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Medicare for All
Medicare for All.
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Real Life Stories of Americans


A message for all Americans who have not experienced “Medicare for All”:

“There is absolutely nothing to be afraid of in changing the healthcare system in the US (to Improved Medicare for All). It will only benefit the thousands of people who don’t have access to it in the present situation.”
— from Brooke Yamaki, an American living in Japan; April 2009


Scroll down or select one:

Testimonials: Americans in other countries have peace of mind;
    Read their testimonials about their experiences.
      Americans living in other countries
      Americans visiting other countries
      Americans who can’t come home due to the
         critical health care they receive outside the U.S. at an affordable price

Testimonials of citizens of other countries who now live in the United States and experience the difference

Americans in the United States have hardships.

Americans are fleeing to other countries … over a million per year

Who will you believe?


 

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Testimonials Table of Contents

How it is living where there is health care for all.
Americans in other countries have peace of mind.

Contents of these testimonials

Testimonials of Americans living in other countries:
peace of mind:
      quality care at a low cost outside the United States

FYI: We provide bar chart comparisons of the United States and the first six countries, above.

Testimonials of American visitors in other countries

More regarding Canada:

Americans who can’t come home — Americans living in other countries getting high quality health care for diseases and cannot come back to the U.S. to live.

A few of the stories are by Americans who were born and raised in one of these countries; they share their experiences from when they lived in their native country.


Testimonials

PEACE OF MIND: QUALITY CARE AT A LOW COST OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES


France

“… health care in France … never been better …”

USA homegrown, I am now living in France, where I am married to an ob/gyn who has practiced his entire 25+ year career in a public hospital. From this privileged position, I am qualified to talk about my own experience with health care in France – never been better, and certainly never, ever been less expensive!, as well as to talk some about national single-payer in practice from the medical professional’s point of view, in addition to its issues. There is simply no other solution worth considering for the US, and given our tremendous energy and potential for excellence, no reason in the world that we can’t do it better than anyone else in the world! … (I moved) to France in 2002, when I married my husband. I am mother to a 17-year-old son, … We have seen what we can do when we work together, everyone pulling at the same time, so we all know that, Yes, we can do this, too!

— Jackie, architect from Connecticut, living in France, married to French physician
— From a 1payer.net biography description maintained by Jackie; the above was copied on 3/4/2009

“Medical Care … Exceptional and Cost Us Nothing”

I am a person who avoids doctors like the plague and only seek medical care in an emergency. Even so, I’d much rather be in France than in the U.S. when that emergency happens.

Medical emergencies
In 25 years, our family has only had two major emergencies and in both cases, the medical care was exceptional and cost us nothing. The first was when our 5-year-old daughter caught her foot in the spokes of my bicycle while in the carry-on seat. She almost lost her heel. The neighbor rushed us both to the emergency room of the nearest medical facility, a private clinic. We were met by a surgeon and she went straight into the operating room. We both stayed in a private room for a week. I had a cot in her room, could stay with her 24 hours a day, and had meals in the room with her. All we had to pay was for my personal telephone calls. Everything else was covered between social security and our teachers’ mutual insurance. To this day, whenever any medical person sees her scar, they are amazed at the terrific job the surgeon did - she was within one centimeter of losing her entire heel.

The other occasion was when the coffee machine exploded on me and burned both hands and arms up to the elbow. Again I rushed to the same medical facility, was met by the same surgeon, and received instant top care. Again it cost us nothing. In fact, we then contacted our mutual and asked for household help, because I could not use my arms or hands. That same day, a specialized caregiver arrived on our doorstep, and was there to do anything that needed doing – housework, meal preparation, driving…. She came every day for three weeks, until the burns were fully healed. Today I have no scars whatsoever, although at the time, all the flesh of my inner right arm had disappeared….

Giving birth
The French system has positive and negative points. One is that because everything is free, people tend to go to the doctor on the slightest pretext. They are also heavily over medicated. Each time I was pregnant, I was required to have an examination every month, plus an ultrasound at four months and another at 8 months. These experiences were traumatic for me – they felt like a violation of my privacy and not necessarily good for the child. However when it came to delivery, I, like every other woman here, was kept in the hospital or clinic, for a full week after giving birth, and again, at no cost other than my phone calls. I have been told that in the U.S. costs for staying in the hospital just overnight after giving birth are astronomical.

Mental Health
When discussing medical coverage, we need to include mental health. When close relatives have needed mental health care, they have been able to walk straight into a clinic, and receive counselling, therapy, and psychiatric care at no cost. No identity papers had to be shown, no forms filled out. The care continued as long as needed.

Alcoholism is treated as an illness. One member of the family went to his doctor, confessed the problem, and was sent to an alcohol specialist who treated every aspect of the problem – physical consequences, addiction, psychotherapy. If necessary, the person would have been sent to a retreat – however in this particular case, other solutions were found. The entire attitude towards alcoholism was very enlightened and effective – and the person was charged nothing.

Similarly, when another member had a mental breakdown, she was able to go to a psychiatrist in a socio-medical center and follow therapy without ever laying out a dime or filling out a form or even showing an id card.

Pros and cons
The French social security system is much more comprehensive than anything in the U.S. The way it is financed contributes to the economic gridlock of the country, because social charges are so high that employers can’t afford to hire additional personnel. Furthermore, the employer has to pay these charges whether or not s/he has had any income at all. This problem is being addressed in a variety of ways, as the government tries to find more flexible means of financing social care. In terms of medical and mental health care, as I mentioned, people tend to abuse the system – going to the doctor for a sniffle, overmedicating, and not taking responsibility for their daily life.

Nonetheless, as I stated in the beginning, I’d rather be in France in an emergency than in the U.S. Furthermore, healthcare and a wide variety of childcare facilities were major reasons for staying in this country when the children were small.

— Christine, American in France
healthcareforamerica.blogspot.com 7/1/2009


Japan

 

On Thursday night, April 9th, 2009, my daughter (9 years old) spilled boiling water on her foot. Since I was not sure of the severity, we took her to the local hospital ER and were seen by a doctor within 20 minutes (fortunately, it was not so severe). Since we had also registered the children in advance with the city (and received the papers stating we had done so) I just had to show our insurance card and the preregistration for hospital care. Her treatment was free. We were given a letter of introduction for a local clinic to follow up her care the next day, and that examination and treatment were also free. We were told to return after two days for another examination and treatment at the clinic–again free!

There is absolutely nothing to be afraid of in changing the healthcare system in the US! It will only benefit the thousands of people who don’t have access to it in the present situation.

— Brooke Yamaki, American from Minnesota living in Japan
healthcareforamerica.blogspot.com 4/14/2009

Maternity stay in U.S. reimbursed by Japan — Although I live in Japan with my Japanese husband, I gave birth to my first child in the United States (Montana) and had some intervention. I had saved all of my hospital receipts and after returning to Japan, I was able to submit all of the bills (approximately $3200) to the Japanese Health Care system. In Japan, at that time, all births were covered up to 300,000 yen ($3000). We only had to pay out of pocket about $200. It would have cost more had I stayed in the hospital with my new baby for more than one night. In Japan, it is common for new mothers and babies to stay one week. Depending on the hospital, the price can vary, but in general, the cost runs around the reimbursement amount of 300,000 yen. I am not sure what amount American insurance covers in childbirth, but I felt we were pretty lucky to get the $3000 back!

— Brooke Yamaki, American from Minnesota living in Japan
healthcareforamerica.blogspot.com 3/15/2009

Socialized Medicine in Japan is Exciting!This especially long story includes descriptive details about accessibility, service, facilities, cost, quality and the procedure of using via a national health insurance card.

I just got home from the most amazing experience, it’s called….. (drumroll)… SOCIALIZED MEDICINE!!! It was so exciting.

About 2 weeks ago I slammed my knee running for the train (late as usual). The concrete step crashed into the middle of my kneecap, and I could barely bend it for 2 days. Although it improved, I was worried cuz it was still hurting sometimes. I didn’t want it to heal weird, and start throbbing every time there was a rainstorm, or something like that. So I asked the lady at my foreign-students dormitory where I could get it checked out. She gave me a list of doctors in our neighborhood (about 15, all covering different specialties). We agreed I should go to the orthopedic surgeon; “no appointment is necessary, just show up” she said. I went at about 5 p.m. today on my bike.

