Sunday, July 25, 2010

Public Health Care: A Message to Americans

I'm watching the hue and cry over Obama's public health care plan, and all I can do is shake my head.
I'm Canadian. We've had public health care since the 1960s. And not the half-assed kind Obama is talking about, either - we go much further than that. With the exception of dental care and prescription drugs, no one pays anything to get medical treatment. The government pays it all. If I were to collapse in the supermarket and spend three weeks in intensive care, my only monetary loss upon discharge would be lost paychecks. I'd actually lose less money than if I'd spent those three weeks in my own home. And it doesn't matter how much money I make - the same service is available for a homeless guy sleeping under a bridge and for a millionaire who owns several companies.
We do not have euthanasia, or anything close to it. 'Your Grandma' actually lives longer under such a system, because you don't have to pay for her respirator, or pacemaker, or lengthy hospital stays. The patient or the family can refuse treatment, but that's true anywhere. And informed consent is a big deal to doctors.
When we first got public health care, people came in to the hospital with easily treatable conditions, such as fallen wombs and hernias, that had languished untreated for years. Many of these people had been rendered unable to work, and went back to work once they'd gotten treatment. Now, we tend to think of untreated hernias and such as something that happens only in third world countries - I was shocked to realize that it happened in the USA.
Our economy has not collapsed under the pressure, and we're not as wealthy a country as US is. In fact, our economy has been booming lately, and our dollar is currently on par with the American Dollar. Most Canadians have a decent standard of living - some are quite poor, some are very rich, but most are in between. It's a fine place to live.
So when I watch the hue and cry over public health care, all I can do is shake my head, and wonder why they don't just look to the north.


Blogger Andrea Shettle, MSW said...


I think some of the trouble may be that, unfortunately, most of my fellow citizens in the US tend to be a little insular: they only look within and forget that there is a world outside our borders. And the few who remember that the USA is (surprise) not the only country on Earth still often forget that other countries have lessons to teach us. There's a bit of arrogance there, where the few Americans who bother to remember the rest of the world assume that they're there for us to teach them because we do everything "better"--forgetting that teaching can often go in both directions.

I'm American too, but I sometimes get seriously annoyed at this kind of insular thinking.

These aren't the only factors at work, but I think may be one layer of it.

9:51 AM  
Blogger  said...

Well, if'in you're a poor Atheist citizen of the U. S. of A., the Catholics pay for your quintuple bypass but after you're completely back with the living, if'in ya don't proclaim Hay Zeus as your savior, you get booted out the front door.

It could be worse, moi 'twere quite glad to have the surgery after five years of contast pain and, at least, six major heart attacks.

I thought it was my gallbladder.

Well, to be 100% accurate – if’in you’re THIS poor Atheist citizen.

1:03 PM  
Blogger Sparrow Rose said...

Economic viability is a sticky issue. The money Canada spends on healthcare is roughly equal to the money they would have had to pay for national defense if the U.S. didn't have their back, so it's hard to say whether Canada's ability to pay for healthcare means that the U.S. would have the same ability.

And I say this as a U.S.-er who has untreated medical conditions quite similar to the fallen wombs and hernias you're speaking of. I'd love to get better medical care, but I don't think the U.S. has the money to implement a system like Canada's.

3:37 PM  
Blogger Maya M said...

I have no first-hand knowledge of either Canadean or US health care system, but tales by Bulgarian emigrants to Canada paint a not so rosy picture. A young woman was recently hospitalized for unspecified condition, probably anorexia. She received shotgun treatment and was kicked out at the first meager improvement, without anyone attempting even to diagnose her. Another woman, with mental illness, was institutionalized and forced to meet all and every medical student in the area. Her mother struggled to take her out of the hospital - to no avail. They showed the mother some papers signed by her daughter while in a clearly incompetent state and said, "You see, it's all voluntary".

5:20 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home