If Americans understood how absurd our system is, we'd all be demanding universal healthcare

Healthcare dominated much of the Democratic debates this week, and for good reason. Multiple polls show that healthcare remains Americans' top concern.

My teenage daughter recently had some blood work done, and the total cost was more than $1000. After insurance, we have the honor of paying $200. For blood work. For nothing to be wrong.

Was the lab testing her blood with gold and platinum? Were they sending it to space and back? I mean seriously, how on earth could blood tests cost $1000?

Meanwhile, in other countries, we have people giving birth, having surgeries, fixing broken bones, as well as basic blood work, for no out of pocket cost whatsoever.


I wrote an article last year about an American man's experience in a Taiwanese emergency room. He'd hurt himself shortly after moving to the country and wasn't yet covered under the national healthcare plan. Being an American, he was terrified of what his E.R. bill was going to be without health insurance. His total bill? Around $80 USD.

Every time that story gets shared on Upworthy, the comments section is filled with hundreds of stories like this. Some traveler broke their ankle while galavanting around Europe, with a subsequent E.R. visit that in total cost less than a typical American emergency room copay. Some expat living in another country had to have their appendix removed and their out-of-pocket costs were a tiny fraction of what we would pay here, even after insurance.

RELATED: He went to the ER in Taiwan, then his "Horrors of Socialized Medicine" post went viral.

Several months ago, a story shared on Facebook about a woman getting a breast lump checked out in Iceland went viral. Since she wasn't Icelandic, she had to pay cash for the visit. A doctor's appointment. mammogram, and ultrasound cost her less than a trip to Starbucks. No referrals. No waiting.

People in other developed nations don't go bankrupt from medical bills. People in other developed nations don't feel like they need to weigh the cost-benefit ratio of going to the doctor. And when I say other developed nations, I mean every other developed nation. We are literally the only large, rich country without some form of universal healthcare.

And does this lack of universal healthcare save us money? Nope. We pay more per capita for healthcare than citizens in any other developed country by far. We pay more, we get less, and not everyone even gets covered. The more you learn about healthcare systems in other places, the more ridiculous ours becomes, and the more the push for universal healthcare makes sense.

Sure, other countries pay somewhat higher taxes than we do, but they generally don't pay insurance premiums or have high out-of-pocket costs. And our health insurance costs keep climbing. This year, the average total cost of employer-provided health coverage passed $20,000 for a family plan. That's the cost of a small car, every year, just to have health insurance.

That. Is. Bananas.

I hear some people say that our medical services are far superior to other countries, which is a questionable stance considering the fact that our health outcomes are actually below many other comparable countries. We have more disease burden, more preventable deaths, and more medical errors than many other OECD countries. Our maternal mortality rate has more than doubled in the past 30 years. We do a few things very well—if you have a heart attack or need a complicated surgery, our doctors are highly skilled. But it's not like our general medical care is superior to other developed nations.

I also hear people say that people have to wait for medical care in these other countries. While that's true for some elective surgeries, adults in most comparable countries actually get to see their doctors more quickly than we do in the U.S. And it's not like people never have to wait for non-emergency surgeries here too.

But the argument I really don't get is "Why should I have to pay for someone else's medical care?" Because anyone who pays into insurance is paying for other people's care. That's literally the way insurance works. Of course, you benefit as well, but that's no different than a tax to cover healthcare, only then everyone is covered.

One argument I've heard is that that we can't compare other countries to the U.S. because our population is so large. But this argument makes no sense. The U.K. has ten times the population of Finland. Canada has ten times the population of Iceland. And they all manage to provide healthcare for all of their citizens.

RELATED: Guy gets taken down by Twitter after comparing universal healthcare to charity

And yes, of course we'd be paying more in taxes. Does that mean we'd actually have more money coming out of our pockets than we do now? Not likely. What if we took the gargantuan amounts of money we already throw at at insurance companies and for-profit health systems and put those resources toward a system that works for everyone, like they do in other countries? So many Americans are so allergic to the idea of taxes that they are willing to cut off their nose to spite their face on this issue.

We can argue all day long about whether healthcare is a basic human right, but I don't think we even need to get into that. We can also argue all day about what version of universal coverage will work best here, but we have plenty of examples to analyze and compare. What's no longer a question, in my opinion, is whether or not we should do it. Universal healthcare simply makes sense, and we're long past the era when we can pretend that it doesn't.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

That first car is a rite of passage into adulthood. Specifically, the hard-earned lesson of expectations versus reality. Though some of us are blessed with Teslas at 17, most teenagers receive a car that’s been … let’s say previously loved. And that’s probably a good thing, considering nearly half of first-year drivers end up in wrecks. Might as well get the dings on the lemon, right?

Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

Here are 22 responses with the most horsepower:

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Photo by TR on Unsplash

Companies and organizations are on the side of their employees in light of stricter abortion laws.

The leak from the Supreme Court about overturning Roe v. Wade caused many people with uteruses to go into a tailspin. People began scheduling appointments for long-term birth control. Some opted for permanent birth control. Others stocked up on Plan B or called in preemptive prescriptions for the abortion pill mifepristone. In addition to making tangible plans for what the future might hold in some of these trigger states, people took to the streets to make their voices heard. Protests were held across America against the proposed overturning of Roe v. Wade, which protects people’s right to abortion under the 14th Amendment.

People are also organizing over social media. They’re helping locate nonprofits that will help cover the cost of travel from a restricted state to states where abortion will remain legal. Secret Facebook groups are popping up to help arrange transportation and accommodations for those who need access to safe reproductive care. People are coming together in ways you see in movies, all in an effort to prevent inevitable deaths that would occur if people attempt home abortions. It’s both heartwarming and heart-wrenching that this is something that needs to be done at all. It doesn’t stop with determined activists and housewives across the country, this fiery spirit has reached corporations as well.

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via Pexels

If you know how to fix this tape, you grew up in the 1990s.

There are a lot of reasons to feel a twinge of nostalgia for the final days of the 20th century. Rampant inflation, a global pandemic and political unrest have created a sense of uneasiness about the future that has everyone feeling a bit down.

There’s also a feeling that the current state of pop culture is lacking as well. Nobody listens to new music anymore and unless you’re into superheroes, it seems like creativity is seriously missing from the silver screen.

But, you gotta admit, that TV is still pretty damn good.

A lot of folks feel Americans have become a lot harsher to one another due to political divides, which seem to be widening by the day due to the power of the internet and partisan media.

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