By Larry Struck

Picture yourself with a serious health problem and no medical care. This is not difficult to imagine for anyone without health insurance or with substandard coverage.

Fortunately, my partner Debra, and I were in excellent health when we departed the U.S. aboard our sailboat for a multi-year sabbatical. We left corporate and government jobs which had provided complete first-class health care and insurance for decades. Now we were self-insured and decided to see what a medical system in another country could offer.

In the U.S. if you are unable to pay to see a doctor, then you reluctantly learn to live with that low-grade fever, strange pain, rash, persistent cough, or deep ache in the gut. Your shortness of breath probably just means you have to take it easy if you can and maybe lose a few pounds. You hate to do it but you’d better postpone checkups for the kids.