Foreigners recoil in horror at US healthcare system in new video

‘This is not freedom,’ Swedish man tells newspaper as he learns costs of American medical care

Nathan Place
New York
Thursday 29 April 2021 19:20
<p>A Japanese woman reacts with horror upon learning the costs of US healthcare</p>

A Japanese woman reacts with horror upon learning the costs of US healthcare

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People living outside the US gasped, cried and recoiled in shock as the American healthcare system was explained to them in a video by The New York Times.

“Why is it so expensive?” a woman from Taiwan asked.

“It makes me so mad!” a man from Finland gasped.

The United States is one of the only modern, industrialised countries without universal healthcare. As the New York Times explained, this has left Americans with the highest medical costs of any comparable country, but the lowest life expectancies.

The new video, which has been viewed over 15,000 times, explains the American system to a group of citizens of other countries, starting with how to choose a health insurance plan. The video shows the participants four different plans to choose from, each with a different premium, co-pay, deductible and out-of-pocket maximum.

The foreigners’ eyes glaze over.

“I’m lost! I’m so lost!” a British woman confesses.

Later the video shows the group an American hospital bill, which totals over $600,000. The receipt is itemised, and the participants gawk at the individual costs.

“$428,000 for rooms and such!” the Finnish man explains. “Empty spaces! What?”

“Much cheaper to go to Hilton Hotel than this!” his wife adds, laughing.

Another invoice bills a woman $39.35 for “skin to skin after C-section.”

“You need to pay money to hold a baby?” a Japanese woman asks.

The video then shows the group news stories of Americans who lacked insurance to cover their illnesses or injuries. One of them – in a scenario that’s become increasingly common in the US – depended on a GoFundMe for help.

“That’s heartbreaking,” a man from Canada says, shaking his head.

“GoFundMe should not be something that people have to resort to to pay for their medical bills,” a woman from Taiwan says sadly.

In another story, a man with diabetes lost his health coverage under his mother’s plan when he turned 26. When he tried to buy a month’s worth of insulin without insurance, the cost came out to $1,300. Unable to afford it, he soon died.

Upon learning this, the participants were at a loss for words. One woman from Germany appeared to be crying.

Some shared stories of their own medical expenses in their home countries.

The man from Canada, which has a single-payer healthcare system, said he had to have his heart restarted three times and then have surgery. He paid only for parking.

The woman from the UK, which has the National Health Service, a taxpayer-funded system where healthcare is free at the point of treatment, said she contracted a brain virus when she was 13. She was cured of it for free.

“I couldn’t have survived if I was in America,” she said.

A man from Sweden concurred.

“To know that I can get sick, I can get injured, but I will still be taken care of, that is freedom. This,” he said, referring to the American system, “is not freedom.”

Some Democratic politicians have already shared the video as evidence that the United States needs a national healthcare system.

“We need Medicare for All,” Rep Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts tweeted.

“The acceptable OOP Max is $0,” Senator Bernie Sanders wrote, referring to the out-of-pocket costs discussed in the video.

One participant in the video wondered aloud why the US doesn’t have universal healthcare already.

“I mean, come on guys,” the young man from Singapore said. “It’s not that hard. Look around the world. Everyone else seems to have figured it out.”

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