Oh my goodness!!!!!! It was about the most divine customer-service experience of my LIFE! Dr. Maeda’s office was a little drab, but functional and clean. Not luxurious-looking like hospitals in the U.S., with lots of fake plants and plaques with donors names. Just wood-panel walls and old magazines. I gave a written description of my problem to ease the language barrier, and after filling out one short form (basically contact info only) and handing over my (national) health insurance card, I took a seat. SIDENOTE: Did you catch that part? GOVERNMENT HEALTH INSURANCE CARD!!! It is a cute blue affair that comes with a free plastic cover. I got it the week I arrived in Japan. Fresh off the boat, new immigrant, terrible Japanese. Still, I qualified for inclusion and was so happy to finally be fully insured I hugged and kissed the dude in the City Office, jumping up and down and yelling as he sweated in his polyester shirt. It was the best experience of my first month in Japan. But I hadn’t had a chance to use the card until today…

So Dr. Maeda called for me from behind a door. Only wack thing about the office: the walls don’t touch the ceiling! So I guess they don’t care about patient privacy. Everyone can hear everything, so if you have something embarrassing I guess you write it down and slip the paper across the table, like a bank robber. Anyways, I sat down and put my purse in the basket conveniently provided for this purpose. Dr. Maeda is a cheerful, tanned Japanese Santa Claus type. I wish I took a picture of him. He was laughing and practicing his English on me: “You run for train! Haha! Is dangerous! Don’t you listen to warning in station? Haha!” After a few minutes of poking and prodding my knee, he said “We do x-ray now.” He took 2 x-rays and I waited another 5 minutes. Then he called me back into his office. “No break! Just contusion! Haha!! No jogging please!” He thoughtfully looked the word “contusion” up in his ancient dictionary while I was waiting. There was no interpreter but we got along ok with my so-so Japanese and his enthusiastic English. He called the nurse to put a medicated stretchy patch thing over my whole knee, and cover it with a short white netting thing. Wrote a prescription for more of the disposable patches and sent me on my way with a laugh, saying in Japanese “If you were younger it would have healed faster! Haha, just kidding! Stop running for the train, ok? Haha!” I was glad to provide him with a source of hilarity for the afternoon, and stepped out of the office smiling. I sat back down on the bench to wait for the bill. I had been reassured “it won’t be too much!” but I had no idea what to expect.

Soon the secretary called me up. “Forenbaum-san?” She returned my health insurance card, and gave me a new laminated one to use if I return to Dr. Maeda’s. Then the bill: $13.24 (JY 1,610). That’s it!! I’m on the “30% plan,” which means the government pays the other 70% of the office visit. That includes 2 x-rays, meeting with the doctor, and getting one patch applied. No appointment, no waiting, excellent service, an immediate diagnosis, everyone’s friendly. The whole affair took 30 minutes, out the door.

As for the prescription for the patches, those of us in from the medical hinterlands called the United States know that getting a prescription filled can be the most painful part of being sick. I remember as a kid waiting for hours in the Kaiser pharmacy, in a packed waiting room with screaming kids, dope fiends in rehab, people with rashes, and lots of coughing. As I started to leave Dr. Maeda’s, I was grateful I could put off filling the non-emergency prescription for the knee patches. But the secretary told me: “There’s a pharmacy just around the corner. Across from the 7-11. Take this there.” I hopped on my bike. “Feel better!” she waved as I pulled away.

At said pharmacy, I walked in and handed the paper to dude. He took it in the back. 4 minutes later, emerged with my stuff. Grand total (for the prescription)? $2.80 (JY 340). 2 weeks of treatment, silver plastic bag, my receipt. I’m dumbfounded, but the pharmacist is looking at me like I stole something. “Uhh, do you need anything else?” “Uh, I guess not…” Nutrition posters and bottles of Shiseido shampoo line the walls as I walk out.

Riding my bike home, I felt re-energized. Enthusiastic!! Healthy!! When did I last feel that way leaving the doctor’s office… Maybe it was the warm reception I received (despite being a grammar-mangling foreigner) or maybe it was the unknown drugs in the stretchy patch thing. Or maybe it was the fact that my life wasn’t interrupted by this minor injury, and (the Japanese) society seems to agree that pro-active care for my knee is a pretty good idea. That’s calming. I pedalled down the hill to do some grocery shopping. I’m not worried about my knee, or any other part of my health, and can focus on my work and life.

— Nina Fallenbaum, American from California living in Japan
healthcareforamerica.blogspot.com 8/24/2008

Japan … after Denmark

I’ve been living in Japan for 33 years
3 of my four children were born here (the eldest child was born in Denmark – that cost me $26.00)
Last year I had a 3-hour surgery and stayed in the hospital for 3 weeks.
I/my family have never had difficulty paying any medical bills.
I have NO medical horror stories to tell.

— Karen, American in Japan
healthcareforamerica.blogspot.com, 2/5/2009

Japan … after France

When arriving at France, my first reaction to “socialized” medicine was negative (but that changed wuickly!) … and it was fine in Africa and Japan, too. — When I was 11 I moved with my family to France. My first reaction when I heard the phrase “socialized medicine” was negative, since I had heard of socialism only in negative contexts in my US public schools, but I noticed that my parents were thrilled by the affordability of medical care. When we moved on to Africa one of our extended families’ main concerns was of course our health, but for expatriats living there, the care at top notch hospitals in Nairobi was excellent and very affordable. I did not have much first hand experience of the healthcare system during my 6 years there, but I visited others and witnessed the care they were given and their satisfaction with the expertise and facilities offered for excellent prices. I found myself thinking that if I ever needed a major surgery when in college in the US, that I would seriously consider a trip back to Africa for the care and service offered by the hospital. Although the flight itself would be pricey, it would surely be a better option overall. The irony of this thought was not lost on my teenage mind.

In the previous 5 years I have mostly lived in Japan, and been covered by the national insurance program for very reasonable fees. Whenever I have been sick I have gone to the doctor and received excellent treatment and follow-up. I am always amazed at the price that I pay when I leave… so low! My only health concerns come when I travel back to the US. I am uninsured there, and I worry what I would do if I had an accident or fell sick. I certainly think twice before I go to the doctor in the US, but I don’t hesitate to make a visit when I am sick in Japan. Ever since my first experience with socialized medicine in France I have dreamed of a day when the US put such a priority on keeping all its citizens healthy. I do hope that I will live to see the day that it becomes a reality! There are many good models to follow so we should pick the best of each one to make a great American healthcare system!

— Keely Kanazawa, American from Kentucky living in Japan
healthcareforamerica.blogspot.com 4/9/2009

 

Australia

Quality Time with Relative without Worry About the Cost — Two and a half years ago, my wife’s mother in Australia was diagnosed with terminal cancer. My wife and I moved from Japan to Australia to care for her during the final months of her life. The care she received was excellent throughout.

She was able to go to the hospital whenever she wanted for as long as she wanted, wait times were never longer than what would be expected at a hospital in the US, and her doctors were able to recommend procedures for her based on whether they thought they would be beneficial rather than without worrying whether or not they would be covered by her insurance. All her medication was subsidized by the national health care system, and the most we ever had to pay out of pocket was $20AU. In the end, except for the small amount we had to pay for medication, all the care she received cost us nothing. My wife and I … (spent) quality time with her in her last few months rather than worrying that her treatment would bankrupt us.

I lived in Australia for two years and made use of their national health care system numerous times myself. Depending on the billing practices of the doctor, a visit to the GP (general practitioner … family physician) would either cost nothing at all or between $20 and $30AU. Last June I had surgery to repair a perforated eardrum and was admitted to the hospital overnight, and I found the care I received to be of the highest quality at no cost to myself.

— Isaac, American in Australia/Japan
healthcareforamerica.blogspot.com 3/1/2008

 

National health insurance is popular.

Yes, the tax rate in Australia is higher than in the US, but higher taxes are not crippling the Australian economy. Australians are prosperous and happy, and small businesses thrive there. Thanks largely to generous social programs that help insure a basic standard of living for all Australian citizens, Australia has nowhere near the level of crippling, hopeless poverty that afflicts some parts of the United States. The Australian universal health care system is now so popular that to attempt to eliminate it would be political suicide.

