For the rest of the developed world, the US healthcare system is a horror story, where you can die if you don’t have money to pay for the hospital or go bankrupt after a visit to the emergency room. The US healthcare system is especially strange to Europeans, where healthcare is available to everyone; it doesn’t matter if they work or not.
The sad thing is that the US citizens think their system is something normal and have to go abroad to see what healthcare is all about. And every single time, they are amazed. You can actually get good healthcare without paying a fortune.
Tennessee-based author Mary Robinette Kowal worked in Iceland back in 2006 as a puppeteer on a children’s TV show called Lazytown.During a regular self-checkup, she found a lump. “This wasn’t the first time I’d found a lump, but there’s always a sense of dread,” Mary recalls. “Even though I knew it was probably nothing because there’s no history of breast cancer in my family, there’s still a chance that it is going to be a problem.”
“I was dreading the process of having to navigate a healthcare system in a foreign language. I assumed that it would be as complicated as it was here, with the added challenge of not speaking much Icelandic.”
And Mary Robinette’s journey through the Icelandic healthcare system began. And after the whole thing was over, she had nothing but the kindest words for the healthcare professionals, people, and the country. “I love it and would move back in a heartbeat,” she says. “The landscape is stunningly gorgeous!”
Mary believes that speaking about other countries’ healthcare systems could help change something in the US. “I think that we tend to see the environment that we’re in as normal, so most Americans have no idea that there are other ways of doing things,” she says.
“My normal experience, here, in the US, is one of frustration every time I interact with the insurance industry. I wrote that Twitter thread as I was in the midst of arguing with health insurance for a vital medication for a family member. In fact, I’m still fighting with them. It’s a medication that they covered last month and this month they aren’t. The contrast is frustrating.”
“At every turn, it’s clear that choices are being made from the accounting office, not for the patient’s best interests. I’ve told this story over the years to other Americans and they all have the same complete shock at how easy the experience was.”