Sunday, March 22, 2009

Canadian Healthcare: Universal ->Socialized ->Unconstitutional?

I was checking on a favorite blog (Plain Brown Wrapper by Kishore Visvanathan , a Saskatoon urologist) and notices a link to an article in the Wall Street Journal. His tongue-in-cheek title to the post was Tales from the Crypt, which is appropriate to describe the impression that more conservative Americans would have of our 'Socialized' Healthcare system in Canada.

It seems to me that our system is a real enigma to some people. The fact that there is no direct link between payment (income tax) and the provision of service looks to a lot of outsiders like a free system. Many of those same people would grumble, 'I don't trust anything that's free'. I think that the more important thing to look at is how one experiences the system when it's needed.

I would argue (without having used the American healthcare system(s)) that, from a patient perspective, there would be little difference in the feel inside the hospital. I was just in some US healthcare facilities and noticed the same polished concrete floors and same sterile smell that pervades Canadian hospitals. There was the same bustle of people and the same crammed waiting rooms. Outside there were a similar mix of playing children and sombre adults.

I would be that similar stories to the ones recounted in the Wall Street Journal article exist in the US. I have heard of people left behind by the system, only they don't have the money to pay for their treatment, let alone the connections to find a lawyer to challenge the unconstitutionality of their dispair. Even retired Bank of America executives are forced off-shore to be treated (Based on a NYTimes article published yesterday).

With that mirth out of the way, I think that exchanging information across the border could provide a means to enhance both of our systems. I hope to spend at least a year in the US seeing how things function. I would recommend coming up here if you don't believe that Canadian healthcare is doing the job. You might be surprised at the results we're getting, despite the word on the street about a few unfortunate cases.


Shannon said...

After having lived in the states nearly a year I can say I agree that the systems feel essentially the same. As a diabetic and a parent of two small children I interact with the system a lot.

The main difference I have found is constantly worrying about how things are going to be paid for. What procedures/visits does my insurance cover? What is my copay for different types of visits? I have never felt concerned about the money aspect of managing my diabetes before coming to live in the United States.

In Canada, I never worried that I would be unable to take care of my medical condition. When we first moved here I made easily 50 phone calls before I could find one place to buy insulin pump supplies. No one could tell me where to go. Not my insurance provider or pharmacies or even the doctors in the Emergency Room of Massachusetts General Hospital could tell me that there is a Diabetes Center in Boston that could help me find the supplies I needed. In Canada I could have walked into any pharmacy and had them order the supplies I needed.

In Canada the only concerns about payment for medications was what my percentage was when it came to my insurance. There was none of this fiddling around with $15 copays at each doctor's visit. It feels inefficient and it makes hospitals and doctor's offices feel like a store where we are purchasing health, rather than a safe place of healing, education and advice. I have received excellent treatment here, of course. But I have felt the atmosphere is a little different and I feel as though it forces me to approach my health for a dollars and cents perspective rather than a "health for quality of life" perspective. Having spent time here i appreciate the Canadian system so much more! (

jacksmith said...

Finally, the time has arrived to fix Americas Healthcare crisis, and Americas healthcare nightmare. Hundreds of thousands of you are killed needlessly every year by your healthcare delivery system in a rush to profit. And because of a rush to profit Hundreds of thousands more of you are needlessly dying from treatable illness that people in other developed and civilized countries don't DIE! from. Rich, middle class, and poor alike. Insured, and uninsured. Men, women, children, and babies.

Additionally, thousands more of you are driven into financial ruin, and bankruptcy just because you, or one of your loved ones got sick or injured. And all of this is happening at a time when America spends twice as much of it's GDP (Gross Domestic Productivity) on health care than any other country in the developed world. Individual Americans spend about ten times as much on health care as any other people in the developed world. This is a CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY. AND IT MUST END!