— Isaac, American living in Australia/Japan
healthcareforamerica.blogspot.com 3/1/2008

 

 

I watched Michael Moore’s Sicko in Australia last summer, and the general mood in the theater was disbelief and shock that any country could be so callously barbaric toward its own most vulnerable members. I agree with them, and think that if America truly wants to call itself a standard-bearer for freedom and equality in the world it should start by making sure that its own most needy citizens get the health care they desperately need.

— Isaac, American in Australia/Japan
healthcareforamerica.blogspot.com 3/1/2008

 

 

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Spain

Long-term Hospital Stay in Spain — Please go to the website to see the long story about a young American woman who had a medical emergency in Spain. Here is an excerpt: “She is a U.S. Citizen and was attending a university and working part time ………. Tecnically she should not have been covered by the social security system here, but the University got that adjusted.

She was taking extensive amounts of drugs for a long time (Antibiotics, Anticoagulants etc.) She was monitored for about six months and eventually was released from hospital care with her “Alta”. Once, after a trip to the U.S., she discovered a blood clot in her leg and learned that she had to inject herself with an anticoagulant prior to any flight………..

What was her bill at the end of all that ? “0” I believe the most she had to pay for any prescriptions after release from the hospital was 2 euros………

In seven years of living in Spain, I have paid “0” towards my healthcare……I can join the social security system for 48 euros a month , approximately $68. However, even if I am not in the system and in an emergency, they will take care of me and worry about billing later……”

— Herbert Chersonsky, American living in Spain
healthcareforamerica.blogspot.com 3/7/2009

 

Italy

“Extremely Pleased”

I am part of and extremely pleased with the Italian single payer system.

— Elena, American in Italy
— Input when Elena signed up at this website, 7/29/2009

 


Canada

Extensive Care in Canada for an Unexpected Illness Cost the Patient Nothing But Parking Money I am an ex-pat American living in Canada. In 2006, I got really,really ill after a long and healthy life. I also worked hard and paid a lot of taxes, some of which funded the universal health care system. Nevertheless, I received lots of and very expensive heath care, both acute and lengthy after care and home care for 2 1/2 years. I can say that I am now well….well enough. I paid not one dime for my care except for my wife to park when she visited me. I talked with my specialists and my wife and we decided what I needed done. No bureaucrats did I see. No forms did I fill in. No long waits for anything. Nothing but very high quality care and my well used health care card.. I know that if I were in the US, I would have been bankrupted by my illnesses and my life savings would be gone. I might not have pursued some treatments to my detriment because of deductibles or co-pays I could not afford. I might have died with a “pay as you go” health care system and the private health insurance labrynth. I have no idea what Americans are talking about when they decry universal health care and a single pay system. When Americans scream “socialized medicine”, I do not know what they are talking about and neither do 39,000,000 Canadians - all of them, young and old, rich and poor, I’m for universal health care much to the chagrin of the private economic interests that wish to come to Canada to “privatize” the Canadian system for us in order to make more money for themselves. If the Canadian system was not good, it couldn’t last long with the American system next door. People here are not stupid. I think a personal testimonial might help offset some of the disinformation that Americans receive or promote.

— Man. 66 years old, gave his input at Politico on 3/3/2009
Bolding was added, and one typo was corrected compared to the original.

Emergencies in Canada Have Top Priority Among Excellent Care — I have first hand experience with my mother-in-law and Canada’s medical system. She went in for her third heart valve replacement a couple years ago. The care was excellent and thorough. The one thing that was different is that her surgery was postponed twice – each time by a day – because emergencies came in and she was stable and monitored in her room at the hospital. She’s actually quite fearful that something will happen with her health when she’s visiting the States.
— 3/16/2009 comments at www.redding.com

 

 

Germany

Autoimmune Disorder and Germany’s health care system! — My parents who are from California and Tennessee came to live in Germany in 1971 to pursue their academic careers. Thus, my older sister and I were born and raised in Germany, but have only U.S. citizenship. At the time of my parents’ immigration my mother was already very ill with juvenile diabetes, slowly losing her eyesight. During my childhood she had almost a dozen eye surgeries which were all paid for by the universal health care system of Germany and helped maintain her eyesight a little longer. Sadly, also other aspects of my mother’s health declined over the years and she became dependent on nursing staff to come to her apartment several times a day to check her blood sugar levels for her. Although we had fights with our health insurance over the amount of care they would pay for, we were glad that we lived in Germany and were able to afford the care that was needed. When my mother was diagnosed with end-stage ovarian cancer in May 2003, she was so ill that she died in hospital within three weeks after diagnosis. As hard as it was for us to deal with losing our mother and making funeral arrangements etc. we can be grateful that she received excellent care at the university hospital and that we did not have to pay any bills related to her hospital stay.

Not only our mother was highly dependent on the German universal healthcare system, at the age of 20 I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder and spent several weeks in the university hospital in the city where I was attending university. A myriad of diagnostic tests was performed, and no one ever said that certain tests could not be done due to high cost, and I never had to pay more than the normal amount of health insurance and prescription fees.

Unfortunately, due to this pre-existing condition even in Germany I could no longer buy life-insurance. Already at that time I realized that I would probably never be able to afford life in the U.S. given my health issues. No one expected what happened less than five years later. At the age of 25, I suffered a stroke to the brainstem and cerebellum which left me in intensive care and then in a wheelchair for weeks. My health insurance paid for 8 days on the stroke unit, 5 weeks in a university hospital neurology unit, transfer to and 9 weeks in a highly specialized neurology rehabilitation facility, another 7 weeks in an outpatient rehabilitation facility in my hometown, and finally 2 more years of physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. They never put a limit as to how long they would pay for it as long as the doctors said that the therapy was required. I was highly motivated and practised a lot, otherwise my rehabilitation would have taken much longer I’m sure.

In the year after my stroke I required major abdominal surgery and have had health problems ever since. However, due to the great rehabilitation program I went through after my stroke and the high-quality diagnostics and therapy I am getting for my continued health problems, I have been able to go back to working full-time, although in a different line of work. I am able to continue (and afford) my hobbies of riding horses and travelling and consider myself to have a high quality of life. From what I hear from friends and relatives who live in the U.S., I am quite certain that I would not be able to maintain this life standard (in the U.S.) regarding the cost of doctor’s visits, medications etc. that I need every year.

— Natalie, American from California living in Germany
healthcareforamerica.blogspot.com, 6/18/2008


The Netherlands

We, living in the Netherlands, can’t understand a developed country without universal coverage — Healthcare in The Netherlands keeps getting toyed with at the national level, so this is up-to-now. It isn’t completely free unless you’re below a certain income, and above that, or if you’re self-employed, how much you pay depends on what kind of policy you buy. Everyone is insured. With an above average income, my insurance (worldwide medical, dental, physio, repatriation, medicines, basically whatever I need) with €150/$200 annual deductable (I chose that limit) costs €1700/$2300 a year, with my employer paying half, and me getting a group discount on the rest, so that works out to something like €50/$67 a month. That’s it. This includes doctor’s visits, medications, physiotherapy, even things like visits to a nutritionist or a problem overseas.

But as an American, the things you always worry about are also the larger incidents. The ones I’ve had would have cost more than my house in the US. About 15 yesrs ago I was travelling for work in Africa and had to be taken by ambulance to a hospital, admitted overnight, tested, followed up intensively (my insurer offered to fly me home, but I took my regular flight) . The Namibian hospital phoned my Dutch insurer, and everything was arranged between them. I never even saw a bill. I saved receipts from the private doctor I saw for the rest of my stay, and was refunded that amount when I got home.

A few years later, I was visiting in Texas and had a different problem, also involving hospitals and so on. That time the hospital had a hard time processing my foreign insurance and I did see the bills (ouch), but again was able to pass them directly to my insurance company.

Then (gee, I sound like a physical wreck) a few years after that I survived a brainstem stroke. In The Netherlands. The doctor’s house call, the ambulance, the time on the Stroke unit, medications, an MRI, aftercare, excellent neurologists and nursing staff – all paid by my insurance.

