Monday

How I lost my fear of Universal Health Care

When I moved to Canada in 2008, I was a die-hard conservative Republican. So when I found out that we were going to be covered by Canada’s Universal Health Care, I was somewhat disgusted. This meant we couldn’t choose our own health coverage, or even opt out if we wanted too. It also meant that abortion was covered by our taxes, something I had always believed was horrible. I believed based on my politics that government mandated health care was a violation of my freedom.


When I got pregnant shortly after moving, I was apprehensive. Would I even be able to have a home birth like I had experienced with my first 2 babies? Universal Health Care meant less choice right? So I would be forced to do whatever the medical system dictated regardless of my feelings, because of the government mandate. I even talked some of having my baby across the border in the US, where I could pay out of pocket for whatever birth I wanted. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that Midwives were not only covered by the Universal health care, they were encouraged! Even for hospital births. In Canada, Midwives and Dr's were both respected, and often worked together.


I went to my first Midwife appointment and sat in the waiting room looking at the wall of informational pamphlets. I never went to the Dr growing up, we didn’t have health insurance, and my parents preferred a conservative naturopathic doctor anyways. And the doctor I had used for my first 2 births was also a conservative Christian. So I had never seen information on birth control and STDs. One of the pamphlets read “Pregnant Unexpectedly?” so I picked it up, wondering what it would say. The pamphlet talked about adoption, parenthood, or abortion. It went through the basics of what each option would entail and ended by saying that these choices were up to you. I was horrified that they included abortion on the list of options, and fact that the pamphlet was so balanced instead of “pro-life.”


During my appointment that day, the midwife asked her initial round of questions including whether or not I had desired to become pregnant in the first place. Looking back I am not surprised she asked that, I was depressed at the time, (even though I did not list that on my medical chart) and very vocal about my views on birth control (it wasn’t OK, ever.) No wonder she felt like she should ask if I was happy to be having this baby. But I was angry about the whole thing. In my mind, freedom was being violated, my rights were being decided for me by the evils of Universal Health Care.



Fast forward a little past the Canadian births of my third and fourth babies. I had better prenatal care than I had ever had in the States. I came in regularly for appointments to check on my health and my babies’ health throughout my pregnancy, and I never had to worry about how much a test cost or how much the blood draw fee was. I didn't have to skip my ultrasound because of the expense. With my pregnancies in the States, I had limited my checkups to only a handful to keep costs down. When I went in to get the shot I needed because of my negative blood type, in Canada it was covered. In fact I got the recommended 2 doses instead of the more risky 1 dose because I didn’t have to worry about the expense. I had a wide array of options and flexibility when it came to my birth, and care providers that were more concerned with my health and the health of my baby than how much money they might make based on my birth, or what might impact their reputation best. When health care is universal, doctors are free to recommend and provide the best care for every patient instead of basing their care on what each patient can afford.


I found out that religious rights were still respected. The Catholic hospital in the area did not provide abortions, and they were not required too. I had an amazing medically safe birth, and excellent post-natal care with midwives who had to be trained, certified and approved by the medical system.


I started to feel differently about Universal government mandated and regulated Health care. I realized how many times my family had avoided hospital care because of our lack of coverage. When I mentioned to Canadians that I had been in a car accident as a teen and hadn’t gone into the hospital, they were shocked! Here, you always went to the hospital, just in case. And the back pain I had endured ever since would have been investigated and cared for with whatever X-rays, Physiotherapy or even Surgery that was needed, which would have been at no cost to me. In our particular province, even chiropractic care was provided after a car accident by the provincial care insurance.When I asked for prayers for my little brother who had been burned in an accident, they were all puzzled why the story did not include immediately rushing him to the hospital. When they asked me to clarify and I explained that many people in the States are not insured and they try to put off medical care unless absolutely needed, they literally could not comprehend such a thing.




I started to wonder why I had been so opposed to government mandated Universal Health care. Almost every western country in the world has Universal Insurance of some kind, except the USA. Here in Canada, everyone was covered. If they worked full-time, if they worked part-time, or if they were homeless and lived on the street, they were all entitled to the same level of care if they had a medical need. People actually went in for routine check-ups and caught many of their illnesses early, before they were too advanced to treat. People were free to quit a job they hated, or even start their own business without fear of losing their medical coverage. In fact, the only real complaint I heard about the Universal Health Care from the Canadians themselves, was that sometimes there could be a wait time before a particular medical service could be provided. But even that didn’t seem to be that bad to me, in the States most people had to wait for medical care, or even be denied based on their coverage. Depending on where one lived and how rural the area was, one's access to care could be limited, and that was regardless of what country one lived in. The only people guaranteed immediate and full service in the USA, were those with the best (and most expensive) health coverage or wads of cash they could blow. In Canada, the wait times were usually short, and applied to everyone regardless of wealth. If you were discontent with the wait time (and had the money to cover it) you could always travel out of the country to someplace where you could demand a particular service for a price. Personally, I never experienced excessive wait times, I was accepted for maternity care within a few days or weeks, I was able to find a family care provider nearby easily and quickly, and when a child needed to be brought in for a health concern I was always able to get an appointment within that week.


The only concern I was left with was the fact that abortion was covered by the Universal Health Care, and I still believed that was wrong. But as I lived there, I began to discover I had been misled in that understanding as well. Abortion wasn’t pushed as the only option by virtue of it being covered. It was just one of the options, same as it was in the USA. In fact, the percentage rates of abortion are far lower in Canada than they are in the USA, where abortion is often not covered by insurance and can be much harder to get. In 2008 Canada had an abortion rate of 15.2 per 1000 women (In other countries with government health care that number is even lower), and the USA had an abortion rate of 20.8 abortions per 1000 women.


And suddenly I could see why that was the case. With Universal coverage, a mother pregnant unexpectedly would still have health care for her pregnancy and birth even if she was unemployed, had to quit her job, or lost her job. If she was informed that she had a special needs baby on the way, she could rest assured knowing in Canada her child’s health care needs would be covered. Whether your child needs therapy, medicines, a caregiver, a wheelchair, or repeated surgeries, it would be covered by the health care system. Here, you never heard of parents joining the army just so their child's "pre-existing" health care needs could be covered. In fact, when a special needs person becomes an adult in Canada, they are eligible for a personal care assistant covered by the government. We saw far more developmentally or physically disabled persons out and about in Canada, than I ever see here in the USA. They would be getting their groceries at the store, doing their business at the bank, and even working job, all with their personal care assistant alongside them, encouraging them and helping them when they needed it. When my sister came up to visit, she even commented on how visible special needs people were when the lady smiling and waving while clearing tables at the Taco Bell with her caregiver clearly had Downs Syndrome.



I also discovered that the Canadian government looked out for its families in other ways. The country mandates one year of paid maternity leave, meaning a woman having a baby gets an entire year after the birth of her baby to recover and parent her new baby full-time, while still receiving 55% of her salary and her job back at the end of that year. Either parent can use the leave, so some split it, with one parent staying at home for 6 months and the other staying at home for 6 months. I could hardly believe my ears when I first heard it. In America, women routinely had to return to work after 6 weeks leave, many times unpaid. Many American women lost their jobs when becoming pregnant or having a baby. I knew people who had to go back to work 2 weeks after giving birth just to hang onto their job and continue making enough money to pay the bills. Also every child in Canada gets a monthly cash tax benefit. The wealthier families can put theirs into a savings account to pay for college someday (which also costs far less money in Canada by the way), the not so wealthy can use theirs to buy that car seat or even groceries. In the province we lived in, we also received a monthly day care supplement check for every child under school age. I made more money being a stay at home mom in Canada than I do in the States working a part-time close to a minimum wage job. And none of the things I listed here are considered “welfare” they are available to every Canadian regardless of income. For those with lower incomes than we had there are other supports in place as well.

If a woman gets pregnant unexpectedly in America, she has to worry about how she will get her own prenatal care, medical care for her child, whether or not she will be able to keep her job and how she will pay for daycare for her child so she can continue to support her family. In Canada those problems are eliminated or at least reduced. Where do you think a woman is more likely to feel supported in her decision to keep her baby, and therefore reduce abortions?


Since all of these benefits are available to everyone, I never heard Canadians talking about capping their incomes to remain lower income and not lose their government provided health coverage. Older people in Canada don’t have to clean out their assets to qualify for some Medicare or Social Security programs, I knew older people who went in for procedure after procedure, and we never heard about dwindling resources, kids paying for their parents medical expenses, or being forced to use up life insurance or funeral savings in order to get the health care they needed. I heard of inheritances being left even amongst the middle classes. Something I had only heard about in wealthy families in the USA.


And lest you think that the Canada system is draining the government resources, their budget is  very close to balanced every year. They’ve had these programs for decades. Last year Canada’s national debt was 586 billion dollars, the USA has 15.5 trillion dollars in national debt. Canada has about one 10th the population of the US, so even accounting for size, the USA is almost 3 times more indebted. And lest you think that taxes are astronomical, our median income taxes each year were only slightly higher than they had been in the States, and we still got a large chunk of it back each year at tax time.


In the end, I don’t see Universal health care as an evil thing anymore.
Comparing the two systems, which one better values the life of each person?

603 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting this! I immediately shared it on fb!

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  2. One of the things that makes me so proud is the way our government creates a social safety net for our citizens.

    One minor correction - maternity leave is 55% of your income, capped at 40K, for one year. And, after the first 16 weeks, either parent can take a portion of it, which means that mum or dad can stay home with babe, depending on what makes sense.

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    1. One minor correction... It's called "Parental Leave" and it applies to fathers as well. I know because my wife is giving birth in two weeks and I'm taking a month off!

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  3. Very thorough and well put. This is my experience too, from living abroad. I just wish I could convince my conservative friends and family.

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    1. IF we could instantly put this program into place that would be fine, but it will never happen due to the huge differences in
      educational costs, doctors debts, litigation nonsense, and malpractice insurance. There are so many reasons that Universal Health works in other countries but would not work here. I hate how the health care here has changed to the worse since I was a child. But I am on a local indigent care program and it is horrible. I wait weeks or months to be seen for an acute problem, unless I go to the E.R. which is very costly.

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    2. I wish it were so easy.
      it is not.
      I am conservative, but that does not make me an idiot.
      I have been on indigent care in a local hospital. Very similar to universal health care, but based on income there are some reasonable co pays.
      No insurance monthly bills.
      It is horrible, care is way below most standards, waiting for appointments, and drugs is a nightmare, even for acute problems.
      I can of course go to the ER but the copay is much higher, and I am unable to afford it.
      I personally feel it cannot happen here.

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  4. This is very interesting Melissa - thanks for sharing it. I think the part that stood out to me (not surprisingly, I guess) was that the Catholic hospital was still allowed to follow its conscience and not perform abortions. While I strongly believe health care (or rather the insurance industry - the care itself is actually good, or has the potential to be w/o insurance companies in the way) in the US needs fixing, I do not think the current "solution" (Obamacare) is the right one either. I'm not suggesting I have the right solution, but I do know when we start forcing people to violate their consciences we have started down a very dangerous path.

    I don't leave this to cause controversy - really, I mean it as a positive reflection that Canada has figured out a way to offer health care AND respect conscience. Thank-you for including that point :).

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    1. Petticoat PhilosopherJuly 9, 2012 at 3:56 PM

      Um, Catholic hospitals here aren't "forced" to perform abortions either and Obamacare isn't trying to force them. The ridiculous controversy of the past few months has been over whether or not Catholic and Christian employers ought to be "forced" to give coverage to their employees for services and medications that they don't agree with--mostly birth control. THAT'S been the Obamacare controversy. Catholic hospitals performing abortions is an entirely separate issue.

      And leaving aside the huge glaring problem of having religious organizations force their views down their employees' throats, the only reason this is even a problem to begin with is because healthcare in the United States is still provided through employers. If we had a single-payer system like Canada has, the onus to provide healthcare would no longer be on employers and it wouldn't matter what their "consciences" said about what I should be able to do with my personal life. The buck would not stop with them, it would stop with the government and they wouldn't have any involvement in their employees' healthcare at all. This whole political bloodbath over "conscience" could have been avoided with a single-payer system, but those of us who advocate for such things generally get drowned out by all the people shrieking "socialist!" Who are usually exactly the same people hollering about employers' being "forced" to cover birth control for their employees anyway.

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    2. No one is being forced to violate their conscience. The catholic church was not under the original plan and is not under the compromise required to pay for birth control. They are compensating their employees by paying part or all of their insurance premium. They are not buying insurance, ergo not buying birth control, abortions, surgeries, blood tests or any other service covered by the insurance. They are paying their employees for the work they do.

      They are unconstitutionally trying to impose their religion on their employees and should be grateful they were offered a compromise when none was necessary. The catholic church continues to act in an unethical as it has since it's very inception and it's indefensible.

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    3. And of course a hospital can't even have a conscience. People have consciences. Not institutions and companies. A doctor being required to perform an abortion is one thing. But no one's rights are violated when a hospital employs someone who willingly performs an abortion.

      Likewise, no one is forced to to anything when they are merely required to provide insurance. And employers can't violate their employee's rights whenever they feel like it.

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    4. Last but not least, those of us who are grateful Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) was voted into law and was upheld by the Supreme Court KNOW it's not the be-all/end-all of "health insurance coverage for all".

      It's got a lot of flaws, most of them caused by some Senators and Representatives in the U.S. Congress who have accepted campaign contributions from Big Pharma, medical device manufacturers and the for-profit health insurance industry, and who forced the Obama Administration's task force to accept compromises in exchange for their vote.

      And, of course, one party which also has Senators and Representatives in the U.S. Congress who have accepted campaign contributions from Big Pharma, medical device manufacturers and the for-profit health insurance industry voted in a unified bloc AGAINST the Affordable Care Act, only because it was up for a vote in a Democratic Presidential administration.

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  5. Well said. Sharing on Facebook.

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  6. I LOVE you for writing this! It is refreshing to read and I will pass this on! THANK YOU!!

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  7. This is interesting information. I am, by no means, sold on Universal Healthcare, though you have provided some food for thought.

    I had more here, but then decided it's for my own blog to write it. I have many reservations about this move in the U.S. but mine are mostly related to the HHS mandate and the infringement on religious liberty. I don't believe that is just my perception, I believe it's a reality and I believe the HHS mandate is unconstitutional even if the ACA has been deemed constitutional. I guess we'll see.

    Anyway, thanks for writing about your perspective. The 1-year maternity leave thing is something I have envied all my childbearing years. Sometimes I have had to go back at 6 weeks, other times 12 weeks and one time 8 weeks. It's never been easy and I'm sure even a year home to care for my babies would be difficult to return from, but it sure would be nice to find out. :)

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    1. Losing your privilege to impose your religious views on others is not the same as loss of religious freedom, and is certainly not unconstitutional. Religious hospitals won't have to provide services they oppose, they just have to allow coverage of family planning services for their employees. The compromise means they don't even have to pay for it themselves! If that isn't bending over backwards to protect religious freedom while also preventing imposition of religion, then I don't know what is. Of course some people won't be satisfied until their particular religion is imposed on everyone, and they don't care at all if that is unconstitutional!

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    2. I find all this 'religious freedom' stuff really, really weird as a criticism of healthcare. In the UK, so long as you aren't abusing your children or preventing others from exercising their freedom of choice, respecting individual and cultural beliefs is made a huge deal of within the NHS. People sometimes complain about waiting a couple of weeks to see their GP (not for serious stuff - if it's an emergency you'd go to the hospital emergency room) or about a bitchy nurse or whatever, but I've never heard anyone say that their personal beliefs weren't taken into account. I find it hard to understand where this idea comes from. Also, as Lissa says, giving people access to options they need or want increases their freedom, it doesn't take it away.

