Pros and Cons of Canadian Healthcare
Health Insurance Rate Hikes
My son lives and works in the USA. He works for a large international company. He recently got notice that his health insurance premiums have raised by 41% to $900 a month and he can no longer afford the coverage. The policy has also increased the co-pay so for $10,000 a year he still has to pay 20% of all procedures.
I am so worried about my son and all US citizens. What are you thinking? Just watched Robin Williams on HBO and he joked that maybe congressmen should wear jackets like NASCAR racers with the names of their sponsors on them such as the insurance and big pharmaceutical companies.
You think that freedom to choose which company is going to bleed you dry is important? On the way to Mexico we stopped to buy our auto insurance and I got to talking with the agent. Her husband was out of work for a year and she can't afford health insurance. She had a mild heart attack and was sent home from the hospital with instructions to visit a cardiologist. She doesn't have the money to do so. She has the hereditary genetic marker for colon cancer. I am not an expert, but I know there is a genetic component for some types of colon cancer. She wants to get her children tested, but again she has no insurance and cannot afford the state program which costs $75 per child per month. She makes a few dollars too much to get free coverage.
I don't know how you deal with the constant fight to get coverage and then to get the insurance companies to pay legitimate claims. I find the whole business frightening. The worst part is all the scare tactics being used by companies and people with vested interests in keeping the status quo. US citizens are some of the most generous and giving people in the world. Why don't you give yourselves affordable health services.
Update re Canadian Waiting Lists
I am on a waiting list for cataract surgery. It will be a whole 7 weeks. Would you choose to have it done in a week if you could have it done for no cost in 6 more.
I watched the documentary "Sicko" again on HBO. The state of the US system is appalling. It's hard to imagine a system than excludes the health care for the 9/11 volunteers that are suffering debilitating lung conditions or that dumps defenseless old people out on the street in hospital gowns.
So you are happy because you have a good job and a good policy. What if that job goes away? What if one of your children has a pre-existing condition and you can't get coverage.
There are no perfect health care systems because people are imperfect. The system the US currently has is based on greed and an insurance company standing between the patient and the needed care.
It would be nice to know exactly how much the pharmaceutical and insurance companies are paying their lobbyists?
What You Need to Know About Our Canadian Health Care System
Please don't be unduly influenced by advertisements by special interest groups against a public health care plan. These ads play on your fears and emotions. In any medical system there are a few people who receive less that adequate care for various reasons. A low income family member in California received poor health care and died early with cancer because she was not sent promptly for necessary tests. There is a particularly malicious email circulating that is aimed at seniors and tells them that stints are denied to people over 65. I do not know of any senior here in Canada ever denied a stint because of age.
I believe it is a right for everyone to have basic health care.
Our Canadian system isn't perfect, but it costs almost 60% less than the US. It is not totally socialized medicine but a mix of private and public services. The hospitals are owned and funded by the provinces and in the case of British Columbia that was accomplished originally by a sales tax.
It is a one payer system and the doctors as a group must negotiate their rates for services with the provinces. In other words, they can't charge whatever they want for any given procedure.
Each province is a little different, but is required to provide basic health services under federal law. In BC, we only pay 25% of nearly all prescriptions up to an annual maximum of $400 and up depending on income. Premiums for low income families are subsidized and in some provinces there are no monthly premiums. Provincial health services are very responsive to people with a sudden loss of income and inability to pay premiums. The premiums can be adjusted until they have the ability to pay.
The medical services as a whole negotiate with pharmaceutical companies so our prescription costs are much lower.
I admit to a biased view because our system has saved the lives of two family members.
Just ask any Canadian politician what would happen if he or she were to advocate privatization of our medical services. Their political careers would suffer! I only know of one in Alberta, Ralph Klein, who suggested that and the matter was dropped in short order.
- No doctor bills, no hospital bills, no co-pays
- No one is excluded
- Excellent public health, preventative services, free mammograms, dietitians, diabetic nurses and nurses for home visits for new mothers, the chronically ill and the elderly.
- Emergency transport by air or ambulance is provided for a minimal charge in BC of about $60 or so.
- Low health premiums
- Supplemental policies are allowed for dental and other misc. items but by law can not include any services provided by the basic provincial health plan
- Doctors may not collect fees from patients and also bill the Province for the same service.
- Doctors may opt out of the system.
- Very few unnecessary surgeries
- Waiting lists for elective procedures.
- Must be referred by family doctor to see specialists. It has been our experience that once you get in to see a specialist the wait is not too long. Family doctors are good about referrals so that you can get into the system as early as possible.
- Shortage of doctors caused by brain drain to the US and mistakes made by the College of Physicians and Surgeons who control the number of medical student admissions and residencies available to immigrant doctors.
- Travel costs to see specialists if you live away from urban areas due to concentration of specialists in large centers for efficiency. (80% of all Canadians live in urban areas)
- Hospitals aren't fancy, no in-room phones and wards are co-ed.
- Delivery of health services sometimes difficult due to the sheer size of our country and small population, smaller than that of California.
The above information is mainly about British Columbia, because that is where I live. Each province approaches basic health care a little differently, but health care insurance is reciprocal between all the provinces except for Quebec.
This year my husband and I paid $650 for an annual travel health policy covering us for only 15 days at a time in the US. Our annual premiums for health care here in BC are about the same amount. We know many retired Canadian who no longer spend time in the US just because their health care insurance costs are so exorbitant. We spend our winters in Mexico for that reason.
This is just one Canadians point of view and occasionally I do complain, but then I look to the south and count my blessings.