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How Japan's health system improved my marriage

Most Americans have no idea what real health care feels like

"Decent health care is an aspect of freedom and fairness. If more Americans knew how such freedom felt, they might demand it." writes Thomas Shomaker, right.

WAKAYAMA, Japan -- About 18 months ago, I moved from Brooklyn with my wife and two children to her hometown in Wakayama Prefecture. While I was familiar with the country and spoke the language fairly well, I knew it would be a big adjustment to live here permanently. What I didn't anticipate was how much our lives would improve due to Japan's national health care system.

I first became aware that something wasn't right with American health care as a child. When I was nine, my father was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma cancer. He died when I was 12. Parallel to his struggle with the disease was my mother's battle with the insurance companies over hospital bills. For me, health care has always been a fight.

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