      Having grown up in the UK, I found this article heartbreaking. Access to healthcare should be the most basic requisite for any developed country, and a primary goal for any developing country. My brother was born with a serious illness and my sister and I have had our own emergency-rush-to-hospital moments, much like everyone else I know. I just cannot comprehend the idea of looking at a serious injured or dying child and asking to see a credit card, or having to decide whether I'll be able to 'afford' to give my kids the things they need to stay alive. Makes my skin crawl. Especially when people try to claim that withholding the right to live is necessary for them to be able to exercise their 'religious freedom'.

      One of those moments when I am so, so glad I live where I do.

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    3. It's funny because in he UK, the Queen is the head of state AND the head of the church. There is NO constitutional separation of church and state in the UK, but we have universal health care.

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    4. I beg your pardon, but religious freedom does NOT mean "I get to bully others into abiding by the strictures of my religion, and do so with impunity".

      Religious freedom means "I get to practice my belief system as I see fit, and others get to practice their belief systems (or not have a belief system) as they see fit, and government doesn't get involved in either".

      In other words, crying "religious freedom" when you're told that you can't be the schoolyard bully and deny others something because YOUR belief system says it's wrong only makes you look uneducated.

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    5. When the government gets involved in forcing Catholics to pay for insurance that covers things like birth control, abortion, abortifacients, it certainly does get involved. Catholics believe these practices are immoral, not just for Catholics, but for everyone. They should not have to pay for insurance that covers practices that violate their religious beliefs. Catholics aren't denying people the ability to practice these evils, they simply refuse to allow their money to contribute to them. And they have every right to do so.

      A Catholic

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    6. Petticoat PhilosopherJuly 11, 2012 at 11:04 PM

      "Catholics believe these practices are immoral, not just for Catholics, but for everyone.

      Um, well, tough. I'm not Catholic. Neither are a lot of people. We couldn't care less what the Catholic Church thinks of our personal choices.

      If the Catholic Church wants to get into the education game and healthcare game, it has to to play by the rules of the pluralistic society of which these things are part. That means it has to accept that the insurance that it offers as an employer--part of a SALARY given to employee--might possibly be used for things that it doesn't endorse. Can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen. Being a Catholic is not a "get out of the social contract free" card and using one's religion to bully employees into doing things your ways is an abuse of one's power as an employer. The whole world is not Catholic. The Church has got to deal with that.

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    7. @ Anonymous 12:52

      Would you object to Scientologists buying or running mental health emergency rooms? Or Jehovah's Witnesses running trauma centers/major insurers and not allowing blood transfusions?

      Keep in mind that people don't always have a choice as to where they receive their medical care, especially in emergencies or in remote areas. Would you be OK if you were barred from medical care you had no moral objection to in the name of someone else's religion?

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    8. A "Good" CatholicJuly 20, 2012 at 4:39 PM

      I am Catholic, and I have no problem with ANY employer being required to provide heathcare plans that include birth control and abortions.

      I also deeply disagree with - and indeed resent - your blanket statement that "Catholics believe these practices are immoral...for everyone". I assure you, and fellow readers, that is NOT the case with many, many Catholics. I believe a woman has the right to choose whether or not to get pregnant or terminate a pregnancy. I know an entire group of nuns who believe a moral CHOICE is still a choice, and should not be mandated by the Pope or the government. It is highly offensive to be lumped into your religious beliefs, and to be told we are not "good Catholics" if we disagree with your view of morality.

      Several families sat at a local coffee bar after Mass last weekend, and we ALL were disgusted with the Church's manipulation of the ACA for its own agenda. We ALL support not only the new law, but agreed that universal care is, indeed, the only "moral" thing for our country.

      So, please, keep your religious view to yourself. Don't want an abortion? Don't want to responsibly PLAN a family (as 90% of Catholics all over the world, including the US, do) - then DON't have an abortion. Just don't force your limited religious view on the rest of us.

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    9. Lot's of interesting and valid points shared. I would like to add my opinion that an abortion is not an emergency service like a blood transfusion. If you want an abortion and the hospital nearest you doesn't offer them, you would reasonably have time to travel to another clinic. Also, it seems very self serving to state that abortion is a tool that responsible parents use to plan a family. Abstinence and birth control are tools for those who desire to responsibly plan a family. Granting yourself the right to extinguish human life for your convenience seems anything but responsible.

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    10. to Anonymous 9:30 AM:

      Try telling any grieving relative of a woman dead in childbirth, or a woman forced to bear a dead fetus that an abortion isn't an emergency service. If you don't choose to avail yourself of a legal medical service, fine. Quit trying to deny that right to the rest of us.

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    11. Right now, if you're Catholic and you pay for health insurance, you're helping to provide birth control for people. You may be helping to pay for abortions for people. If you have United Healthcare insurance, you paid into the same pool my birth control and my husband's vasectomy came from.

      The only difference-- the ONLY difference-- between now and the Obama mandate is that everyone will be able to get *the same* health insurance, no matter who they work for. There's a minimum standard of care. That standard of care, in recognition of the needs and desires of the overwhelming majority of the US population, includes coverage for contraception. It does *not* include coverage for elective abortion; public health care (Medicaid) doesn't cover that... but much private health insurance does. If you have private health insurance, you may be subsidizing abortions, even if your employer's coverage plan doesn't include them.

      So if you are opposed to paying for other people's birth control, you need to bow out of the health insurance market entirely. You need to self-cover all your costs. Because as long as you are using an insurance provider, you're engaging in the socialization of health care.

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    12. I grew up catholic, and frankly the official catholic stance on most things is askew with how most Catholics live.

      I find it interesting the reasons people get up in arms about paying into universal health care, especially when they're paying into the church that teaches and preaches stuff most of them don't believe completely.

      They get all up in arms because now they have to pay into this system that covers things against their religious beliefs, but when the church openly opposes things they don't, like gay marriage, premarital sex, or birth control, they don't get all up in arms that they pay into the church that doesn't represent their beliefs.

      To each his (or her) own. I'll gladly pay into something that supports someone else's beliefs, as long as mine are just as accommodated.

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  8. I am passing this on IMMEDIATELY!! I have long-supported UHC, even in my staunch Republican days. Thank you!!

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  9. I am not in favor of Universal Health Care on principle. it all sounds so good, but you are giving your freedom of choice completely away. The government becomes your provider, not God. You become dependent on the government and worship it instead of God.

    I don't think Obama care is the solution. Government taking away from some to give to others is not charity is stealing. you can't force charity on people. God doesn't do it, why should government or anyone do it??

    on the surface, UHC looks good, but it's a web of deceit.

    PS I don't have insurance and I pay cash for all my health care. I have 4 children.

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    1. I have a lot of doubts as to whether you read the post or just the title, Anonymous.

      I sincerely hope for the sake of your four children that you continue to have the good fortune to pay for their medical care without declaring bankruptcy. Many common medical emergencies are almost impossible for a middle class family to cover. My family was lucky enough to have health insurance when a family member had to be hospitalized in ICU for over 2 weeks, since in the end the bill came to almost $1 million. And that was ONE PERSON, ONE INCIDENT.

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    2. If you're paying cash for all health care, you are shirking your responsibility to provide and care for your children because of your ideological blindness. You stand convicted in the sight of God and men for your prideful refusal to fortify your family against grievous illness and financial ruin. You have placed your worship of right-wing ideology above your obligation to yourself and your family, and in your arrogance you are exposing your family's security to the whims of fate. Your "dependence" on God's providence is an excuse to shirk personal responsibility, exactly as an unemployed person's "dependence" on unemployment insurance is an excuse to avoid work. You need to prayerfully reconsider your priorities and humble yourself from your prideful refusal to provide for your family's health and security.

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    3. As a Canadian, I was proud to read this well represented view of our system.
      What I and my fellow Canadians will NEVER be able to fathom, is the American idea of God vs Government.....or the worship thereof.

      I certainly do not worship my government or in any way equate it with God. What I do surely appreciate is the fact that I see it as a way of life, and a provision FROM GOD, to take care of people. I thank God all the time I live in a society that I do not have to worry one minute about finances vs health.

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    4. If you had read the article, you would know that there is NOT less choice in health care in Canada. Actually, there's more. We aren't bound by a list of doctors and procedures our insurance will cover. We are free to see any doctor we wish, have any procedure that exists. There is even a private option in Canada, for those who prefer it.

      Also, by your own logic, if government-provided health care makes government God, in the US those with insurance worship their insurance companies, and your God is cash. You are of course free to worship money if you want (and you would be in Canada, where we have freedom of religion), but I disagree with your reasoning. I don't believe that anyone must worship their health care provider, and I suspect that if you asked around, you'd find that few people do.

      Personally, I'm Canadian and I do not worship the government, despite receiving health care from it. There are four churches in my small village, and none of them have OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) as their deity.

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    5. You are such a fool! You call yourself a parent?

      I pray, I'm Canadian and Catholic, that nothing serious ever happens to any of your children. Or God forbid you only have enough money to treat one deathly ill child.

      As a parent you should be doing everything possible to make sure that your children are protected and well cared for. My children go to the doctors every six months for a routine check-up, what about yours? They are all up todate on their needles and I paid nothing, what about yours?

      Get off your high horse daddy! If you have that much money get insurance! If you don't want it for you that's fine, get it for the kids!

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    6. Not everyone adheres to your belief system or worships your god, Anonymous.

      Also, kindly read the article.

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    7. The people that fought for and won universal health care in Canada were Christians, many of them ministers. In fact Tommy Douglas, the premier of Saskatchewan who was the first to institute universal coverage, was a Baptist minister before he went into politics. He did not worship government, he changed government to conform more with Christian principles - love your neighbor, etc. See Matthew 34-40. Implementing universal health care is the Christian thing to do if you honor the teachings of Jesus!

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    8. You are already paying for other people's healthcare. Even in the US, people are entitled to emergency room treatment. So many people without insurance let preventable conditions deteriorate so out of control that that's where they end up. Ultimately costing far more money than routine checkups.

      The US spends far more on health care per capita than any other country. That's where your precious taxes go. At the same time it doesn't even cover everyone with insurance. That's nothing but embarrassing.

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    9. And how fortunate for you that your children don't have cancer, or type 1 diabetes, or celiac disease, or ... well, the list could go on indefinitely.

      Idiot.

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    10. OP clearly did not read the post. And I doubt they'll read much of anything that's not on Fox news, which, by the way isn't shown in Canada due to a lack of rigor in fact-checking.

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    11. Must be nice to just pay cash for your healthcare. I do not have insurance, cannot afford insurance, and have several on-going health concerns that need medical attention. I have no hope of seeing a doctor or affording a doctor's visit anytime soon (it will be over $400 just for the office visit and labs needed to check on my health condition, and heaven forbid I need medication or further treatment). I just hope my health conditions don't further deterioriate before Obamacare kicks in because that's the best hope I have of ever getting to see a doctor again.

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    12. Being from Europe as I am (and a 90% Catholic country at that), I was so sure this post was a joke, aiming to discredit the position of opposing UHC by rendering it absurd.

      Um, it's really the type of rhetoric someone would use? O_O I mean, it would sound absurd even to the religious right around here. Paying taxes and insurance does not make one worship government, and Jesus never said you're supposed to depend on God's protection instead of doing things ourselves.

      However, by analogy, an interesting point could be perhaps made about worshipping guns instead of believing God will protect you.

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    13. Insurance by its very definition is the act of taking from some to give to others.

      That is precisely how insurance works.

      If you object to your money going to pay for someone else's needs, then you don't want insurance at all.

      You also don't want to live in a civilized society.

      That having been said, there's nothing about "Obamacare" that involves taking from some and giving to others any more than every insurance company already does.

      The only difference is that prior to this year, a disgustingly disturbingly large amount of your money didn't go to other customers needing medical care, but to the pockets of executives.

      Some people think that should continue. I can't comprehend those people.

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    14. You have 4 children and pay cash for all their healthcare. Well, I am happy for you that you are filthy stinking rich. We're not. I know you don't really care about us, though, but thankfully, we don't leave such decisions up to people who don't care about others. The Western world tried that about 500 years ago, and it didn't work out. Then this little country called America came along and decided that autocratic rule by the self-interested made for a poor society, and they would have none of it.

      Delete
    15. Maybe you didn't realize: Your Government is real, God is only fiction.

      Delete
  10. Thanks for the post. I really appreciate hearing your experiences. I'm most worried about maternity coverage. I currently have health care that doesn't ever cover maternity (I pay out of my pocket for my coverage). I'm starting a job soon that will cover maternity, so my husband and I can finally think about starting a family. But I'm a teacher, and I will only get 6 weeks of unpaid maternity coverage. So I'm pretty sure every baby we have will be born in mid-spring. I'd love to time my babies so they are born 6 weeks before the end of the school year. And I am really sad that I have to think about my family in such a way.

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    1. Petticoat PhilosopherJuly 9, 2012 at 4:03 PM

      Haha! My mom is a teacher too and that was her method--fortunately, my parents were able to pull it off too. My sister and I have birthdays a week apart, both in late May.

      The things we have to do in this ridiculous country. lol.

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    2. Petticoat, you're awesome

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  11. I love this!! I wish more people would read this but some are so set in their conservative ways they would probably just badmouth the post. This is why I sooo PASSIONATELY hate living in the United States. And if I could I would relinquish my families citizenship to live elsewhere. Canada, Germany....WHEREVER just to get out of this corporate ass-kissing country.

    I envy anyone who lives in a country that REALLY cares about its citizens(and not just the rich ones who screw people over).

    It will take a LONGGGGG time before something like this happens here and if it does happen it will be because of a giant revolutionary war inside our own borders. I hope I am here to witness and be in that war!! For the sake of my children and the future generations!!

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    1. Megan, you said what I've been thinking for a long time. The U.S. will only become a moral country again as it rises from the ashes of the next holocaust or civil war. The sad part is that the people who advocate "morality" don't really know what it means. And the people who know what it means are too wimpy to fight.

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    2. Megan, then do it. Leave. Do a bit of research, choose a place, find yourself a network of resources for when you move, and move! Don't stay at a place or in a country you hate, if you want to travel and experience something else, do it.

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  12. I think you hit the nail on the head - I'm not thrilled that abortion services are covered, but I think the big debate over it is a smokescreen. I don't want to work towards abortion being illegal anymore, I want abortion to be unnecessary; I want to fix the social problems in our country that make it "the only option"

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    1. Abortion can never be completely unnecessary, because sadly there will always be medical conditions that make it necessary to abort to save the mother's life, or spare the fetus from suffering, and abortions of dead fetuses as well.

      I do agree that fixing social ills would eliminate the need for many abortions. There are so many areas to work on that would help in this area. Strangely, I never see people who are against abortion working on them. Providing sex education, affordable birth control, prenatal care, health care and social security for women and children; and fighting rape, domestic violence and reproductive coercion; all are things which would either reduce unwanted pregnancies or help support parenthood as an option. But the activists working for these things are predominantly pro-choice. If more people took your view and worked on these issues, I'm sure it would help!

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    2. There are quite a few pro-life activist groups who choose the social change/social justice route. In fact many Catholic charities are very attive in all these but the birth control route (because many BC are in fact abortifacants) we just don't seem to get as much attention because our routes - education, support for unwed mothers, etc. are not "quick fixes" like handing out a packet of pills. If you wanted to see a prolife group fighting for these things Google "Feminists for Life", they work under the tagline "women deserve better". Sadly, back in my pro-choice days the only thing I ever saw was the opposite of what you see - the pro-choice groups in my areas were convinced that pills and abortions were the only thing worth focusing on.

      And you actually hit on another reason that even though I'm against abortion, but not focusing on it's legality - I don't want to see women in jail because of miscarriages or choosing a d/c for an already deceased child and even though I don't agree with BC pills for BC sake I do recognize their medicial necessity for some women and there for don't seek to make BC illegal, and fully support the education of women who find themselves with that medical necessity to learn NFP/FA methods to limit the chances of conceiving while taking necessary medicines.

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    3. @ Molly I could kiss you! I always say that being pro-life and anti-abortion are two totally different things, but no one gets it. THANK YOU.

