Sunday, August 16, 2009

More on health care comparisons

Continuing my research into the health-care systems of other countries, here are a few resources that provide additional information.

In a comment to yesterday's posting, Burns referred to an NPR Talk of the Nation program about Canada's health-care system. I searched the web site and believe this program is the one he was referring to.

I also found an interesting Wikipedia article that compares the Canadian and American systems.

Finally, this AP article shows the irony of Britons' views of their system, which is prone to criticism within the country — unless Americans are dissing it.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Canadian's perspective of health care

Prompted by the health care debate in the U.S., I asked a family friend who lives in Canada about the Canadian system.

Canada and the UK are often the poster children of government-run health care. Critics cite these two to prove that "socialized medicine" delivers poor medical care, with rationed or limited access and long waits.

In an e-mail, I asked this family friend to speak of her family's experience with Canada's universal coverage. Here's her response, slightly edited to preserve anonymity. The italicized items are my additions to clarify meaning.
Hello Gary:

I am all for it. My husband and I pay a total of $96 a month to cover the two of us, and when we go into the doctor or hospital there is no bill coming later in the mail. We are not stopped from going into the hospital because everyone is required to have B.C. (British Columbia) medical or a medical from their employment which is very reasonable.

Dental (unless you have a plan with your employment) is not a requirement, although children whose parents have a lower income are able to receive dental care — which I might add would be a boon to a lot I see in the U.S. (sorry to be so blunt).

They did for awhile have a $5 or $10 fee for emergency use but ... have dropped that now.

We even see specialists without a fee.

I NEVER had had to worry about not being able to see a doctor or use the hospital, ever.

I know years ago my friend just about died in Redding (CA) when she was a little girl (appendicitis). Until her parents could prove they could pay, they (i.e., the hospital) would not look after her.

I believe that health care and education are the most important things a country has to provide for their people (of course food and choice of religion are a given).
I will concede that this is a single data point. Nonetheless, I think it's relevant. Additionally, when I was in Europe on a business trip in May, I had a fascinating dinner conversation about health care with two colleagues, one German and one British. Both were quite satisfied with their national health-care systems.

Perhaps a universal, single-payer system isn't the bogeyman that some make it out to be.

Update, Sunday, August 16

My friend sent me another e-mail, largely covering family items; however, she did include additional thoughts about Canada's healthcare system.
You will probably be amazed at the fact that Keifer Sutherland's grandfather, Tommy Douglas, was the creator of our medical system. He was a political party leader in Saskatchewan and went through very critical abuse by doctors, politicians, etc. over this, but he hung in there and got this benefit for all Canadians. We have lost some of it through abuse from immigrants and greed of politicians over the years, but it is still a good system.

We usually go to Yuma, Arizona each winter and do see the effects of your medical system. We always purchase extended medical so that we are covered while we are in the U.S. Our system will cover what they pay here, and the rest then is covered by our extended plan. It is not cheap.