My Readers Share Their Own European Health Care Stories

On Wednesday, I posted a story on my blog and facebook from one of my tour guides whose “socialized medicine-phobic” tour members had a surprising wake-up call in France. Rarely has a topic struck such a nerve with my readers. While I was expecting a mixed response, instead we received an overwhelming majority of commenters’ own positive tales about their actual health care experiences in Europe (plus Canada and even Japan, which have similar systems). My first thought: Boy, do I have some accident-prone fans. My second thought: Maybe if more Americans actually experienced universal health care, they’d begin to see its benefits.

I remember the old travelers’ adage: “When you get sick overseas, get on the first plane out and fly home for quality health care.” Those days are long gone. In fact, elites in the Arab world famously fly to Europe to get their serious health needs dealt with. And based on the comments received, it seems that if you’re traveling in Europe and need medical help, you’re generally in good hands.

By the way, people sometimes talk about “free health care” in Europe. Of course it’s not really free. While each country has its own variation, the common denominator is that everyone pays for heath care as a society — intending to minimize the overall expense and spread around the cost and risk so that an unlucky few are not bankrupted by medical costs. This also ensures that poor people can get the care they might not otherwise be able to afford. Europe’s rich can opt out and (like America’s rich) get immediate top-end care if they like. But all citizens help pay in.

Here are a few of the many comments from my readers. First you’ll read some positive stories about European health care, followed by thoughts from those who don’t like Europe’s system.

Having been forced to find a hospital in France for my companion, we found the hospital care very good and amazingly inexpensive. I think we only paid about 20 francs for the care and medication.

I lived in Britain for a year and their health system took great care of me at no cost whenever I got sick. I too tried to pay them and they would not hear of it; they merely said “you are welcome.” It was eye opening. When I see the fights we have here I do not understand it. I have health insurance that me and my work pay a great deal for and when I was hospitalized for a week due to norovirus I paid some more, I am still paying. It is crazy. The last thing I need is dealing with insurance when I have a toddler and a husband and a job and recovering from being sick.

I got a sinus infection while in Paris. I was prepared to get some OTC meds to take the edge off and suffer through. When I went to the pharmacie, they were able to give me medication that would have been by prescription in the United States and it only cost €5. I’m sure that their system isn’t perfect, but it was very helpful and convenient.

My husband treated me to a trip to Paris for a special milestone and while there he came down with a vicious flu. We went to the American Hospital in Paris and he was diagnosed and treated and we went to an Apothecary and got a ton of medicine for the equivalent of $20. A big difference from what we would have been charged in the US. I think the French people are smart to have taken the stress of breaking the bank medicine out of the equation. Healthcare should not bankrupt families.

During my recent trip thru southern France I needed to go to a clinic. I was seen right away, treated for about four hours and released. With IV fluids, blood samples, lab tests, I was worried about the bill. Would you believe $38? I would gladly pay the extra taxes the French pay to get such great treatment.

Having experienced my own health crisis in Italy 10 years ago, I am not surprised by this story. Any American who thinks Europeans don’t have a better way of doing some things — like healthcare — does not know how wrong they are. We could learn a few things from the people so many Americans look down on! I almost had a heart attack while vacationing in Sorrento, Italy, spent 9 days in Italian hospitals, had an angiogram, was sent home with a CD with the results for my doctor, and paid NOTHING!!! When I got home, my cardiologist was very impressed with the CD and found no need to do another angiogram before my triple bypass surgery. The level of care was outstanding in Italy!

I had a mishap and fell while in Paris in ’05. Ended up 6 days in hospital there, had a fractured femur, the care was excellent, surgery and all came to €6,400 (about $8,200 at the time). I was well satisfied with the level of care and concern. Especially when the doctor in the ER said “don’t worry, we will care for you” — so unlike here where the first thing they ask is “do you have insurance?” One has to be open to new experiences and travel is an adventure. Having to argue with my HMO when I returned was another story.

