International Health Care: HuffPost Commenters Share Their Stories

Last Friday I wrote about my experiences with a foreign health care system. I praised the quick, effective and very inexpensive treatment I received in England for a blinding migraine that kept me in a nauseated, bed-ridden state. My post brought out numerous stories from the HuffPost community about peoples' experiences with health care outside the United States. I wanted to highlight some of the stories posted under my piece.


I got pneumonia while in Germany for work. After seeing the doctor (she apologized for the half-hour wait because it was busy and she was the only doctor on call), within 10 MINUTES, she did an exam, an ultrasound, took blood for a test, and wrote an order for an X ray.

10 minutes to get the X ray, 10 more for it to be developed, and in another 10 minutes I was leaving with a prescription. They copied my US health insurance card and didn't charge anything.


20 years living with the "inferior" Canadian system got me a knee reconstruction, an ankle reconstruction, a thumb reconstruction, 2 beautiful children born via C-section, multiple trips to the doctor and emergency room, etc. etc. etc.

Quality of care and surgery -- at least as good and as prompt at I have ever gotten in the USA.

Never cost me more than my monthly premium ($70 per month, more or less, for the family and included dental) -- lots of dental visits too, now that I think about it -- and a few minor co-pays at the drug store.


"Go home and call the doctor!" my colleagues said.

I was in Argentina, sick, and like all good American workaholics, at work!

"I"m American, we don"t go to the hospital unless we"re going to die [because then you don't have to pay the bill]" I said.

They explained that I could get care in Argentina and I needn't worry about my pocketbook.

They sent me off to my apartment with a phone number. I called and shortly after a doctor and nurse ARRIVED AT MY APARTMENT!

They examined me, said it was going around my neighborhood, gave me medicine and a prescription if I needed more, and gave instructions for follow-up.


I lived in Argentina for four more years and was very satisfied with the public care.

We call countries like Argentina and Chile "third world" but they can deliver care to their people and the US cannot.



some years ago my brother in law was vacationing in Madeira (an island of Portugal) where he had acute apendicitis and needed emergency surgery. He was operated on and had to be hospitalized for 4 days. His wife stayed with him in his room. Not being Portuguese citizen he had to pay for his treatment. Being American he was terrified. The bill came in under $200!


A few years ago,I was on vacation in Costa Rico and got hurt...I had hurt my ankle/foot & by taxi went to the ER...got 2 xrays/and a RX for pain pills....with instructions to apply ice..but it was NOT broken! Whew....what a relief...sure,the rest of my week was spent with my foot up,ice packs - at the bar..and pool...at a total cost of $30...I can ONLY Imagine what it would have cost in America!


I was in a head on car collision accident in England a few years ago. My father, my mother and myself were wearing seatbelts, so we survived a bad crash. The most amazing aspect, however, was what Katharine experienced. An amubulance took us to the Emergency Room at the big hospital in York. We were x rayed, my mother spent the night under observation and my father and I were treated and then released.
The doctors and nurses, even the police, were professional, kind and very respectful. I filled out a number of forms with all our U.S, based addresses, etc. We never got a bill, just what I have described.
So I too, got treated to First World Health Care, and I know we would have been treated with the same respect and care for our health and safety, no matter our nationality, race or creed. Of course, as Katharine pointed out there are issues with the British system, but to its core it aims to care.


I lived in Wales, UK for 16 months during 2007/2008. I have many health problems and won't begin to go into the problems I've had with insurance over the years.

I had to see a Dr. for an emergency as soon as I arrived in the UK and expected a huge hassle since I wasn't yet set up with NHS. I called the local surgery (Drs office) and had an appointment within 30 minutes. I saw a Dr. within 30 minutes of my arrival there. I tried to pay but was told they wouldn't know what to do with payment. (This surgery became my regular Drs.) I walked across the street to fill my prescriptions and when I tried to pay was informed all scripts filled in Wales written by a Welsh Dr. were free. COOL!

This level of treatment continued for my entire stay and I miss my Welsh Dr. I did wait about 6 weeks for a first visit to a specialist. It takes 5 months to see the same kind of specialist here. I could always see my GP same day there. It's a 3 day wait here sometimes just to see the nurse practitioner. My Welsh Dr. diagnosed and solved 2 problems I couldn't get any of 4 Drs. here to acknowledge.


My 70-year-old father was knocked down by a horse-drawn carriage in Florence, Italy this May. Although he didn't lose consciousness, we were worried that he could have a head injury not unlike that which took the life of Natasha Richardson. We went to the closest hospital, which turned out to be the smallest, most crowded, and, according to our friends, the "worst." He was triaged as a 'green" patient (stable) upon arrival, received xrays and an MRI. Because he's on anticoagulants for a heart condition, they wanted him to remain overnight for observation, but they didn't have a room. He was given comprensive discharge instructions in English, by the English-speaking doctor, along with the xrays and MRI, so that he could follow up with his physician in America. My mother and I followed the instructions with respect to observing him for the next 24 hours, with no complications.
He was not charged for the treatment. The entire episode lasted four and one-half hours.
This was Italy. One of the (relatively) less affluent Western European nations regularly mocked for its inefficiency.

If you want to see more comments go here. Unfortunately I couldn't include everyone!