Breaking Bad outside the US

I finally got around to watching Breaking Bad (I know, late to the party) and like most people I’ve been taking it in four-to-six-episode doses. Jesse's aptitudes were identified early, he went to school for graphic design and illustration, and now he works for WETA as a digital animator.One thing that really interests me about the show is how it juxtaposes two of America’s most catastrophic policy failures: The for-profit health care industry and the failed War on Drugs, which has created a black market that makes the manufacture and sale of illegal drugs incredibly profitable.

I got to thinking how uniquely American the show is, and that led to this comic strip.

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Comments

  1. says

    I’m really glad that I did not see this cartoon last year while my brother was going through chemotherapy for stage 4 cancer. Your cartoon is incredibly offensive simply because it is so incredibly inaccurate. Cancer patients -- especially those with terminal (it’s referred to as ‘palliative’) cases -- are treated immediately. They’re treatment is the most up to date and performed by incredibly well educated oncologists and cannot be beaten by private treatment because there is no treatment available privately that isn’t available on the NHS for cancer. They literally leave no stone unturned and their patient care is absolutely second-to-none. I know this from recent, personal experience. If you are going to make jokes about such a serious issue you should be informed. The reason your cartoon is so offensive is because you are not centring it on Breaking Bad but on the cancer patient. This is not a funny subject.

      • Shaun says

        Oh the original version with a mysteriously different font and a sudden switch from uppercase to lowercase lettering in the last three panels?

        You’re an idiot.

        In any case, get over yourself, almost everyone has lost someone they loved to cancer, it’s just behind heart disease in the leading causes of death.

    • says

      Matt, I’m very sorry to hear about your brother. My sympathies to you and your family.

      In point of fact, the cartoon as presented here on my blog *is* the original, as I drew it. The cartoon you linked to is a parody created after the fact, which argues exactly the opposite point as the original.

  2. Colette says

    Hello! this made me laugh- I love Breaking Bad, and thought you pushed the idea to just the correct position.

    Someone has probably already linked you to this article but if not, thought you might be interested to read, ‘Dead Man Walking’ http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1312793 .

    A perspective from some US doctors about a patient they saw. I am a doctor in the UK (with our ‘socialised’ health system -- don’t think we are doing too badly over here!). Thanks again! x

  3. Carolyn says

    Good grief, people! This was a cartoon — and it made me laugh! Look, I love to discuss serious issues and I spend a lot of time listening to news programs to stay informed about such things as health care and the drug problem in this country. But I am still bemoaning the end of Breaking Bad. And this cartoon, which is not meant to be dissected to death, made me laugh — the end!!

    • says

      How utterly absurd.

      But of course, like most Americans, you’re an expert in other countries’ medical care.

      I wonder why our media hasn’t covered the mass die-offs in other nations due to their tragically sub-standard health care?

      • Rob says

        Watch the ad hominem.

        You seem to be accusing Vince of making a broad, inaccurate, and naïve description of other countries’ healthcare (and to some degree I think you’re right) but at the same time you’re far more guilty of this than he is. You made a comic in which implies that every patient in a country with universal healthcare would get treatment equivalent to (and I’m quoting the show here) one of the top 10 oncologists in the United Sates.

        If Walt were in a country with universal healthcare his doctor would have been the equivalent of Dr. Belknap, not Dr. Delcavoli. His prognosis would be stage 3 terminal lung cancer. He’d still be facing a slow, painful, and humiliating march towards death. He’d still be leaving his family without any financial stability.

      • says

        You’re right, Rob. I shouldn’t be so harsh. I’m beginning to get a bit testy after hearing the same tired (and factually incorrect) talking points again and again. “Long waits, bad doctors. Long waits, bad doctors.” I shouldn’t take that out on one person, though. While I’ll repeat that these talking points come virtually always from Americans, whose information about socialized medicine comes mostly from the talking points of those opposed to it, I shouldn’t take that out on poor Vince. Vince, I’m sorry.

        Now then… I made a comic, for the record, that exaggerated a premise to make a point. As I’ve said, those five panels were intended neither as a damning indictment of the American system, nor a comprehensive argument for socialized medicine. That said, in the weeks since the comic went viral I’ve been contacted by hundreds, if not thousands of people with feedback. Many of them have been citizens or residents of countries who have this kind of health care; some have been doctors who work in those countries. And they’ve all generally agreed that the two following premises are incorrect:

        (1) In a nation with socialized [medicine/health insurance] Walter White would have been given only palliative treatment and sentenced to die;

        (2) Doctors in the United States are generally better than doctors in nations with socialized [medicine/health insurance.]