While travelling throughout the UK in the late ’90s, my husband and I were in a head-on car accident. I went to their hospital and received wonderful care, and it cost me $30 — I couldn’t believe it! Loved the healthcare system there!

I lived in England for three months (studying abroad); I ended up needing a prescription while I was there. It only cost £7 (about $10 at the time), and they kept apologizing that it wasn’t free like it would be for them. I, too, would gladly pay higher taxes if it meant that I got quality care without the worry. I agree with the guide: Americans do seem to pay more for less.

Our daughter spent four months going to school in Montpelier, France. She got sick during that time so found out firsthand about the health care in France. Not only did she NOT have to pay anything, but the doctor actually made a house call. Tell me that’s wrong! We have nothing on the French in this country. We do pay too much and don’t get enough out of it. The health care industry is calling the shots and doesn’t like that we’re trying to change it. No system is perfect but ours in the US is certainly far less than perfect — even mediocre.

In the UK, where I have lived, everyone is covered for everything — no money changes hands ever, all prescriptions cost £7 (but are free for 90% of people in England — the young, the old, those with cancer, the poor — and free for everyone in Scotland and Wales), and doctors are efficient. Waiting times are minimal and you can always find somewhere to go the same day — whether it’s an urgent clinic, your GP or the hospital. There is a LOGIC to the system. Imagine how much time (and money) Americans waste paying bills, worrying about insurance policies, dealing with the idiots on the phone. One has to be insane — or extremely undereducated — to not realize the “rest-of-the-world” approach to health care is vastly preferable to America’s non-system.

I am a doctor who just visited Paris for the first time. I, too, asked my guide extensively about the medical care he has received as a citizen of France. You hit the nail on the head when you say the French pay a lot but expect a lot in return. That degree of government accountability is lacking here in the States. Health care is considered by many to be a right yet it is largely run as a for-profit business by insurance companies. There is something inherently flawed with a system you pay into but then the companies are incentivized to pay OUT as little as possible for fear of alienating their shareholders.

In Canada, we have access to universal health care. Similar to France, our medical system is primarily funded through our tax base, with small copays for non-publicly-insured services. I can never understand why Americans think their system is so great. If you have money (the 1%), well, maybe. However, nearly 1/5 of your population has no insurance. Those who do can be bankrupted by a major illness. Medical decisions are being made by bureaucrats and insurance companies, not doctors. Although the USA spends the highest proportion of GDP per capita on health care, of the top 37 western countries, the USA has the worst mortality rates and access to care by their citizens. These are facts, not opinions. I am a senior healthcare executive who has studied the US and many European health systems. For a country that purports itself to be the greatest in the world — where is your compassion?

I live in the Netherlands (moved here from the US 3 years ago) and I really like the Dutch system. Much better care and lower cost compared to what I experienced in the US. Pharmacies in Europe are a good place to start when in need of advice or looking for a doctor, and some medications that are available by prescription only in the US are available here over the counter.

I was seriously injured from a fall that necessitated a trip to a London hospital via ambulance. The care was excellent and I was ready for a huge bill. I pulled out the credit card to pay and was told that all the care was free. The doctor said that the American health care system was the way it was in Europe before WWII — pay or die — but the devastation caused by the war changed everything. Along with rebuilding their cities, the Europeans decided to rebuild their society, leaving behind the old laissez-faire every-man-for-himself systems. People wanted a social contract between government and the citizens — government by the people for the people — like the social security system of the USA. He said that’s when national health care was created. Now no one dies or loses their home for lack of health care.

I’ve accessed health care in Romania, Bulgaria and Greece. In Greece, two prescriptions cost me €7 and no doctor visit. Bulgaria had affordable, competent care for foreigners. Romania, where I had a serious injury, was the worst, but they are still struggling after communism.

I got excellent ER and overnight care and observation after a bad fall in the streets of Pisa. Paperless and free. I think what a terrible experience an Italian would have had taking the same fall on the streets of San Francisco!