The Michael Moore movie ‘Sicko’ is incomprehensible here. People complain about the annual fiddling with our coverage, but they can’t understand a developed country without universal coverage. They go to the doctor when they’re sick. They go to physios if they need them. They see the dentist routinely. They fill prescriptions.

— Linda McPhee, American living in The Netherlands
healthcareforamerica.blogspot.com 4/3/2009

 

Scotland

Cost for care was zero

I’ll make this short. Our daughter suffered for years in the United States with an undiagnosed case of Myasthenia Gravis. Her doctors, including a neurologist in New York, failed to diagnosis her disease and dismissed the symptoms as psychosomatic. Mind you, the symptoms, as we learned later, were classic for a young woman with this admittedly rare disease.

After moving to Scotland to start a Masters program, she could finally no longer swallow reliably or talk for more than a few minutes before her muscles no longer worked. After receiving no useful care at an emergency room, she went to see our local GP who referred her to the local teaching hospital. There, based on nothing more than a conversation and superficial examination, the UK equivalent of a new resident correctly diagnosed the disease. Since then, she has been hospitalized for a month, given two very expensive courses of IVIG treatment, and had her thymus removed in major, open chest surgery. Thankfully she is now much better and about to head off for a Ph.D. program in England.

Recently, we flew back to New York to consult with perhaps the world expert on Myasthenia. After reviewing her symptoms and treatment he declared that the doctors in Scotland were doing all the right things. He then asked how much this cost. He had a bit of a hard time understanding that the cost was exactly zero. By the way, I spent about two months paying various bills associated with that one visit to his office. Quite a contrast I’d say.

Is the system in the UK perfect. Of course not. Did they provide superlative care for our daughter. Absolutely.

— John, American from New York
— Living in Scotland — healthcareforamerica.blogspot.com 8/15/2009

 

 

 

 

Israel

Enjoying excellent health care for a decent price.  Health care is universal and a fundamental right for all citizens. We pay about 7% of our gross (there is a ceiling for very high wage earners).  I pay about $12 more for additional coverage.  Prescription drugs have EXTREMELY low deductibles.  It is so totally NOT like the US system. ... I had to have a routine colonoscopy a while back and it cost about $10.  The copays for routine office visits are like $3.  How people can live in the US with this horrible fear, I just don't understand.... The greatest country in the world which gave me (us) everything, doesn't have an equitable health care for all.  It is a travesty.

Within Israel's universal health care system my health organization has an after-hour clinic which handles routine emergencies, with short wait periods.  I hurt my foot after my family doctor's normal working hours (also they are open weekends).  They sent me to an orthopedic specialist on duty, had me x-rayed and I was out of there in less than two hours.  I have accompanied friends to the emergency room at a major medical center and the wait was no longer than two hours.  The charges for these emergency or after hour visits whatever you might call them?  $10 each.

Recently I had a urinary tract infection which as Murphy's Law would have it, got really bad right before a holiday and my family doctor was not available.  I called Maccabi, they put a nurse online, she found a doctor available at my nearest Macabbi neighborhood clinic.  I walked over, described what I felt, and he prescribed the antibiotic.  I had to come in the day after for the urinalysis.  If he thought that the test would have been very crucial, he would have sent me to an emergency facility.  All of this transpired within an hour, without going to an emergency facility.
— Mark Schwartz, American from Massachusetts
— e-mail to Bob Haiducek 5/30/2011 with approval to share it

 

 

Malaysia

Amazingly Low Prices in Malaysia for the Same Drug – 80% Lower About 7 years ago, my husband needed ‘Lamisil’ tablets for his toe nails. His health insurance refused to cover the expenses because they were too expensive. We found out that it would cost about $350 a month. I asked my brother in Malaysia to find out how much one month’s supply cost. Believe it or not, it was about $80.00. So he bought and mailed me 3 months supply. The drugs were made by the same pharmaceutical company. The only difference is the ones sold in Malaysia are made in Switzerland. When I share this story with the people here, they look at me like I was making it up! We’ve got to change the mindset of Americans. Insurance companies have been putting out these lies for too long that not many people are willing to put some effort by contacting our … Representatives.

— Philomina, American from Kuchin, Malaysia
— e-mail to Bob Haiducek 5/18/2009 with approval to share it

Less than $1 for 3 days in a Malaysian hospital — Please feel free to share my story with anyone you want and you can also include my name and where I come from. I have bad sinus problem. After finishing high school, I went to see an ENT Specialist at the Malaysian government hospital. I can’t remember how long I had to wait to receive treatment (probably less than 3 weeks). I had a minor surgery and stayed in the hospital for 3 days and 2 nights. I went back to see the Specialist for check up about a week later. I only had to pay M$1-00 (less than $1 U.S. dollar) for the registration! At that time, USD1-00 is equivalent to about M7-00. Now the government hospitals charge a minimum amount for staying in the hospital.

— Philomina, American from Kuchin, Malaysia
— e-mail to Bob Haiducek 5/19/2009 with approval to share it 


TESTIMONIALS:

AMERICAN VISITORS IN OTHER COUNTRIES


England

“Would not take a penny for first-class treatment”
I was visiting my sister in England and developed a major nosebleed. The ambulance came, and they treated me like I was their mother. They took me to a clinic to be stabilized. Later they took me 45 miles to the hospital at about 3 a.m. The doctor saw me at 11 a.m., after which they treated me at 2 p.m. They offered to keep me overnight for a second night. For all of this first-class treatment they would not take a penny, even though I had purchased a travelers’ policy for medical insurance.

— Robin N., American visiting in England
— Experience shared with Bob Haiducek 10/7/2010 with approval given to share it

 


Mexico

"I was visiting Mexico with my two daughters. My 8-year old had a foot problem and had to have minor surgery at a foot clinic to remove a wart. The first visit, including the cost of the medicine, cost $50 USD. The follow-up treatment cost $20 USD. My 6-year old had hives, for which the consultation cost was $3, and the medicine cost was $4. For these health care treatments there was a small wait (half hour) for the first and no wait for the second, the latter of which occurred in a pharmacy."

— Michelle, American visiting in Mexico
— Experience shared with Bob Haiducek 7/24/2012 with approval given to share it

 

TESTIMONIALS:

AMERICANS WHO CAN'T COME HOME

Canada

Two Americans in Canada: excellent care for rare diseases

“What do you think of when you imagine an American living in exile, unable to return home? This (video) is a profile of two Americans living in Canada who can’t return to the US because they’re unable to get health care.” Each of the two women would like to return to the United States. Each of them explains why they can’t. They are stranded in Canada due to the excellent health care there. Each of them share how the path of lives led to them living in Canada. They communicate that their family’s health care needs involve staggeringly high costs if they were in the United States. They each share that they have never seen a medical bill.

Kathleen’s son has a rare skin and muscle disease. When he was 4 year old, had a rash. And his bones were hurting. Without treatment that disease results in 1/3 of children dying and 1/3 with severe handicaps. He is now 6 years old. They would like to move to the U.S. so that she can care for her mother who has cancer, but that is impossible.

Friends in the U.S. asked her if they were coming to the U.S. for treatment. Friends also asked if they would be able to afford the treatment. She saw these questions as ridiculous from the perspective of living in Canada.

The family’s cost in British Columbia is the standard $108 per month, definitely indicating that the $108 per month is the level of their responsibility for payment. Plus she states that there is no (billing-related) paperwork to fill out to get care. She states that her son has received amazing care from world-renowned doctors. Kathleen did some research with other families who have a child with this disease. The cost for 6 months of treatment is somewhere between $45,000 and $165,000 in out-of-pocket costs that the family would owe.

Maureen has a rare auto-immune disorder, discovered when she had an incident of intestinal bleeding. At one point she was given what they called a “Factor 7” drug. She received 4 or 5 doses. She learned that each dose costs $60,000. That’s around a quarter of a million dollars! She states that she has never been told that cost is an issue. She simply gets care.

— Kathleen and Maureen, Americans in Canada
— Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TWuO5dBYjo 7/21/2009


Invitation: Sign Up to help get a health-care-for-all system in the United States:
Improved Medicare for All.