        If you are willing to dig through the comment section of the Buzzfeed article, there was actually an Oncologist from Europe (forgive me, I Forget where exactly) who weighed in about exactly what care Walter White would have received with his diagnosis--and it was not “here are some painkillers, go home to die.”

        Mind you, I am not denying there are flaws in other nations’ systems, nor am I suggesting that American doctors are WORSE than others. I’m not taking a position, except to reject the premise that socialized medicine means poorer quality of care, or so-called “death panels.” The facts simply don’t bear that out--the truth, as usual, is much more complicated.

      • Rob says

        How is the claim about long waits factually incorrect?

        “Thanks, Rob. Helpful and interesting resource, I’ll give it a read.”

        I think your memory is failing.

        The rest of your comment seems to have nothing to do with any of the points Vince or I made. Vince claimed that it would be a bureaucratic mess, and my claim was that the quality of care wouldn’t have exceeded what Walter White was offered by his insurance company. If Walt were Canadian he would have exactly the same prognosis: “Lung cancer, inoperable. Best case scenario with chemo I’ll live maybe another couple years.”

        Why are you pretending I’m arguing about palliative treatments when I’m arguing about chemotherapy?

      • Anonymous says

        maybe a missconception, there is no “low standing” oncologist, there is low standing “general doctor”, but the diferences between a super duper oncologist or not are just a joke,cancer is cancer,every body has the same information,everybody has… little ways to act.

    • says

      Meg, I’m flattered. Thank you.

      Honestly, I’d really love to be a public servant. It’s really a shame that’s not what Congress does any more.

  4. says

    Ummm
    It seems bizarre to argue at such length about fictional characters artistic motivations. . .
    The ‘drug’ is horrific by all accounts. It would be unconcientable to aid its manufacture/distribution. Least of all perhaps in the interest of securing privledge. . .
    If cancer were/is linked to pollutants/environmental/dietary-quality destruction, said destruction is surely the result of just exactly this me-alone-matters-greed/profit. . .
    Im not saying there is anything wrong w wanting your widow and children to have a nice place to live and the status education can offer. But at the cost of putting life-destroying escapism in the hands of other widows and children???
    Thats so sick its enough to wonder if cancer isnt causedby microcosmic selfish thoughts and accompanying emotions -- in fake people of fake realities/TV at least!
    I think I saw an episode where a dead body was being disposed of. How morally low are we expected to go? And in pursuit of what end again? And why again? Two tragedies do not make a __________. Right?

  5. AnnieB says

    Interesting the continuing comments on this subject, and it seems the program has generated a lot of people to take a good hard look at how poorly our health systems are operating, because it is by and large “user pays” -- even if you don’t use, you still feel that you must pay for the “risk” as with any insurance policy that you may one day need to claim. But what about those that are unable to pay, because of illness or retrenchment -- no fault of their own -- are unable to find the $’s to continue paying for cover ? In my case my permanent disability cover was not recognised as their clause said “had to be unable to work for more than 20 hours per week prior for the 6 months prior to making a claim”, but as I was unable to work at all, how was I going to be able to met the policy payments ? The only way around this would have been to save the $’s required for 6 months premiums, and then make a claim 6 months later, surely not legal or ethical, but even then I continued to pay, right up to the point where they would not accept a diagnosis of depression (later escalated to bi-polar with associated co-morbidities) as a genuine reason for my being medically retired. I should add that my medical team feel that my (now) 7 years of fighting the decision has exacerbated my condition, at times being placed on “suicide watch”.
    It is time that medical insurers be brought to task, and become accountable for their actions, just look at the millions of $’s they post in profit every year.
    And therefore, the likes of Walt are forced to look for other avenues to protect their families -- and thus create a further scourge upon society.

