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'We Need Medicare for All': Video Shows People Worldwide Appalled by High US Healthcare Costs

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

That’s what one woman concluded in a video published Wednesday by the New York Times‘ opinion section, after recounting the weeks she spent in the hospital as a child being treated for a brain virus.

She was just one of several people from around the world who participated in the Times project. Throughout the video, residents of Canada, Finland, Germany, Japan, Singapore, Sweden, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom respond to the high costs of healthcare in the for-profit U.S. system.

The United States is the only industrialized country in the world without universal health coverage. While the stars of the Times video were shocked and outraged upon learning how much care costs in the so-called “land of the free,” progressives in the U.S. responded with calls for Medicare for All.

“No one in America should vote for politicians who choose to subject us to this,” Briahna Joy Gray tweeted in response to the video. The Bad Faith podcast co-host and Current Affairs contributing editor served as press secretary to the 2020 presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a longtime champion of Medicare for All.

In the video, residents of various countries reviewed some private health insurance options for U.S. residents and tried to make sense of terms like copay, deductible, and OOP max, which stands for out-of-pocket maximum, or the highest amount of money enrollees have to pay annually for healthcare services covered by their plan.

People for Bernie, which grew out of Sanders’ 2016 run for president, also shared the video and asserted that the “acceptable OOP max is $0.”

Some people in the U.S. praised the video as “so, so good” and “very well done.” Waleed Shahid of Justice Democrats called it an “excellent video about the cruelty and inefficiency of our healthcare system.”

Others echoed the outrage of video participants. As NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue put it: “The definition of insanity is this.”

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In the video, a man in Sweden contrasts the healthcare system in his country with that of the United States. “To know that I can get sick, I can get injured, but I will still be taken care of, that is freedom,” he says. “This is not freedom.”

Despite conclusions from policymakers and medical experts—including a Lancet panel in February—that “single-payer, Medicare for All reform is the only way forward,” President Joe Biden has made clear he opposes that path to universal coverage.

Biden unveiled his American Families Plan early Wednesday. Despite pressure from progressives in the House and Senate as well as dozens of advocacy groups, he declined to include an expansion of Medicare and drug pricing reforms in the plan.

Ahead of Biden’s Wednesday night address to Congress, Sanders declared in a video from his Senate office that “we’ve got to deal with healthcare.”

“We remain the only major country on Earth not to guarantee healthcare to all people as a human right,” he said. “We pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. We have got to summon up the courage to take on the healthcare industry, the pharmaceutical industry.”

“My own view, as you know, is that we need a Medicare for All, single-payer system,” the Senate Budget Committee chair added, expressing hope that lawmakers can begin that process by expanding the program—by both lowering the eligibility age from 65 and including dental, hearing, and vision benefits.

“We pay for that by demanding that Medicare start negotiating prescription drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry,” Sanders explained, citing estimates that the reform would raise $450 billion over a decade.

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