There are plenty of horror stories about the U.S. healthcare system; for a supposedly advanced nation, the inability to provide basic, affordable care to ordinary Americans is baffling to Europeans, especially.

Sometimes U.S. citizens need to travel abroad to see exactly what they are missing; a visit to the emergency room is traumatic enough, it seems ridiculously unfair to saddle someone with years of debt too.

Image credits: MaryRobinette

Back in 2006, Nashville, Tennessee-based author Mary Robinette Kowal was in Iceland working as a puppeteer on a children’s television show called Lazytown. One day, while doing a regular check, she found a lump. “This wasn’t the first time I’d found a lump, but there’s always a sense of dread, Mary Robinette told Bored Panda. “Even though I knew it was probably nothing, because there’s no history of breast cancer in my family, there’s still a chance that it is going to be a problem.”

“I was dreading the process of having to navigate a healthcare system in a foreign language. I assumed that it would be as complicated as it was here, with the added challenge of not speaking much Icelandic.”

So began Mary Robinette’s (amazingly short) journey through the Icelandic healthcare system. She couldn’t speak highly enough of the professional, efficient and astonishingly cheap service, as well as the country as a whole. “I love it and would move back in a heartbeat,” she told us. “The landscape is stunningly gorgeous!”

Image credits: MaryRobinette

Image credits: MaryRobinette

Image credits: MaryRobinette

Image credits: MaryRobinette

Image credits: MaryRobinette

Image credits: MaryRobinette

Image credits: MaryRobinette

Image credits: MaryRobinette

Image credits: MaryRobinette

Image credits: MaryRobinette

The post sparked a discussion about the merits of various healthcare systems around the world, with people sharing their own eye-opening experiences.

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Image credits: KellyLGregory

Image credits: KellyLGregory

Image credits: MaryRobinette

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Image credits: TheThirdFlash

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Image credits: Lilitree

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Expanding on her thoughts about the situation at home, Mary Robinette believes that more exposure to other nation’s experiences could benefit many American’s attitudes toward their own healthcare. “I think that we tend to see the environment that we’re in as normal, so most Americans have no idea that there are other ways of doing things,” she said.

“My normal experience, here, in the US, is one of frustration every time I interact with the insurance industry. I wrote that Twitter thread as I was in the midst of arguing with health insurance for a vital medication for a family member.  In fact, I’m still fighting with them. It’s a medication that they covered last month and this month they aren’t. The contrast is frustrating.”

“At every turn, it’s clear that choices are being made from the accounting office, not for the patient’s best interests. I’ve told this story over the years to other Americans and they all have the same complete shock at how easy the experience was.”

What do you think? What are your experiences with healthcare in your country, and in countries around the world? Share your stories in the comments!