I’ve just returned to the US after working for 3 years in the NHS (National Health Service) of England. No, the people there do NOT feel resentment over your free healthcare. The culture there believes, really believes that healthcare is a right and the obligation of society. The English view the American system as barbaric, a term I heard more than once from a variety of people. What sort of society have we become where we feel justified letting people become ill and possibly bankrupt because of a medical issue? Those high insurance premiums we all pay, isn’t that a form of a passive tax anyway? Now that I’ve worked within the system, I’m a convert. Socialized medicine, although not perfect, is a more fair and equitable system.

A couple of years ago while traveling through central Europe my husband was ill, followed by a fall in which I was sure he broke his ankle. We received health care in two different countries and never had a bill. While I don’t agree with the direction America’s health care is going, there could be some positive changes made. On another note, my English friend’s son was not able to get surgery to place tubes in his ears because it was a pre-existing condition!

As a Canadian with great health care I was shocked when just last week I had to go to the hospital in Paris for a badly swollen leg and had X-rays, blood work and care from 4 doctors. They asked for no money, no credit card, no insurance, only my passport. I expect I may receive something in the mail but what a relief that I was not put in a financial hardship while travelling.

Years ago my Japanese wife and I took our first trip together to her homeland. In the weeks prior she had not been feeling well, but not so much that she felt it was serious. Rather than seeing a doctor here in the US she wanted to wait until we were in Japan to do so because of her language but also because she felt more comfortable there with medical care (a previous experience here was not a good one). Upon exam by a doctor in Japan we were informed that her condition was due to her being pregnant! We followed up the next day with an exam by an OB/GYN which included an ultrasound. Two hospital visits, doctors and the ultrasound had me sweating over what the tab would come to. It was $26! That news was almost as big a shock to me as the earlier news that I was going to be a father. I was told this was typical healthcare for the Japanese. Say what you will about “socialized” medical care. I call it amazing.

I had a €5 emergency room visit in Greece. I nearly fell over. I thought it would be cheaper than the US, but €5?!

I had need of medical assistance in France. As it was evening my only option was the hospital emergency room. Within a couple of minutes of walking in the door, I was being treated by 4-5 hospital staff members and was missing about a pint of blood which was on its way to the lab. As it turned out the problem was not serious and was easily treatable. About an hour later I was out the door with no bill for the hospital visit other than being told there would be a bill for the lab work which turned out to be €116 (about $150). Anybody want to guess how long it would have taken or what the cost would have been in a US hospital?

I recently spent 3 months with my husband in Europe and he had to go through a small emergency surgery in London. With a month left in our trip (we still had 3 cities to go through), we had to look for medical assistance for his wound in London, Paris and Madrid — and we had nothing but helpful doctors and nurses in these three places at a very reduced cost or no cost at all. Only when we arrived home in the States did we have an issue when the wound center said to my husband, “Sorry we can only see you in a week”…for a wound that needed daily care.

We had a similar experience while on the GAS tour in Vienna a couple of years ago. My 10-year-old grandson superglued the fingers on both his hands together while trying to repair his broken sunglasses. One of those long and embarrassing for him “family stories”. This happened after 10 pm, but with the help of a sleepy but friendly and happy to help pharmacist who answered the knock on her little wooden window at the pharmacie, some wonderful advice, precise instructions and a small, inexpensive bottle of acetone, problem solved. I can just imagine what hoops we would have had to jumped through here… I would never hesitate to use any of the health facilities in Europe.

This similar thing happened to us a few years ago in Florence. We were traveling with friends and one of them (quite young) had a lifelong heart condition and needed to have her blood levels checked for a medication she was taking. They walked into the Florence hospital and explained what they needed. They gave her a blood test with her levels. When they asked what the cost was, they were told that they would not charge them. They don’t charge US citizens traveling in Italy. Our friends left their info and were sure for years they would get a bill and never did.