 

 

 

Testimonials of Citizens of Other Countries
who now live in the United States

 and experience the difference

 

 

United Kingdom

 

 


 

 

 

United Kingdom: Health Care is a "Given"

Health care a "given", hardly ever discussed. I lived in the UK for the first 50 years of my life, until I met and married my wife, a native of New England. Being from different continents, something had to give and I came to live here with my new wife in 2001. Health care was always a "given" in the UK and hardly came up in conversation. I'd heard some "horror" stories of the health situation in the USA before I came here, but naively found them hard to believe from the wealthiest nation on the planet. It came as quite a shock on my arrival. Worst still were some of the lies and half truths being spread about single payer health care systems, like the one I'd just left. We British are NOT taxed at 50% like I've recently heard here, or anywhere close to that. In fact when you weigh it all up, there's not much difference.

My wife and I lived in the UK for the first six months after we married, while I applied for my visa. During that time my wife was suffering from flu so we visited my local surgery. I explained that my wife was not a UK citizen, and asked if I needed to fill in some forms. The answer I got was "She's your wife, right? "Sit there and the doctor will see you in a moment". No insurance cards. No forms. That was it.

Low cost prescription drugs. The worst shock to me when I came here were the outrageous costs, both for health care and prescriptions. On prescription, you pay about $10 an item in the UK, REGARDLESS of the cost of the medication. I'm over 60 now so would be exempt from paying anything at all, same applies if you're under 16 or in full time education, or low income (source http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcosts/Pages/Prescriptioncosts.aspx).

My youngest daughter is a three time cancer survivor. The UK national health service (NHS) saved her life on three occasions and the treatment she received was second to none, ANYWHERE in the world. Americans are a hard working people and deserve so much more than they're getting

— Ron Gletherow from Connecticut, originally from United Kingdom
— e-mail to Bob Haiducek 3/30/2012 with approval to share it.

 

 

 

 


 

Americans in the United States
Have Hardships

Hardships and Heartaches plus Pleas for Action

Select one of the following links to learn about the unnecessary
hardships that occur in the United States regarding health care,
including many real life stories:

The Homeless
Those Who Never Go to the Doctor or Dentist
Shock and Disbelief in the USA about how Americans treat their own people
The Silent … Now Deceased
The Financially Ruined
The Financially Stressed or Worried
Pleas – for Efficiency
A Conservative’s Plea for Efficiency
Pleas – to have What All Other Industrialized Countries Have
Pleas – for a Caring Society
Restrictions in Life Choices
Business Impact - Global Competition
Businesses Who Care
Words of a Health Insurance Agent
Pain, Suffering and Deaths of the Uninsured and Underinsured
Observations of Patients’ Hardships by Medical Professionals
The Rationed Health Care (… and/or underinsured)
The Suicides and Those Contemplating Suicide
Massachusetts Residents

Note: Americans who live in other countries have peace of mind.
         Hundreds of thousands of Americans flee to other countries for good health care at a decent price.


THE HOMELESS

Story Shared by Jared Polis, when he was a candidate for U.S. Congress

“(David, one of our students,) and his family were homeless for six months because they lacked insurance and had to spend all their money on an operation to prevent blindness. Thankfully David’s eyesight was saved and he is going on to graduate …”

Source: Jared Polis (CO-2) – from within comments submitted for a survey of the organization Health Care for All Colorado.


THOSE WHO NEVER GO TO THE DOCTOR OR DENTIST

I have no insurance, and I have not been to a doctor in 22 years.

— chat between Bob Haiducek and an uninsured caretaker of an elderly friend, July 2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio

Health care? I need some ah dat! I haven’t seen a dentist in 15 years.

— chat between Bob Haiducek and a man about 30 years old, April 2009 in Saginaw, Michigan


SHOCK AND DISBELIEF INSIDE THE USA ABOUT HOW AMERICANS TREAT THEIR OWN PEOPLE

If all the suffering and heartache of being uninsured could be measured somehow, (stress, panic, worry, etc.), and shown to lawmakers, how could (the members of the U.S. Congress) turn their backs on over 50 million people?

— Comment submitted to the Million Letters Campaign, 4/20/2009 from Wisconsin

In four days I will get another round of testing that will likely confirm that I have breast cancer. (She was visibly upset; tears were forming.) I had to go begging to a public health department in order to simply get tested. I am shocked about the bad health care in the United States as a result of the reaction of my Canadian friends; they were shocked at how I am treated in trying to get health care.

— Comment made by a waitress to Bob Haiducek and his wife 7/18/2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina


THE SILENT … NOW DECEASED

“My daughter got sick with cancer after her husband lost his job. She never told anyone she was sick because she knew the financial hardship it would cause and eventually the hospital would take their house for unpaid medical bills. We lost her in the following spring … We read her diary and learned all she was feeling and thinking. Now I wonder how many others are just like her in this America? And how many before her?”


THE FINANCIALLY RUINED

“… my father stopped going to his heart doctor because he was drowning in medical bills… Sadly, he died of a massive heart attack while working on the job because he had to work, and had to pay off his bills…”


“I work with a man who had to sell his house to pay for his wife’s cancer treatment. They had insurance, but it wasn’t enough to save her life. He lost his home, his best friend and his financial security.”


“My father was born in poverty … He died in poverty too, but not because of his own laziness or waste or mismanagement. He had been a successful commercial artist with 20 employees. No, he died in poverty because he was a hard worker and always paid his bills and died trying to pay the astronomical bills from the cancer that killed my mother. My father fought in WWII. He believed in this country and this country let him down …”


“… (A woman) had … fought a good fight (with cancer) and thought she won. … the doctors told her it was coming back and their treatments would no longer work. Her family had to come up with 15 thousand dollars just for one month worth of chemo. Not to mention air fair, hotel and other needs while they would be in another state. 40 thousand dollars plus later this wonderful women, mother and wife, lost her battle leaving behind two wonderful children, a husband, a funeral bill and a mountain pile of medical bills.”


“… grandmother who toward the end of her life had to order medicine from Canada. … she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy. … she beat it with the help of numerous expensive treatments that left her with nothing. … (She was an outstanding woman, a hard worker.) She (was) forced to buy needed drugs from a country other than her own because she couldn’t afford health care in America. … She died on hospice and my parents had to spend the remainder of her estate on yet more healthcare. “


“My mom has gone bankrupt due to bills and my grand mom died while not being able to afford proper care …”


“… my father passed away from M.S. He worked as an RN at our local hospital for 20 years, when he was fired for poor job performance … (Three years later), he soon discovered his poor job performance was because of a rapid development of the M.S. He had no job, no real money, we had to liquidate everything he owned … before we could apply for Medicaid and disability. After paying for his monthly prescription (about $2000 a month) we were soon broke. He died less than a year later. We didn’t have the money for a nursing home, no money for rehabilitation.



THE FINANCIALLY STRESSED OR WORRIED

Due to the lack of peace of mind about health care in the United States there is a constant low-level degree of stress among millions of citizens. Some citizens have a high level of stress due to their particular situation.

  • Will my young son or daughter in their 20’s without health insurance have any need for health care?
  • Will I be able to take care of my parents (or my siblings) (or my children) when it comes to their health care?
  • Will I be able to take care of myself and/or my family at all times regarding health care based on where I live or work or what career/profession/job I have?

Source: Bob Haiducek, Bob the Health and Health Care Advocate

“I had (health insurance) for 17 years paying $7,500 a year for the family plan. Now I can’t get any insurance because I cant afford it. After having cancer the (health insurance company) gave me VIOXX when I had cancer and not until the ultra sound broke off did they order me an operation and found cancer. I only used my insurance policy ONE time in 17 years.”


PLEAS – FOR EFFICIENCY

The efficiency of putting all a country’s citizens in one big risk pool has been so clearly demonstrated by the success of those other countries which have adopted universal health insurance, I’m surprised we haven’t switched to such a system already


A single payer health care system is urgently needed. We are currently spending about 15% of our GDP (more than any other nation) with lower quality health care than many other nations because much of the cost is going to health care “networks”. That is inefficient, ineffective, and just plain stupid.


It’s time to come out of the dark ages and provide our people with health care. The idea that only some people deserve such care is obviously stupid and cruel. Also, it’s obvious that we could finance such a plan. The day of the inefficient, short-(sighted) health insurance company era should pass. Isn’t America supposed to be about innovation?


