I watched some truly interesting news segments on how well-funded American conservative think-tanks are framing the debate around Barack Obama’s vision for reforming US health care. It seems that conservatives are finding success in referencing the complete and utter failure – no – the apocalyptic, catastrophic crisis that Canada’s health care system is facing, and the tens of millions of victims that are subject to its stagnant misery north of the 49th parallel.
Just watch this ad:
Allow me to set the record straight and provide my perspective for all you Americans who are being indoctrinated that Canada’s health care system is evil. Some background: I am a relatively healthy young man, who has a gluten allergy and thus is on daily medication to suppress symptoms. The side effects of my medication include lower white blood cell counts and reduced liver and kidney functions. I am tested regularly to monitor my respective levels. This would be considered a “pre-existing condition” which would limit or cost me more for private coverage in the USA. Only once in my independent-of-parents life have I ever been admitted to emergency care, for what my hospital doctors believed was bacterial meningitis. God knows how much that experience would have cost me, irrespective of even knowing where my wallet was, at the time.
In my case, Canada’s health care system:
– provides me with emergency care without cost or fuss whenever/ if ever I need it
– lets me pay low monthly dues subtracted from my pay cheque, which in turn secures my health in the event of any illness or emergency
– allows me to see a physician in his own clinic at any time I need – in the case of my clinic, day-of if I need
– grants me a physician who keeps my files and monitors test results and general health at no cost (above my dues)
– allows me to have blood tests, allergy tests, procedures and physicals done, and see specialists on referral at no cost
– has never let me down, no matter what the emergency or level of illness
– has allowed me to spend a night in emergency under supervision of doctors and nurses without me even knowing that I wouldn’t be charged for any expense.
Canada’s health care system is not perfect. I have waited several hours in an emergency room before, but that is solely due to the fact that my emergency was low priority compared to others. Sure, we don’t pay our doctors and nurses the same as they do in the US, which is why a lot of our qualified specialists head south, but I think American doctors make a lot of money due to the bloated reality of the private system down there. They can charge whatever they like, whereas here it is regulated, which is more beneficial for the patients. I have a 70-year-old close family friend with an irregular heartbeat who is on a multi-month waiting list to see a cardiologist. I understand that it could be better, and that everyone thinks that they’re not getting the particular attention that they think they deserve. I get it. But we are not individuals who could necessarily pay for that service, and thus we must be considered individuals only within our community, and that those around us are equally as important as ourselves. This defines the essence of liberal (or dare I say, socialist) versus conservative ideology.
Looking after the health care needs of tens of millions of people cannot, even in principle, work flawlessly. Much less so in the USA with ten times as many people. But I say to Americans who are preying on examples of Canadian failures, don’t start pointing at our system for examples of failures, and then exaggerating that which hasn’t worked perfectly. Our system works just fine for those of us who are otherwise fairly healthy and are proactive about staying that way. And keeping in mind the fact that it provides inexpensive and universal coverage for all Canadians at every stage of their lives, our system works very well for the few who ever need immediate, urgent and special care from their day of birth until they die.
There’s a good article found here on how American think-tanks are preying on Canada’s health care system for leverage in their own debate.