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    4. Actually, most hormonal birth control methods, are in fact, NOT abortifacants. Please check your facts.

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    5. I fear that by "social problems" you don't mean "people should be secure in their health care coverage" or "people should care about one another", but "women don't stay married to abusive baby daddies" and "women want to have careers instead of being baby machines". Yeah, so much for individual freedom huh?

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    6. @Molly - how can you possibly call Birth Control "abortifacants?" Birth control PREVENTS pregnancy, not ends it. If I take birth control pills and don't get pregnant, how is that "aborting" a child?

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  13. Paula G V aka YukimiJuly 9, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    In Spain the main complain it's also the waiting time but it's usually very short and if you don't want to wait you can go private for that intervention because in Spain there's Universal Health care but there's also a private sector you can always use if you don't want to wait or like fancy rooms for example. Still, the national system is very very good and I don't envy you guys your situation at all in the US.

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  14. What a great post! One of the incredibly disappointing things about the new US law is that it completely fails to resemble Canada's. It seems that the only improvements will be for those who are already fairly privileged (so it is easier to work fewer hours/freelance and not worry about coverage, or to keep your 25-year-old on your great plan). My parents have never had coverage, and under the new law they still won't be able to get affordable insurance (and thus won't pay any fine for being uninsured). And that stinks. If I am going to give up rights (which isn't constitutional) then I would at least want quality of coverage to be improved for those who actually need it! //end rant against stupid US.

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    1. here, here rae. The biggest problem I've had with our version HHS is that seems to do little or nothing to provide affordable health insurance to a good number of people.

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    2. Actually, the ACA has several provisions for those who might struggle to buy health insurance. First, in 2014, medicaid, the existing government provided insurance for the poor, will be sharply expanded. As long as your income doesn't exceed 133% of the federal poverty level, your insurance will be provided for, even if you don't have kids.

      If you make more than 133% of the federal poverty level, for individuals/families that make between 133% to 400% of the poverty level, the government must provide subsidies to help pay for a private insurance plan which you can get at the new state-based healthcare "exchanges" that will start in 2014. At these exchanges, companies will compete to provide cost efficient plans for those who still don't have insurance.

      Finally, even though buying insurance will cost some people in the short time, it is a far better cost to bear than risk being uninsured. Without insurance, illnesses such as a burn often go untreated, leading to infections and worse problems, which costs more money than insurance. Families skip checkups, so primary care physicians can rarely provide preventive care in the form of vaccinations, cancer screenings, or counseling. Ultimately, this costs families much more than health premiums.

      http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2010/March/22/consumers-guide-health-reform.aspx

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    3. Molly and Rae, you may also want to think about the fact that Obamacare's limited "improvements" are because of the many concessions it had to make to appease the GOP.

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  15. Greetings from Finland.

    Our teenage abortion and pregnancy rates are some of the lowest in the whole world. I have three kids and we have 10 months paid "maternity-leave" and even longer with dangerous works, that might cause risk to the fetus (like because of chemical hazards or smoke in the working place). After that it is possible to stay at home with small payment until kid is 3 year old and some minucipalitis pay extra so that little kids are not in the day care. Day care is subjective right to every kid and parent - municipalities has to arrange place within 4 months of the application (within 2 weeks in certain cases for example when mother has got a new job). During that 3 years it is illegal to fire mother or father of the small kid from her/his job.

    I was at home only the minimum time (10 months) but after that my husband stayed at home 6 months with every kid and his working place has no other possibilites but to accept that. Now he makes shorter working week - this right is supported by the law until kid is 10 years old. For every kid we also got small amount of money from the goverment every month.

    I have graduated from the university. We have only public universities and schools, basic schooling system is internationally considered very good. Studying is free even in universities and I got small support from the goverment monthly ( for 55 months). Therefore even me and my two sisters could study despite the poor home and together we have now 5 diplomas from academical or vocational unversities.

    Few months ago my younger son had a heart surgery operation - it costed 75 euros for me (25 euros for every day in the hospital). If I need something extra for the kids, I cover it with the additional insurance. I myself pay every now and then some extra services like dentistry (long waiting times in public heath care) or bith control methods and female wellfare. After very difficult last pregnancy I got sterilization from the public health care but they give it only in certain conditions (enough age, three kids and/or medical reasons).

    I have never felt this system limiting. My father was an alcoholic and we were poor but I had liberty to study, to have a big family and become highly-educated expert with moderately high salary. It was the matter of my own abilities and talents, not because of my parents wallet. Me and my husband both have worked only in private sector enterprices that make very good profit despite all the social burden.

    An d my kids may walk to their school (3 kilometers from our home), which has no guards, gates or metal detectors. Yes sir, I like it here.

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    1. *SO JEALOUS*

      And the per capita spending on health care is FAR FAR less in Finland than in the US. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/29/healthcare-spending-countries_n_1388306.html#s825346&title=1_United_States

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    2. Finland's schools are considered the best in the world.

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  16. I just got home from an appointment with a neurologist. I have been sitting in waiting rooms around town for the doctor, the blood draw at a separate free-standing lab, and another separate pharmacy for the last four hours. Today cost me $55/dollars, which makes me have to ration how much gas I buy for my car later today. In the last two weeks I have spent another eight or more hours and another $1250 to see another doctor and get an MRI. This cost is all after my insurance has paid their portion. It means we didn't pay the mortgage this month. We are a family in the top 20% of income and we have what is generally considered excellent insurance. According our cultural mythology, I should be the recipient of the best of our country's health care system. But when even I am having to choose between mortgages/gas for the car and medical care to find out what is wrong with my health, our system is terribly flawed.

    Whether we had universal care or a no-insurance, entirely fee-for-service plan (with its greater opportunity to offer sliding scale and pro bono services), more people would be better served. Instead everyone, from doctors to patients to pharmacies to hospitals and clinics, is serving the system rather than the welfare of actual people. The only people who benefit from our system is the stockholders of insurance and pharmaceutical companies. That's not health care.

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  17. Thank you. As a Canadian, I have always thought our system of healthcare was vastly misunderstood. I don't believe abortion is right. But just because I pay my minimum premium every month does not make me in any way shape or form responsible for those who want an abortion. The decision for a woman to have an abortion is hers. The responsibility, consequences, and what she says to God on her day of reckoning is hers and hers alone. The Dr's who choose to perform these horrid procedures also will stand before God.

    I am thankful I have had the care, for the stitches, glass in the foot, hernia surgery, eye surgery, broken limbs, dislocated limbs, concussions, head injuries (brain) suffered by my 18 yr old, and a zillion blood work ups, 4 pregnancies via C-sections etc. If I out of pocket, had to pay for all of this, we would have been bankrupt before our first year of marriage was finished.My daughter completed a brain injury, rehabilitation program for 11 wks, and it did not cost us a dime. It was an invaluable resource for her healing, and recovery. My daughter has had MRI, CT scans and I have never once in all of her care or any of the small issues such as my one year old needing stitches from a hamster bite, ever worried about how we were going to pay for this. I thank God, for the services our government provides and consider it a blessing, and a privilege to be cared for this way. Nobody considers it a negative on our rights and freedoms........in fact it is our right as a Canadian citizen, rich or poor, homeless, retired, single or married to have it just for being born here. I consider that freedom. Freedom from worry, bankruptcy, and fear.

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  18. I've been lurking for a while, but on this question I feel qualified to answer. It's going to be long, so my apologies in advance.
    I am a Canadian mom of four children, I run a day home so that I can still feel I am contributing and be at home with my children. We are a conservative (for Canada) Anglican family, my DH's Uncle is a priest in the Anglican church.
    I have to admit that My friends and I don't understand the current debate over health care in the states. A lot of it might as well be in a different language, we just don't get the view point, or the vitriol associated with it.
    I would like to comment on "Anonymous's" post above. I have never met anyone who worships the government here in Canada. We simply don't feel that strongly about it one way or another, we might like them better or less than the other parties, but hate or worship? The vast majority of us just don't even pay them that much attention.

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  19. (sorry, I did say it would be long)
    Also, Universal Health Care is not charity. It is not free. I pay for it through my taxes, and with a family income over $100,000 I pay for more than just our use. I'm okay with that. The thought of some of the stories we hear out of the states with children going without adequate care strikes me as not only wrong, but also un-christian, inhumane, etc. I ahve yet to meet any religious person of any creed who doesn't support the idea of our having a responsibility towards the "least of these". The fact that people die in the states all the time because they don't have the money for cancer treatment or what have you is just sickening.
    Abortion here is handled very differently than in the states. You can get an abortion whenever you can find a Dr who will perform one. You just won't find one who will do a late term abortion, partial birth abortion, any of those incredible atrocities. You will find it simple to find a place to legally have an abortion if you are still in your first trimester. After that fewer and fewer places will perform the procedure.
    You will not find it stigma free, except in the case of rape. The general view here is that you have the right to do it, but why? If you are an adult and don't want to keep the baby, have it, give it up, have your paid 12 weeks to recover and go on with your life.
    I would define myself as sort of pro-choice. I will not force my will on you, but don't expect me to be approving or supportive.
    Our system is not perfect. Wait times as mentioned above can be problematic at times. However, when I show up at the hospital with a seriously ill child, they don't ask for my info untill they are done treating that child. If I'm not being rushed straight to treatment and will be waiting, they collect the person's info first. I have 4 children who have all ended up needing the emergency room at least once, usually for croup, pneumonia, asthma, etc. I have been rushed straight to the back, and I have been left sitting for hours waiting my turn. I KNOW that they are not neglecting me in favour of someone with more money, they are not neglecting me or mine at all. It's emergency, sickest first, not first come first served.
    It is not "charity" any more than an adequately funded education system is charity (by the way, home schoolers here have the right to funding for their children's education same as others). Both a publicly funded education system and a publicly funded health system allow us to be a healthy, well-educated, employable, and relatively content population. I don't worry about how to make sure my kids get into the "right" schools to go to a premier university. I was accepted into 4 US universities including PRATT, New York school of art and design, with nothing more than my own ordinary public bilingual education.
    For my children I have chosen a publicly funded, Catholic, French Immersion school with Occupational Therapy for one child and a gifted program for the other. My school fees are considered outrageous, as it is a program of choice and not the local school my fees for the 2 kids will total $400 next school year. Including transportation, and text books, smart boards in the class rooms. For both of them.
    And people complain a lot because there will be 24 kids in my grade 3 students classroom next year.
    I guess low debt, good health care, very good education, good employment prospects, are all things you get when you vote for people who invest in kids instead of bombs. (though they really need to invest a bit more in the Armed Forces. I have several family members and friends in there, including a Nurse on the DART teams.

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    1. "I guess low debt, good health care, very good education, good employment prospects, are all things you get when you vote for people who invest in kids instead of bombs."

      How can I convince most of the US that you're right? They just don't seem to get it.

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    2. I agree. I'm in the US- I've been saying the same thing for years (although not as elegantly phrased, I admit), so if you think of a way to convince people, let me know.

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  20. As another Canadian, I am really proud to read this, too. The idea of living without universal health coverage terrifies me---but it was not without opposition when it was introduced back in the 60s: doctors and nurses went on strike and had to be mandated back to work by the government. Now, I think most doctors wouldn't want to work in a private system where they have to turn people away or advise poorer care because of costs.

    Canada has a similar situation to the US for certain things---dental care, eye care, prescription drug coverage, where you generally get benefits from your employer or have the option to purchase it privately, and all I have to do is compare my family's access to these services to our access to regular healthcare to know which is better. Sometimes we have dental coverage, sometimes we don't. Sometimes my daughter can get new glasses right when she needs them, sometimes we have to wait. But we've always been able to go to the doctor when necessary.

    Wait times can be long in Canada, particularly when dealing with specialists, but when the situation is critical the response is quick. When my mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer a few years back, she had the MRI (which provided the diagnosis) within two days of being admitted to the hospital, and was in surgery within hours of the MRI.

    And I'm pretty sure the Catholic hospitals in Canada provide employee benefit plans which cover birth control for their employees. ;)

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    1. Thank you, I have been waiting for another Canadian to point this out! lol

      I didn't want everyone reading this to automatically make this assumption that "omg EVERYTHING is free!". There was a comment in there about having things like "therapy, medicines, a caregiver, a wheelchair, or repeated surgeries" being covered by the system and unfortunately that's not the case for all those things.

      In general though, great article and I was happy to read that your mind was changed when you got here and realized how the health care actually panned out for the citizens of the country. :)

      On that one nit-picky issue, I'd recommend anyone get the current facts from each province, but in a very general sense, things like doctor's visits, tests and scans, emergency room visits are free to all. Things like prescription drugs, therapies like physio and massage, as well as dental eye, and eye care (plus eyeglasses, etc.) are NOT usually covered by the country.

      But even with what's not covered with our Universal Health Care, I do agree with the positive comments that have stated is it without a doubt, a *much* better way to do it than the current system the U.S. has going on.

      For example, you might pay $40 for the ambulance to the hospital, and then you can get a free ward room or pay to upgrade to a semi-private room for your surgery (or having a baby!). Then your actual surgery would be $0, and you would pay for your medications at the pharmacy. This is hundreds compared to thousands!

      Yes, our taxes pay for it, but it's the safe bet. That previous poster who just "pays cash" for his/her 4 children's medical appointments with no insurance is really gambling when you think about - their children's lives could be in the bet pile one day.

      I also feel so sad and shocked when I hear the other side of things: parents talking about having to decide whether or not they can *afford* their sick children to the doctor or hospital. For me, as a Canadian mom, the money part is removed from the equation. If they are sick, I can take them!

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  21. Petticoat PhilosopherJuly 9, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    I went backpacking through Nova Scotia and Newfoundland a few years ago, during the summer that the whole Obamacare "death panel" hoopla was going on. In Nova Scotia, I was surprised to find that there was a fairly big evangelical/fundamentalist presence. I spent about 4 hours on a bus with a pentecostal preacher and his wife (both lovely people) and talked to many others like them too. From talking to them, I could pick up that many of their views were pretty conservative and individualistic. Yet all of them, every single one, wanted to ask me how on earth people could be making such a big deal about healthcare "down there." What were they afraid of? They just didn't get it. These were fundamentalist Christians I was talking to.

    I didn't know how to explain to them that their American counterparts were a major force behind all the hysteria...

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    1. As an American, I find this whole debate pretty embarrassing. It has become such a hot button issue, people only have to say a few key words before everyone loses their heads and stops listening to reason. We need to collectively stick our heads in a metaphorical bucket of ice water.

      I do find your experience very interesting... To me, it's a pretty clear example of two groups with similar beliefs taking them in completely different directions. Maybe it means we can change, after all.

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  22. Great post! It strongly mirrors my own experience with socialized health care in Italy vs. the US (though with different medical issues, naturally). However, one pedantic point:

    "And the back issue I had since the accident would have been helped by prescribed chiropractic care which would have been at no cost to me."

    Chiropractic care, as it turns out, is pure quackery. It has never been proven to provide any relief, and it can cause serious injury or death. Victims of certain kinds of stroke are three times more likely to have seen a chiropractor recently than controls...and since strokes are frequently not categorized, we don't know just how many people a year die from chiropractic care. Here's a bit more detail if you're interested:
    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/chiropractic-and-stroke/

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    1. Well, regardless of the possible issues with chiropractic care, the insurance would also cover x-rays, physiotherapy, or even surgery if nessacary to help with a back injury. So chiropractic care certainly is not one's only option.

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  23. Thank you. I am an American who lived in Canada for 4 years. There are many things that Canadians do better. Glad to read the opinion of another person who knows this. (And it is always amazes me how many of my fellow Americans get angry when I tell them this truth!)

