Another option for affordable healthcare: Marry a Norwegian

In a first-person account of his battle with chronic illness, Minneapolis musician Kevin Steinman explains why he's decided to move to Norway rather than keep fighting the American healthcare system. (Via Erik Hess)


  1. You know, I live in France. Kevin’s story could never have happend here. I pay 30 Euros a month for a membership in a Mutual, they could not turn me down, no matter what my condition was. I have had asthma my entire life, yet, now I have the best quality of life I have ever had. This is a system based on preventative care. I am a 62 year old asthmatic, who payed a lot for overpriced medication and treatment in the USA and the treatment was pretty shoddy. I live in a very rural part of France, yet my canton has just built a state of the art medical center. I pay about 2,50 Euros for a doctors visit…my prescriptions are almost totally reimbursed. I have the best dental care, as well as having a really great guy as my dentist, I have ever had in my life and I payed through the nose in NYC…now my dental visits cost 2,50 Euros. You pay a bit for the little things, but the big stuff is pretty much totally covered.
    Today, I am in pretty good shape, I do regular long bike training and my pesky doctor claims he will keep me riding until I’m in my 90’s…I believe him. You all deserve better health service and a health system that is committed to keeping you healthy instead of dealing with catastrophes.

    1. It’s pretty clear that most Europeans have more access to less expensive care.

      A question I have — and this is a real question, not a passive aggressive ideology — is: with the way economics are going in Europe, will it be able to continue?

      1. The dire nature of some of the meditaranian countries economies will have to be aided by the rest of Europe. I’m fine with that, I just hope our politicians are aswell. You invest money into each other in times of need so you can earn it back when the economies are thriving again, through trade.
        /is dutch

        Healthcare is getting more expensive over here aswell though, it’s going to be a couple dozen euro’s more expensive per month, next year. That’s been a hot issue but reading some of these blog posts, I’m now really freaking glad about those costs.

      2. A change to a US model for financing healthcare would only worsen problems. So, yes, it will continue.
        US Healthcare is the most inefficiently run health system in the world – by a large margin. Hospitals promote unnecessary examinations for sheer profit, and for fear of litigation. The billing system itself is catastrophically expensive. Fear mongering drives worthless screening programs, benefiting only the stakeholders.

      3. I think you have to look realistically at Europe, rather than listen to the hysterical hype. Sarkozy was a right wing authoritarian politician who promoted the deceptive concept of austerity and was all too happy to seem to be a team player with Merkle. He actively was dismantling the French Hearth care System…luckily he didn’t get too far. He left office, leaving behind a budget full of false figures that did hide the real disaster he created. 
        Already, the Hollande Government has taken the lead from Merkle in directing the economic future of the EU. 
        I pay my taxes, but it is all relative. In reality, I pay less taxes than I would in America.I am a property owner and pay property taxes I see the immediate results in infrastructure and services. The government keeps me informed of what they are doing with my tax revenue. That’s one of the failures of American government. There is no outreach to inform and explain.
        The point raised about the costs to small business owners is valid and is being addressed. Frankly, the responses by the defenders of the American system in this thread are pretty much what I expected…lame defenses of the right to support subsidies to insurance companies and the medical industry couched in faux patriotic rhetoric. 
        I will reaffirm my belief that a decent affordable medical system is not a privilege, it is a right and you deserve it. It’s worth fighting for, I hope America learns that a healthy society and economy starts at the bottom up. When you take responsibility for the social welfare of the entire society, you only create a better society and enoble your self. This country does have the lowest infant mortality rate in the world and the US is worse than many third world countries…I have the numbers somewhere, but check it out on line.
        Having lived one half my life in America and the other half here, I am struck with the differences in attitudes and conditions on every level every day. Maybe we can have the same kind of discussion about education and the basic philosophy of child care.

        1.  I suspect the hardest bit to sell is the “preventative care” part. This include taxation or outright bans on sources of lifestyle illnesses that hoovers up money in the medical system.