As a physician and medical informatician, I have spent many years of study and research trying to understand and improve the inefficiencies and inequities in our healthcare system. I have concluded that the only sensible solution to this problem is well-conceived and well-executed universal healthcare, such as is proposed in HR-676. While profit is essential to any free society, unfair manipulation of the political system for the benefit of corporations (and, yes, even their shareholders) must not be tolerated. This is even moreso when the cost of this unfair manipulation is paid for disproportionately by the taxpayers and less fortunate among us. Oddly enough, the person who convinced me several years ago that universal, single-payer healthcare was the solution is a manager at a major health insurance company. With three children and a stay-at-home wife, he surely values his good job with this company; however, he knows that universal healthcare is the right move and that he will find a way to productively employ his skills regardless of potential major corporate restructuring to accommodate such an ethically and imperative change. Furthermore, universal healthcare is needed for the economic health of our country, both to ensure the stability of large corporations and to encourage the formation of innovative new companies.


Free our doctors, nurses and therapists to spend their valuable time and skills caring for people, not wading through 100s of different insurance coverage options and payment denials. Single-Payer efficiency–with regional administration–channels all that wasted money into actually treating the sick and preventing illness


… See Pleas for Efficiency for the complete set of stories and petitions about this topic


A CONSERVATIVE’S PLEA FOR EFFICIENCY

On most issues, I’m a Conservative and all for the free market providing the needs of the people instead of the government but I’ve studied this health-care issue as much as possible. I’ve come to the conclusion that the time has come to do what all other modern industrial nation has done. It’s time to expand Medicare to all U.S. citizens. As a Conservative, I’m for small government but sometimes the free market can’t meet the needs of the people. I see health-care being administered so much more efficiently and humanely for the same cost by a Medicare type system. How can anyone be against that? I’ve heard the Pros’s and the Con’s, no system is perfect, but we can beat what we have now. I understand that the majority of Americans want something like Medicare for all. If Americans want it and Americans are willing to pay for it and our elected Congress members are there to represent the American people then what’s the hold up? The insurance lobby? We have more votes than they do and we can elect Congress members that will represent Americans instead of the insurance industry. Medicare for All will happen some day, so it’s not if, but when. It’s time the Conservatives in Congress to rethink this issue and get on board. I’d really hate to leave your camp but I want H.R.676 to happen even if that’s what it takes.



PLEAS – TO HAVE WHAT ALL OTHER INDUSTRIALIZED COUNTRIES HAVE

Let’s put the pressure on to finally catch up with other developed nations on this matter


Let’s get on board with the rest of the developed world! Healthcare for all!


All the other developed countries have health care for their people. We need single payer now.


Our country should be on a par with other developed countries in giving health care to all its people. We are terribly backward about this. If our Congress is intimidated or held hostage by the insurance or pharmaceutical companies, then perhaps we will need to vote in different Congress people. Please show your backbone and vote for HR 676. Thank you.


The US is the only developed nation that does not have national health insurance. Now our health system is due to implode due to runaway drug costs and high insurance administrative fees. Both factors can be eliminated by a single-payer health system – like every other modern nation.



PLEAS – FOR A CARING SOCIETY

With all of the blessings we have in America, it is unconscionable for our society to sit back and allow millions of men and women, children and adults, elderly and young, to suffer because they can not afford adequate medical care. With all the discussion about morals in our society, I would think that the time to act for universal healthcare would be now. Jesus Himself said that “what you do to the least of these, you do to me.” We are our brother’s keepers and it is time to act like it.



RESTRICTIONS IN LIFE CHOICES

Starting my own business is not an option for me. I have a manageable chronic condition which makes me uninsurable.


As a full-time student, it is nearly impossible to afford adequate health care, and I know that there are so many of us that will simply abstain from seeking medical attention because they can not pay for the appointment, nor can they afford any prescriptions that may be written for them. Everyone deserves a fair chance at adequate health care and it is about time that Congress does something to help the people they were elected to represent rather than help themselves.


I am currently a student and have found it very difficult to find healthcare insurance that is affordable. I feel that a national health system would be very beneficial not to college students with low income households but also to newlyweds, elderly, and single parents all of who usually have fixed incomes. This would really help many people by providing them with the opportunity to enjoy healthier lives without worrying about affordable healthcare.



BUSINESS IMPACT – GLOBAL COMPETITION

The lack of a single payer healthcare system in our country will lead to more and more decline in the competitiveness of our businesses and our society.


In a global economy US employers are cutting health benefits to keep business costs in line with companies in countries where health benefits are not provided by the employer but by the government. For those without group health care from employers independently purchased health care is too expensive and makes no sense. The only solution is a universal national health care system.


Every other industrialized country has nationalized health care. Besides the obvious human reasons for HR 676, it would be a great benefit to American businesses trying to compete on the world market with other companies that don’t have to pay for their employees’ health care. ($1500 of every car GM makes goes to pay employee health care; sadly they are reducing coverage.)


Level the playing field for US businesses. Afford every US citizen the security every European takes for granted. Stop the madness of unaffordable health premiums, drugs, hospitilization, health care. Give the people what they all need, want, should have, and stop the unbearable burden business must endure, the handicap that they carry like an albatross around their necks, the rape of the uninsured and the drain on their vision of the American dream should they get sick, the loss of protection welfare people fear to lose, the right that prisoners enjoy unfettered in our prisons. We need this care for our Nation, for our security, and for all Americans. I would gladly pay more taxes. I don’t need the pittence of the last few tax breaks, keep it to make America healthy both economically, and politically and morally.


BUSINESSES WHO CARE

Businesses, especially small ones, are struggling to provide health plans for their employees. And we are allowing insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry to run the show. We should be ashamed of ourselves for letting this continue for so long. A single-payer system can’t be any more problematic or expensive than what we have. It’s only right that we make this change, now.


Without the insurance companies, who are the main blocking force for universal, single payer health care, we would have the likelihood of an economic boom. All businesses, almost freed of the enormous expense of employee health insurance under a single payer system, would be certain to invest the large amount of extra cash in new jobs, higher salaries, equipment, etc. Exports would be lower priced expanding business of our exports further expanding jobs here. More jobs, more money in peoples’ hands to spend. It’s not if we had a boom economy but how big!


WORDS OF A HEALTH INSURANCE AGENT

I am a licensed health insurance agent who might lose my business if this goes through - but I still support it. Day after day, I talk with small business owners, their employees, and people forced into the individual market. The system is broken and must be fixed! Insurance is supposed to be a shared risk, not a place where the luckiest also get the best rates.


PAIN, SUFFERING AND DEATHS OF THE UNINSURED AND UNDERINSURED

“(Over a period of) three years, I have witnessed the lack of coverage for two dear friends, both of whom had HMO insurance coverage through their jobs, and both of whom struggled to get coverage for the cancer treatment they needed in order to live. As I saw each of them struggling to survive and seeming get better over the course of 18 months to two years, they found out that their insurance coverage would be ending as they had reached their limit of coverage. Just as they were getting better and needed additional treatments, the insurance companies determined that coverage would stop, no coverage for so-called “experimental” treatments would be allowed, and even though they were improving, they were left to die.”

“Our son died … because we could not afford the proper care and the HMO dragged its feet until it was too late.”


“My sister and my brother died due to inadequate health insurance and/or Doctors being afraid to send them to a specialist to confirm and treat their medical problems. “


“My aunt died because she was moved to a lower grade post cardiac care facility because of insurance concerns. “


THANK GOD I FOUND THIS WEB SITE! I’ve written everyone I could think of for help. I’m a Domestic Violence survivor. Hard as that is to get out of, it’s no wonder to me why women return to the abuser. THERE’S NO HELP! My teeth are rotting, painfully from my head because of years of neglect. Nobody cares. I’m 38 years old and I worked hard since I was 15 years old. I came from money and my ex-husband took it all. So I turn to my country, who my father said was the greatest, AND THERE IS NO HELP. I have to suffer with painful arthritis & absessed teeth. OH MY GOD!!!!

“My friend cashed in his life insurance policy to help pay for his medicine during the past 2 years. He sold his house and was living in a trailer in order to help with medical costs. His only daughter found him dead at home. He had no life insurance to cover his funeral/burial costs. He was only in his 50’s–too young to die. His medical problem started with back surgery. What a shame.”