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  24. This is much my experience as a Quebecer -- and Quebec supposedly has the worst health service of all the provinces. I have had to wait in emergency rooms when it turned out I wasn't that much of an emergency. I have also been driven by ambulance to the hospital when I was. In either case I received respectful treatment and didn't have to worry about whether I could afford it. I never had to decide not to buy a medication I needed because I couldn't afford it. Family doctors are certainly scarce -- I have a first appointment with one in November -- but there is an excellent local network of walk-in clinics, and I was able to use both a local local youth clinic and the school clinic for years.

    For years, when I was a minor and then a student, the system paid into me. Now I am paying into the system. I am perfectly okay with this. It's much easier to pay my taxes as a set amount yearly and know I (and everyone else) can go to the doctor when I need it, than to pay an insurance company a similar or larger amount, only to still have to pay for every visit, every test, every drug, maybe find out the ones I need aren't covered anyway, and hey, if it IS covered, the fact that I am using the services jacks up my insurance costs.

    We ARE all in this together, aren't we?

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  25. I would love to hear an economist (hopefully neutral :) speak to whether or how this would work in the U.S. with the massive influx of illegal immigrants, our unemployment rates, the numbers of people on unemployment and welfare, our current welfare and governmental system, etc. I am neutral on this and unaware of how well it has worked in other countries. Does Canada have a stricter immigrant policy? If so, does this help them maintain their national budgets better? I don't know. I am not presuming anything. I am just wondering. Frankly, Canada's system sounds great from what you describe, Melissa and others.

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    1. It generally works because a single payer, i.e., the gov, isn't in it to make a profit. The health insurance industry as well as for-profit hospitals and clinics are responsible for the high cost of health care in this country.

      There is no massive influx of illegal immigrants -- that population has been relatively steady for at least the last six years. And they constitute a very small portion of the population of the country. Given the opportunity to be legal residents and pay taxes, I'm sure most would be happy to do so.

      (http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/statistics/publications/ois_ill_pe_2011.pdf)

      Unemployment, welfare, etc., are all related to the general ill-health of our social systems. When people aren't forced to give up their homes because they can't pay their medical bills and their mortgage/rent, welfare rolls will be reduced. Unemployment rates are a direct result of conservative legislation that allows corporations to take large numbers of jobs out of the country. Fix that and unemployment won't be an issue. Then more people will be paying taxes and the overall cost per person will go down. As long as we allow corporations to own our politicians these problems will be will us because they are only interested in their profits, not in the health and welfare of the citizens of this country.

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    2. The USA government actually spends more on healthcare per capita than almost any other country, certainly more than countries with centralised public health systems. Don't ask me how, as an Australian with a public health care system it baffles me too. It's just that privatised, insurance-based healthcare is ridiculously inefficient. (Something Obamacare won't fix because it doesn't actually create public health institutions, btw.) From an outside perspective, I have never understood how any ordinary Americans can not want public healthcare - it saves lives and is cheaper. Thanks for the perspective into what people fear, it was eye opening.

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    3. Ada-Jean, it's because we do have publicly funded healthcare, it's just not universal. Currently the government, either state or federal, covers the health care cost of the very poor (Medicaid), the elderly (Medicare), and in some states children and pregnant women who meet certain income requirements.

      That is, in the current system, the most expensive and needy patients are paid for with public dollars, and the least expensive and most profitable are under private insurance.

      A privately insured patient who becomes very expensive (such as by having a serious and long-lasting illness) will hit their lifetime insurance cap from their private insurer, exhaust their own resources, and then become poor enough for Medicaid or old enough for Medicare.

      For instance, I had a coworker who had to work through bout after bout of chemotherapy for cancer, because if she stopped working for too long she would lose our employer-supplied insurance company. That would leave her with the legal right to pay for that same insurance, but at a higher rate, for about 2 years, if she could scrape together the money, and then she would have to go through enough of her assets to qualify for Medicaid to pay for her treatment. Probably her doctor/hospital would continue to offer care in that time, and take the loss when she couldn't pay, but if not they would send her to the publicly-subsidized county hospital. If she could navigate all that, she would get care despite not being able to pay.

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    4. Hi, I'm not an economist but I'm a medical student who has done a little health economics at university! The American system is very, very expensive. There are a lot of reasons for this. The economists will tell you that health systems are examples of "market failure"- where the free market fails to produce the most efficient possible solution. The insurance companies get a lot of your money. The drug companies get a lot of your money- you pay vastly more for your medicines than we do because the government drug purchasing agency Pharmac negotiates down our prices. Doctors and hospitals can't look at you as patients- you're customers and they need to sell you the most expensive service they can. Not necessarily the best... just the most expensive.

      In fact Americans already pay more per head for socialized medicine than we do here- because medicare and medicaid patients are being cared for within the same profit-driven system. There's also some strange redistribution of money within the system- http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2012/01/american_health_care_is_already_socialized_.html

      The New Zealand system isn't perfect. But as much as the politicians bicker and people complain about it, no-one wants to get rid of it altogether.

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    5. The answer AWOL is that the US can't afford not to do it. For every $1 spent on preventative medicine you can save $10 on critical medicine. Currently the US is offering only the classic ambulance at the bottom of the cliff model, and it is only to the profit of insurance companies.

      This infographic shows the incredible amount of money the US spends on health per capita compared to the rest of the world.It is off the scale.

      http://www.vizworld.com/2010/01/natgeo-shows-health-care-spending-life-expectancy/

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    6. Illegal immigrants cannot receive Medicare or Medicaid benefits in the US except in a llife/death situation. Their children can.

      Delete
  26. Thank you for sharing your experience. I lived in England for a while about 10 years ago and came down with bacterial meningitis. I was only on a student visa, but I was treated with the utmost care. Doctors checked on me multiple times during the day when I was in the hospital. Got top notch care in a state of the art hospital even though I was not in a big city. After I was discharged with bags and bags of antibiotics (at least that is what it seemed like) I received house calls from a doctor for a week and then a certified nurse the week after to follow my progress to ensure that I was continuing improvements. Not once was I asked for insurance, nor payment. I was covered under their health plan. I will be forever grateful for the generosity of their health care system. I can't imagine what this treatment would have cost in the US even with insurance. I do not understand why people are so afraid of healthcare for all. When I tell people my experience some look at me like I am lying - which is unfortunate. I'm glad to hear other Americans having good experiences with universal healthcare abroad.

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  27. Wow, great post and comments. We Americans have a lot to learn from our Canadian and European friends.

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  28. Having lived in the U.S., Israel and Canada, I have to say that I like Israel's system the best: the government majorly subsidizes everything, but individuals still have to kick in a small amount to one of four national health plans. You can upgrade your health plan to include homeopathic treatment, travel insurance and the like. It's not hard to find a family doctor, and some things which are very expensive and not covered in Canada (such as IVF) are accessible to all.
    The important point is that this is not a U.S. vs. Canada issue, it's a U.S. vs. every industrialized nation issue. I know a lot of people bring up the issue of defense spending, but if Israel can find the money for both security and health, I'm pretty sure the U.S. is up to it.

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  29. "Medically trained midwives" is a key phrase for me here. After lurking around some quiverfull boards I think a lot of your "midwives" are actually doulas, aka birth cheerleaders. (that's not to demean doulas, I just worry about women who put their lives in the hands of people with no medical training)

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    Replies
    1. Petticoat PhilosopherJuly 10, 2012 at 4:33 PM

      My sister just completed her doula training and I couldn't be more proud of her. There is a lot more to it than "birth cheerleading." Multiple studies have shown (I hate that phrase but unfortunately can't cite anything off the top of my head, although I'm sure my sister could) that doula-assisted births progress faster and result in lower rates of birth injury. A responsible doula does not try to pass hirself off as a replacement for a medically trained midwife, but instead works with the midwife as a team. They each perform different functions. And, from what I read about the fundamentalist Christian homebirth subculture, I doubt that a lot of those so-called midwives even have proper training as doulas.

      I know you said that you don't want to demean doulas, but referring to them as "birth cheerleaders" does sound very demeaning.

      Delete
    2. From personal experience, I know that this is not the case. Midwife is a proper term, just like nurse or doctor. If you are not trained as a midwife, you are not legally allowed to call yourself one, just like someone practicing medicine without an MD is illegal. The midwife training involves three years of intensive study and weeks of examinations at the close of each academic year. My aunt is currently a BC midwife, and she has to recertify every few years (possibly even every year, I can't recall) in order to retain her certificate. That's not something doctors or nurses have to do.

      The last question of this link succinctly explains the difference between midwives and doulas (and the rest is also worth reading):http://www.midwiferygroup.ca/faq.htm

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    3. I think what he meant was unceritfied midwives. I have heard some horror stories on blogs such as Above Rubies, and quiverfull sites. There is a difference between being certified or not, and quite often I think it is a woman calling herself a midwife but in reality she is a doula.

      Delete
    4. There are direct entry midwives ("on the job" training, may not have medical experience, which are illegial in many US states) and then there are CNM (Certified Nurse Midwives) who are Registered Nurses and have undergone the advanced education required to be a CNM.

      Delete
    5. My statement, to clarify, was specifically about quiverfull/patriarchal women giving birth in the company of women with little to no medical training who call themselves midwives without having been through the rigorous training that VanTransplant's aunt goes through.

      A doula is very useful in the context of a team of trained professionals taking care of the physical and emotional well being of mother and baby, but is less useful when she is the sole health care provider present at the birth of a baby who likely has had little pre-natal care.

      My mom volunteers at a childbirth charity that helps provide pre-natal classes and doulas to women, or refer them to midwives, but that is within the context of a free health care system, where those women are all getting proper pre-natal care from a doctor.

      Delete
  30. Great read, especially if yo are from Germany like me, where the existence of universal healthcare is not debated bt it still is becoming unbearable, becase the big pharma companies take advantage of it and drain the money from it. But this has to do with unable government and lobbying, nothing the next vote couldn't change...
    It is horrifying to read the people do not go to hospital in the USA after car accidents or after being burnt. This sounds more like a 3rd world nation to me, but not like the whealthiest nation on this earth.
    I have a message to all of you who put up this God vs government. Read Paul. He writes to obey the authorities. Read Amos who blames the authorities of his days for not taking care of the poor and weak and how God will punish them for this.
    Your authorities are the government, which is decided by from the elections. So you personally are responsible, put in place by God Himself to care for the weak and poor. Democracy got you rid of a king you can blame, it's all down to you. You are responsible and you will have to stand before God for what you do with your responsibility. God brought you in authority, like all authority comes from God. And your duty is, according to Amos, to lead the country so that the poor and weak are provided for. Don't try to sneak out responsibility by claiming to have given alms at times. Your responsibility is greater than alms. If you do not stand up to your responsibilities, God will take the power from you, like He did with many other kings in the bible, and those in authority (=you) will be punished for their egoisms. You can read it all in the bible: What happened to Israel, what happened to Judah? It is all there, you just have to open your eyes and read. There is no freedom without responsibility, unless you sin. Don't bring up God to protect your purse, it won't work in the long run.

    God bless

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  31. Paula G V aka YukimiJuly 10, 2012 at 7:07 AM

    It's pretty sad that many american citizens with some heart diseases like valve problems had to come here to Spain and provoke themselves a cardiovascular incident at the risk of dying because here if they detect you a valve problem, they operate on you for free even if you are a foreigner. It is simply too common and it makes very sad.

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  32. I grew up in Canada but now have lived in the US for about 12 years. When we first moved down here, I was bewildered by the amount of information I needed to know just to _have_ insurance. I'm still baffled by the number of bills I get for various services, from each and every practitioner who might have been involved in a procedure. And does anyone know the magic that goes into calculating how a deductible is applied?

    After our first son was born, my wife had a still-born son followed a year later by a daughter with HLHS (malformed heart). We found about the latter child's condition well before she was born because of regular ultrasound visits. It gave us a chance to investigate the possible outcomes. At the time, there was only one successful procedure called the Norwood Procedure, and it was only just being applied in Canada. However, we soon came upon a number of Americans with children with the same condition. Several whose children survived the procedure had already gone bankrupt between the original and follow-up procedures--one told us that she and her husband had medical bills of over $100,000! Sadly, our daughter didn't make it past 10 days, but her surgery was quite long and she spent her whole time in ICU. I dread to think how much that would have cost us had we had her while in the US. btw, we now have another daughter who is, I'm happy to say, very healthy.

    I agree that the ACA is not perfect but I'm hoping that getting it implemented will allow future governments to improve on it. That's another thing that I think Canada does pretty well: after a program is implemented, successive governments tweak it as the need arises.

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  33. Yeah, it sounds great getting free care, except that it frequently means you can't get care at all. I'm Canadian, but living in the USA now, and I'd much rather be here. I don't know where in Canada you're living, but in my home region (Southern Ontario), the system is collapsing under its own weight. My mother is shocked whenever she hears I can get my son in to see a doctor, even a specialist, when I need one - in the Canadian system she'd be waiting months for that. Or she wouldn't be able to get a referral at all. She always says in disbelief, "You got an appointment?" Already?"

    Many members of my family have waited several months for necessary and even urgent surgeries; this is standard. Family members have also had to wait two or three months for tests for serious and even potentially fatal conditions that require immediate treatment (e.g., diabetes, Wegeman's granulomatosis).

    And sometimes it's not just a matter of waiting, but absolute availability. When my seriously ill grandmother moved in with us, we had to keep driving her back to see her doctor an hour away, because not one single doctor in our city of 150,000 people was accepting new patients.

    And then there's the substandard care that results from an impossibly overburdened and undercompensated system: unairconditioned hospitals, delayed adoption of treatments considered standard elsewhere, hospitals and emergency rooms that actually spread disease because triage waits are so long (e.g., the SARS epidemic, which pretty much spread from an emergency room). Or my dad's colleague who lost his 18 month-old grandaughter to a simple flu because an overstrained emergency room sent her home without noticing she was already in an advanced state of dehydration.

    Sure, these are anecdotes, but any Canadian can tell you four or five similar stories about their immediate family alone. Most still support the system, but mainly because they have a false picture of what things are like elsewhere - they picture people dying untreated on the hospital doorstep here in the wicked old USA, and they figure Canada's single-payer system is the only alternative.

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    Replies
    1. I think if you are in a congested population it makes it worse. We lived in AB for 5.5 years and my FIL from BC was visiting he had a heart issue and got treatment immediately. In all my time in AB, or in BC we have not had any issues, with anybody I know. sorry you have had some bad times.

      Delete
    2. The emergency rooms here are just as likely to be overstrained, because many many more people go for emergency care when they don't have money or insurance for preventative care. We even have people going to the ER for Dental problems:

      http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/02/28/147587896/dental-visits-to-ers-are-on-the-rise?ft=1&f=1001

      That story of the 18 mo is tragic, but there are few guarantees that it would have been different with those same doctors or nurses in the US system.

      Delete
    3. And clearly you're living in a privileged area in the US. I live in Austin, TX, currently the 13th largest metropolitan area. I have what used to be middle of the road insurance (FEHB) but has become pretty top-tier. We can easily wait months for an appointment with a specialist. It's not a matter of ability to pay. It's simply availability.

      So I guess it's worth it to you if most of the population of the US suffers as long as you can quickly get your appointment? Because that's what I hear from your comment. Care in the US is great -- for a very few. For most? It's pretty much at the bottom of the industrialized world. Of course, those standing on the backs of the suffering millions don't usually want to look at the actual statistics.

      How does it feel to be an oppressor?

      Delete
    4. I live in Australia, and health care varies hugely by region. I am in one of the no-doctors-for-miles regions. I have severe rheumatoid arthritis. I pay privately to see a specialist, and still have to deal with very long wait times, and regular blood tests which a pre-condition of my free meds. It's far, far from perfect. BUT:
      Did I mention the free meds? I take a cocktail of medication - daily, weekly, monthly & quarterly. I don't pay a cent for that. I don't pay for my fortnightly GP visits. I pay a co-payment on my x-rays, but nothing for my fortnightly blood tests. I get around 40% of the private specialist fee back from the government for my rheumatologist bills. If I lived in the US, I'd need top-tier health insurance to cover my meds. Most people don't have it, and the drugs are crazy expensive. RA support groups online are full of people who are on disability payments, unable to work without the new medications they can't afford. I've continued working and paying taxes, and providing public services right through my illness. I have all the support I need to be productive. Public health care sure, sure ain't perfect but it almost certainly saved everything about my life I care about.

