Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Help Canada! Need Answers!

America is becoming increasingly angry about governmental overspending and rising deficits, which put our children and grandchildren at risk of excessive taxes and a lower quality of life. The last six months have been a whirlwind of hasty bills and partisan politics.

Currently, the anger is reaching alarming levels as Senators hold town-hall meetings to discuss health-care reform and a possible governmental take over of our health care system. Most of the fear comes from the unknown. Will the astronomical costs of trying to cover so many people lead to rationing and to "death panels", as Sarah Palin's Facebook comments hint at? Will older folks or the disabled--who have a cancer diagnosis or other fatal disease--just be given morphine at the end, with no expensive attempt to prolong their lives? Will their productivity in society be part of the equation?

Too little specifics are actually out there to know for sure. Those that say yes site the health-care systems in Britain and Canada as evidence. I have two Canadian readers--Steph and Sandi--who I hope can shed some light on how it actually works in Canada. My guess is that you're happy with your well-care coverage. But have you--or your family or friends--had experiences with more alarming diagnoses? Please share your thoughts. I'll put them into a guest post if you don't mind. My guess--which may be way off--is that one of you leans to the left in politics and the other leans to the right; between your two perspectives we can probably get some valuable answers concerning our debate here in America. Thank you!

P.S. I know you're both busy so answer only if/when you have the time.

Here is my e-mail:


Sandi said...

This is such a hot and difficult topic. For the record I am an American who's been living in Canada for 11 years.

My opinion, there are pros and cons to both systems. Health Care in Canada is NOT free as others seem to think. The taxes are high IMO and we pay a monthly fee yet when we couldn't pay it was free. The crazy thing about that though is they base your coverage off your last years income. So if you made 100,000 last year....your med coverage is based on that when you are unemployed the next year. Doesn't make to much sense. In Canada you do wait for things. If you have a heart attack they deal with it but several other non life threating but yet painful surgeries are cancelled to do so. I remember with one of my babies I lost at 12 weeks, I spent 5 hours in the hospital waiting for the DNC, with IV all hooked up ready to go. I was sent home becasue of some emergency and was told they had no idea when I could get in again to have it done. They said my only option was meds to force it. My baby had been gone for 4 weeks and even with that risk I was sent home. It does feel like at times you have to be dieing to get attention. Waiting for a hip replacement for 18 months is a real quality of life issue.

But I also have a friend who's husband was diagnosised with cancer and he was taken care of right away. You wait for MRI's which shoudln't wait.
The waiting list to get a child evaluated for ADHD, Austism etc is up to 2 years where I live. We went private and fortuantely have great extended medical through my husband's work. It you don't have extended or money wait.

When goverenment runs everything with a heavy hand that spells trouble to me.

My personal expereince in Canada (not tomoatoes please) is that this health care system has created an entitlement mentality. People go to emerg for silly things because it won't cost them extra money. Doctors offices become a revolving doors instead of a place to get "needed" care. It is almost impossible where I live to get a family doctor,they aren't taking patients.

Yet, the socialists way is that all are equal and shouldn't go without care due to lack of money. WHich is a great idea and I agree but how to do that practically is the dilemma.

Yet again, there is a quality of life issues that comes up. When my son was prenatally diagnosed with T-18 they wrote him off and told me they WOULD NOT medically help him when he was born. They can legally do that on the grounds that he won't have a full life anyway. They even suggested I starve him if he did live through labor. Let's just say they got an ear full.

I did have four births and 2 miscarriages without paying a dime above our monthly fee and taxes so it "feels" like it's free but nothing is it!

Please forgive misspells and randomness. I did this quick in order to get it done.

Not sure if this helps.

Steph said...

Pam - I just wanted to let you know I will get back to you on this - I'm swamped at the moment. Hopefully on the weekend.

Steph said...

First off, no system is perfect. Sandi is right - there are pros and cons to both. I also agree that, technically, our health care is not free. We do pay higher taxes in Canada. My parents traveled in the States last summer and were amazed by how inexpensive it was to eat in a restaurant. Once you pile on the taxes here, it can get costly. I also agree with Sandi's entitlement comment. This is something that annoys me - I hate people going to emerge for hangnails. I consider very carefully before I go to the doctor because I know the system is sometimes stretched.

I think what astounds me the most about the American reaction is that it sounds to me (and forgive me if I am wrong or oversimplifying) that what is being proposed would simply guarantee coverage for people who don't have insurance. I think many politicians are opting for partisan politics and scare-mongering rather than trying to find ways to make this work, which is typical of democracy. I was amazed to learn that millions and millions of Americans don't have health insurance. The idea that there are people in the U.S. who opt not to go to the doctor for something truly serious because they will have to pay for it is so foreign to me - and I think that is an unfortunate thing for a developed nation.

Yes, our taxes are higher. Yes, our system is overburdened. Yes, we have a shortage of doctors in some communities (they can make more money in the States so that's where many of them go). Yes, sometimes wait times are longer. But these are all things that an injection of cash can fix, and up until the economic recession, government surpluses helped. Wait times vary depending on the community, but if it's an emergency you're dealt with. My mom has had two knee replacements. She had to wait several months, but didn't pay a dime. My dad has had heart surgery (quadruple bypass) and colon surgery (cancer) and was treated in a reasonable timeframe and didn't pay a dime. I have had two babies and two miscarriages. I had good care and didn't pay a dime.

I am a Canadian and have lived in the same community for most of my life. I was fortunate to have the same doctor for about 30 years before he left his practice, and was lucky enough to find another doctor in my town even though there is a doctor shortage. My experiences with our health care system have, so far, been good. Not everyone has positive experiences and, yes, there can be glitches, but the comfort of knowing that if I am sick I don't have to think about seeking help - I wouldn't trade that.

I think governments - yours and mine - need to put people first more often. I would rather see my tax dollars go to health care and the environment than to many other "priorities" that have been deemed in Canada. Maybe both of our governments need to think about redirecting cash spent on other initiatives. After all, healthy people can achieve great things.

I don't know if that tomatoes here, I hope! :)