  6. Anne Bell says

    I have watched this since it started here in Australia, Chris of September 15th, how much do you know of our health scheme ? We must all have private insurance here or wait years for elective surgery, how would you like your grandmother to have to wait 6 or 7 years for a knee or hip replacement, given the rehabilitation from this type of surgery takes around 6 months for anyone over 60. At 54 my private insurance costs $100 per month, with no pre-existing conditions. My husband at 46 costs $88 per month, same deal. That’s $200 per month on the risk of MAYBE we may need surgery, it does not give us a discount on doctors visits, but does cover SOME (a percentage) of dentist, physiotherapist etc, Govt funded Medicare is meant to be there for all other, but as a doctors appointment costs $144 for me and I get $70 back from Medicare, you wonder why people do not go to their doctors, only to then end up as an in patient in an emergency admittance to public hospitals that are already overcrowded. People are turned away from A & E (ER) for things that should be dealt with by a GP (MD) because the cannot afford to pay the GAP.
    Add to that, in Walt’s case, here it takes 6 years for new drugs to be added to the PBS (Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme) and he would not be able to afford them in either case.

    In my case even my total disability cover was denied by my insurance company, it would have been easier for me to take my own life and claimed the death cover.

    Never judge another mans situation until you have walked a mile in their shoes, and be kinder than you need, as everyone may be fighting a battle that you do not understand.

  7. Rob Rex says

    Last year I got sick while on vacation in Spain.

    I went to a clinic a few blocks away from the apartment i was staying at. I received treatment at a standard comparable to or higher than I’ve received in the states -- no hygiene issues and no lack of professionalism -- and was sent on my way.

    The total amount of money I spent was €4 for a prescription -- that’s it.

  8. George says

    From a Canadian: yes, there are long waits, atrocious and unsanitary conditions in hospitals that would remind you of a third world country, and doctors that get paid for kicking you out the door instead of finding out what’s wrong. Yes, the system works if you have a heart attack or get in a car accident. For everyone else, from the voiceless elderly to the long-term disabled, it’s an unmitigated disaster.

    No, I wouldn’t want us style health care. Just give me a choice in how to spend my tax dollars because I can’t support our current system.

    Sources: personal experience from family members who have gone through the system.

    • says

      Fair enough. Thanks for the reply. You’ve already answered the first question I always ask Canadians dissatisfied with your health care: “Would you prefer US-style care.” The other question I would ask, based on your post, is whether you think you have a good system with problems that need to be addressed, or if you think an alternative system is a better solution.

      • George says

        I would say make it a free market because add it all up and a middle class Canadian family is also spending a substantial amount of income on health care (and we still need to pay for dental, drugs, etc…), and I believe we would all be better served by having a say in how to spend those dollars, but the US has so corrupted that notion with its style of medicine that nobody wants that or believes that it would work.

        We have relatives in Taiwan and have had to use the health system in Korea a few times, and while I can’t claim to know much about those systems, I can say that we and our relatives received far better treatment when we did need to

      • George says

        Bottom line for me is the current system doesn’t work and has a severe human cost, and ignorant Americans should stop using our system as a good example because it is not. After seeing what older family members have gone through, it’s a strong motivation to stay healthy and also to save as much money as possible, even though that’s harder with our high taxes. There’s a reason why our politicians sometimes fly to the US for their health care, and if I want to do right by my family I need to be prepared to do what’s best for them, because the government would be content to let them suffer on a forgotten hospital bed in unsanitary, understaffed and overcrowded conditions.

    • says

      From an American: it’s largely the same here. Doctors are forced to see far more patients than they can handle in the interest of making the hospital more money. If the system really “worked” no one would use a heart attack as an example of emergency care.

  9. says

    You’re kind of missing the point. Having to pay for healthcare is only a small factor in Walt deciding to become a meth cook. His primary reason is that with or without treatment he believed that he would be dead in a short time from his late stage lung cancer. Even with the best health care he figured that he’d still be dead soon yet he wanted to make sure that his family was taken care of. And thus, even if his health care were free he still would have followed the same path to ensure his family would not suffer financially after his impending death.

    • Zayne says

      You’re right, he felt that with or without treatment he would die soon. But he was only fearing for his family because of the financial burden his treatment would have left AFTER he died. He couldn’t tell his wife and son that he would forego treatment and die just because it was too expensive. All of this eventually made him think “F*** it, i’m making meth”

      Without worrying about the treatment cost he would have went on with his miserable life, his wife and son would have lived off what they had left and after the baby Skyler would start working again. Rough, but I don’t think he would have thought that scenario was so bad he would decided to start cooking.

      • Rob says

        That isn’t anything like what actually happened on the show.

