What Does U.S. Health Care Look Like Abroad? | NYT Opinion

What Does U.S. Health Care Look Like Abroad? | NYT Opinion

Byzantine health plans. Impoverishing deductibles. Exorbitant drug costs. Soul-crushing surprises lurking in the fine print.

The American health care system is — to put it mildly — totally perplexing, an exercise in patience and a test of financial resilience.

And that’s for its participants.

So imagine what the system must look like to people from other countries, especially those with universal health care, where citizens don’t live in fear that the next bout of the sniffles might somehow lead to bankruptcy.

In the video above, we gathered people from around the world and introduced them to the American health care system. We presented them with dizzying examples of insurance plan options. We showed them how much medical services cost. And we revealed some of the survival strategies of the tens of millions of Americans who are uninsured (drug purchases in Mexico, GoFundMe campaigns, consultations with “Dr. Google”).

Their reaction? Astonishment, horror, anger and disgust.

One woman spoke about intensive care she received as a child in Britain to treat a brain virus. “All for free,” she recalled. “I couldn’t have survived if I was in America.”

Check out previous episodes of ‘The World Reacts’

What Does America’s Coronavirus Response Look Like Abroad?

What Do U.S. Elections Look Like Abroad?

Subscribe: http://bit.ly/U8Ys7n
More from The New York Times Video: http://nytimes.com/video
Whether it’s reporting on conflicts abroad and political divisions at home, or covering the latest style trends and scientific developments, New York Times video journalists provide a revealing and unforgettable view of the world. It’s all the news that’s fit to watch.


Like it? Share with your friends!


What's Your Reaction?

hate hate
confused confused
fail fail
fun fun
geeky geeky
love love
lol lol
omg omg
win win


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Hi! I'm Chai, a producer on this video. Before making this piece, I thought I knew a lot about American healthcare but was shocked by a number of things we researched.
    Would love to hear from you all on what surprised you the most in this video.

  2. As a Tokyo native living in the stateside, and having navigated both the Japanese and American healthcare systems first-hand – roughly 30+ yrs in Japan, 10+yrs in the U.S., I could not agree more with this BRILLIANT piece by Chai Dingari and his team!! THANK YOU! I was starting losing faith in NYT, esp., due to some of its blatantly biased coverage against "The Left" movement since around 2016.. until I watched this one. Ironically, so-called "Radical Left" in the stateside would be pretty much in the majority, a mainstream Centrist position in most other social democracies, as rightfully pointed out in this video production. It's no wonder Sen. Bernie Sanders, for instance, had won *both 2016 & 2020 Dem Presidential Primaries for Dems *LIVING ABROAD*. Granted that all societies have their own issues and societal imperfections, I hope that more Americans will wake up to the fact that the era of "American Exceptionalism" is long over, and start taking a more humble approach by emulating other countries' best practices on something so universally human as human health.

  3. My home country of Japan has a myriad of its own societal flaws, as in any society. However, we think healthcare is a right, not a privilege. I have two AMERICAN friends living in Japan whose children underwent serious medical surgeries in their lives. Their out-of-pocket expense was virtually none ($0), as the medical cost (incl. emergency procedures and hospitalization) for children aged 0-15 are almost entirely covered by the federal gov't and city municipalities. Last year, I almost needed a CT scan (though I recovered and didn't) in the U.S., and was quoted a deductible / out-of-pocket cost of nearly $3,000 for one, single, abdominal CT scan (plus radiologist fee and other fee), even AFTER my employer-supported insurance would have covered most of the *actual total cost (presumably a lot more than $3K). I learned that same test would cost LESS THAN $100 in Japan! In other words, I could have paid for the R/T tickets bet/ the U.S. and Japan (if it hadn't been for COVID), take the test in Tokyo, buy some omiyage (souvenir) for my American family, fly back, and I would have still had like $1K leftover to reach $3K..!!

  4. I'm an American living in Germany going on 24 years. I told my German wife we'll NEVER go back to the States to live (along with 3 kids) as long as this system is still in place. I'd rather have my rinky dinky German lawn than go through that medical nightmare.

  5. I'm 26. I turned 26 in February of this year. I lost my job last year due to the pandemic. I wasn't accepted for financial assistance for the pandemic, so even with my parents healthcare last year I had to pick and choose between what medications I could afford. I lost my job, my car, my cellphone service, my dignity.
    I have CPTSD, COPD, Rheumatoid Arthritis and MDD and I haven't been able to afford any medication. Since February. I can't breathe, I can't leave the house. I haven't had dental insurance since my dad left in 2014. I've had to get two teeth pulled since. There are MILLIONS like me.

  6. Wow so brave of NYT to create this piece when there’s no threat of change in our healthcare system. Yet create hit pieces to take down candidates that want universal healthcare. MSM like NYT is part of the problem of all our failures.

  7. The last words summarize the greatest misunderstanding in the history of the US: what freedom is all about. Freedom isn't me above everyone else, freedom isn't my life before yours, freedom isn't do what you please without repercussions, freedom isn't no taxation. Freedom is respecting and contributing to society, communally, freedom is the ability to live and be yourself in peace without fear of being persecuted, without fear of going bankrupt, being killed, etc… Freedom is knowing your rights are defended because you defend everyone else's. It might sound like a paradox, but in a free society, nothing is free. It's a give and take. You don't expect freedom and respect to be handed to you without giving it yourself.

