When author and puppeteer Mary Robinette Kowal was working in Iceland, she discovered a worrisome lump in her breast. The entire experience reportedly only took 45 minutes and less than $3 USD.

Earlier this week, Kowal — who is from Nashville, Tennessee — took to Twitter to document the experience of having her lump screened by Icelandic doctors. Because she went through a similar process with another lump in the past, Kowal was prepared for a weeks-long process involving multiple specialists, scheduling appointments at different screening centers, and paying thousands of dollars.

But instead, Kowal was reportedly in and out of the doctor’s office in Iceland in less than an hour, with an answer to her problem, to boot. And she only had to pay 300 Icelandic Krónur for the visit (she originally mistakenly said just 3 Krónur, which would be about two-hundredths of a cent, though she revised it to mean 300), which, under the current exchange rate, equals around $2.43 USD.

“I think about this every time I have to fight with medical insurance in the US,” Kowal tweeted.

Read Kowal’s Twitter thread about getting a cancer screening in Iceland below:

To contrast with her story, Koval pointed to one of her responses from Kelly Gregory, another American author, who reportedly spent 3 months just trying to find someone to treat a lump in her breast.

“When I found a lump in my breast in 2009 and living in Nashville TN, I didn’t have insurance due to preexisting conditions. I was also unemployed. It took me three months to find a care provider,” she tweeted.

To compare with Iceland, the average cost of a mammogram in the U.S. is more than $100, according to Costhelper Health. Costhelper also estimates the cost of a breast ultrasound at approximately $360. When taking into account that more than four in 10 Americans don’t have the ability to cover an emergency $400 expense, this means that millions of Americans in Kowal’s situation would likely just have to hope that the lump in their breast isn’t anything serious.


Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.

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