    2. As another Frenchie (born and raised), I’d like to second that. Reading American blogs really gave me an appreciation for the French Sécurité Sociale (Social Security service). It has problems, and some people still have trouble getting affordable healthcare, but we’re miles ahead of the Yanks on that one. And we don’t even have that bad a taxation rate, not for the working stiffs, anyway.

      Of course, try to start a business, or to hire someone, and you’ll get the flip side of the coin : manpower is extremely expensive (about half of a salary goes to taxes, so paying someone the minimum wage full time goes to about 2.000€ a month – and most of these taxes go to social security and retirement funds). But as a soon-to be entrepreneur, I’ll gladly go (ok, not gladly) through the hassles because I know that I won’t go bankrupt because I needed a flipping MRI.

  2. Kevin’s a friend of mine and I know this isn’t a choice he’d take lightly. He’s spent a good amount of time in Norway, hanging with his wife’s family and playing music, so it’s not like he just made the decision out of the blue. If I were in his situation it’d be a very tough call.

  3. Excellent story, going to have to ask my wife tonight what she thinks about me marrying a Norwegian. 

    (anymore, being flippant is about the only way I can deal with the travesty that is health care in the US. Being angry seems to accomplish nothing)

    1. Correct, don’t get angry… get even… and vote out conservatives who are against a single payer system.

  4. So if Romney is elected, he’ll overturn health care reform. 

    But maybe he’ll support plural marriage! That way everyone can marry a Norwegian, even if they’re already married.

  5. Stories like this leave out the horrible details, like being made to worship Lenin and having to eat broccoli with every meal.  And you need to take a number and wait for hours just to get a Band-aid when your kid skins his knee, and insurance companies won’t reimburse you for the electric mobility cart you bought off of cable TV.

    At least, that’s what I learnt from Fox News, and when have they bean rong.?

    1. Not just Fox, it’s quite shocking how the very idea of public healthcare is actively demonized, in ways both brutal and subtle, throughout mainstream American media.

      1.  Death panels?  I wish we could afford death panels!  We just have this crummy unpainted death drywall.

      2. Those are the ones that use electrocution or lethal injection (especially if you are poor and black) are they?

    2. Yeah, it’s not just Fox. I’ve met otherwise liberal Americans who believe that Canada’s healthcare system is terrible and you have to wait years for treatment and that the government dictates what procedures you get. I think a lot of misinformation and outright lies have become just basic “facts” and have nothing to do with the news.

      If someone honestly does not believe in universal health care because they feel it infringes on “freedom”, I accept that. I don’t agree, but that’s fine. I just can’t stand the out-and-out lies that are told to vilify Canada’s system. My family is a textbook case study of how well the Canadian system works.

        1. Agreed, I always cringe when I see places like Boing Boing and Digg link to  It helps give Reason a legitimacy they certainly don’t deserve.

      1. I think a lot of misinformation and outright lies have become just basic “facts” and have nothing to do with the news.

        You’re right on the mark.

        It’s from a very concerted effort that these lies have been propagated.  It was blown out of the water by a whistleblower from the very top of CIGNA some time ago in this amazing interview:

        In the interview you’ll see how they juxtapose corporatist, bullshit, manufactured talking points (that they KNOW are absolute lies) with TV clips of politicians (Republicans & Bluedog Democrats) parroting them after being TOLD to say them and being lubed up with bribes (political “donations”).

        I don’t know how many times I’ve read those talking points from conservatives (republicans/libertarians) in forums all across the Internet who think they found out this bullshit with clever “research”.

        It’s one of many reasons I blow off the majority of libertarians who use bullshit “think tanks” as their guide for their massively flawed “research”.

        Here it is straight from the horse’s mouth.  The guy who actually MADE the talking points and now admits it’s all one giant crock of shit.

        Why hasn’t this guy been on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart? I don’t know.

  6. Is there a place we can sign up to volunteer to marry Xeni if her medical insurance, ahem, benefits provider decide that she’s too much of a risk to their profitability?