“… I had a friend who died because she had a heart attack. She thought she pulled a muscle in her back—she was a waitress, she had 2 kids and instead of going to the hospital she went to bed. Her son found her dead the next morning; … if she had had heath care she would have gone to the hospital.”


“I have 2 sons that had the same disease. One had health insurance, the other did not. The one that did not (have health insurance) is now dead. So please lets all come together as one to have good health care for us ALL.”


“(My) brother … was denied care at the county hospital because my parents weren’t insured. He was five months old and had a fever of 104. He was my parent’s first born and their only son …”


“My brother … applied for Medicaid because he could not stay employed since he was too sick. He had no insurance. Medicaid called me after he died to say they had turned him down as they had determined that he was healthy enough to work, therefore they could offer no help in paying his doctor’s bills, or assisted-living expenses. I told them he had died and they said in that case they would approve it so the doctors could be paid.”


“My mother died of cancer. She worked her whole life until she became too sick. When she lost her job … she lost her health insurance. Her monthly medications cost her $1200 and she only received $1500 a month from disability. She was forced to leave her apartment and move in with her sister. Having cancer was difficult enough, but (she worried) about how she was going to afford her treatment …”


“My youngest son died … He did not have health insurance and was ignored because of this. The story is long and complicated and just too painful to recite. However, if he had insurance during this time I think he might have had a chance of survival.”


“My Dad died … of a lung infection because he didn’t have insurance. He was refused medical treatment over and over because his job refused to give him insurance and he was diabetic so no private company would insure him.”


“… My cousin … died at 52 because she could not afford to go to a doctor! She worked cleaning houses for meager pay until, one day, she called for help. She was found in the bathtub in a pool of blood…by the time we got her to the hospital it was too late, her colon cancer was in advanced stages and she had 3-4 weeks to live. Her assigned oncologist abandoned her, but 2 young GI doctors worked on her, as she related, like a biology experiment, which allowed her to live 2 more months! That time she spent with family from Thanksgiving through the New Year. She died on January 3rd. Our case is only one; there are thousands like it. … “


“… My sister … died of breast cancer because she did not have health insurance and could not afford the treatment that could have saved her life.”


OBSERVATIONS OF PATIENTS’ HARDSHIPS BY MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS

“Today I will hold another person’s hand as they breathe their last breath. It could be your mother, father, or grandparent. I am a Hospice nurse and daily I hear the voice of the people as they tell me how they wouldn’t be in this situation if they weren’t denied health care. Sad thing is these people aren’t just the uneducated poor; many are educated middle and sometimes upper class citizens.”



THE RATIONED HEALTH CARE (… and/or underinsured)

“My dad will never see me graduate from high school or see what kind of man I will become. I can never talk to him again, because all treatments my dad’s doctor ordered were denied so my dad’s cancer spread all inside his body and he died at home.”


“My husband died of Cancer due to constant denials from (the) health insurance … plan … (We) call this “DEATH BY DENIAL.”We MUST make a change, I do not want this to happen to another person ever!”


“My wife died of cancer. At one time she needed a high-priced pill to stop her from vomiting. Our insurance wouldn’t cover it.”


“My father had a severe case of Parkinson’s disease. There were “experimental” procedures to implant what is basically a pacemaker into the brain to control the effects of Parkinson’s … This procedure may not have saved his life but would have more than likely made his life better … but the insurance wouldn’t cover the procedure because it was not a proven 100% effective procedure. … his condition continued to get worse till he was hospitalized for seizures. While he was in the hospital, the heart doctor told him that he should get in a wheel chair and prepare to die. After a brief stay at the hospital, he was transferred to a rehab center to learn how to take better care of himself.”


“I’ve lost many friends to things insurance just wouldn’t cover because there was no profit in it for the companies.”


“Look at little Natalie who died in Glendale California yesterday cause (the health insurance company) denied her liver transplant.”


“… I was elated to discover that we were expecting our second child. We did not have maternity insurance so we prepared ourselves for the $17,000 out-of-pocket cost for a normal delivery and the $35,000 out-of-pocket cost for a c-section … When I was 6 months in to my pregnancy my husband was offered a salaried position, WITH BENEFITS, at (a for-profit health insurance and health care company) … He took it along with a huge pay cut just so we would have the benefits. … I gave birth to a stillborn beautiful full-term Baby girl. Our Daughter died because (my husband’s employer refused to pay for proper care, considering the details of my situation.) The night before our Baby died, I was sent home, with troubling symptoms, and told not to come back unless I was bleeding or my water broke. My baby died shortly thereafter…”


“I watched my best friend die … He was told he wasn’t “a priority.” …”


“… I cannot obtain an individual health insurance plan due to a benign brain tumor I had removed five and one half years ago. My son cannot obtain health insurance due to a medical condition he was born with that was surgically repaired when he was two years old and requires no further treatment. I lost my husband three years ago, and while I have always had the good fortune to be a stay at home mother I am now looking, as I approach 50 years of age, that I am going to have to work full time to possibly obtain insurance for me and my son. This goes against everything one reads about how to help a child heal when they have lost a parent, against my own physical limitations since having brain surgery, but we are all being asked to sacrifice to possibly have health insurance.”


“… a hard working man has a horrible tumor on his spine so close to his brain they can not operate. Chemo seems to be working. (Then) the doctors tell him and his wife if he truly wants to kick this cancer he needs 6 more rounds of chemo. (His health insurance company) told him that he has maxed out his Chemo for the year and will be allowed more chemo starting (the following January). … friends and family … raised 12 thousand dollars; hopefully this will get him to January …”



THE SUICIDES AND THOSE CONTEMPLATING SUICIDE 

“… I am … retired from teaching I have no health insurance. If I have to go to the hospital, I could be forced to sell my house, and then would have no place to live. My pension is less than $1000 a month. My plan is, if I get sick or injured, to stay home and die. If I lost my house, I’d have to kill myself anyway.”

Sally Brown

Please note that the full content of the January 2008 article referenced below might cause visions of the gruesome scene and potentially result in a nightmare(s).
  • “Why did a 50-year-old woman throw herself off freeway overpass?”
    • “asthma, emphysema and congestive heart failure”
    • “every breath an agony”
    • “little more than a year to live”
    • medical bills piling at her door
    • “(health insurance company) … policy had been canceled”
    • “unable to work at the job she loved”; “(employer) terminated her employment”
    • “disability expired the same week she lost her job”
    • more than $20,000 in bills
    • Source: … reported by the OC Register

Clifford Davies

“Clifford Davies [former drummer for the Ted Nugent band] was found dead in his home in Atlanta on April 13, 2008. He died from a self inflicted gun shot wound. [1] Reed Beaver, the owner of Equametric Studio where Davies was employed as chief engineer, reported that Davies called him the night before his body was found and was “extremely distraught” over medical bills.” - Wikipedia

Marty Goldstein

... Goldstein started getting sick – and running up medical bills. “He was having a whole bunch of medical problems,” [his daughter] Adara says. “They never figured out what was wrong with him. We never found out.” “And he couldn’t eat. He couldn’t keep food down. His circulation was all screwed up, so he was always cold. Kaiser [Permanente] bounced him around to a whole bunch of specialists. But nobody could figure out what was wrong with him – they pretty much gave up after a certain point.” “Kaiser said he owed them about $10,000 for all the tests, CAT scans, MRIs. The bills kept piling up. He couldn’t pay it. ... Kaiser ... put bill collectors on it. He was in debt to them. He had bill collectors calling him.” ... "... Marty Goldstein killed himself. ... He shot himself in the head. ... My dad’s main killer was depression. And no health insurance. If he had been able to pay those bills, he would have stuck it out.” - from October 18, 2011 blog entry at Single Payer Action website.

 


MASSACHUSETTS RESIDENTS

Massachusetts implemented mandatory health insurance in 2006.