        Dr. Belknap: You understood what I just said to you?
        Walt: Yes. Lung Cancer. Inoperable.
        Dr. Belknap: I just need to make sure you fully understand.
        Walt: Best case scenario, with chemo, I’ll live maybe another couple years…

        Walt’s decision was based almost entirely on the fact that he had a new child on the way, and he didn’t have enough money saved for Skyler to raise that child on her own. The out-of-pocket expenses of treating his cancer wouldn’t have helped, but that’s a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of raising a child and sending another to college.

      • Julie says

        Rob is correct, and the treatment he was offered would have been paid for by his insurance. In that case single payer would have been no different than Walt’s insurance.

        So the cartoon only works if you don’t remember (or never watched) the first episodes.

    • Andy says

      I think that’s partially incorrect because his having to pay for health care is actually a big factor. His primary fear was that he would squander his family’s life savings for an extremely costly cancer treatment. He can’t stand dying not only leaving nothing for his family but also taking away everything. The best health care would make his decision to break bad much harder, as Skyler could probably support the family financially if there had not been immense medical debts.

      • Zayne says

        I agree with Andy. Like I said, if Walt died and his treatment did not affect his family, it would have been tough for Skyler but help from Marie and Hank while pregnant would have been enough to keep them going till she started work.

        Walt was only planning to cook enough for his treatment and a little extra until he realized he could go a little further…and you know the rest.

      • Rob says

        Zayne: That might be what you inferred as Walt’s reason for cooking meth, but that isn’t what he claims. In fact, that even contradicts his logic. He was going to die, he didn’t care about seeking treatment because that would have just meant being constantly sick. All he cared about was leaving enough money behind for his family to be comfortable.

        I think you’re confused about this because later on (long after he’d started cooking meth) Skyler finds out about Walt’s cancer and insists that he get a second opinion. It’s only then, when he finds out that he has a good shot at living, that he goes ahead with the expensive (outside his insurance) treatment.

    • says

      The larger point is that Walter White never did anything wrong in his life, got shit on by whoever wanted to and contracted a terminal disease in his 50s.

      Also “anywhere but America” the comic strip cites is hopelessly vague and excludes dozens of countries.

    • says

      Oh, scientists. I am drafting a formal written apology to science right now.

      Seriously, since you asked: As I drafted this, I had originally thought I would stick with the show’s convention and only “box” actual atomic symbols. However it just didn’t look good, and the last panel didn’t land the way I wanted. So I betrayed science in the interest of aesthetics, as so many have before me. I feel a little bad, but I regret nothing. ;-)

  10. Jason says

    I CALL BS ON THIS!!! WALT GOT FREE HEALTHCARE FROM THE GOVERNMENT!!! As a teacher Walt is a Government employee with Government insurance. Walt and family were not happy with his free government option and chose instead to go with the best care money could buy. How is this any different than what goes on in Canada and the UK??

    • DougK says

      Agreed on the BS. My wife is a teacher; her/our health insurance is not free, but it compares well to employer-based plans, and its with the same HMO that got me through late stage colon cancer 15 years ago with almost no out-of-pocket cost to me.

      • Julie says

        No, he would have had chemo, just not surgery, probably because whatever surgeon was assigned to his case believed surgery was too risky. I get your point about health care, but it’s also important to remember that single payer doesn’t mean that you can go anywhere and get any treatment you want on the government’s dime. Canadian Walt would have been in the same spot as American Walt.

        It’s one thing to think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, it’s another to think that woodland elves happily frolic with flower-bedecked unicorns on the other side of the fence.

        Plus medical costs played no part of his original decision to cook meth anyway, it was all about providing for his family aka atoning for selling his stake in Grey Matter.

  11. Pils says

    That’s what happens in Spain. It’s the only good thing we have.
    Of course, now, our government wants to privatize the public health system.

    • says

      In case the government privatizes the Public Health System, the system will still be the same because it won’t privatize de insurance, just the medical service.

      Anyway, If Breaking Bad took place in a country with a Universal Health System the doctor’s answer could perfectly be: “Well, perhaps we will be able to treat your cancer in two or three years”.

      • Fer says

        In Spain we have a Universal Health System an the treatment of cancer begins in less than a month, I’ve had several relatives who had suffered this illness and they have been cured in the public system.

      • says

        Every time someone on Twitter tells me about the long wait lists, rationing, or “death panels” in the Canadian/European health care systems, I look to see where they live. So far 100% are US residents. Meanwhile none of the Europeans I’ve heard from back up those claims--though a small percentage (maybe 10-20%) have other issues with their systems.