But before we can truly fix this healthcare crisis and disgrace, everyone needs to clearly understand what the problem is. And everyone needs to clearly understand the real enormity of the problem. The problem is that HEALTHCARE AND MEDICAL DELIVERY IN AMERICA IS SEVERELY CORRUPTED AND COMPROMISED BY GREED! AND THE PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MOTIVE. And it is corrupted, and compromised IN EVERY ASPECT, AND EVERY PLACE OF HEALTHCARE AND MEDICAL DELIVERY. Unfortunately for all Americans, compromised healthcare ALWAYS results in needless suffering, injury, disability, and or death. Which is exactly what is happening now in America in shocking numbers.

Health care is NOT! a private for profit business. Healthcare is an essential public service. Like police, and fire. And healthcare is also a human right! PRIVATE FOR PROFIT HEALTHCARE IS AN OXYMORON, AND AN IMMORAL AND UNETHICAL PERVERSION OF HEALTHCARE AND HUMAN RIGHTS.

So how do we fix this healthcare disgrace? I believe the fix for Americas healthcare disaster is essentially the same thing that every other developed country in the World has essentially done. "NOT FOR PROFIT, TAX PAYER SUPPORTED, SINGLE PAYER, AUTOMATIC, FREE UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE FOR ALL. Essentially HR676 (enhanced, and expanded medicare for all). Just like every other CIVILIZED! country in the developed World has. There is no other way to truly fix and reform our current disastrous healthcare delivery system.

All Universal health care systems work best when everyone participates. But I know that the healthcare lobby, and some politicians will try and undermine "Not For Profit, Tax payer supported, Single payer, Automatic, Free Universal Healthcare for all" by falsely claiming that it will limit your choice, and require you to participate.

So, I propose that everyone be included in the national plan unless they choose to opt out. If you opt out and need medical care the national plan will insure your provider that they will be reimbursed under the rules for members in the national plan. But those who opted out, and their insurer will be responsible for the FULL! cost to the national plan for providing your care if you or your private insurer fails to reimburse the provider or the national plan in a timely manor to at least the standards of the national plan.

Including reporting you to credit agencies, withholding of taxes, leans, and garnishment of wages for unpaid medical bills. Just like you have now under private for profit healthcare, and private for profit health insurance.

Further, people who opted out will be required to provide proof of financial responsibility for future illness or be required to participate in the national plan. And everyone with children will be required to participate in the national plan. Or provide proof of insurance coverage on each child to the standards of the national plan. It will be against the law to report anyone in the national plan to a credit agency for unpaid medical bills.

Frankly, only a dope would want to opt out of the national plan and opt to keep our current disastrous private for profit medical, and insurance plans. But they will be free to choose. The most important thing is that the vast majority of Americans that want the protection, benefits, and higher quality of a universal national plan have that choice.

You see, one of the most important aspects of a universal healthcare system is easy access, and patient protection. This is accomplished by having a single payer without a conflict of interest in patient care. And by having a payer who has the power to enforce minimum standards of excellence in healthcare delivery for everyone in the plan. This is much of what Medicare does now for senors. "Aeger Primo" (The patient comes first). Unfortunately in our healthcare system the patient comes last. We are just a peace of meat to them. Cash cows to be slaughtered for profit.

So this is IT! my fellow Americans, My fellow human beings, My fellow World Citizens. And my fellow Cyber Warriors. :-) The time has come. D day. H hour. HEALTHCARE REFORM THIS YEAR! Let no one stand in our way. Contact your representative and tell them you want "Not For Profit, Tax Payer Supported, Single Payer, Automatic, Free Universal healthcare for all. And tell them you want that choice now. Tell them you want President Obama's budget passed without delay. President Obama's budget is brilliant. And exactly what is needed now.

President Obama, and his allies will need all the support you can give them. The healthcare lobby will try to take out his people if they can, like they did with Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer. And they will try to neutralize President Obama's popularity, and political power. Or they will try to take him down someway. Don't stand for it. If they attack him. Go after them ten times harder and remove them from office. We had an election. And you the people chose President Obama's leadership, and change agenda. Let no one in government disrespect the will of the American people and remain in office.

Let's get this healthcare reform done now my fellow Americans. This year. Take no prisoners.

God Bless All Of You

Jack Smith — Working Class :-)