Diane Tucker, 59, is an American lawyer who moved to Vancouver, Canada, in 2006. Like everyone else there, she now pays the equivalent of just $49 a month for health care.
Then one day two years ago, Ms. Tucker was working on her office computer when she noticed that she was having trouble typing with her right hand.
"I realized my hand was numb, so I tried to stand up to shake it out," she remembered. "But I had trouble standing."
A colleague called 911, and an ambulance rushed her to the nearest hospital.
"An emergency room doctor met me at the door, and they took me straight upstairs to the CT scan," she recalled. A neurologist explained that she had suffered a stroke.
. . . .
Then, last year, Ms. Tucker fainted while on a visit to San Francisco, and an ambulance rushed her to the nearest hospital. But this was in the United States, so the person meeting her at the emergency room door wasn't a doctor.
"The first person I saw was a lady with a computer," she said, "asking me how I intended to pay the bill." Ms. Tucker did, in fact, have insurance, but she was told she would have to pay herself and seek reimbursement.
Nothing was seriously wrong, and the hospital discharged her after five hours. The bill came to $8,789.29.
Ms. Tucker has since lost her job in the recession, but she says she's stuck in Canada - because if she goes back to the United States, she will pay a fortune for private health insurance because of her history of a stroke. "I'm trying to find another job here," she said. "I want to stay here because of medical insurance."