…if they really think that we allow our health care system to pull the plug on Grandma if her care becomes too expensive.
OK, I’m getting real sick, real fast of all of this crap going down in the U.S. about health care. Henry Champ has penned a good “lay of the land” piece on the cbc.ca website today. Called “Decorum takes a holiday in the health-care debate”, Mr. Champ outlines some of the misinterpretations and outright lies being tossed around by the right wing-nut sector in America. Busing in and stacking so-called “Town Hall” meetings, the anti sane-and-equitable-health-care-system dimwits are holding Canada’s system up as something that falls somewhere between socilised death camps and an Orwellian bureaucracy. Which is totally farcical and frankly, an insult to me as a Canuck.
As I have pointed out before, our system is by no means perfect and can stand to be reviewed with a critical eye. Wait times are too long – especially outside the major centres. There are other issues that are broken and need to be fixed. But overall, I have been fairly happy with what we have and I say this having three kids – all of whom have needed medical of one type or another – as well as my own experiences. In fact, I can think of only one instance involving my family where I feel the care was inadequate.
Not a bad average.
So, for my American readers, and I know there are a few, I humbly submit the following list of facts about our health care system. This is not propaganda. I am not paid by anyone to do this. I simply want to, in my own very minor way, correct some of the falsehoods that are circulating.
1) Grandma will NOT be unplugged by “the system”. Only the family can do this. And the family will not do this for want of money to pay medical bills. It is utterly ridiculous that this is being bantered about.
2) Medical bills. We don’t get them. Usually. There are some services that one does have to pay for depending on what part of the country you are in and the policies of your own doctor’s practice. Sick notes, for example, as well as some inoculations, cosmetic procedures, etc., are not covered. Here is a link to a medical office here in Ottawa which lists which services are for a fee. All other services are covered by the plan.
3) Access to care. Yes, there is a shortage of family physicians and specialists. No doubt. I know folks who have looked all over for a family doctor who is accepting patients but to no avail. BUT, this does not mean that they do not have access to care. There are many, many walk-in clinics who take anyone with a health card. The waiting room time varies, but if you are going in for a minor ailment, time your visit accordingly and it usually takes very little time to see a physician. And of course there is always Emerg… but don’t go unless neccesary. It is very expensive, can take a while to see someone and really, that ingrown toenail can’t be tended to by your family physician or at a clinic? However, the triage at the ER will NOT turn someone away.
For specialists, the problem is more acute. Though I have had no problem whatsoever in getting access to a specialist for one of my kids who had infected lymph nodes. We saw a pediatric surgeon the day after our family doc referred us. A pediatric ENT specialist and an infectious diseases doctor soon followed – again with a very short wait. Of course we in Ottawa are very fortunate to have one of the world’s foremost children’s hospitals.
4) There are some patients who are treated in the corridors due to lack of space. Yes, due to a woeful lack of funding in some hospitals, this is sometimes the case. But from my own experiences (a physician would be more qualified to comment on this) this is the exception and not the rule. I have been hospitalised twice in my life, had a few day-surgeries and two my kids have all had stays and never were left in the halls and nor did I see anyone in the corridors. Four different hospitals in 4 different parts of Ontario. Maybe it is worse on other provinces.
Our system has some warts and flaws. It is expensive but on a per cpaita basis, I believe it is cheaper than Medicare in the U.S. – though I’d have to verify that. Yet at what price care? Isn’t a sign of an advanced society the willingness to look after the health of its citizenry; ALL of them? Does Canada need to reform its system? Of course. We need some ilk of a two-tier system where all of the population is guaranteed basic care – NO ONE should evr be turned away due to ability to pay. But we should consider the options.
Is our medical delivery system completely broken? No way. Just a little rusty. And I hope (naively) that the morons to the south who are buying the script depicting our system as a dreadfully inefficient, anachronistic, unconstitutional waste of dollars would do a little research and learn that it really isn’t that bad. (970)