One of my college friends married a French man who unfortunately developed a brain tumor. He had a long, horrible death which couldn’t be prevented, but I can’t begin to tell you how grateful my friend was that he was experiencing French health care. She said the doctors and the health care system did everything possible for him and for her and her family as he went through it. She was sooo grateful. She just had to raise her kids and deal with the trauma of losing her husband, without bankruptcy and medical bills she could never even hope to pay on top of that. Raising her kids and becoming a widow has been more than enough challenge.

We have a similar story, but needed hospital care and lots of tests. After 3 days in the hospital (private room), multiple doctors and tests the total bill was €550 (about $720). They kept apologizing for having to charge us. We thought it was the best care ever. After returning to the US we followed up and the cost for the same tests without hospital stay was over $5,000 with insurance. Do we have the best system? No is the answer. By the way, for meals in the hospital a waiter comes in and takes your order. They handle the food like a fine dining restaurant. I tell everyone, if you get sick, go to the airport and fly someplace else.

Of course, not everybody has had positive experiences. Here’s the other side:

HA! I beg to differ on the health care in France. I got sick and ended up in Caen’s “world class” hospital. If this is where socialized medicine is going, you can have it. I will gladly pay for the health care I receive in the United States. There is no comparison to the quality of care. The thought of having to have surgery in that place makes my skin crawl to this day. It is one nightmare I don’t want to live again. I now make sure we have insurance to get us back to the States in case anything ever happens like that again!

I have a friend who is an MD in France. She says that four days each week she is a “government doctor” and rushes patients through as fast as possible because she earns so little with the country’s socialized medicine policy. One day each week she has a private practice and she earns more in her private practice in the one day than she does in four days in the government program. Consequently, the patients she sees in the private practice get as much attention as needed and receive much better care. She says she would love to be able to practice the way doctors in America do but she will not leave her native France.

Many people on here are commenting on the great free care they received as tourists under many of these systems. I have as well been the recipient of treatment for my son while in England at no cost. I cannot however get past the feeling that “someone” is paying for this freebie for me and feel it is inherently unfair to those paying for services rendered to me. I suspect if the payers were questioned about it, that they would agree.

When one of our tour members needed surgery in Paris last month, the doctor wouldn’t perform the procedure unless then first gave him $5,000.

National healthcare isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I’m from England and my sister had gallstones and was on a waiting list for a year before she got surgery. She was on a special diet to keep the pain at bay…seriously, a year???? I much prefer our freedom of choice with medical insurance. England is also taxed to death.

We are Americans living in Spain. After an accident, my husband was taken via ambulance to the free hospital. Our experience was a nightmare, and they came close to killing him. We transferred to the private hospital where we paid cash in hand…excellent care with highly skilled surgeons, plus it was clean, no more ants, and he recovered. No more “free” socialized medicine hospitals for us in Spain — we’ll pay for the private care any time and LIVE.

Ultimately, the health care systems of the various European counties are flawed. No system is perfect. But this informal straw poll suggests that once Americans actually experience the stress-free convenience of the European medical system, they think a bit differently about whether single-payer socialized medicine is really the boogeyman many American politicians make it out to be. I expected health care to become a big issue in this presidential election. However, perhaps because “Obamacare” closely resembles Massachusetts’ “Romneycare,” it hasn’t taken center-stage…which may be a missed opportunity for American voters to tackle this very complex issue.

Do you have any other European health care experiences, pro or con, that you’d like to share?


24 Replies to “My Readers Share Their Own European Health Care Stories”

  1. The clue is in the culture. The U.S. culture, at least the haves, feel we should lift ourselves up by our bootstraps and reap the maximum benefits from our efforts without govt. interference (read taxes and regulation). The have-nots don’t even have educations, insurance, mortgage interest rate tax deductions etc. let alone boots or the straps to hoist themselves up by. Of course we all know capitalism is potentially profitable but also ugly and unfair at times. But it does provide millions with a comfortable, if stressful, life. And it helps create the wealth that supports charity and many good things that govt. does do. It has also made the US a superpowerful umbrella which helps protect other countries, like France and Italy and Spain and Germany and Japan which can then put their own money to better use like health care for the masses. It’s a conundrum which has somehow worked for most but as our country becomes less rich due to rising competition, our grandchildren will face a different and even more difficult future.