      • mario says

        Jorge, you’re a liar, exactly the same false reasoning of PP politicians of Spain. I must insist: LIAR

    • says

      I’m going to go out on a limb and say they didn’t have that idea all by themselves. I suspect there were some little birds from the private health care companies singing songs in the policians’ ears…

  12. ThirteenthLetter says

    Wait a minute, we were assured that Obamacare would take care of this problem? You’re… you’re not saying that was all a scam, are you?

    • DougP says

      Obamacare was promised to be nothing but a step in the right direction. Not a fix. It was never sold as anything but that.

      A single payer system or universal healthcare was part of the original proposal, but the anti-government at all costs crowd pretty soundly beat that back.

      Meanwhile millions of Americans (no exaggeration) continue to struggle to cover basic medical expenses. Those of who can afford it still pay FAR more than anyone else in the western world does.

      Why so many Americans are ok with that, is completely beyond me.

      • ThirteenthLetter says

        “Obamacare was promised to be nothing but a step in the right direction. Not a fix. It was never sold as anything but that.”

        Well, let me just say how happy I am that you’ve just woken up from that coma you were in since 2008. Let me fill you in: Obamacare was sold to us as perfect, the ideal end state. It required no changes. Any of those evil Rethuglicans who suggested it was a stalking horse for a single payer program was shouted down.

        “Meanwhile millions of Americans (no exaggeration) continue to struggle to cover basic medical expenses. Those of who can afford it still pay FAR more than anyone else in the western world does.”

        If only we had a left-wing president who’d establish a socialized medicine program! I bet that would fix everything. Oh wait.

      • says

        Yeah, I’m not sure who ever presented Obamacare as the “perfect,” “ideal end state.” I think maybe that’s what the right-wing propagandists were claiming proponents of the bill were saying, but I don’t think anyone ever presented the thing as perfect. A large portion of Democrats in Congress, in actual fact, openly stated they didn’t think this was the best solution, but it was the best thing they could hope to get passed.

        Also, is your sarcasm at the end really meant to label President Obama as “left-wing” or Obamacare as “socialized medicine?” If so, that just shows a dangerous level of misunderstanding for someone willing to engage in political debate.

      • says

        Because we have a centuries-old nationalism that is reinforced in us almost daily, and a corporate propaganda machine that does a VERY good job of convincing people that voting in their own self-interest is unpatriotic.

      • Lu says

        The fact that people can defend Obamacare or pretend that it’s a step in the right direction is baffling and alarming. My fortune 100 company’s health plan (which is obviously highly competitive) is increasing our deductible from 500 to 1200 next year with higher monthly contributions and out of pocket costs- a ‘direct result of the Affordable Care Act’. We are comfortable but far from wealthy-this will hurt us. Couple this with companies cutting hours to avoid paying benefits and dropping spousal plans, etc.- the whole thing is a sham. Does everyone have a right to healthcare? YES. Trust me, most people are one catastrophic event from bankruptcy. But this is not the way. The artist of this comic is irresponsible (just like so many others) in their simplistic, black-and-white portrayal of the issue.

      • says

        Lu, do you want to read that comic again and see if you can find any endorsement of the Affordable Care Act? Because I’m pretty confident it’s not in there.

        My feeling on the ACA, or Obamacare (as the President is rightly proud of calling it) is that it improves American health care in a small number of important ways. It is NOT nearly enough to fix America’s health care system--for that I believe we require a single-payer public system akin to that in Canada, Australia, and much of Europe--but it is an improvement, albeit a marginal one.

        A few examples of important improvements under the ACA:
        - Insurance companies cannot deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions
        - Insurance companies cannot cap lifetime payouts
        - Insurance companies cannot discriminate against LGBT people with denial of coverage or higher premiums
        - Insurance companies cannot terminate coverage based on illness or injury
        - Insurance companies must put 80% of expenses toward medical care

        …and there are others that aren’t coming to mind at the moment.

        There’s no shortage of stories about employers raising rates, insurers changing policies, and so on. I have a hard time taking any of them at face value because so many employers are intentionally working to make Obamacare look like a failure, putting personal politics ahead of the wellbeing of their employees, and insurance companies are searching for any loophole they can exploit before the program goes into full effect. So many of the people who perceive themselves as victims of Obamacare are in fact victims of the kinds of things Obamacare is putting to an end.

        I also don’t mind, as a privileged member of the working class who is earning more than most Americans, if the cost of my health care increases marginally in the interest of providing adequate care to millions of Americans who would otherwise have lost their lives.

