Friday, August 14, 2009

Canada – Health Care Done Right

In the almost-30 years I have been visiting Canada on a semi-regular basis (Mom remarried and moved there in 1980), I have always been struck by the utter lack of a certain kind of fear and anxiety by its citizens. Although always subject to the unpredictable whims of euro-capitalism, there is a peace of mind that prevails in Canada which can only be attributable to one thing: an excellent system of health care – both in payment and delivery. People are not only are healthier in Canada; they feel healthier. And it shows.

It’s pretty simple, really. Here’s how it works for your average, everyday visit to the doctor. Any resident of the province of, for example, Ontario walks into the doctor’s office, showing their OHIP card. They get an office visit with the doctor. They leave. The doctor submits the visit to the Ontario Ministry of Health, probably electronically. The OMH pays the doctor. Visit, payment; visit, payment; visit, payment. All day long.

No scrutinizing and copying of health insurance cards; no giant health insurance bureaucracy poised to deny coverage; no co-pays; no high deductibles. In the bigger picture, none of the fear and anxiety of the accident or illness that will lead to financial ruin. This leaves Canadians to worry about those other important variables in life – jobs, relationships, kids, education, progress. But not health care. That is their national commitment to themselves and their future. Health care is their right.

Are there problems in the system? Sure, there are. And, when things don’t work, the political system responds and heads will roll. The enemies of health care reform in the U.S. have made sure that you’ve heard anecdotal stories about long wait times for this or that. This morning, my copy of the Toronto Star reported that a guy who was working full-time to reduce wait-times had been sacked. If there is a problem (I am not taking the U.S. wing-nuts’ word for it), this is how it is supposed to work. The effectiveness of health care delivery becomes political and things get done. Try getting some satisfaction out of a fat-cat insurance company dragging its feet approving your expensive hip replacement. Good luck with that.

As always happens when the health insurance industry is threatened in the U.S., the checkbooks are open for anyone willing to provide fodder for their lies. Canadians telling health care horror stories in the U.S. media are like anti-black African Americans and anti-feminist women – they are all extremely well paid to take the positions they take. The fact is that no Canadian in their right mind – not one – would trade their government health care system for the craziness of the U.S. "system" of social Darwinism, gold-plated doctors and giant health insurance vultures.

"It is awfully tempting – painfully so – to feel superior to the United States over its national debate, and I use the term irresponsibly, on health-care reform," writes one apparently reasonable columnist in my Globe and Mail this morning. Indeed, we are the laughing stock of the world, as loopy people paid by lobbyists or simply misled by wing-nut squawkers who know better try to besiege those in Congress brave enough to hold town hall meetings in the midst of a campaign of organized disruption. If you want to see the difference between the astroturf ridiculousness of people "fighting to get our country back" from the elected African-American guy and the real thing, try proposing the dismantling of the health care system in Canada. Then you will really see the people rise up to keep what they have.


whitecollargreenspaceguy said...

The Government already has the funds to pay for Universal Health Care. It is time to stop the madness and violence at the health care reform meetings. Using shift work for white collar jobs could cut the cost of the 500 million square feet of office space currently in used by the federal governe=ment by up to 50%. This would save enough money to provide universal health care. It could also reduce the carbon footprint by 50%. For details go to:

Now featured on under the heading:
"Using Shift work for white collar jobs to greatly reduce the fiscal and environmental cost of new office space"
When you need to fake grass roots participation in town hall meetings and press conferences rent human look a likes from Astro Turf Fighters Robotic Rentals.

Anonymous said...

Must be easy to fund health care in a country where you have a fraction of the population and a fraction of the military budget.

If it's so much better in Canada, why don't I hear about/read about news such as "Canadian doctors and researchers have medical breakthrough relating to (fill in disease, affliciton, etc)?

In a country where we spend more on healthcare than any other country in the world the democrats plan is to spend even more with no funding source. And that's supposed to work?

Anonymous said...

Articles like this do not help your cause:

Anonymous said...

New reports out from head of Canadians health care states, "system is imploding", a move to private health care is imminent.

Plus, Obama now hints that public option's removal from bill is not a deal breaker. It smells like Obama is running scared.

Anonymous said...

Uh oh Mikey - more bad news for your beloved Canadian public health care system:

Anonymous said...

And more bad news:

AnotherTosaVoter said...

Mike, while I sympathize with the President, this debate shows your party is utterly incompetent. They'd screw up a 2 car parade.

Unfortunately the other party would run into trouble at 3 cars, so they're not a lot better.

RAG said...

Having lived in Canada, I am familiar with the health care system. It's not perfect and has its challenges but, you're right, most Canadians still swear by it.

The Canadian system is great for routine doctor visits. Because it's a single payer system, costs are kept down. There aren't hospitals across the street from each other and megabudget advertising campaigns.

The system doesn't cover everything: dental, eyeglasses, prescription drugs are on your loonie. Supplemental insurance can be purchased for those things.

That said, my designer blood pressure meds here that cost me a $35 monthly copay costs $38 total in Canada.

The problem in Canada is with surgical procedures. There are waits for nonemergency surgeries and sometimes oddities like no hyperbaric chambers in Calgary so they fly people who need them to Edmonton (both very large cities).

There are only a handful of neonatal intensive care beds in Calgary and Edmonton and, if you're a mom with a high risk pregnancy and one isn't available, the Alberta government will jet you to Great Falls, Montana to give birth.

While the Canadian system isn't perfect, it does have its benefits but could never be implemented here as our system is so far corrupt that it's beyond redemption.

Side note: One benefit of the Canadian system is that small businesses can compete for employees as the cost for health care is spread out.

Home Staging said...

The problem with the American system is that it's purely about profit whereas in Canada the doctors actually care about the patient. Insurance companies are trying to make as much money as possible in the US and that only means constant denying of what is needed for the patient. It's sad that the US owns top notch equipment but that equipment is in reality only accessible to the top percent of people who can actually afford it. Canadian system eliminates this and like you said, there is nothing to worry about with health care.

Take care, Ella