  2. I concur with a lot of what bk stated. While no system is perfect, the US healthcare system is the best overall. I would not want cancer treatment anywhere else. The cutting edge of technology and innovation is here in the states. While costs need to be addressed, I would much rather have preferred individuals be allowed to cross state lines and let the market decide costs of health insurance instead of a government run, single-payer system (which is the real goal of Obamacare) . Obamacare was never about offering health insurance to everybody. All it was is about government control. Sorry, I don’t want the government and unelected panel members deciding my health care issues. Bottom line is that there IS no free healthcare in Europe. People there pay for it, and quite dearly as their economies collapse.

  3. I was in Paris and I had a sore throat so I looked up how to say so in french and headed to the pharmacy. When I recited my lines the pharmacist laughed at me. I thought I must have left out the word for “sore” and said something like “I have a throat.” A year or so later I told this story to my french teacher. She laughed and explained to me that what I actually said was “I have cleavage.” “Avoir la gorge.” instead of “Avoir mal à la gorge.” They fixed me up and I got a good story out of it. And one of my more memorable experiences. Thanks Rick for your work!

  4. When I was 18, I was with my homestay family in Montseret (a very small town in SW France) when I had a cyst rupture. At the time, I had no idea what was wrong…only that I was in severe pain, nauseous, with a very low blood pressure…and trying desperately to hide the fact that I was sick from my French family. (This had happened once before earlier in the year while I was still in the US. That instance involved 4 hours of throwing up followed by 8 hours in the ER getting every test imaginable done only to have the doctor blame me and never figure out what was wrong.) When I couldn’t hide it from my “parents” any longer, they insisted on calling the doctor. I tried to talk them out of it…even at that age I knew about health insurance and medical costs and knew I did NOT have enough money with me to cover a medical intervention…but my “mother” insisted. The doctor CAME TO THE HOUSE, saw me in private in the bedroom, and although our English/French issues made a true diagnosis difficult she prescribed medication and a diet change to help. It took my homestay family a great deal of time that afternoon to convince me that housecalls were normal and that there was no charge for the visit or the meds.

    I have been back to France since then with my 2 daughters and never for a moment worried about health care should something happen to us while there.

  5. There two sides to the question here…. Those in Europe definitely have a “Social Compact/Contract” and definitely feel a social obligation to everyone in their society. The U.S. does not have a similar interpretation of the same “Social Compact/Contract” that both claim their roots in. The U.S. emphasizes the individual, those in Europe tend to emphasize society as a whole. Like Rick says, they would not trade their passport for mine, and I wouldn’t trade my passport for theirs…. vive la difference! There’s no right or wrong, I prefer “our” way to theirs, and they obviously prefer “their” way….

    One difference between the two societies though……. Europe does not have the same legal industry specializing in “medical malpractice”, thus limiting the cost of medical care. Having previously worked in the medical insurance field, in the U.S., physicians are prone to practice “defensive medicine”, ordering tests and procedures and subsequently adding to costs to avoid being accused of practicing “negligent” medical care. The cost of this aspect of the legal profession does needlessly increase the cost of medical care in the U.S. and increases the costs of administering medical care – both costs are passed on to the consumer.

    While travelling in Europe, I have been fortunate enough not to have a serious medical problem, but have been able to have any problem treated by the pharmacist themselves. I describe my condition, and they have been able to provide affordable remedies themselves, but was assured that if I required more serious medical attention, it could be arranged for a nominal fee. I have been very pleased by the limited “care” I have received.