      Delete
    5. Of course I'm not saying poor people's healthcare doesn't matter. I'm saying Canada's system leaves many unable to get healthcare when they need it. In point of fact, this affects the underprivileged most. I mentioned wait-times my family has experienced. But on the whole, we do much better than most people, because my parents are educated and articulate and know how to establish a relationship with the doctor and his staff, and agitate for what they need - e.g., to keep asking until they get put on the waitlist for cancellations or whatever. Less educated people don't know how to do this. And if all else fails, my parents can go over the border and pay out of pocket. The poor don't have that option.

      For instance, my young cousin whose parents are unemployed (an alcoholic and a career petty criminal) waited over a year after a serious head-injury from being hit on the head with a baseball bat to see a neurologist and get an MRI, although he was having frequent petit-mal seizures. My aunt (who was relatively sober at the time and trying her very best to get treatment for her son) is simply not the kind of person who dares or knows how to pressure a doctor's office to get what her son needs.

      So we end up with a de facto two-tiered system - but it's based more on class and education rather than straight-up ability to pay. Is that better, somehow?

      Delete
    6. Petticoat PhilosopherJuly 11, 2012 at 11:18 PM

      But class and education have these effects everywhere. In general, people with class privilege are better equipped to get the most out of a system--whether that sytem is healthcare, public education etc. It's definitely a problem that needs to be worked on and eliminating the ability-to-pay problem doesn't solve it but that doesn't mean that it isn't a good step in the right direction, and it's one the US is not willing to make. Given the choice between a system in which people are disadvantaged by lack of education and an inability to pay and a system in which people are just disadvantaged by lack of education, I'll definitely take the latter.

      Delete
    7. Right, class and education have those effects everywhere, but in a system with a severe undersupply problem, they have a disproportionate and far more dire effect. And Canada's healthcare system, since it has chosen to forgo any kind of incentive to limit demand, has had to cope by suppressing supply. Doctors and other healthcare workers in Canada are so poorly compensated that huge numbers leave the country to practice in the US within a few years of completing their training. Any single-payer system has to ration; we in Canada ration through undersupply and insane wait-times that weed out those who don't persist. A secondary system of optional, private healthcare would help with this problem, by the way, since could relieve some strain on the system.

      Delete
    8. "forgo any kind of incentive to limit demand"

      There are very, very, few people who want healthcare they don't need. There is, of course, the 'problem' that people live longer, and that new treatments and drugs are being developed. This increases demand.

      But there is no way to limit demand for healthcare without denying healthcare. Luckily demand limits itself for the reason above - no-one wants to have treatment when they're not ill.

      And there's certainly a system of optional private healthcare in the UK. Isn't there one in Canada? Or do Canadians who want it just visit the US?

      The US healthcare 'system' is simply barbaric.

      Delete
    9. Well, there could be token copays for doctors' visits, for instance. And yes, there are people who want healthcare they don't need - e.g., parents who think their kids should get antibiotics whenever they get a cold (or that they themselves need antibiotics whenever they get a cold), etc.

      About private options, until a couple of years ago, private healthcare was illegal in Canada (the only other country where this is true is Cuba, by the way!). So there were bizarre phenomena like a Toronto hospital that was only allowed to run the catscan machine one day per week and be paid by the gov't insurance, and instead of letting it sit there going to waste, they let pet-owners pay to use it. Letting people pay was illegal. When a newspaper got hold of this story, the hospital stopped letting pets use the machine. (But they didn't start running it for people any more often.)

      Recently, the ban on private healthcare was successfully challenged in the courts, but I believe it hasn't yet become clear what that will mean, practically speaking.

      Delete
    10. I live in rural south-central Ontario, an area that is very underservices, and it always baffles me to hear the 'wait-time issue'. My dad had a triple bypass within a week of having a problem detected (problem detected by a sleep specialist on a Tuesday, appt with his cardiologist during his cardiologists lunch hour that day, angiogramo on Thursday... admission to hospital Sunday, surgery Monday). Yes, there are occasionally long-ish (and that depends on your definition of long!) wait times, but more often then not, they are for non-essential surgeries (i.e. knee replacements), and I'm pretty okay with that. Right now my dad needs to see another specialist, and he has to wait three weeks-- because it's summer, and the doctor's on holidays. There are other doctors that are available to see him before that, but it's not really an emergency, so my dad said he'd wait the three weeks-- the other speicalist was willing to see him by the end of the week, but it's a bit further of a drive, so he decided just to wait for the closer specialist. There's always choices!

      Delete
    11. I'm pleased that the vast majority of anedotal experiences related here are positive. I was actually surprised, having slogged through 2/3 of the 133 comments (as of right now), that there weren't any stories of wait times and such. I think the original poster on this comment thread overstates the case when s/he says "any Canadian can tell you four or five similar stories about their immediate family alone". That's not my experience. My GP is very busy and I sometimes have to book a month or two in advance for my yearly physical, but if I need to get in to see her for something that's just come up, I'm usually able to get an appointment within the week.

      Last month I had to make a trip to emergency for the first time in 20 years (I am blessed with good health, as well as a good health care system! AND, I don't mind at all paying into a system I haven't needed to use as much as others) -- I waited about 15 minutes to get checked in through triage; then waited about 15 mins to be assigned someone to see me. This was at around 11:00 in the morning on a Friday, in busy downtown Toronto. (Mind you when I was leaving at around 2:30, the waiting room was swimming with patients... I had lucky timing that day.)

      I am truly sorry for the bad experiences relayed by the OP, but I don't think that's the norm here.

      Delete
    12. "And Canada's healthcare system, since it has chosen to forgo any kind of incentive to limit demand, has had to cope by suppressing supply."

      Canada and the US have exactly the same number of doctors per capita. (2.4 physicians per 1,000 people according to OECD data.) The US has far more specialists though so, for those with beaucoup bucks or really good insurance, it's easy to see a specialist. For everyone else the US system is a mixed bag or not good. What's ironic is that areas with more specialist don't have people with better health. Areas with fewer specialists and more Primary Care Providers do the best and those areas have lower health care costs as well.

      Delete
    13. Canada's wait times aren't great, but neither are ours. And France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, all with universal care, have much shorter wait times than we do here in the US. Not to mention the fact that despite tens of millions without health insurance, we spend nearly twice as much per capita as the average industrialized nation. After spending all that money (which shows up as huge insurance premiums), we still have pretty bad wait times, mediocre care, and so on.

      Delete
  34. Excellent post, well-written and organized. I appreciated your honesty about your change in political philosophies. Obamacare is a step in the right direction. Now if we can make it easier for people to get full coverage when they're very sick and will be for a long time (I'm waiting for a liver transplant) and not have to live at the poverty level. I feel ashamed that that's how I have to live, and I shouldn't feel that way. It's hard enough and stressful enough to deal with illness and the isolation it creates, but then to add the layer of "do I have enough money to buy groceries and eat healthy" shouldn't even enter the equation. A ridiculous system here in the US. I'd like to move but I think I'm too old now to be accepted by Canada or a European country. I hate how people in the US are made to suffer both physically and emotionally because of our very messed-up healthcare system. Keep writing!!! Thank you!

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  35. Excellent article. Just a quibble: your parental leave chart is a bit off: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parental_leave

    As for anonymous who would rather live in the USA: your situation only works if you have one of the "gold plated" work/wealth related health care plans. But hey, if the USA works better for you, go for it and stay there. For every story you come up with, I know a Canadian who came back from the USA for medical care because their insurance company in the USA screwed them over, or an American who can't get much-needed care because they don't HAVE any coverage. So enjoy your wealth in the USA - I'll stay in Canada and spend my wealth on something other than health care.

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    1. Great reply. It seems the ones for the system in the USA have not been burnt by it or affected adversely. I used to go on blogs,which had heavy debates and the ones crying it was wonderful had all the right coverage in the world and the money to pay for it. The ones who did not were the average, family.

      Delete
    2. Actually, I've spent most of my time here with rock-bottom, bare-minimum student insurance. So I've paid a large percentage out-of-pocket. But I'd still rather be able to see a specialist I need than not be able to for love or money.

      Delete
  36. Your article makes me sad for America. If it wasn't for the NHS in the UK, my four grandparents would have died long ago. My dad would've died, either from his chronic astma or his liver cancer, while also being in agony from his back injury. My mum would've died after her road accident. I probably would've died from the pnuemonia i got when i was 4. And i say "wouldve died" rather than "maybe died" because no way could we have afforded any of those treatments alone. My best friend may not have died....but its because of the NHS that she gets physio therapy, a state-of-the-art wheelchair, wheelchair access university accomodation and a helper, without which she probably wouldnt be able to get her degree.
    Hopefully the US will get the health coverage they deserve soon!

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  37. Thank you for sharing this (found it via The Words on What). As a lifelong Canadian (albeit spending a few years in the U.S. when I was too young to form any detailed memories), it always astounds me to see so many people – mostly conservatives and all Americans – declare that the government providing high-quality medical coverage for little to no cost to everyone in the country is somehow a bad thing.

    Even the non-freak-out concerns (about privacy, economics, etc.) all break down at the realization that paying a couple bucks more in taxes each year is duly worth it when in return, you never have to worry about medical costs or coverage ever again, regardless of who you are. I’d think that was just priorities – the fundamentally right thing to do.

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  38. While you as an individual may not get the bill for your medical procedures, it's unquestionably true that the money to pay for your 'free' medical care was taken by force through taxation from someone else.

    Things were much better medical care wise 50-60 years ago when health insurance was called 'hospital insurance', and was inexpensive protection against catastrophic events. Routine medical care was paid out of pocket, doctors made house calls, no one was turned away from an emergency room and there was much, much less government involvement. Doctors, hospitals and other organizations privately and voluntarily worked to make medical care available for those who were unable to pay.

    Medical care in the US is badly flawed, but turning more of it over to the government is not likely to improve matters much. Find a MD who works on a cash-only basis. You will be shocked at how inexpensive good routine medical care is.

    Large government bureaucracies are not the only solution to every problem.

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    1. dear anonymous, 50-60 years ago most of today expensive treatments and equipment did not exist, you cannot compare then and now without taking this into account.
      >>as the above noter wrote, it's a question of priorities: in fact nothing is free, everyone 'forcibily' pays and everyone is sure of receiving treatment if needed. I know, you do not care if anyone pays less than what they pay in the US for they insurance coverage, it's the 'forcibily' that you care about, it's the principle, the 'freedom' >> for somebody the freedom to die if they don't have money enough. (BTW: are you against taxes in general?). I think principles are important but people are more important: if beacause of my principles people suffer avoidable ills, I start to think that maybe something is wrong with them (but that's just me).

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    2. Dear Anonymous: Read "A Surgeon's World" by Dr William Nolen. He
      describes how a patient of his (IIRC in the 1960's) had some health
      issues. He was uninsurable (back then) due to a minor heart murmur. He had a heart attack. He lived, but was HUGELY in debt - even though most of his doctors wrote off their bills for him - and had to work hard for the rest of his life rather than retiring and enjoying life with his wife.

      Better 50-60 years ago? No.

      MI Dawn

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    3. Dear plch: Agreed that there are many more expensive treatments available today. If I could freely decide how to spend the money that is taken from me each year to pay for others medical care, I can guarantee you two things: 1) more people would get more medical care paid for than under the present system and 2) I would have more money to spend in whatever way I see fit. I know of no example where a large government bureaucracy is more efficient in delivering services than the private alternative, and I am positive that this is true with medical care in particular. I also think it's a serious error to presume that under Obamacare, no one will die due to lack of access to medical treatment.

      Dear MI Dawn:
      Dr. Nolen's books look interesting. Thanks for the tip. Regardless of whether we're discussing free market medicine, fully socialized medicine or the in-between mostly socialized mess we have in the US, the anecdotes of people who slip between the cracks are heartbreaking. The question to consider: which system has the smallest cracks?

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    4. Anonymous at July 12, 2012 11:18 pm:

      Medicare manages to run at one-tenth the cost of private insurance. Overhead is 2 to 3%, compared to 20% or more for private insurance. The other advantage of government management is that it is not necessary to make a profit, nor are there shareholders expecting ROI every quarter.

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    5. Anonymous @ July 12 11:18 pm:

      There are a large number of ways that government agencies are more efficient, and one of those is money. Medicare overhead is between 2 and 3% of the amount paid out each year. Private insurance overhead is 20% or more. Government agencies do not have to make a profit, nor do they have shareholders requiring regular ROI.

      If you'd ever had to fight with an insurance company, you would find out how inefficient they can be. Recently, a doctor I used did not accept my insurance and would not bill it for me. I had to mail in the bills and forms myself. I mailed the latest statement, which included two visits for which I had already paid cash ($250), on May 22. I contacted the company on June 26, as nothing had posted about the claim. I was then informed that the company required 30 days from receipt of the claim before I could expect a response. They said the date they received it was June 4. I can guarantee that it did not take 13 days for the bill to arrive. Then they screwed up and put the claim under my husband's name instead of mine. As of now, I still have not been paid.

      Yes, I've dealt with government agencies that dragged their feet and held things up (my neighbor has still not received his veteran's retirement, but he will receive it and it will be retroactive to his eligibility date), but I've found just as many problems with companies. And it can be even harder to force a company to respond.

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    6. Dear anonymous, to point 1): and many wouldn't get any medical care whatsover. To point 2) care to show some data, because it seems to me that the opposite is often true, especially for medical care, where profit shouldn't be as or more important than health. Nobody presume that Obamacare (a flawed solution IMO) would be perfect, just that those cases would be less numerous.

      Delete
    7. Dear plch: I was referring to my own spending choices if I was allowed to make them instead of having the government make them for me. I'm confident I could provide medical care for many, many more people than the government does for the same amount.

      Dear Persephone: I'm sorry you have had some trouble with your insurance company. Have you ever asked them how much of their paperwork is due to government rules and regulations?
      Also, you may want to examine the details around the claim that Medicare has a 10x lower overhead than private insurance. For instance, the 3% overhead calculation does not account for fraud and abuse, a cost that is much higher under Medicare. It also ignores the fact that Medicare primarily serves an elderly population, which requires much more and costly care, so the admin costs appear lower as a percentage of total costs. Medicare also does not have to pay the 2-4% state tax that is included in the private insurance overhead.
      When you consider Medicare vs private insurance admin costs on a per-person basis, Medicare comes out about 25% higher than private insurance.
      Sources: http://www.qando.net/?p=3362, http://blogs.abcnews.com/johnstossel/2009/06/medicares-efficiency-.html, http://timerealclearpolitics.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/admincosts1.gif

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    8. Anonymous, you should be aware that John Stossel is just a spokesperson for the extreme conservatives. He often makes statements and falsely twists data to fit his opinion.

      What state tax are you talking about for insurance companies? Taxes on their profits? If you're a private business, yes, you have to pay taxes. If we were to convert to a single payer system then we wouldn't have to worry about any of that.

      Also, fraud and abuse is investigated and the abusers are answerable to the federal government, which often means that the doctor or hospital will not only pay fines, but can lose their Medicare privileges, and even be turned over to the medical board in their state for review. Criminal charges may also be brought by the DOJ. Private insurance has suffered fraud, but they have only civil ways to pursue. They can refer insurance fraud for criminal prosecution, but they have no control over that.

      I'm afraid your referring to RW sock puppets does not strengthen your argument.

      I don't know what spending choices you think you would lose. Right now you are limited to what you can afford to do and limits set by the insurance company you may have. You will find your choices limited to these contracts. If you have an accident in another state, you could very well be only partially covered, and have to make up the difference.

