The idea of universal healthcare is a completely normal one all over the world – but not in the States. Here, we still have private healthcare and as hard as some citizens and lawmakers make a case for changing that, we’re not really even close to making that happen.

If you live in the States, you probably have an opinion on the topic – so if you’re curious how many people agree with you, or disagree with you, and why, these 17 citizens are weighing in.

17. It’s a sick joke.

I work in the financial part of healthcare. I came into this job having a neutral opinion on universal healthcare, slanted towards a “free-market” solution. Within a year I am 100%+ onboard Universal Healthcare.

Our healthcare isn’t just a sick joke. It’s run by sociopaths.

16. A simple infection shouldn’t break you.

I had a staph infection on one of my toes.

I ignored it.

I ignored it until my foot was almost the size of a football(american) and half my foot was black.

I couldn’t afford to take time off, so I kept working when it started. I worked the night I finally asked a friend to take me to the emergency room.

The only reason I decided to go was because I got extremely drunk, like 3/4 of a 1.5 liter bottle of Sailor Jerry’s drunk. ( I was worried about the $)

Anyways. I got x-rayed, stuck in the magnet tube and had a bunch of tests ran.

My main Doc told me that I had to choose between half of my foot, or half of my leg getting amputated.

I chose half foot.

When I woke up, I still had my foot.

Something about the infection not getting into my bone.

Doc also mentioned that there was evidence of maggots when he abraded the corrupted flesh off of me.

I was in the hospital after that for a week. My bill was almost 200k USD.

*yes guys, I was stupid. I should have gotten it looked at sooner. I assure you all that I keep on top of things now.

I specified the american football thing because I was still able to cram my foot into my work boots, barely. I should have mentioned it initially.

I was in a really bad place at the time, having just lost my last remaining family member. when I first started having problems with my foot I really did not give a single fuck about my well being.

It’s been five years since and I promise I am doing much better mentally, and physically. I still owe the money.

15. Impossible decisions.

I grew up with universal healthcare, now live in the US with insurance. A couple years back I ended up in the ER with a head injury, needing stitches and blacking out repeatedly. The doctor informed me that my insurance wouldn’t cover a CT scan, and therefore “they couldn’t tell me I had to get the CT, but that…. I really had to get the CT”. That look in her eyes. Ugh. Life-defining to be on the receiving end of it, but I can only imagine how many times a day she has to give that very look to people in situations like mine.

Through the entire ordeal, the accident, the bleeding gash down my chin, the repeated fainting, once while standing at a window as my insurance info was being run, before I could receive any treatment (repeatedly telling the nurse I needed to sit down because I was about to black out again… then did), the stitches, everything…. I burst into tears exactly once. And that was when I googled the prices for CT scans after the doctor informed me she couldn’t give me a ballpark of the costs.

I got it, bc F it, I can fly to my home country and its universal healthcare if/when I get cancer, or another longterm disease but I can’t walk out of an ER, let alone fly 6,000 miles with a potentially undiagnosed brain injury that could kill me within the next 24 hours.

I was fine, concussed, and suffered “ice pick headaches” for months afterwards, which I never sought treatment for because F my insurance, but I don’t regret agreeing to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket for something as emergent as that. I regret moving to the US and setting up a life here, where even with an expensive self-employed insurance policy, the worst part of getting sick or injured is the fear of getting medical treatment.

14. Private healthcare is holding us back.

My current job is slowly driving me insane, but I can’t leave because my health insurance is through them, and I can’t take half the jobs I want because they either don’t have it, or have strings attached.

If we had universal healthcare, I could take far greater economic risks without having to worry about potentially being saddled with life-altering debt from a clumsy misstep.

13. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.

Please bear in mind, that many countries that have universal healthcare still have private options, so you aren’t entirely without choice.

German here. Yeah, you can still buy additional insurance if you want a single room in the hospital or want to be treated by the head doctor only. Or less copay for dental work etc.

But the basics are covered and no one needs to wonder if they can afford to get their cancer treated…

12. An insider view.

I had a good job making sure a health system got reimbursed by health plans.

100000% support universal healthcare.

I have an arsenal of stories on how truly messed up the healthcare system here is, but here’s one that has stuck with me:

Reviewing a high-dollar chemotherapy claim that was unpaid with my team. Ask them to pull the EOB (explanation of benefits that essentially outlines how the health plan paid what they did or why they didn’t pay). The health plan had marked the entire amount (over $200k) as patient responsibility, meaning they were telling us to bill the patient for it.

I personally called my counterpart at the health plan because it seemed like a mistake. Nope, turned out the patient “exhausted their benefits”, meaning they essentially ran out of coverage per the terms of their health insurance policy.

This was a PPO plan the patient had through work.

In other words, this patient, who is now fighting for their life and still in the middle of a cancer battle, is going to get saddled with a 6 figure medical bill despite doing “everything right” by getting good coverage through a good job. Quite frankly, if the cancer didn’t kill them, the stress of figuring out how to pay that would have.

This same health plan had an insanely ritzy office and so many perks for their executives it was beyond belief, yet held non-profit status.

Made me sick to my stomach. I left healthcare.

11. Medical bankruptcy is ruining people.

Yes. Because cancer is a b*%ch.

I had good insurance and it still fucked me over. I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to pay this off and chances are, I never will.

I’m not even 30 yet.