    Some time ago, my friend’s father & mother were travelling in London. His appendix burst while visiting and was taken to a hospital for care. Being fairly well-to-do, some phone calls were made by friends and family here in the States and it turned out that the physician who cared for him was the same physician who personally cared for HM the Queen at the time! Although it interrupted their trip and required a prolonged stay at the time, he was thrilled by the prospect of being cared for by the Queen’s own physician! He was provided excellent care and presently live in good health, many years later. He has never uttered a bad word about the care he received! (as might be expected……)

    Not the best example……. but I’ve never been worried about the healthcare in Europe. I take supplemental healthcare insurance when I travel, and only worry about the fights I might have when I return to the U.S. over my bill…….

  6. Interesting to read the comments and I believe one of the comments must be made by “Jane” in the previous RS posting. As for my two cents: Granted nothing is prefect as you get what you pay for. As for Sweden’s system, bottom line it isn’t free. But when you add the cost of my employer paid premium, employee co-pay and other patient costs my health care costs were higher in the US then my taxes in Sweden. Plus the care is better here. Normally I see my doctor the next day and my one operation was within two weeks of diagnosis, tests when needed and drugs that work. Medical science is not exclusive to the US. That is what is so nice about travel. People in other countries have the same questions as I have and sometimes find different answers to those questions. So I may not live longer by moving to Sweden but I do know I am living happier.

  7. I want to make an important point that i think gets lost in the debate over whether a European or American systems of healthcare is preferable. The commenters who are retelling their bad experiences are making that case that the quality of care in European hospitals is below standard because of the “socialized” (if I may use the pejorative terminology) system. To an extent, this may be true, and even Rick has pointed out that the European approach is not without its own problems. But the question is by what measure of inferiority does the European system have to achieve in order to conclusively say that the American approach is preferable? I think even the most hardened defender of the American system would be hard-pressed to find evidence of significant fatalities across Europe that were a consequence of of its healthcare system and have therefore made the overall quality of life worse. Even if one were to concede that the quality of care in European is substandard, that’s not an argument against ensuring that all citizens have access to healthcare, and ensuring that people aren’t filing for bankruptcy because of unexpected medical bills that they can’t afford. I say this without even addressing the economic utility of universal healthcare.

    Lying at the heart of this is this desire of many Americans to validate their own selfishness, versus the understanding of many Europeans that one’s own happiness is connected to the welfare of others. Of course, one doesn’t have to look hard to find selfish Europeans, but as an American, I can honestly say that it doesn’t bother me in the least that part of my paycheck goes towards making sure someone has food, medicine, or clothing.

    My English father perhaps summed it all up best: “I would rather work in the US, but get sick in England.”

  8. I find the argument that universal healthcare free for all is best, even if that care is substandard for everybody (except the rich and politicians who can afford better healthcare) to be ridiculous. Why not REFORM healthcare to bring down costs? That was not even tried here in the states. Instead, Obamacare, ie, universal healthcare is touted as the solution to all healthcare issues. Brian, you stated you have never heard of fatalities across Europe as a result of their healthcare. I know I cannot cite websites but I just read in England’s Dail Mail (hardly a conservative paper mind you) yesterday of a woman whose mother, age85, suffered a stroke. Without the family’s knowledge her mother was placed on the controversial LCP program , Liverpool Care Pathway program, wherein patients who are deemed old are just given sedation to ease suffering. Problem is, many such patients, if given TREATMENT, were nowhere near death’s door. Unfortunately, as part of “free universal healthcare” subsidized by government ie, taxpayers, costs HAVE to be reduced and it is too expensive to treat these patients. So the NHS in England has to cut costs and free up beds. Sounds like those pesky Death Panels to me. Sorry, I want doctors to try and prolong life for EVERYBODY and not decide for patients and their families who is more worthy of saving. Reform costs of US healthcare? Absolutely. Model the US healthcare system on Europe? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

  9. Wanted to also mention that the LCP program was cited by a top doctor as the NHS’ way of killing over 130,000 elderly patients every year, and 29% of patients that die are on this LCP, “pathway to death” program, even though they are not even close to death otherwise. That LCP program essentially withdraws all food and water and on average brings death on average within 33 hrs. I wouldn’t treat my dog that way. No wonder elderly people are terrified of being admitted to a NHS hospital in England. Still wish to live in the states but be admitted to a hospital in England?