    I hope she like to eat lobster…

  7. Wait — you mean I can simply walk into Norway and get married?

    Who in the heck is this Norwegian woman that’s willing to marry me?

    Or maybe there are more than one who are competing over me right now.  Is this the subject of some Norwegian reality show I’m unaware of?

    1. Don’t try it in the UK. They’ll deport your ass even after you’ve been married for a couple of years and have children together.

      1. If we didn’t get tough you’d all be queuing at immigration in Heathrow for your free council house, too.

  8. And at the same time, the Norwegian elite travels abroad to get various procedures done for their lifestyle issues.

    1.  You should know by now, that elites of any nationality don’t consider themselves part of the population.  Reread your copy of The Origins of Totalitarianism – just the first third or so.

    2. I am fascinated by this argument. Since the elite are able to afford better stuff than the rest of the population, this means that the rest of the population should be denied things. I mean, the elite get to fly in private jets, so we should therefore eliminate airlines! Makes perfect sense to me.

      1. You’re reading too much into what i stated. I just find it paradoxical that while “common people” elsewhere look to Norway for working healthcare, the monied “elite” of Norway head abroad to deal with their health issues.

        1. IMHO, I don’t find that “paradoxical” at all, there is ALWAYS something better somewhere else for those who can afford it. But that doesn’t mean that what the rest of us have is sub-standard. Me, I’d be happy simply to get decent care at a price that doesn’t force me to take out a second mortgage…

          1. Because it is all starting to look like i am being hounded for making Norway sound like less than a utopia.

            Edit: anyways, i am trying to track down a article. But it seems the newspaper searches do not go far enough back. This because even searching on the guys name and looking at articles in general come up blank or limited to mentions in recent articles.

            if any other Norwegians feel like helping, this is the guy i am thinking of:

  9. So THAT’S why we have all these americans running around in our streets! Actually, here is a fun little anecdote of an american’s first encounter with norwegian culture. I work at a university. An american professor was just arrived to do a year’s guest residency. She was on her tour of introductions with one of ythe other professors, when she poured herself a cup of coffee in the break room. It was a plactic cup, and it slipped, spilling coffee on her hand. Her immediate reaction was to turn to the norwegian professor and say “who do i sue over that cup?” She was told to hld her hand under cold water and (in more diplomatic terms) “stop whining”.
    Yes, we have a decent health system. But we also have a slightly higher treshold for actually going to see a doctor (or sue).

    1. I would hope that said professor was making a (perhaps poor) joke. If not, please feel free to deport her.

      1. Actually, the norwegian professor did think it was a joke. But apparently it wasn’t. Instead of deportation, she was educated on our strange ways. ;-)

    2. Do you tell racist jokes about Africans and Asians, too, or do you just make up bullshit stories about Americans?

      1. why make up stories when the reality often is better? but i try to not discriminate, and make fun of everyone in equal portions. racism is kinda passé, though.

        1. It’s not reality. It’s your feelings about Americans turned into a bad joke. It isn’t any funnier than asking how many Polacks it takes to screw in a light bulb.

          1. it’s not a joke, or even fictional. nor is it a reflection of my feelings of americans. i know americans from most political/social/ethnic groups, and i find them usually both intelligent and sociable.
            but from experience i also know that assholes are everywhere. and one happened to come here. this particular asshole managed to live up to a stereotype, which made it funny. at least to us who were not her.

          2. it’s not a joke, or even fictional. nor is it a reflection of my feelings of americans.

            Yes, it is. It never happened, or if it did, it was a joke that you failed to understand. And you’re repeating it as a factual story. It’s just as bad as any slur presented as fact to defame a group of people.

            There are many things wrong with the US, and certainly there have been many high-profile lawsuits here. But there are 314,000,000 of us and the overwhelming majority of us will never sue anyone.

          3. I’m guessing that this is a fabricated riff on the infamous Liebeck v. McDonald’s suit.  Another case that was subjected to endless political propaganda helping to make a completely reasonable person (and lawsuit) look unreasonable and frivolous.  “Tort reform”…

Comments are closed.