10. The whole system is a mess.

When my mother was dying, she was receiving treatment at the hospital she worked at. She was previously a nurse for 25 years, but had moved to billing 5 years earlier.

The insurance company tried to tell the hospital, what they would or wouldn’t cover for my mother, a decades-long hospital employee receiving treatment in their own hospital.

Her colleagues told us not to worry about it and the talks about what was and wasn’t covered never happened around us again.

I often think how it would’ve gone if she hadn’t been their employee and hadn’t worked in the department she worked it and hadn’t been getting treatment in their hospital. It’s so fucked.

At the end, after she died, we got a bill for $1.98M, but our portion was supposed to be $900. We just threw it away. Hey assholes, she’s dead. Go shake the change out of her corpse if you want it that badly.

The whole system is a mess.

9. It’s problematic to tie insurance to employment.

Yes. I want my relationship with my work to just be about money.

My job and health insurance should not be intertwined at all.

8. Doctors shouldn’t need permission.

I have a good job/insurance too.

My wife needed a procedure once. Without it, she would now be blind.

The doctor told us that we needed a permission letter from our insurance before they would do the procedure.

The procedure was $45,000, and they wanted to make certain the money was in place before they would help my wife.

We had to get permission first.

Yeah. Our healthcare system is absolutely f**ked.

7. We can’t get what we need.

I’m sitting in my house with a torn something in my knee – probably ly still bleeding based on the spreading bruise – waiting two weeks for some lackey to decide that I’m worthy of an MRI because I can’t talk to an ortho without an mri because rules. All so I can pay for the ER visit, MRI and probably most of the PT out of my own pocket, which will set me Back YEARS financially.

Yea I want health insurance I can go use when I actually need and not worry about it ruining me. Give me all of that goodness.

6. We’re getting gouged.

Slightly less dire in my circumstance but, I’m on antidepressants, have been for years. Every year, my doctor and therapist both agree it’s working and I should stay on it, and it keeps my swings in check. My insurance company will not, ever, ever, cover a 90 day prescription, only 30 days. 90 day out of pocket cost is $450. I moved to Europe, same medication for 90 days is 37€ out of pocket.

How the heck can bean counters override the medical recommendations of two medical professionals is beyond me.

5. It’s killing us.

I know someone who lost her husband because some lackey decided he didn’t need a heart MRI. While they were waiting for the appeal to go through he died.

Guess what. It was something that would have been found with the MRI and would have been immediately treatable and he would have lived. People always bring up wait times in countries with universal healthcare.

They don’t ever talk about our system where we pay out of the nose and still have to wait or get flat out denied.

4. The hoops are ridiculous.

‘ve been on the same ADHD meds for years and I cannot tell you how many times I have had to go without it because the insurance company would bitch about how I didn’t try certain other medications first, despite my doctors sending proof that I did.

This has happened countless times. Shouldn’t one time be enough? And sure, we can pay out of pocket, but insurance saves us at least a hundred bucks. And not to mention all of the other medications I’m on for various health issues. People cry that “universal healthcare = communism!!1!”, but I’d rather people not have to struggle through unbelievable stress because they can’t afford something that will save their life.

Call me crazy. And that may sound dramatic, but there are plenty of stories here from people who have literally been through this exact situation, so… yeah.

3. We’re actually already doing it, just not well.

It’s to reduce “waste” and “fraud” implying that it is the providers who are over billing or billing incorrectly to make money.

The reality is we’re ordering stuff because we’re not sure and don’t want to be sued later. Yes, the patient really does need that surgery. And yes, the patient really does need that medication and the “approved” medications aren’t appropriate.

Not to say there isn’t fraud and abuse. But I doubt enough to saddle every provider and their staff with extra work and then create worse outcomes. At least for my part of the healthcare sector, I can be audited by the insurance company. And they will take money from me if they find something wrong.

Hospital bills are huge in the US partly to make up for the fact there are so many who walk into the ER without insurance and then can’t pay the bill. So they charge as much as they can to make up for it. Americans who shriek about not wanting to “pay for someone’s poor choices” don’t realize they are already doing it in the least efficient and most expensive way possible.

2. It’s literally life and death.

I used to work in employer benefits and we had a patient advocacy service where we tried to “fix” billing issues for patients. Mostly arguing about billing errors. I had to fight with about 6 people (over countless phone calls) that the care our dude was getting was really an “emergency” because he was literally dying at the time.

I saved him something like 2,000$ and the rest of the issues he had with the claims on that particular ER visit/hospital stay got cleared up at the end of that last argument.

When he started crying on the phone as I explained, I broke down like a baby. He’d barely survived and the stress of the bills was eating at his family. ‘You saved us’ still haunts me. Under no circumstances in a civil society should my job have even existed; he never should have had to worry about paying anything after having to fight to live.

1. Other cultures honestly don’t get it.

French here, my girlfriend needed an MRI to rules out a potential cause for her illness (don’t know the English name)

It was not a priority, but she got a date a few days later.

It costs us 80€ (which will be reimbursed).

Here in France the “mutuel” (the organism that cover your health cost and reimburse you) cost something around 40€ for a single person each month.

Plus your mutuel is covered by your work (they pay part of it for you, and the rest is taken from your salary)

I just can’t imagine for the life of me a world where I don’t have this. Universal healthcare should be a basic human right.

This is such a controversial topic but I love hearing everyone’s thoughts on it.

Share yours down in the comments!