Friday, April 17, 2009

Some Questions For ET

I notices another health care thread on Newshounds. I know you were born in and lived in the states and you now live in Canada. What are the pros and cons of the Canadian health care system and how do you honestly feel it compares to the health care system in the States? ( I think I know the answer to that) Are there things that are better about our health care system?


et said...

Long answer, I know. But a complex question.

There's no comparison, Count. I find the health care system here to be affordable, thorough, modern, effective, and blissfully free of bureaucracy.

On the affordable front: there is a slilding scale which relates what one pays for the general provincial health care coverage to one's income. If you can't meet the basic premium, assistance is available. The amount can be paid monthly, quarterly, or twice a year.

As a medium-income family of three, we pay $100 per month for our coverage. Our health insurance in the States - which we had to pay out of pocket ourselves since we are self-employed - cost us upwards of $800 PER MONTH.

Thoroughness. There is no deductible associated with any services ordered by your attending physician. That includes lab work, diagnostics, maternity, surgery, and in some cases eye exams or oral surgery. This means that there are no hang-ups while your doctor's staff phones your insurance company to ask whether they'll pay for X, Y or Z before the test or procedure is done. If he or she feels it's needed, it happens. Example in point: last month I had to call paramedics to the house late at night - ET Spouse had a fall, lacerated his head badly, and was very disoriented. We spent all night in the ER. They cleaned the wound and stapled it closed, did a whole battery of blood tests, a CT scan - the whole 9 yards. The doc even requested an EEG in a couple of weeks' time, which the hospital scheduled for us and which went very efficiently. And all with simply showing his CareCard. No muss, no fuss.

We don't have a regular family doctor here yet, but I've had occasion to be in several different walk-in clinics, and they have all been well-equipped. I've even seen the rotating doc-on-duty issue prescriptions using a touch-screen laptop - no more squiggly handwriting!

Prescription drugs, as you know, are much more reasonable in cost in general here. Each province has a prescription drug plan in which all residents are eligible to participate, again with a premium based on family income.

The fearmongering about how you "can't choose your own doctor" is just that. In fact, with the big emphasis on healthy lifestyles and preventing rather than treating medical conditions, you're encouraged to establish a relationship with a regular physician. What is true is that there is - and this is also true in most of the U.S., I think - a shortage of practices accepting new patients. Walk-in clinics are plentiful and many operate into the evenings and on weekends. You may have to wait for a while - it's a take-a-number kind of system apart from emergencies or injuries requiring immediate attention, which jump the line - but in what doc's office is that any different? Similarly, there may be a wait time for elective surgeries and so forth, but it's by no means draconian or scary, and there's an effort underway to establish a standardized system of wait time guarantees nationwide.

The malarkey about how the big scary "government" will tell your doctor what treatment he or she can or can't provide to you is also nonsense. Unlike the UK system, where they are direct employees of the government, physicians and nurses in BC operate their own private offices and hospitals - even the walk-in clinics are privately operated - under the umbrella of different regional organizations that coordinate health services with the province: in our case, that would be the Vancouver Island Health Authority. The only place where government comes into the picture, on the level of your interaction with the system as a patient, is that caregivers only have to deal with the provinical health ministry to receive payment for their services, not hundreds of different insurers with a plethora of plans. And as I said above, I think that's a good thing - and far preferable to some insurance bureaucrat telling your doctor that, no, you can't do such-and-so because we don't cover it.

I hope the U.S. looks closely at the Canadian model. It really does work.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. This is the kind of answer I was looking for. Not because It was what I expected but because it was honest. We hear so much BS on this issue, from both sides I am sure, but one side as we know majored in BS. I just wanted an honest factual answer again thank you.

et said...

My pleasure, Count.

I would add two more points.

One other advantage I see in the Canadian system is that it encourages you to seek care more promptly when you are unwell, since you aren't worrying about whether or not you will be able to make the co-pay or what is/isn't going to be covered.

A potential disadvantage, and at least an awkwardness, is that since the system operates a little differently in each province, there can be difficulties getting care if you are traveling out of province, especially for an extended period of time. In those cases most provincial authorities encourage you to purchase supplemental insurance to cover your period of travel. I imagine this affects you more greatly if you have a chronic condition like diabetes, and much less so if you catch cold or sprain an ankle...but it is a bit of a pothole in an otherwise smooth road.

Anonymous said...

Oh goodie now the count is moving to Canada!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey Ranger did you and 08 teabag together?

Anonymous said...

I know this is the Ranger we are talking about but where in this post do I imply that I am moving to Canada? Where do I even say Canada is a better country?

I asked about the differences in Health Care. I have been to Canada and believe me there are things about Canada I do not like.

Not that I have to defend myself to an America hating nut like old Teabagger Bob.

Anonymous said...


So what makes you think this is Ranger Bob?

Anonymous said...

Ranger what makes you think I give a fuck?

Anonymous said...

And It's Stephen thank you.

Anonymous said...

I'm an anonymous pussy playing tough guy.

et said...

Dear me. So, Ranger Bob doesn't like the idea of readily-accessible, affordable, competent health care for all? A true man of the people.

Perhaps lacking sufficient points for Skilled Worker admission to Canada, however...

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