A viral Twitter thread has become jam-packed full of stories about how Americans have been “radicalized” by the American healthcare system.
America’s healthcare system consistently ranks among the worst in the world for developed nations. A 2017 study conducted by the Commonwealth Fund ranked the U.S. 11th out of 11 developed countries in healthcare, using criteria like process, access, administrative efficiency, equity, and healthcare outcomes. Other countries evaluated were Australia, Canada, France, Germany, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, in addition to the U.S.
On May 2, the account @AllOnMedicare, which advocates for a single-payer, Medicare for All healthcare system, tweeted a question to its roughly 10,000 followers: “When did you become radicalized by the U.S. health care non-system?” This has yielded more than 3,000 responses as of this writing, in which people burdened by excessively high healthcare costs have undergone tremendous hardship simply to participate in the American healthcare system.
Perhaps the most viral response came from app developer Jason Coleman, who tweeted about how his son — who has a pre-existing condition — was almost denied a life-saving procedure when the billing office at the hospital asked for the remaining amount on his plan’s deductible before performing the procedure.
My son needed life saving surgery the day he was born. We had insurance. I was called into the billing office to pay the last $700 on our deductible before the surgery would start. I asked what would happen if I couldn't pay that, and they wouldn't answer me. https://t.co/ny3LqHJ4ZT
— Jason Coleman (@jason_coleman) May 5, 2019
Others shared similar stories of hardship about how they were radicalized by the U.S. healthcare system. Author and filmmaker Victoria Bruce talked about how she left a pharmacy “in tears” because six pills she needed cost $300. Writer Janissary Jones tweeted about having his boss call him back into work in order to keep his health insurance active while he sat in a PICU room with his comatose four-year-old son. Twitter user Erin Dewey Lennox wrote that her father killed himself because he didn’t want to burden his family with paying for treatment for his Parksinson’s Disease.
“We did a Go Fund Me for his medical care and ended up using it for his funeral,” she tweeted.
Twitter user Deborah Newell Tornello wrote about how a friend was working 38 hours a week — just shy of the amount of hours that would require her employer provide her with health insurance — and finally went to the emergency room to see about pain she was having. She found out she had cancer, which had reached an advanced stage, and died. Her mother was reportedly sent a bill for $80,000.
When I left the pharmacy in tears without the six pills I needed that cost $300
— Victoria Bruce (@VictoriaLBruce) May 5, 2019
When my employer told me I needed to come back to work or else my families health insurance would lapse.
I took that phone call while sitting in a PICU room next to my 4 year old who was in a medically induced coma
— Janissary Jones (@JanissaryJones) May 3, 2019
My father killed himself so he wouldn’t bankrupt the family trying to treat his Parkinson’s. He was my best friend. We did a Go Fund Me for his medical care and ended up using it for his funeral
— Erin Dewey Lennox (@ErinDeweyLennox) May 3, 2019
When my best friend couldn't afford a doctor–her employer had her work 38 hour weeks to avoid "giving" her healthcare–& when the pain got unbearable, she went to the ER, was admitted & diagnosed w/now-advanced cancer, & died. The hospital sent her grieving mom a bill for $80K+
— Deborah Newell Tornello (@litbrit) May 3, 2019
However, not all stories were bad. Some people responding to the question talked about their experiences with a painless healthcare system in other parts of the world, like Canada and Western Europe. Twitter user @RationalEye wrote about how different the Canadian healthcare system is to the American system.
“Know what ‘freedom’ feels like to me? Knowing that no matter how sick I get, or if I lose my job, there’s always still a social safety net to catch me,” they wrote. “Going bankrupt because of medical bills isn’t freedom.”
“I’ve lived in Canada, France, Switzerland, and Italy. Once you’ve seen how health systems can work, the way our system works just makes zero sense,” author Fiona Quinn wrote.
“I travelled to Amsterdam about 4 years ago and saw that almost everything they had, airports, roads, bike lanes, etc. were all lightyears ahead of the US (I was living in Seattle too),” user @GoodKingSolomon commented. “I asked a local about Healthcare, they just said ‘yeah, our taxes cover it, it’s great.’ ”
Canada is the same way.
Know what "freedom" feels like to me? Knowing that no matter how sick I get, or if I lose my job, there's always still a social safety net to catch me.
Going bankrupt because of medical bills isn't freedom
— The Rational Eye (@RationalEye) May 3, 2019
I travelled to Amsterdam about 4 years ago and saw that almost everything they had, airports, roads, bike lanes, etc. Were all lightyears ahead of the US (I was living in Seattle too), I asked a local about Healthcare, they just said "yeah, our taxes cover it, it's great" sold me
— The King of Coochie (@GoodKingSolomon) May 3, 2019
I've lived in Canada, France, Switzerland, and Italy.
Once you've seen how health systems can work, the way our system works just makes zero sense.
— Fiona Quinn (@FionaQuinnBooks) May 5, 2019
Click here to read the full thread.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.