Friday, June 7, 2013

Universal Health Care Isn't Scary

I was recently spending a lazy hour channel surfing and watched a short segment on the ongoing debate across the border in the USA about universal health care. The speaker was ripping on it calling it a slippery slope to all kinds of alarming sounding things. Socialism was tossed out like a bad word, and there was a lot of fear-mongering coming from this man. I'm not sure what his political position was, but given he was on TV he was obviously someone that people listen to.

I'm keenly aware that most of my readers live in either Canada or America and probably have two very different reactions to my suggestions of "talk to your doctor" or "go get such and such test". I wish I had an easy solution for my American neighbours who see dollar signs in their nightmares when contemplating treatments for Crohn's, Colitis or other illnesses.

On a past vacation in Orlando, Florida I came down with a super painful sore throat and had to visit an Orlando clinic. I spoke to a doctor for a few minutes and was given a test for strep throat, then a prescription for antibiotics. This visit left me with an over $300 bill, plus the cost of the Rx! What! I can only shudder to think what a colonoscopy or small bowel follow-through costs. Or a night's stay in the hospital, let alone repeat doctor visits to try and get things sorted out and a treatment plan that works.

I know that many Americans with chronic illnesses are among the many who are clamoring for universal healthcare, but honestly I don't know that much about the politics behind the issue. Here in Canada we all pay a little extra via our taxes - that's everyone regardless of whether you're sick or not. Then if you ever need it, the primary health-care services are there for you at usually no cost. Some optional services and most cosmetic ones are not covered.

The argument I hear from some who are against this system is why should I pay for something I don't need? Insisting that this form of socialism is somehow evil. Americans have car and home insurance right? Isn't this the same? Everyone pays a certain amount and then you're covered (usually) in the event of an expensive accident. Isn't that socialism too? Is it ok because it's run by a company and not the government? Why is it ok to 'bail out' sick companies but not sick people?

Again I don't know much about the issue State-Side but I respect Americans for how they stand up for what they want, and work darn hard for what they have. In my opinion those who are in favour of a system which ensures everyone is cared for when they are sick or injured should start making even more noise... government spending needs new priorities - the people and not corporations.

That's just my 2 cents. Anyone with tips on government grants or medical programs to help people with IBD cover their medical costs, please post in the comments, it would be greatly appreciated!


  1. Thank you for posting your perspective as a Canadian. My little (American) family and I are huge proponents of universal care (our current system is terrifying and unsustainable) and I hope our system will one day mimic what's north of the border.

  2. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along.I'm impressed. You're truly well informed and very intelligent. You wrote something that people could understand and made the

    subject intriguing for everyone. I'm saving this for future use.

  3. You are absolutely right about the capitalists down here in the U.S. rallying to save their thieving ill gotten gainful means. They rob from the poor to give to the rich (usually themselves) and to heck with the other guy and who cares if he's sick. It's not my problem. Let him pay for it. All very nice and easy to roll off the tongues of those can easily afford medical care with or without insurance. The money for which they pay for these services stolen by way of highway robbery from the working class. They use the word "socialism" to scare uninformed/underinformed or uneducated Americans... who associate this word with "Stalinism". Which they call "Communism". I usually say to these folks who repeat to me this dribble they here "You mean socialist like Canada, France, Great Britain or Germany?? Oh I shudder at those scary people from those dark and down trodden places." How horrifying! Oh those poor people in those other countries living under such oppression.
    I will never see Universal Health Care in my lifetime in the U.S. the rich will never give up a shiny red cent of what they have stolen from the backs of the working class in the U.S. to allow a system with universal coverage to them would mean losing a percentage of their wealth and they will fight tooth and nail to keep there wealth and that of their friends.

  4. I think the most significant problem with the U.S. system is that most plans cover emergency care rather than preventative care. If the American government would consider the cost of delayed diagnosis, they might understand why universal care, as imperfect as it is, works better than what they have provided. I was diagnosed with Crohn's and breast cancer within one year. My Crohn's diagnosis took a long time (and a doctor change) to be diagnosed. Throughout that period, I was on a six month mammogram program. As soon as the radiologist detected a small change in my mammogram, she had a biopsy done. I was diagnosed with an early cancer that was treated with surgery but without radiation and chemotherapy, both of which are costly and can add long term side effects to cancer treatment.

    My daughter had her first child in the U. S. and the second in Canada. The difference in follow-up care (e.g. public health nurses who check in regularly with moms of newborns) was, in her words, dramatic. This is what good health care provides.

    Yes, there are wait lists for elective surgery etc, but if one compares the mortality rates between the U. S. system and the "socialist" systems of almost all other western democracies, the U. S. system falls short.

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