other seniors retire to sunny destinations. I don't even consider it, because the healthcare costs are scarily high.