        As I have said elsewhere, we all agreed more than a century ago that as Americans, we believe our mutual well-being is something we are all willing to pay for. Otherwise we would not have a standing military, or police, or fire fighters, or teachers, or air traffic controllers, or the rest. The fact that so many of us are unwilling to put tax money toward protecting life and health is a triumph of rhetoric and public misdirection, nothing more.

      • Zayne says

        Well that escalated quickly…

        If I may chime in, the thought from the Right side seems to be this:
        -Yes, our healthcare sucks but I’m doing fine…
        -Obama’s idea helps a lot of people (and the country), but it doesn’t help me..
        -We don’t have a plan but we shouldn’t go with the President’s idea either

        Sorry to be blunt, but that how you guys sound right now.

  13. tbickle says

    “Adjusting for inflation – good state college – adjusting for inflation, say $45,000 a year, two kids, four years of college…$360,000. Remaining mortgage on the home, $107,000. Home equity line, $30,000, that’s $137,000. Cost of living, food, clothing, utilities, say two grand a month? I mean, that should put a dent in it, anyway. 24K a year provides for, say, ten years. That’s $240,000, plus 360 plus 137…737. $737,000, that’s what I need. That is what I need. You and I both clear about 70 grand a week. That’s only ten and a half more weeks. Call it eleven. Eleven more drug deals and always in a public place from now on. It’s doable. Definitely doable.”

    remind me where he talked about having to pay for medical bills? oh right.

    • Takver says

      I guess if you ignore all those scenes with the late checks, the phone calls to insurers, the fact they went outside their HMO and had more bills, and all those scenes where they paid for Hank’s physical therapy…. then you have a point.

    • realsleep says

      Yeah… I think he talks about his medical bills piling up and being paid for with his drugs in every scene except for the one you picked out. Good job ignoring basically the whole show.

  14. grayconnections says

    A cute comic! I appreciate the irony.

    Unfortunately, your assumption that citizens who have late stage lung cancer in other countries will receive treatment for free outside is not always true. No matter where you live, treating incurable lung cancer is expensive because, well, there is no cure yet. Ongoing treatment gets to be too costly for most every health system, whether single payer, public, or private. As a late-stage lung cancer patient who is active in online forums, I have heard from many patients who find that Canada will not pay for their maintenance chemo on Alimta, or the UK’s National Health Service will not pay for a targeted therapy called crizotinib (which I take). The reason? Too many resources spent on someone who’s likely to die soon.

    • Núria says

      In France or Spain public health system would pay for almost any treatment, even if possibilities of surviving are almost 0 and cost is very high. Besides, drugs and other health treatments in United States cost more than 3 times what it costs in most of the world. For instance I can buy antibiotics in the pharmacy for less than 3$. If my doctor prescribes them is less than 50 cents. I’ve been told by some american friends that without insurance they had to pay 100$ for the same. And anyway in Breaking Bad he doesn’t start cooking meth to pay for his treatment but to pay for his child’s college and the mortgage. In Canada and most European countries university is free (I know is not in UK) and the wife would get some kind of pension for being a widow that would allow her to keep paying the mortgage, food and other spends.

      • says

        This is something I think many Americans, particularly those opposed to socialized medicine, seem to omit from their thinking about single-payer health care. When the entire nation is negotiating as a united customer, the costs of products and services go WAY down.

      • Eugene says

        In South Korea, even without having government insurance, I pay far less for treatment than I would in the US. I had some pretty severe digestive problems and went to a doctor in Austin. Even with a pretty good insurance plan paid entirely by my employer, they quoted me $2000+ for a relatively simple colonoscopy/endoscopy procedure, and even then I would have to wait several weeks for an opening. In Seoul, I stopped by a clinic on the way to visit my aunt. They quoted me $500 for an entire physical checkup which includes both procedures, a chest x-ray, lab work for blood and urine, and cancer screening. If I had government insurance, it would have been free. They gave me meds to empty my stomach and told me to come that Saturday.

      • says

        Eugene, I apologize, but I am unfamiliar with the financial structure of health care in South Korea. Thanks for sharing this bit. It seems virtually everyone in the world is getting a better deal than America, and we may be the only nation in the world where corporations use illness to hold patients hostage.

    • says

      Aww, thanks. I confess the whole thing took me probably two hours, and now I wish I’d spent more time on it. It’s surprised me how it took off on Twitter, and all I can see are the mistakes.

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