      Insurance companies contract with specific doctors, hospitals, drug companies and pharmacies to accept low, sometimes below cost payments from the insurance companies. The hospital then has to bill patients who don't have insurance and patients who have limited insurance for the difference and the hospitals can put these bad debts toward their taxes.

      If you have insurance through your employer, you are probably paying 50% or less of the actual insurance premium. Your employer picks up the rest. That cost is passed on to customers and reduces the taxes they pay.

      Governments, state and federal, are losing tax money to people not being insured AND to insurance company limiting what they will pay. People are being driven into bankruptcy (over 50%) over medical bills.

      Your freedom is illusory. Your income, your insurance provider, your health all limit your health choices.

      Delete
    9. Persephone: Of course my medical care choices are limited. That's the point of the entire discussion. You would like the government to make more medical care choices for you, and I would prefer to make them myself.
      Calling my sources 'RW sock puppets', while not even disclosing your LW sock puppet sources does not strengthen your argument.
      I would love to see a source that shows that medical care fraud and abuse is greater in the private sector.
      BTW, I do not get medical insurance through my employer, so I am paying 100% of the premium.
      Agreed that income and health will always influence medical care options. But we'd have much more interesting insurance options if not for the existing government involvement in that market.

      Delete
    10. Anonymous wrote: "Things were much better medical care wise 50-60 years ago when health insurance was called 'hospital insurance', and was inexpensive protection against catastrophic events. Routine medical care was paid out of pocket, doctors made house calls, no one was turned away from an emergency room and there was much, much less government involvement."

      My goodness, you're viewing the past through rose-colored glasses. Life expectancy at birth 60 years ago was 68.2 years. Today it's 78.7. Medical care for a heart attack 60 years ago was to put you to bed and hope you don't die. Do you have any idea of how much things have changed in 60 years in medical science? Apparently not.

      As for not being turned away from an ER? "It was called a "wallet biopsy." Or "dumping." Very simply, prior to the implementation of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act of 1986, a patient coming into a hospital emergency department often had no right to treatment or even evaluation, no matter how dire his or her condition. If patients could not prove that they had the resources to pay for care, they could be turned away or sent elsewhere—sometimes in a taxi, sometimes on foot. They often suffered adverse health consequences as a result of delayed care. And sometimes they died."
      http://www.hhnmag.com/hhnmag/HHNDaily/HHNDailyDisplay.dhtml?id=4770007463

      Take off your blinders. Everything wasn't better before the gov't got involved.

      Delete
    11. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    12. Anonymous wrote: "But we'd have much more interesting insurance options if not for the existing government involvement in that market."

      Perhaps you would. I cannot buy insurance at any price; I can't even get a quote. And you wouldn't be able to either, if you got ill enough, especially in a more market-based system than we currently have. I'm sure your plan sounds great to people who think they will never be seriously sick.

      Delete
    13. Agreed that income and health will always influence medical care options.

      I live in Europe and they don't influence most of my medical care options. My insurance premium depends on my earnings, not on my health, and the only difference more money makes is that if I were rich, I may skip public health care and go private = shorter waiting period. And my insurance is in no way changed according to my health. I'm relatively healthy and I pay more for my health care than I get back in services, but I'm happy to contribute to the health care of people less lucky than me, such as cancer patients. That's just basic human decency and social contract.

      Delete
  39. You Americans are obsessed with really weird demented ideologies of freedom, rights, taxes,and government interventions. You are convinced, you have the greatest country because everyone else in the world can't stop hearing you all spout that off every 2 seconds.

    * In education standings The United States is currently 18th among the 36 industrialized nations.

    *•According to the OECD, the U.S. poverty rate is the highest in the developed world. http://www.povertyprogram.com/usa.php

    *Despite the wide gaps, higher spending on health care does not necessarily prolong lives. In 2000, theUnited States spent more on health care than any other country in the world: an average of $ 4,500 per person. Switzerland was second highest, at $3,300 or 71% of the US. Nevertheless, average US life expectancy ranks 27th in the world, at 77 years. Many countries achieve higher life expectancy rates with significantly lower spending.

    http://ucatlas.ucsc.edu/spend.php

    Your freedom to bear arms propaganda has landed you fourth on the list for murders with firearms, 2002. http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_mur_wit_fir-crime-murders-with-firearms



    What am I saying in all of this? I am tired of all your goofy freedom rhetoric, your awesome, best country in the world bullshit. As your neighbor to the north, I have spent 45 years listening to all this crap, through media etc. Most of you know nothing, about the world around you, are indoctrinated from birth, that your country is the mightiest and the best. The world has a completely different view of you all, some good , some bad.

    All I am saying is the USA is not all cracked up to be the way you think it is, and I am tired of my TV, Radio, music, entertainment, sports etc, saying it is.
    It is nauseating.
    Even with your statistics falling all around you, you still believe you have the best country in the world. WAKE UP. No country, has the best model, mine included but there are some really high quality countries out there and they are not running around boasting about how great they are.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey now, we're not bad at everything. Don't underestimate us, we're in good company in the top 5 along with China, Iran and North Korea. Not only are we #1 in military spending, but we spend more than the rest of the planet combined. We're #1 in health care spending per capita (34th infant mortality, 38th life expectancy), #1 in obesity, #1 energy consumption, #2 CO2 emissions, #1 in incarceration per capita, #1 external debt, #1 guns per capita, #4 income inequality and #5 inequality of wealth distribution (but #1 in number of billionaires).

      Please don't lump all of us together with "you Americans are...", only about half of us are "conservatives" ie bigots and morons.

      Delete
    2. Oops, that 2nd line should read "we're in good company in the top 5 for executions per capita along with China, Iran and North Korea".

      Delete
    3. Omg I thought this was hilarious, and yes I am sorry I was so harsh..I guess I was in a pissy mood. This was not a response I would have expected.

      The more I get to hear and see, I just shake my head. My friend just came back from Chigago with some dandy stories....

      Delete
    4. Chicago...late at night responses.

      Delete
    5. Petticoat PhilosopherJuly 14, 2012 at 7:37 PM

      The host of this blog, as well as most of the commenters here are in favor of some form of more progressive, universal healthcare--many of us here have clearly articulated a desire for a single-payer system like yours and have expressed many critiques of American culture and politics. So I think it odd that you chose this place to vent what is apparently your hatred of every single American everywhere.

      If you're annoyed by American, conservative, jingoistic BS, imagine how the many, many AMERICANS who hate it just as much AND are directly affected by it feel? Your generalizing screed is really the last thing we need.

      Delete
    6. There was an episode a few years ago on The Fairly Oddparents (seriously funny, especially the first few years) where the fairy godparents keep saying that Canada is the greatest country in the world. I wanted to disagree, but well.

      Delete
    7. Interesting comments here. I often feel bad (too sensitive?) when I hear Canadians and Canada being put down and made fun of on TV and in popular American culture. There seems to be a correlation between what is 'for the good of all' ex. Medicare, and 'socialism, aka Communism'. I would have thought that old value/fear would have disappeared in a progressive society.

      Progression does not mean Communism. Freedom to choose need not mean freedom to be ill without help, freedom to die. We Canadians do not feel in the least controlled by government. Laws for the good of all help all of us. Ex. helmet laws for motorcycles, no smoking laws etc..

      Delete
    8. I agree with Petticoat Philosopher - most of the commenters here, not to mention the blogger herself, have had constructive criticism or downright rejection of the American model. I understand the feeling of being financially, culturally, economically overshadowed by our neighbours to the south, and how frustrating it can be. But to paint all with one brush is just as jingoistic and does nothing to further the dialogue or foster appreciation for different ways of being.

      To Terry: I agree with most of what you say, and certainly I appreciate laws that are put in place to protect the greater good, but I feel like I have to point out that there's a large number of people (witness the majority government of extreme right Harper et al) who resent so called "nanny state" laws. Here in Ontario, they sneeringly refer to Dalton McGuinty as "Premier Dad" when he's introduced legislation in the past meant to protect the well-being of all at the expense of personal choices. Much as we like to think "we're better than them", Canada has a growing number of citizens that align with the right wing values of our American cousins.

      Delete
  40. It is really disheartening to see so many of these commenters resort to name-calling when the minority in this case posts a different opinion. This could be an informative, interesting dialogue. And yet I'm instead disgusted by the assumptions and disrespect. I didn't know that disagreeing with the majority meant I was a wealthy, oppressor rather than a pediatric nurse practitioner who works with children with special needs. A lot of these assumptions people are making, particularly about children's care in the US are quite misinformed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's kind of hard to take Republicans seriously after 8 years of Bush.

      Delete
    2. What dialogue is to be had with willful ignorance? I'm sorry but the entire civilized planet groks the practical implications of universal health care while conservative Americans are happy to bury their heads in the sand to the delight of the US health care industry. After 8 years of Bush and now 4 more of a clearly corporate-owned Obama, I'm done. I'm not for socializing everything but it's asinine to let the insurance industry run the show. There's no more dialog to be had. The only thing left to do with the US "conservative" opinion on this matter is mock you and shame you in front of your children and hope that in spite of declining education standards they get it. What we are doing is monstrously stupid.

      Delete
    3. I agree with you anonymous. I have worked in a hospital in the US for over 20 yrs. I would like to see a dialogue that is more open minded. I'm hesitant to enter the lion's den.

      Delete
    4. I also thought the comment about you being an oppressor was WAY harsh and over the line. I disagree with your stance, but I respect your comments.

      Delete
  41. The only thing I think might improve the Canadian health system is a very minimun 5$ fee for some doctors check-up to avoid abusing the system. The waiting time is long at times because people abuse the system, or make an appointment and don't show up, ect. This fee could be waived for low-income or more than 3 appointments (mom and 2 kids. ect) or special needs. There is talk about privatizing some services, which i don't think would be bad either.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ironically, it should actually be the other way around: there should be a $5 bonus for going to a doctor's office.

      GP visits are cheap, relatively speaking. Emergeny room visits are expensive. And cost of delayed is astronomically more expensive.

      There's also universal consencus among health care professionals in Canada that preventive medecine is dramatically cheaper than reactive medecine, although there's been considerable difficulty coming up with ways to improve delivery of preventive care. A $5 bonus might just be what's needed.

      Delete
  42. I can't understand the commenters talking about how the problem with socialized systems is the wait time, or the government taking away choices, or what have you. I'm in the U.S. and my family has what anybody would consider good insurance. After I was diagnosed with cancer, I had insurance reps calling to harass me because they somehow thought I had secondary insurance that could cover me instead. No. I did not. They called the week of my surgery to tell me that they wouldn't cover any treatment I'd had up until that point and that I therefore owed $15,000 - and that the subsequent surgery, ICU stay, and hospitalization would not be covered. I almost cancelled my cancer surgery in weeping terror that I was about to bankrupt my family. My husband insisted on moving forward with it regardless and took over straightening out the insurance mess. And I won't even go into how the insurance company interfered with my oncologist's decisions about procedures and length of stay. Later, my general practitioner warned me that the insurance company had been calling with questions, and that he felt they were trying to determine whether I'd had a preexisting condition that I'd hidden. Endless stress. And who sees specialists whenever they want? I wait months sometimes. I have a toddler with medical issues. We wait months for her specialists, too. And we have good insurance! Seriously, count your blessings if by luck, some quirk of geography, or because you have a golden insurance plan you have been buffered from the sharp edges of the U.S. system. An awful lot of the rest of us are licking our wounds.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so sorry you've gone through that. I've had insurance company issues, but nothing that extreme.

      The people who aren't getting it, are people who haven't had a serious or chronic health issue.

      Over half the bankruptcies filed in the U.S. are the result of medical bills. That right there should be a clear and simple reason to change the system.

      Delete
    2. Thank you. It's been a few years, but thinking about it still upsets me. The funny thing is, I didn't really have any illusions about our healthcare system to start with, yet I was still shocked. Where I grew up it seemed like people were always having spaghetti dinner fundraisers to pay for some child's leukemia treatment, and there was always a homemade change jar with a picture of a little kid taped to it sitting on the gas station counter or grocery checkout lane. When people are holding little, church basement fundraisers to keep their kids alive, you know there's a problem. How people overlook that to complain about the alleged lack of choice in a single payer system, I don't know. Maybe they've never known any working-class people. Do parents in those other countries have to choose between their child's actual life and the financial ruin of their family? Yeah, that's some real freedom of choice we've got going on.

      Delete
  43. (I thought I already posted this but I can't find it - pardon if it's a duplicate.)

    Melissa, you are extraordinary. This post is lucid, heartfelt, well written (I found it on Twitter). I just posted about it on my site http://epatientdave.com/2012/07/16/a-young-moms-musings-blog-how-i-lost-my-fear-of-universal-health-care/.

    Personally, I was even more moved by the rest of this site. I honor the honest work you're doing to better know yourself. Keep it up.

    Best,
    Dave

    ReplyDelete
  44. Yesterday I worked with 2 patients who have probably had one million dollars worth of care handed to them in the US in the last 10yrs. 90% of that is due to their own ongoing poor choices and lack of responsibility. I see people all the time on US gov't funded insurance. They do get preventative care. I rarely see anyone take responsiblity for health problems caused by their choices. That includes smoking, drinking, drugs, obesity etc. Yes, I do work in a hospital so of course I see only sick people not the ones who take good care of themselves but the people I see are part of the group of 20% that use 80% of the health care resouces in the US. And yes some people are sick thru no fault of their own. I also believe their always has to be mercy and grace when dealing with people who make poor choices.

    Billions of dollars in health care costs are almost entirely preventable with lifestyle changes. That includes type II diabetes, obesity, some types of cancers and smoking related illnesses. Preventable chronic illness is currently crushing the US health care system.

    I have no doubt that Canada has similiar problems and a diabetes epidemic of its own that they know they can not pay for in the future. The numbers of people with type II diabetes (alone) keeps growing and there is no system that can sustain or provide the resources necessary to deal with this. (Type II diabetes is often preventable, Type I diabetes is not) Diabetes that is not well controlled can cause blindness, kidney damage (dialysis), amputations etc

    In the hospital I work in free care is handed out like water. You can be a 2 pack a day smoker and not saved a penny and walk in and get free open heart surgery even if you adamantly refuse all free smoking cessation resources. This of course is not sustainable. People who are not on gov't funded insurance who can't pay get free care. They are never asked to take responsiblity for their health. It is the people that work hard and have high deductibles that are getting screwed. It is the people who have saved money and have been frugal who will lose everything they worked for while the patient next to them gets it all for free. (and walks out the door and continues their $300 per month habit..)

    I have a great deal of compassion and I know that health issues for some have other issues tied to them as well such as mental illness. I understand the many issues tied into obesity. It is just that in my small corner of the world in America I see the individuals who are using most of the health care resources not taking responsiblity for their health. They also do not have any understanding of the cost of their health care because they are not paying for it directly. Even if someone has insurance the insurance company is the middle man and we do not actually see what the costs are.

    The trouble I see with health care systems that remove the direct cost from an individual is that the individuals have a much less investment in avoiding or reducing costs. I've been working in a hospital for 20 years. I'm not sure where you are all from but poor people in my state get better insurance than others that I know and it is often little to no cost to them. I rarely hear about the cost of preventable illnesses and the need for personal responsibility in health care debates.

    I wanted to add a different point in this whole debate. I don't see that Canada's system has addressed this any better than the US. Google "Canada and diabetes epidemic" and you will see they that are also worried about how this will be supported. Do less people smoke in Cananda? Surely they have all the smoking related costs as well.

    Would people with preventable illnesses be more motivated if they were more a part of the cost of their care? Does Canada address this better?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Obviously Canada has more motivation to promote health of their citizens than the USA does. Since they government is paying for the healthcare with the taxes, they have taken extra steps, such as banning hormones in food, limiting genetically modified foods, banning the use of High fructose corn syrup by food companies (its not in cereal or even pop up there). I also heard and saw a lot of information on health and excercise programs open to the public to teach people how to eat healthy and stay active even in the long winters. Like I pointed out, preventative care helps reduce many expenses since health issues can be caught early. Also, the government taxes ciggarettes to help make up for the potential extra cost of health care for smokers. Ciggarettes were 11$ a pack in the province I lived in, and each pack had a mandatory photographic warning label on it.

