American Woman Finds A Lump While In Iceland, Then Discovers How Wonderful Their Healthcare Is Compared To The US

It’s not hard to uncover horror stories about the American healthcare system – a system that all too often seems like it’s all about profits and zero about the people.

You can pay boatloads of money for insurance, but if you get really sick, there’s a chance you could still end up losing everything – despite how much you’ve paid into the system designed to protect you.

Europeans are especially baffled by our healthcare system, but sometimes it takes experiencing healthcare outside of the US to realize what we are missing over here.

This is exactly what happened to Mary Robinette Kowall, an author who resides in Nashville, Tennessee. In 2006, she was working over in Iceland as a puppeteer on a children’s show called Lazytown.


Sounds like a fun gig in a cool country, right? Well her dream-like life took a scary turn one ordinary day when a doctor discovered a suspicious lump during a routine checkup.

“This wasn’t the first time I’d found a lump, but there’s always a sense of dread,” Mary Robinette told Bored Panda in an interview.

“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.”

Mary was equally concerned about the task of navigating a foreign healthcare system – what was she going to do? How much was this going to cost her? Not to mention, she couldn’t speak much of the native language.

“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.”

You can’t put a price on health, so Mary went forward with testing only to discover she was better off in Iceland than in her homeland.

She is now speaking out about how wonderful their system is, and how kindly she was treated throughout the process.

Services were surprisingly cheap, and the professionals were efficient and kind.


Mary Robinette’s journey through the Icelandic healthcare system turned out to be short and filled with relief. For starters, she didn’t need a referral to go to the cancer center.


She didn’t even need an appointment – they just wanted to check out her lump as soon as possible.


On her first visit to the doctor after discovering the lump, the nurse checking her in apologized that she’d have to pay for the appointment since she wasn’t a local.

The total cost? $3! I have to pay more than that to PARK at my local hospital.

Side note: I pay $55 for a basic check up WITH insurance that I pay over $500 a month for. Seriously, what’s going on with the US healthcare system?

According to the American Medical Association, in 2011, American’s were charged an average of $104 for a 15-minute appointment with a doctor.



Not only is healthcare more affordable in Iceland, but it is far better catered to each patient’s experience.

When doctors decided to perform a mammogram, Mary was shocked to discover that the machine was outfitted with warmers! Why can’t they do that here in the US? Especially considering how much they charge us for an appointment!


Within 45 minutes, Mary had the answer that would relieve her worries, all thanks to the Icelandic Cancer Center. It was a non-cancerous cyst.


She said that in the US, a similar lump had taken two to three weeks and several office visits to diagnose.




“I love it and would move back in a heartbeat,” she told Bored Panda.

She still thinks about the surprisingly easy time she had with Iceland’s healthcare system every time she finds herself fighting with her insurance here in the States.

Bonus perk? “The landscape is stunningly gorgeous!”

In response to Mary’s tweet, people all around the Internet starting sharing their own terrible experiences with the American healthcare system…




Apparently, Rome isn’t a bad place to get sick either… 


Just don’t get injured in America 


The most perfect response: 


Mary strongly believes that by discussing the American healthcare system in comparison to other nations, we could start to make important improvements to our broken system.

“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.