Complications and Unfairness, especially for the Middle Class’ Ownership and Income

” … There are people that REALLY need help out there but yet get turned away, either because they own a home or because they earn a little over that amount that your supposed (to earn, according to the defined cut-off points for who gets support). …” Boston Globe


“This model is basically set up to screw people. If you don’t have health care and can’t afford $450-$1200/mo to buy it yourself, you get fined. (Makes perfect sense… except for the part where it doesn’t.) No changes were made to force employers to do anything to help, like if the spouse with health care quits and you lose health care you can’t switch to your spouse’s care until open enrollment because quitting isn’t involuntary. If you make under a certain amount, you’re exempt from needing healthcare. So basically this fines the struggling middle class.” — Boston Globe


“The Massachusetts plan may work for people who either work full time and have company provided health benefits or for low-income people who qualify for reduced rates, but it certainly doesn’t work anyone out of that mold. Many, MANY people I know are working part time because that’s all the work they can find and their employer doesn’t give health benefits to part-timers. Their ENTIRE income goes to paying health insurance. I wouldn’t call that a system that works. One improvement would be to require employers to give insurance to part-timers. Or better yet, make a national health care system where everyone is insured. Medicare works just fine. Why not just expand that to cover all ages in a national health care system?” — Boston Globe


“I have a friend who is disabled and whose only health coverage is Medicare A & B and Medicare D. She pays $120 a month for all this and still cannot afford to see a doctor so she can’t get prescriptions anyway. Her income is slightly too high to qualify for state help. But according to MA state law, my friend is “covered.” Universal health insurance is nothing but a scam to enrich insurance companies. Is this the future we want, where a disabled person pays premiums month after month and still can’t see a doctor?” — Boston Globe

Costs Much Higher Than Planned

“Just as I thought. Massachusettts thought that this plan would only reguire 750 million of additional spending. Added to the 450 million the commonwealth would save by not having to fund emergency room visits by uninsured. Well her we are two years in and the initial budget was wrong by 100% requring the commonwealth to but in 1.5 BILLION and still emergency rooms by the insured but lazy visits happen. Good luck USA. We need to do something but don’t look to massachusetts to be the model.” — Boston Globe

Overall Failure

“The MA model is a failed example. All it does is force one to buy insurance - enriching private HMOs with no real savings to consumers. If the MA plan worked, why are the average premiums for family coverage still north of $1400 a month?!! The so-called discounted plans from MassConnector are non-existent to the bulk of the population. Why does health insurance have to be a corporate welfare plan!?! All those dollars in expensive premiums don’t give us better care - it is just a corporate (HMO) get-rich scheme.” — Boston Globe

Premium Costs are Too High

“I live in a healthcare mandated gestapo-like state called Massachusetts. Earning $42,000 my wife and I are MANDATED. We redistribute close to $7,000 a year into insurance industry profits. DISGRACEFUL!!!!” — e-mail to Bob Haiducek 1/15/2009 from Scott Plantier of Pittsfield MA
Note: The cut off for being over 300% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) is $42,500.

“… I just rec’d a letter from Blue Cross/Blue Shield that (Massachusetts) will not allow them to cover me in (Massachusetts) Nice, I have 2 wks to find healthcare! I moved here from MD. with a plan allowing me coverage ‘everywhere’ in US…. So, I phone Tufts, BlueCross, etc. in Ma….great plan…doctors on Cape Cod do not accept what any reasonable person can afford, ie. under $1000/mo. …” — Boston Globe




 

Are these storied biased or otherwise hand-picked, where bad ones were weeded out?

Immediately below are concerns about the Japanese health care system for your reference

No system is perfect, but the United States’ current system is often described as “broken”. A failure to its people.

Health insurance companies, and the advocates of keeping health insurance companies in business to insure necessary medical care might try to comment that the information presented here is biased, because the majority of the stories are negative stories in the United States and positive stories outside of the United States. Those groups and individuals with multi-million dollar budgets have gone and are going to other countries with camera crews to pick and choose horrible stories about what happens in other countries. They have spent and are spending millions of dollars to do this activity to alarm Americans and influence their opinions. They are the ones who are biased, slanting the information in their favor, because they normally are not balanced.

The information presented here is to provide a set of real life stories that cost nothing to assemble as a set of truthful replies to their propaganda in the media that cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to assemble. The truth will set you and me free of this propaganda!

People in any country, at least some of them, have a natural tendency to complain, but the majority of people in the other countries are fiercely loyal to their country’s way to manage health care. The real life stories did not require us going with camera crews to other countries. The stories at this web page are relatively easy to obtain. Why? Because they represent the truth about what really is occurring in the other countries and in the United States.

Concerns about Japan’s health care system

Note: similar to another story (about Spain) at this web page, these stories are especially long, so please go to the website and read them.

Mr. Armstrong’s experiences regarding his wife and his obervations about the number of patients a doctor sees per year and ongoing education of doctors, followed by his brief comments about the French system.
— Rod Armstrong, American in Japan
healthcareforamerica.blogspot.com 3/12/2009

Mr. Tarlofsky’s observations about health habits in Japan and his observations of what he calls Japan’s failed model, including the quality of care, the poor training of doctors, the lack of accountability of physicians and occurrences of malpractice. He recommends that “we need to look at GOOD models (France and maybe Germany?)”.

— Jeffrey Tarlofsky, American in Japan
healthcareforamerica.blogspot.com 3/12/2009


Americans Fleeing to Other Countries

Medical Tourism
Americans to Canada

Medical Tourism

The projection of the new medical tourism industry is that about 1.6 million patients will leave the United States for medical care in 2013: more than (double) the roughly 750,000 Americans who traveled abroad in 2007.

— See Medical Tourism

Americans to Canada

I struck up a conversation with a woman who lives in Midland, Michigan. When we touched on the subject of health care, I learned that she has a son who lives in Oregon who needed cataracts removed. She said that to get good quality care at a much lower price he went to Canada for that surgery.

— Bob Haiducek, 9/8/2009

Who will you believe?

Regarding the testimonials of Americans living and working in other countries:
Will you believe your fellow Americans at this web page
who simply want what is good for the individual Americans who are suffering hardships?

Or will you believe in companies and individuals who have spend tens of millions of dollars every year to control your opinion? Sometimes they spend over a million dollars a day, as they did in the summer of 2009 to control your opinion … so that they can continue to make profits.

Go here for more about the media.


Sources

Special note: It is certainly possible for different opinions to be found from different people. Some people are quick to dismiss this entire web page as "anecdotes". The experiences documented at this website are ones that correspond to the same conclusion as from actual data from health statistics and public opinion polls that are also documented at this website. In other words, overall data and experiences document that citizens and residents in other countries have good health care at a much lower cost and everyone is covered. Therefore, if you want data as well as these individual and family personal experiences, then you have it at this website.

As seen above, these real stories come from a variety of sources, including these examples:

  • a U.S. Representative who is new in the U.S. Congress and knows a family who went homeless for 6 months to be able to afford to save the eyesight of their son

  • newspaper websites, such as the Boston Globe and Orange County Register.

  • blog websites, such as the blog maintained by an American in Japan, assembling input from other Americans who live outside the U.S. so that we in the U.S. can learn from Americans abroad

  • stories of individual people in Massachusetts that were told or were sent directly to me who are very much negatively impacted by the mandated health insurance in that state

  • other sources of other stories that we need to add and that will have the sources listed at the individual stories

  • If no source is specified with the story, then the specific story is an excerpt from “Petitions to Congress”, which is a booklet described here:

“Petitions to Congress” In 2007 each member of the U.S. Congress was given a copy of the 140-page fine-print booklet titled “Petitions to Congress” of 4/27/2007. The “petitions” links at this web page are stories and petitions are from that booklet. The booklet was created by Healthcare-Now, a national organization for non-profit single-payer national health insurance. See Sources at the bottom of this web page for more information about the booklet. Sources below noted as “Petitions” are from that booklet. The U.S. Congress has been informed of our stories and given our petitions for many years. The “petitions” examples above are just a tiny sampling of what is in the 140-page booklet, which is just one occasion of many inputs that has been given to the U.S. Congress.

Special note about the information from the 140-page booklet: To limit the size of this web page and its associated web pages the following information has been removed from the stories documented in the above booklet: names, dates, cities, states, most ages, comments about topics that are not health care costs or insurance, comments that were simply general statements or complaints, and names of insurance companies. Additional details can be obtained by going to the sources.

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