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An Experience with U.S. Healthcare


An Experience with U.S. Healthcare


Hans Oh shares a first-hand experience with the U.S. healthcare system.

I’ve always been curious about the US healthcare system, particularly in terms of how it is similar and different with the Canadian system. Last night, I had a chance to experience the US system first-hand.

A few of us went out for dinner and on our way back home, one of the members slipped and fell. Snap. And silence. I turned around and saw my friend lying on the ground. For a moment, I wondered if the sound was a twig snapping. Then I saw his leg and realized it wasn’t a twig but his leg. The best way to describe it was that he broke his leg; his foot was 90 degrees with his leg. A few seconds passed and then he cried out in agony. I pulled out my phone and dialed 911.

The dispatcher answered my call and I told them a friend had fallen and broken his leg. They seemed quite non-plussed until I tried to relay the urgency of the situation. “His foot is dangling at a 90′ angle with his foot. Please send help now”. The dispatcher said that someone would be coming immediately and then asked me for a location. Not being from the area, I did my best to describe where we were. In the meantime, my friend was screaming.

We were able to calm our friend down for a moment and what he then said surprised me to no end. First, he started apologizing to us for screwing up our evening. And then, he started cursing because he said he didn’t have health insurance. Health insurance coverage was the furthest thing from my mind and here he was thinking about how he is going to pay for his care!

Two minutes later, a small bevy of vehicles pulled up – it was the fire department and paramedics. There was an older looking paramedic/fire fighter and he looked at the leg and immediately started talking into his radio. The paramedics did their job of trying to immobilize the leg (more screams of agony). In a few other minutes they were off to the local hospital.

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