      Delete
    2. Here it says that Canada has the same rate of smokers in the US and that it is not doing so well with obesity. I've read articles that suggest that Canada is as gravely concerned about the rate of type II diabetes and associated costs;

      "While Canada has lower smoking rates than most OECD countries, rates of obesity and overweight are among the highest.

      Having made remarkable progress in the prevalence of smoking, Canada is one of only five OECD countries that decreased its smoking rate by more than 30% since 1999. It is virtually tied with the U.S. for the lowest rate of adult smokers among G7 countries (16.2% for Canada and 16.1% for the U.S.)."

      Found at:

      http://www.cihi.ca/CIHI-ext-portal/internet/en/Document/health+system+performance/quality+of+care+and+outcomes/RELEASE_23NOV11

      I'd be interested in articles that say otherwise or have stats that prove the prevention is working or is better than the US in areas like type II diabetes. I also want to say again that the government health care in the US includes preventative care. I see people regularly with access to preventative care that do not make changes to their lifestyle. You can have preventative care such as statins for high cholesterol or high blood pressure meds but if the lifestlye changes do not occur it is not much prevention. I guess you could say I am really discouraged by the people I see who do have access to health care and abuse it. I see it as the PEOPLE need to be willing to buy into prevention. The gov't can do all it wants but if people don't want to make choices then it does not work. The people who use health care should be the ones to be motivated by cost and that is the problem in the US--people are not motivated (at least not the ones using most of the resources)because the government pays for it. When something is given to someone for free they do not understand the value of it.

      Kudos to Canada for addressing the food industry issues. Americans feel it is their right to eat whatever they want. The food industry is very powerful here and really does not care one bit about the health of the country. The food industry and the government also have very unhealthy ties. It is a very complex problem and one that adds to the health care crisis.

      Delete
    3. I'd love to know what state you're from where poor people get better care than others at little to no cost to themselves. And I bet you aren't going to tell me and give my fingers the opportunity to stroll through google and fact check. States are cutting Medicaid rolls all over. And do you have any idea how poor you have to be to get Medicaid? And poor people get preventative care? From who? Because the poor people I know just go to the emergency room when they're sick. That's not actually preventative care. Your posts are weirdly unreal to me. And for someone who repeatedly talks about compassion, you are really focused on judging, shaming and punishing the people you just know caused their own problems.
      The U.S. spends more per capita on healthcare for poorer outcomes than any other industrialized nation. That's not because of individual bad health decisions - our population isn't that radically different from other countries'. It's a structural problem, and you don't solve structural problems by targeting individuals.
      Man, and your other post? Seriously? Child hunger is a huge and growing problem in this country. Programs providing assistance and aid to special needs children and adults are being slashed everywhere. It's like your posts are from some alternate timeline America where the social safety net isn't a cruel joke.

      Delete
    4. anonymous,

      I'm not sure why you are so angry at me.

      Please post your email and I will send it to you or give it to Melissa and I will send it to her. But you are being so hostile I am not sure I want to interact with you or let you know where I live.

      For infants 0 to 1 yr you can have an income up to $6753 per month for a family of 5, for kids ages 0-18 you can have an income up to $4165 per month. It covers preventative care with $10 co-pays. This is the state medicaid program. There are also buy in options where you can pay $32 per month per child with an income up to $5628/month. (I am quoting numbers for a family of 5) Since we lived most of our married live on an income less than this I think it is very generous. What are the income guidelines for your state for children's medicaid programs? Are these more generous or out of the norm?

      It is probable that a hospital that offers free care to those who are underinsured is not the norm. Like I said I wonder if this is fairy tale land. However, it is offered and people use it and many abuse it, unfortunately. Resources are limited and they will not be here if people keep abusing them.

      The problems with the health care in the US are complex and MANY. I am not addressing all of them. There are problems with individuals and with the whole system. I work with individuals and I see their problems. They are given resources and choices and some choose to make poor choices. I have no control over the entire structure. I never mentioned child hunger which is a whole other issue. I am only sharing my own experience with special needs children and adults. You can have a radically different experience. I'm sorry this is such a painful issue for you. I have lived at radically below the poverty level without health insurance so I understand how hard that can be.

      However, it is true that billions of dollars in health care are preventable with lifestlye choices. Canada is facing the same problem with the diabetes epidemic and it will not have the funds to cover the expenses for blindness, amputation, dialysis etc in the future either.

      Delete
    5. Anonymous,

      I wanted to add that I am really sorry you can not get the care you need (or that you need for your family) It is especially sad to me because I see people that have access to care and resources and some of them waste resources in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Something IS wrong with this system. Apparently the people around here have it really good and they don't realize it.

      Delete
    6. " That's not because of individual bad health decisions - our population isn't that radically different from other countries'"

      I wonder if other countries would offer free chemotherapy/radiation to someone who has lung cancer who is still smoking 2 packs per day and then again pay for all their care a year later when the cancer has returned and they are doing chemo again. Medicaid even gives them money to pay for gas to get to their chemotherapy because although they can afford $300 per month for smokes they can not afford gas to get to chemo. I see lung cancer patients in this position often enough. I also know that they refuse to consider stopping smoking. It is unjust when someone else can not get care because someone else is not taking responsiblity and using up tens of thousands of dollars in resources.

      I also see people who have type II diabetes. This is often a preventable disease or one whose consequences can be minimized by taking medication, reasonable diet and exercise. I see people on medicaid getting the care they need but not doing their part. The US pays for dialysis for alot of people. Do other countries? (I am sincerely asking as I do not know the limits of treatment for cancer/dialysis in other countries.)

      Do other countries spend millions a dollars to save the life of one premature baby or do not they not have the technology? Health care expenses are also increased because we have the technology to do things we were not able to do before.

      Do other countries you are referring to have the same rate of organ transplants?

      I wonder if the population of our country is not radically different is the approach/medical care offered different in some way?

      Delete
    7. Wow Beth, you are not even making sense anymore. You are basically saying that anyone who could potentially be responsible for their illness/injury does not deserve to receive medical care. If one person getting care that costs thousands of dollars requires rejecting another person's care, that is a problem with the system, not the injured/ill people.

      Delete
    8. Nobody needs your home town. What state you live in would be entirely sufficient. Arizona, for instance, is planning on throwing about 250,000 people off of Medicaid. I believe the income eligibility is something less than $11,000 per year for an individual. No yummy free healthcare for those impoverished adults. And the kids? They had something like 80,000 on the waiting list last I read. So, no free preventative care for them. As awful as things are all over, I can't help but be curious what state it is where the outlook is so rosy.

      Delete
    9. Paula G V aka YukimiJuly 20, 2012 at 8:23 PM

      About your question about if dialysis, cancer treatment or transplants are covered in other countries. Yes, they are in countries with universal healthcare. Spain for example has one of the highest rates of transplants (our donation system is awesome) and everything is completely free from going to the doctor to all the stay and treatments at the hospital. Also we are technologically advanced (maybe a bit behind that in the US) and we have a great preventive system like for example all babies and toddlers have to go to the consult for the healthy baby program (free too) to check they are growing adequately and developing their motor and cognitive skills okay (this is monthly when they are little and more spaced when they are older).

      I really hate when people make blind accusations... but I'm not going to rant at 3:23 AM because it probably wouldn't be very coherent anyway...

      Delete
  45. Amazing post. Thank you for making me grateful to live in Canada. I once was interested in moving to the US, but the insanity of the health care there deterred me. I have to thank everyone who commented, I learned much from all of you as well.

    With one exception, I am more confused that ever. I still don't understand why Universal Health Care is a political issue. Isn't it a Human Rights issue?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Elle, it's a perspective difference. We in Canada see it as a human right. In America it is not viewed as such. At least not yet.

      Delete
    2. In the US we like the idea of everyone receiving equal medical coverage but its a money issue for our government officials- their campaigns are funded by health related companies and therefore must take their views into consideration. A UHC would stop these companies profits.
      At this point religious and political views are used to muck up the waters and make it about something else. It's a slight of hand kind of trick.

      Delete
    3. Dina, I'm afraid that there are quite a lot of people in the US who don't agree that everyone should have "equal medical coverage." Some people believe that only those who deserve it should get medical coverage and if you don't have it, too bad. It's disappointing to see, but it's real.

      Delete
  46. Melissa,

    I may have missed it when I read the article. But in your transition in moving to the states have you been able to get insurance for yourself, your partner and your kids thru the US government? Does it cover preventative care? Has government assistance been available to you as you get settled and plan for the future? If you have no insurance have you checked the resources of the local hospital and their policy for uncompensated care? Our local hospital offers free maternity care during pregnancy and pays for the birth.

    From what I see people in need have access to food stamps, government assistance and disability. All this is supplemented by local charities who give generously without asking any questions. (Granted this can vary depending on the areas you live in) The people I see have access to all these resources and in addition they can even get money for transportation to and from appointments. (Do I live in some kind of fairy tale land?) Does anyone else commenting work inside of health care or other human service organizations in America? Do you have a different experience?

    You mentioned your parents did not have insurance and that once your brother was burned and they would not go to the ER. (I can't find this so I hope I am not mixing up the comments) Your parents made a choice not to have insurance. They saved thousands and thousands of dollars by not having it. They should have kept a fund for emergencies. Yes ER care is expensive but if you are not paying for insurance I would think you would set aside money for emergencies.

    Can someone tell me that the tax rate is in Canada? And also what country is considered to be the leader in medical technology or care? Do people in Canada have access to the resources of places like Boston, MA? Is Canada on the leading edge? Do people come to the US or other countries when they want the best care for a rare for of cancer or childhood genetic illness?

    Also, re: people with special needs. Again, the states bordering mine have programs for those with special needs. I see them in the community all the time. I previously have done respite for a friend who did adult foster care. My step-niece has special needs and her schooling is provided for free with transportation to and from. When she turns 22 there are adults programs that care for her in addition to money from social security which is given to parents of children with disabilities in the US. I see a great deal of support in my community for parents with children with special needs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Taxation rates vary by province-- you can find them here: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/fq/txrts-eng.html .

      Sure, Canadians have access to resources of places like Boston. It's very rare we don't have the resources/technology to perform what needs to be done, but when we don't, our government pays to send people where they need to go. Infact, if a patient in Canada needed care in a place like Boston, it may be easier for us to access (moneywise) then someone living in Boston. Also, there is currenlty research to suggest that medical innovation in the US is slipping as technology companies are prefering to do their clinical trials outside the US, usually in another Tier 1 country (Australia, Canada, an EU country, etc)

      Generally, people don't need to leave Canada to treat their cancer or childhood genetic illness. SickKids Hospital in Toronto is one of the largest hospital-based research facilities in the world, and their scientists dicovered disease-causing genes, such as those for cystic fibrosis, Duchenne muscular dystrophy and Tay-Sachs disease, plus many more. So we're pretty content to just hang out here when we need something done.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the info Stacey.

      My MIL is a Canadian who lives in the US and she could not care for her mother in old age because she could not get care for her in the US. Her brother also hesitates to travel because of fear of not having health care in the US as a canadian citizen. Good to hear they use what they need to.

      Her brother also had to wait FOREVER to get a stent which for some can be life threatening. If someone needs a stent in the US they get it and where I live it does not matter if they have insurance or not. As a matter of fact I have treated canadians who were here on vacation and needed a stent. They got free care. Not sure why Canada would not cover them but it was certainly needed in a timely manner. If you have a heart attack due to a blockage it needs to be fixed ASAP.

      If I did not have money and I was traveling in Canada and had a heart attack and needed a stent would they give me free care?

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    3. Nearly two thirds of all bankruptcies are caused by medical bills.
      The study from The American Journal of Medicine is here.
      New York Times article summarizing the study here.
      From the article: Among families who were bankrupted by illness, those with private insurance reported average medical bills of $17,749 compared to those who were uninsured, who faced an average of $26,971 in medical costs. Those who had health insurance but lost it in the course of their illness reported average medical bills of $22,568.

      Where is it you're from again where everybody gets all the free healthcare they need? You haven't mentioned.

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    4. I'd be happy to tell you if you post your email. I'd rather not post my home town online.

      But the reality is if you have saved money or have any assets you would not qualify for free health care. If you have been irresponsible and never saved money you would qualify. Once you have been bankrupted you would qualify. So it benefits those who have not made wise choices but those who have been wise suffer. A hospitalization would cost me thousands of dollars. and we could lose everything we have worked hard for

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    5. Again, anonymous if you have financial resources you have to use them before you get free health care. So yes if you have saved anything you will lose it. I anticipate I will be in that position with a major medical crisis. I would NOT be denied care I would just have the bills and the bankruptcy.

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    6. And that seems like a good system to you? One in which a major medical crisis pushes even middle class families into financial ruin and bankruptcy? That's a better system then every other Western nation where a major medical crisis isn't a threat to your entire family's economic future and where you'd be free to focus on your health?

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    7. Paula G V aka YukimiJuly 20, 2012 at 8:37 PM

      I've already said in this same comment thread that US citizens come to Spain for free cardiac surgeries because they can't afford them in the US so your arguments seem kinda disingenuous Beth. Also it has been said once and again in the posts that in countries with UHC you get the services whether you are poor or rich so if you are complaining about very poor people who made bad financial decisions receiving good care while people who made good decisions but are middle class so they can't afford much being screwed over, your complaint only applies to the US system in that case and not to Canada so it's pretty bad argument and you should drop and concentrate on another of your arguments (not that I personally find any of them very convincing or realistic). I'm going to fall asleep on the keyboard so good night.

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    8. Beth, your comments about health care in the States and refusal to post what state you live in is making it harder and harder to credit anything you write. In your Bizarro world, Canadians don't get heart stents when they need them and Americans get them free of charge regardless of whether they're insured or not. In the Canada I come from, my MIL went into the ER last Halloween with chest pains and within two hours was in surgery getting two stents put in to remove her blockage. (But maybe according to your previously stated philosophy, she should have been left to die or been driven into bankruptcy because, after all, she brought it on herself by being twenty pounds overweight?)

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  47. Hi Melissa, discovered your blog yesterday though a friend's link to this post and read through your story about your experience with 'courtship' and all you have gone through with your spouse. I'm amazed at all the positive change you have gone through in so little time. You are obviously very analytical, smart and capable, and I enjoy your writing. Best of luck with your family and career. I hope your writing stays a part of it all!

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  48. I am a Canadian and I agree with almost all that is written above, except a few small things:

    Chiropractic, massage etc therapies are not covered by Medicare. But an extended private health policy would give you a limited number of dollars' worth per year.

    Some of the 'orphan' diseases and conditions are not always covered. The same is true for certain drugs, new drugs, xpensive or not proven ones often are not covered.

    Our national debt is likely lower per capita because we do not have a mega military budget like the States.

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  49. Tbank you for sharing this Melissa. As a Canadian I cannot for the life of me understand the republican ideology, they vote against themselves and their fellow citizens, just to help the rich. Our system not only helps everyone, but also helps the economy, because middle class families don't have to go bankrupt paying for healthcare.
    If you don't mind me asking, what political party do you identify yourself with now in Canada?