  10. If you really want to be scared. Lets face it in the United States all our health care is run and decided by big business, Insurance Companys. That is why we have a shortage of Dr’s who go to school and devote their life and cannot make a decision for their patients. And not to mention the lawyers that sue for every broken finger nail and even advertise on TV.

  11. I agree with reform of our current system, rather than a massive overhaul. We desparately need tort reform so doctors can stop playing defensive medicine which drives up medical costs. Our society is too litigious and there are too many personal injury lawyers ready to pounce! Second, major shifts in philosophical thinking are required in our country regarding end of life care. Many in our society put unrealistic expectations on our health care system. Sometimes there’s only so much you can do and we keep patients alive who have zero chance of having any kind of meaningful life…essentially they’ve already passed and we are doing everything else for them. It’s a sensitive issue, but one that needs to be addressed.

  12. It fascinates me to read responses to Rick Steves’ comments no matter what the subject. I always speculate about the kind of people who read his stuff, where they are from and whether they represent a cross section of the population. It’s purely guesswork but it seems his support, including his tour customers, are largely progressive, women, well educated and financially comfortable (as opposed to affluent.) I also sense a disproportionate number might be retired and have worked in health care, government or academic professions. Conversely, I suspect his book sales are more broad and boosted by purchases from a much broader swath of people. Of course for many this is not likely to be a revelation but just common sense. My perceptions were reinforced by taking just one of his tours.

  13. Thanks Rick for the thought provoking post. Again, it seems a majority have a positive view of European health-care with a few negatives (although some of the the negatives don’t seem to site personal experiences). And as you stated in your posting, nothing is perfect. I always hope that no one gets sick or injured when on vacation but it is reassuring to know that when ill or injured you will be treated with competent care and compassion in a vast majority of the world. So stop worrying and keep on traveling.

  14. I once read an article by a psychologist on how to distiguist genuine online hotel/resort reviews from fake ones (think owners of a hotel reviewing their own hotel on tripadvisor to boost their ratings). The pro-socialized medicine comments sound real. The anti-socialized medicine comments sound fake.

  15. I’d like to know how the European health care systems work for people with profound disabilities – cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, autism, ALS, Parkinsons, Downs Syndrome, etc. I think that would be very revealing.

  16. Obamacare may be far from perfect, but we need to start some where. It is one thing to have a broken leg get it set and heal and be on with your life. But if you have ever had a life long serious health condition there will be a time when you will have to be fighting for your care. There are so many problems with US insurance coverage if you have something more serious than a Sore throat.

  17. Many years ago my husband suffered a massive gastric bleed while in Quito, Eucador.
    He was hospitalized, given blood, and the doctors prepared to remove the part of his stomach that was the cause. His doctor in the US told us to get him out of the country if possible as doctors there obviously use different methods. We were able to fly him to Florida where he was treated by Cuban doctors. After cauterization, he was as good as new! BTW, he received a total of 18 units of blood.

  18. I just read your article on My Readers Share Their Own European Health Care Stories | Rick Steves European Travel Blog and want to thank you for it.

  19. Hello there, I discovered your web site via Google even as looking for a similar subject, your site came up, it seems to be good. I’ve added to favourites|added to bookmarks.

  20. I had a generally good experience in Ireland after having to visit a doctor there two summers ago. I was in Ireland to hike the 100-mile-long Dingle Way trail on the Dingle Peninsula in the Southwestern part of the country. After my fourth day of hiking, I noticed that evening what I thought was a sliver in my leg and couldn’t remove it. The owner of the bed & breakfast that I was staying at looked at the object and said that it was not a sliver, but a tick. She encouraged me to visit a doctor because of the remote possibility of contracting lime disease from the tick but also just to get it out. The owner offered to take me, and I agreed. The visit was positive because I only had to wait about 5 minutes, I saw a doctor, the tick was removed and I got a prescription to counteract lime disease. However, I had to pay about $70 for the visit, which seemed a bit high for a procedure that took not even a minute. Technically, I received surgery, even if only a tweezer was deployed, so that might account for the cost. Otherwise, everything went well, and no symptons of lime disease ever appeared.