  8. The answer is pretty simple, actually: Americans hate each other…. I mean the people in this country straight up LOATHE one another.
    How else do you explain it?

    The US has terrible health care, terrible education, terrible labour laws and terrible social programs…. and Americans consistently vote AGAINST any program that suggests they should actually HELP each other. Unless you're a highly paid professional in a wealthy corporation, odds are your standard of living and rights are much worse in the US than in pretty much ANY other wealthy nation.

    The US is the only OECD country without a national statutory paid maternity, paternity or parental leave. Seriously. Maternity leave. This is what it means to be American… if you want to be treated with respect or dignity as a human being, live somewhere else….. in fact, live pretty much ANYWHERE else….

  9. There is one critical difference between the US and the rest of the world. In other countries the government works on behalf of its citizens/taxpayers to ensure everyone is able to afford health care. In the US they call that communism. The US government instead works on behalf of political donors and big business to maximise profits for the health industry .The idea that the US cant afford universal healthcare is incredible given the US spends the most per capita in the western world which is twice the money per capita than the next country, the UK. There's plenty of money to pay for health it just needs to be redirected.
    The rise of the medical insurance companies began under the Nixon administration. In the booming Post war economy US corporates were taxed far higher and access to health care was far cheaper and easier.

  10. Do the next video with people from countries that are not rich, like Brazil… I bet americans would be even more shocked that even a developing country like ours has a free health care system. I know, every time I tell people here how the american health care system works, they barely believe me.

  11. America is a joke. They claim to be the most powerful and richest and yet can't even give its own citizens a reasonable healthcare. Forget a free one

  12. The number of people from the US immediately calling universal healthcare 'communism' even though they know next to nothing about the details of the concept is perplexing, as is how little imagination they have due to misinformation and believing in the lies they get fed. Like the notion that universal healthcare is all the same and automatically means you can't choose anymore – so less precious "freedom", right? In fact, there are many different models around the globe, and most of them work much better than the one in the US, while still having roughly the same quality and costing less. It can get pretty frustrating to try discussing this with Americans. Did so myself a couple of times.

    To name one example: In Germany, there is universal healthcare WITH dozens of different insurance companies to choose from (in contrast to Britain's NHS). They are non-profit, regulated, and they all cover the basics, but differ in bonuses, extras, quality of service, some optional special quality of life treatments, etc.. The point is, there is still competition involved between them, with patients benefitting from it. For the companies, there is government incentive to do a good job and to have more people insured and healthy. In the US, as soon as you get a serious medical condition, the insurance company basically doesn't want you anymore and often won't fully cover /give you the treatment you need because now you cost them money, which is totally absurd in my mind since their whole reason to exist should be to help in exactly those scenarios. Furthermore, if you are self-employed or earn a certain amount of money in Germany, you still have the option to take private insurance instead.

    Americans don't have to adapt any existing model. Nobody is perfect, anyway. However, the reasonable thing would be to look around the world and figure out what works best for them and adjust it to their needs – I think the ability to still have options to choose from even in universal healthcare as mentioned could be one element that would work well regarding the US mentality on the topic. The problem is, to accomplish any change for the better, one first needs to acknowledge there's an issue at all. However, rich and strong lobbies as well as too many US citizens won't have that, with the latter believing in an imagined "best country in the world" exceptionalism from early childhood. Admitting there is room to improve directly puts their national pride in question.

    Social policies in a social democracy are not at all the same as socialism, let alone communism. And ruthless, boundless predator capitalism is always a bad thing for vast parts of the population, getting poorer and poorer without the ability to care for themselves, even though it isn't their fault. You should never have to fear the risk to go bankrupt just because you developed a medical condition or had an accident. The truth is, it is perfectly possible to have the best of both worlds: A kind of social capitalism, where the government at least sets some important boundaries for companies to operate within, so the people aren't the ones suffering.

    The US is overly suspicious of any form of government interference, even in cases where almost the whole population would directly benefit from it. I'll honestly never get the inconsistencies of that hubris – many of them value their so-called "freedom" above all else, while not wanting or caring at all about the freedom to not having to worry about getting shot, getting sick, or getting fired for being sick all the time, or the freedom to have 30 days of paid vacation leave per year (sick days not even counting towards those), or four months of paid maternal leave, or… The list is long. Work-life-balance seems to be a foreign concept for too many American citizens, which is a shame. Basically being an employer's slave and working hard all the time just to barely get by from day to day has nothing to do with actual freedom as far as I'm concerned. Happier employees are also more motivated and healthier in general.

Choose A Format
Personality quiz
Series of questions that intends to reveal something about the personality
Trivia quiz
Series of questions with right and wrong answers that intends to check knowledge
Voting to make decisions or determine opinions
Formatted Text with Embeds and Visuals
The Classic Internet Listicles
The Classic Internet Countdowns
Open List
Submit your own item and vote up for the best submission
Ranked List
Upvote or downvote to decide the best list item
Upload your own images to make custom memes
Youtube and Vimeo Embeds
Soundcloud or Mixcloud Embeds
Photo or GIF
GIF format