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    1. Yasmin- We no longer live in Canada. The job we were there for ended and we were not citizens, so it was time to move back to the USA. I can say that we are no longer republicans though. :)

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  50. I love this article! I have been wishing and hoping for a UHC system in the US for years and everyone thought I was crazy! I come from a very conservative republican family and they are so anti-obamacare.
    The points that make obamacare different from a UHC are this- obamacare makes businesses 'pay' (by reimbursing the employee) for the coverage and a UHC is paid by the citizen directly through taxes. The problem with obamacare is that businesses dont want to be forced to do anything but the government officials are still trying to play ball with them and the insurance companies (and other health related BUSINESSES). They are doing this in an effort to APPEAR they have the peoples best interest in mind, but in reality it does more for their personal future by keeping their campaigns fully funded.
    The religious angle drives me insane. Everyone is so worked up about abortions being covered and birth control being handed out like candy to impressionable children and whores! Everyone is claiming their religious freedoms and choices are going to be violated and that's a load of crap. The catholic church may feel that birth control and abortion is unacceptable- but do they speak for the health choices of every catholic? I'm sure many catholics agree with those choices but should that stop the few who feel a little differently? Does it make them any less catholic? The world is a tricky place- it is most certainly a very different world then when Christ walked among us.
    Because of this drastically different world people are going to make different choices, and that's their right to, but no one person's religious views should dictate another. This everyone agrees on until they realize that means they cant force other people to live the way they do. They dont get that its not about what the church agrees with or what you agree with, its about how the person in question feels about their own religious beliefs and bodies.
    Birth control and abortions are highly personal decisions. I know people who have had abortions and for some it was like getting a teeth cleaning and for others it was a monumental life altering choice. I have no place telling anyone else what choices they can and can not make no matter how much I disagree with them.
    The conservatives make it a point to falsely state that employers of religious institutions would be forced to this and that and our religious views would be violated. The fact is they are more concerned with the huge change this would create in how our medical care is wrapped up in our economy. The true concern is not being able to charge your life savings over a cold but religious 'freedom' is the hot button topic that people will get behind and follow blindly.
    I find it very discouraging that the general public cant look past the religious curtain and see whats really going on and what is really in their best interest.

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  51. Dear Dina: What makes you so sure that obamacare is in my best interest? Isn't that just another way of telling me what health care choices I can and cannot make?
    It's not just birth control and abortions; all medical care is a highly personal decision. It's your body after all. And any way you slice it, the UHC you've been waiting for will reduce the personal part of your medical care decisions.

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    1. UHC will not take away any choices you want to make about your health care. You are either lying or misinformed.

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    2. Uh, Anonymous, um, wtf are you talking about?

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  52. As a Canadian, some of the comments, which appear to be based on fear...of something...I am not sure what...blow my mind! How could two similar countries whose people originated, mostly, from the same Europe, be so very different in their world view??? I don't get it. Universal Health Care takes away your right to free choice??? Hilarious...in what way? Every step along the way YOU make your own choice...you will be told alternatives and then you choose..or not choose...it's just THAT democratic. Don't agree with abortion? Don't have one. Don't like birth control? Don't use it..do you think we tie you down and force these things on you? Our doctors might not discuss religion with you...but they won't make you sell your home in order to save your or your child's life.

    Canada has longer life expectancy and a much lower mother/infant death rate than the USA..what's so scary about that?

    Maybe you just think it is ok for poor people to die if they don't have medical coverage. Here..we think it's NOT ok...and I have to ask...is it Christian to deny health care to babies and old folks and pregnant moms??

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  53. and by the way...none of my personal health care decisions are compromised...I decide.

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  54. Just a little remark, from my own experience in the US and Europe (France):

    The negative about the US: I had little choice.

    In France, I can choose my physician.

    In the US, my health care provider was selected by my internship host, or my spouse's employer. I had no choice. That provider assigned to us a clinic or hospital. In one case, the hospital was not close from where we lived (we had to drive some distance on a freeway, which I would prefer not to do if really sick).

    The negative about France:

    My wife's coverage was very good, so I experienced none of the waiting times mentioned.

    In contrast, in France, for certain specialists (eyes, dentist, etc.) for non-urgent issues, you typically have to wait 2-3 months. This can be circumvented by using physicians that charge more than the "social security" prices, but then you pay the difference out of your own pocket.

    Also, in France, it is commonplace for surgeons to charge more than "social security" prices.

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  55. I've been following you for some time now (thank you for the blog and all), and now at last I am writing a comment...

    I am Italian (we used to have the 3rd best healthcare in the world - mostly universal) and now I live in the UK (also not-so-terrible healthcare - and universal, again). I have had and I have a myriad of "health conditions": I live without spleen since I was 14, two different cancers, a rare (potentially deadly, now cured) malformation of the digestive tract, a light form of bipolar disorder and some other nice things.

    I live a quite normal life (except for being a PhD student in mathematics at a very good university), with medications and some therapy. I pay a grand total of £104.00 for my medications in a year. That's all.

    I know I will never be able to live in a country where there is no universal health care: whenever I go to the United States, my medical insurance costs me almost as much as my flight - and I have to find someone who insures me, which is a challenge of its own.

    And, given the "PhD in mathematics at a very good university", maybe that's also a bit of a loss for the potential country without said universal health care...

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  56. Another proof that die-hard conservative = idiot.

    Glad you evolved.

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  57. How refreshing to read such a personal and enlightening perspective on this topic. While the comments are not all in agreement, they are intelligent and informative. My husband is British and is amazed at the negativity spouted regarding the healthcare system he grew up with. With one of those 'pre-existing conditions' , I have been unable to get individual healthcare at ANY cost in the US. I have a file of rejection letters. When Senator McCain suggested a $5,000 payout and I could choose my own coverage, I felt a combination of disgust and anger. "Let them eat cake" from those who have no worries about coverage for themselves or their families. Big talk over the years about possible solutions and then it goes on the back burner while we focus our attention on bombing somebody. Meanwhile, I've been working for 40 years and I'm sure my taxes have paid for medical costs for others. Coverage I cannot qualify for myself. Thank you for your time, research and energy in the creation of this article. One of the best I've read - - - including the comments that follow.

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  58. States you also wait...and still have to pay out the butt for it.

    Say what you will about "Obamacare" but it is a STEP in the direction of the civilized world.

    Thank you SO much for sharing, we immediately shared on FB!

    x
    ~Frank et al

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  59. As a Canadian male in my mid-50s, I've had my fair share of hospital visits. And, in all those encounters, the ONLY issue on the table was medical. Not once has the issue of money or insurance been raised. It's impossible to imagine myself talking to a doctor about my income level, religious beliefs or anything remotely tied to politics or ideology. Any interaction with the medical system is based solely on health, not money. The notion of hesitating to see a doctor or calling 911 due to money is completely alien to most Canadians and a concept many of us consider cruel and odious. When an ambulance pulls up to a hospital, the LAST thing on the doctor's mind is affordability.

    The foundation of our system is simple - it's about paying a portion of our taxes to look after our neighbours, just as he/she looks after us. Everyone chips in for the benefit of all. Unfortunately, the concept or 'socialized' medical care scares the bejesus out of many Americans because they see it as a slippery slope to some USSR-type society where we all work on collective farms. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many of the staunchest conservatives in Canada would never link 'socialized' medicine with Communist-style Socialism. While some Americans see this collective health umbrella as a weakness, I consider basic compassion to be a strength and wouldn't want it any other way.

    Yes, our system has its problems. We have too many people clogging up ERs with minor ailments, and we have lengthy waits for some procedures like knee or hip replacements. But when it comes to major medical issues, such as my two heart attacks, there is absolutely no waiting, nor any delays in follow-up appointments with a cardiologist.

    Yes, we pay out-of-pocket for medication, dental care, etc., but it's extremely rare to see someone unable to get that money back through an insurance plan at work (which kicks in with no questions asked). For the destitute, their needs are covered by that big health care account we contribute to, and I'm fine with that. Should I become destitute, I'm comforted in knowing medical bills would be the very least of my concerns.

    So much of this debate is cultural. In Canada, it's about community and looking out for each other. In the United States, it seems to be about the frontier mentality - I'll take care of myself and no one can tell me what to do. I'll never understand why the concept of caring for one another is such a distasteful concept to many Americans. In Canada, we have absolute freedom to visit any hospital or doctor we choose, for any condition The idea that an insurance company might dictate such a thing is a foreign concept.

    In my opinion, health care should not be profit-based, and that proper health care is a basic need, like policing or firefighting. In the U.S., the debate appears is so heavily weighed down by ideology and how to make a buck. Someone here wrote with disgust at the bureaucracy required to operate a universal system. Not sound sarcastic, but I'd rather have a portion of my taxes helping that little girl down the street with cancer than purchasing yet another aircraft carrier.

    Another person wrote about medical care in Canada being 'free' because the money to pay for it was taken by "force through taxation from someone else." Well, taxes are 'forced' on everyone - it's just a matter of where you chose to have those taxes applied. I have no problem with some of my money caring for that little girl with cancer and am damn proud that a portion of my taxes are used in such a manner. Having to choose between saving her life and financial ruin is a terribly sad personal choice to make - a choice I'm glad I'll never have to make.

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  60. Re Anonymous commment "Abortion here is handled very differently than in the states. You can get an abortion whenever you can find a Dr who will perform one. You just won't find one who will do a late term abortion, partial birth abortion, any of those incredible atrocities. You will find it simple to find a place to legally have an abortion if you are still in your first trimester. After that fewer and fewer places will perform the procedure.
    You will not find it stigma free, except in the case of rape. The general view here is that you have the right to do it, but why? If you are an adult and don't want to keep the baby, have it, give it up, have your paid 12 weeks to recover and go on with your life.
    I would define myself as sort of pro-choice. I will not force my will on you, but don't expect me to be approving or supportive."

    Sorry, have to insert here that this is NOT universal across Canada, although I do not dispute this may be this particular Canadian's experience. You do not have to 'seek to find a doctor who will perform a termination (we don't use the word "abortion" in Canada) - anyone's family doctor can do this, but they may choose to refer you to an ob/gyn to do the procedure. There is no "stigma", as all medical information is CONFIDENTIAL, so I have no idea where anonymous dreamed this up. No one knows. And there is no 'attitude' described as "you have the right, but why do it?" No one, other than an opinionated doctor, might say that to a patient. And they would be committing a breach that you (the patient) could report them to the College of Physicians and Surgeons about. One's family doctor is not meant to give a patient 'sermons', i.e.

    I suspect this person (anonymous) may have personal views on 'termination' that they are characterizing as universal or general to all Canadians - in MY experience, a woman's right to choose is a FUNDAMENTAL right in Canada, and is NOT toyed with or opined about or EVER subjected to possible revocation - NEVER!

    That is all; I just could not leave that screed standing without calling it into question, as in my 61 yr old experience the views described by anonymous regarding termination or pregnancy are NOT at ALL the norm. Perhaps they are Catholic and live in Quebec and are very religious, but again, that is a smaller portion of citizens than any others, so the 'norm' in that faction would be smaller than the (large) majority.

    Thank you. AND OF COURSE America should have universal health care; The Affordable Care Act is the first step toward hopefully that result for Americans. As one who was raised in Canada but spent most of my adult life living in several different American states, and having spent over a decade with UK National Health, I can tell you that America needs NOT to have to worry endlessly about physical or mental health issues, but needs to join the rest of modern societies and stop being idiotic about 'socialism'. MANY things in America are already socialistic anyway, so it is just GOP nonsense to do so. And of course, the fact that our wonderful President came up with the ACA makes it inconceivable to Republicans that it could be a good idea, but then they've been like that for 3.5 years, so what's new? Obstruction and "no" are the only things one party knows in the US, and sadly, this doesn't hurt them, but only their constituents.

    All the best.

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  61. Thank you for this post, and thank you for having the bravery to re-examine your beliefs in the face of evidence. That is rarer than it should be.

    I would very much like to read a follow-up elaborating on this line:

    > I started to wonder why I had been so opposed to government
    > mandated Universal Health care.

    An excellent question--not in the rhetorical and snarky "well, duh!" sense, but really: why HAD you been so opposed?

    If you now feel you were misinformed, where did you get the misinformation? Why were you so committed to it? How did you select your sources, why did you trust them, and do you still trust them on other politically-charged subjects? And above all, how might people who share your former opinion also come to apply a little healthy skepticism to that belief, apart from joining you in Canada?

    An answer in the same tone as this post would surely be enlightening.

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    1. I will consider writing another post clarifying some of those questions.

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  62. I do not appreciate your failing to insert my comment. the person who said termination (we do not use the word abortion in Canada) was 'if you could find a doctor to do it' in Canada is wrong - all doctors perform any procedure rquired for the patient's health. There is no 'stigma' surrounding terminating a pregnancy (unlike what same person said) as patient affairs are entirely confidential between a doctor and the patient. the views expressed in the rest of that commenter's remark about some perceived 'why do it?" general Canadian attitude are also bogus. I do not understand why you chose not to post my remark, but that's your entitlement as it's your blog. Just leave the religiosity out of Canadian healthcare; it is not appropriate and is NOT a factor that affects HEALTH in Canada; we keep FAITH in churches and do not burden doctors with guilt tripping and attacks on them for performing medical procedures, and women's RIGHT TO CHOOSE is foremost in Canada and not under threat of being removed by a political party - EVER! The ACA is the best thing that ever happened to America, and so is President Obama. Second try anyway at making a comment; who knows what your moderation is for or against.

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    1. I'm not sure what comment you are refering too. I moderate comments, and while I have deleted a few comments meant for this thread(comments asking for personal information or using excessive profanity as an example) so far, your's was not one of them. I happen to completely agree with church and state (and there for healthcare) completely seperate, but even if I did not, I would have published the comment. Perhaps it got lost somehow?

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    2. Correction, it was just waiting to be published, it is a few comments above this. Sorry your low patience was triggered by having to wait for it to be published.

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  63. While I'm glad this woman came around, millions of us have been making these points for nearly 30 years. Universal Health Care is the way any rational, developed nation handles its health care. People in countries with Universal Health Care have longer life expectancies, fewer infant deaths, fewer maternal deaths and fewer abortions. The only medical statistic where America is #1 is in medical cost. And why is that? Corporate profits of medical companies are more important than the health of the American people.

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  64. Great post! I live in Scotland and could not imagine life without the NHS. I have a number of health complaints and right now I have to see the doctor every 3 weeks for check ups for one condition and will require specialist attention for a further complaint. I will have to wait a few weeks to see the specialist, but have no trouble getting a GP appointment. I know in an emergency I would get immediate care. The flat I rent is quite pricey (I live in St Andrews) and I'm a postgraduate - if I had to pay for all the healthcare I receive I couldn't afford my rent. My father has numerous chronic conditions including diabetes and without free healthcare I know he wouldn't be with me today as he wouldn't be able to afford the medication and doctors visits that he requires. A few years ago I saw a news article asking the opinions of some Americans on the NHS and one guy said "it's a really bad thing - have you seen British people's teeth?!" well I have to break it to you, there is nothing wrong with dentistry here. We have private dentists for those who don't want to wait and the people with bad teeth tend to be either alcoholics, junkies, people with over/under-eating disorders and those who just don't bother seeing a dentist or caring for their teeth - same as in any country. It's the problems of individuals, not the system. I am aware that it isn't strictly free as taxes go towards the NHS and some procedures require payment, but don't US citizens have to pay taxes anyway? I seriously cannot see the problem. You have the freedom to choose how you want to be treated. If you didn't like your doctor, you can get the next available appointment with another doctor without worrying about costs. If you have religious beliefs, you have every right to choose suitable healthcare. I'm not going to go into the whole abortion/birth control thing, but those are not forced. It's refreshing to see an American who was originally against universal healthcare seeing the benefits. Those who criticise fear the unknown, so it's something they'll need to experience to realise the benefits.

    Ps. Apologise for any spelling/grammar errors, I sent this via phone and my proof reading skills suck on a phone lol! Also my anonymity is not out of fear of being criticised, I just don't have a suitable account hehe!

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  65. Americans can be such a HUGE morons on the issue(s) of universal healthcare (and religion...)

    Problem is, healthcare is a HUGE business, and you are exporting your particular brand of moronism to other countries that did have a universal healthcare to be proud of, and are currently loosing it (privatizing for the interest of the right wing neoliberal associated interest groups)

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