  21. I have been married to an England-born man for almost 44years,naturally travelling to England many times to see his relatives. I had the fortunate experience once of visiting families at home with a district nurse. The care and compassion was awesome and there was no myriad of paperwork to fill out for all the multiple funding sources I had to complete in the US in public health nursing. I do believe health insurance middle-men do risk redundancy here and therefore there is extreme resistance to a nationally controlled health care industry. When my elderly mother in law visited us in the US it eventually was a deterrent for her to visit because private insurance for her became impossibly expensive. We, as a giving nation in disasters, need to look to our own citizens with compassion.

  22. I live in Canada,
    Yes we have basic health care for free.
    Not medication, not dental, not vission.

    If you move from one province to another you will have no health care for about 2 months.
    If your child goes to school overseas – they will loose their lealth care after 2 months.

    Free or cheap medication?
    I’m afraid not.

    A family with a 3 year old child with cancer.
    This particular child requires $2,800 a month in medications.
    The child is in a special hospital for children located out of town.
    The mother stays with child.
    Father is unable to visit much as he has to work long hours to keep this child alive while supporting the rest of his family plus expences such as a mortgage. Bills are piling up.

    Another case.
    This person requires $1,800 a month in medication, not covered.
    This person’s young wife has to be fed through tubes etc. irreparable illness.
    Husband working long hours to keep wife alive and support his family.

    Another case
    Young boy- huge tumor on face 4 years old apx.,
    US doctors offered to do the operation for free and private citizens donated funds for the parents to stay with the boy.

    Another case,
    My husband’s knee gave out while working at a construction sight, taken to emergency, knee swallen and excrutiating pain.
    Send home and told by his doctor there was a waiting list of about 6 – 12 months.
    He was given medication for excruciating pain – did not work.
    To relieve the pain he had to beg doctors at emergency departments to drain the blood from his knee, this went on for weeks.
    The doctors were hesitant, this procedure could cause an infection but because he was in so much pain they did it.
    A doctor at emergency department recommended to go to USA if can afford it.
    We filled out a form to see if our GVT would pay for the operation in USA prior to going. We were told the council would take another 4 to 6 weeks to decide wether they would justify it..
    My husband suffered and could not take the pain any longer. We went to the United States – according to the US doctor he needed an operation immediately and the surgery took place next day. The cost, about $13,000.
    We received excellent service by the caring staff.
    We paid with our line of credit against our house. (mortgage in other words).
    We chalenged Canada’s tribubnal and tried to recover atleast some of the cost.
    A fair amount would of been what it costs in Canada.
    NO REFUND!!!! Not 1 penny!
    Not coverd by our private plan either.

    We paid into the Canadian health care system all of our lives and when we needed it it was not there.
    I wrote to politicians – no results and fruitless.
    Federal government blaming the provincial and provincial government blaming the federal.

    My most recent trips to the pharmacy and dentist.
    Indigestion – approximately $100.
    Pain medication $100 apx.
    Chipped a tooth $1200.
    ( my private plan costs me – $265 a month and it will cover half of this cost)
    Vision tests – cost about $100.(my plan at $265 a month will refund me)

    To claim some of these expences – we need to collect receipts to $2,500 apx. before we can make a claim when we file income tax each year.
    Your refund maby 10% – under medical expences.
    Kind of like peing into the wind.

    We have a health care, just don’t plan on getting seriously ill in Canada.
    Your medication is not free.

  23. Forgot to mention – physiotherapy is not covered either. Cost – $50 per visit.
    My $250 a month plan will cover half.
    People with no plan pay full amount.

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