>Universal Healthcare

>I just spent that last 24 hours with my wife at Credit Valley Hospital in our home town of Mississauga Ontario. For those of you unfamiliar with the geography, we are a city of just under 1 million on the western edge of Toronto. You might say that we are to Toronto what Burbank is to Los Angeles.

There has been much talk in the media lately about universal healthcare. Republicans in the US have used the Canadian system is a kind of boogie man in there debate with President Obama’s plan to over hall the system there. Our system is far from perfect, believe me. However; when you are in pain and need help the last thing you should be thinking about is how much this is going to cost.

As a resident (you don’t even have to be a citizen) of the province of Ontario I receive access to one of the best run emergency health care systems in the world. We do pay for it but the premiums deducted from our pay cheques through income assessments are based on our ability to pay, not our need or how much we use it. A healthy person who is rich pays more than a sick person who is poor on the assumption that the system is there for everyone when they need it. I pay roughly $100 per month for this access, others pay less and use it more but that’s okay.

In the last 24 hours my wife has undergone an x-ray, ultrasound and eventually had to have her gallbladder removed. She stayed overnight in a private room, had access to a private telephone line, received a meal and was given a prescription for pain medication. My total bill at the end of the day was $57.77. Half of that was for parking the other half for the prescribed drugs not covered by the government insurance plan. In two weeks she will return to the hospital for a follow up assessment by the surgeon, FREE. We visit our family doctor for routine ailments and check-ups on average 3-4 times per year, also FREE.

I don`t pretend to understand all the complexities of a government verses private health care system but when you need surgery to continue to live nothing else matters. Worrying about how you`re going to pay for it, whether or not your insurance company will cover it or if you will one day lose your coverage should never enter the debate. I know that if I lose my job tomorrow the Ontario government will no longer be getting their $100 per month from me but I will still have access to the same health care my wife needed today and that`s all the matters in the end.


  1. >In Australia we too have a public health system along with private health insurance. If one is on a low income and has a health care card they are able to access health care at no or very minimal cost. I have private health insurance for hospital and 'extras'. Extras are for eyes, dental, orthotics, psychology/psychiatry, natural therapies, etc. Our system has changed over time but all taxpayers pay a 'medicare' tax which is supposed to provide funding for publicly run health services. Right now our public hospitals are under funded. The Federal government is threatening the state governments with taking control of the public hospital system. I like the idea of all people having access to good quality health services but I'm also aware of how costly it is to governments to maintain and keep up with changes in technology etc.Even though I have private cover I get really annoyed that I pay $121 per fortnight but I still have to pay the difference between what my fund will pay and what I'm charged for a health service not covered in the public system. I don't have any ideas how to solve this except that focusing on prevention is usually found to be way cheaper for a government to provide health care than trying to 'cure' someone's health problem.

  2. >I think you are very lucky to have public health care. My mother has no insurance of any kind. She recently dislocated her thumb and we had to literally beg her to go the emergency room; she didn't want to go because she knew it would be expensive. The emergency room charged her somewhere around $2,500, basically just to have her thumb popped into place! Luckily, we received assistance with the payments from a private charity. I don't see what people are so afraid of, I fully support a public health care option.

  3. >Here in America, if someone goes to a hospital they are treated no questions asked. If people cant or don't pay, there is nothing the hospital can do. Here in America though, when you need surgery or an MRI, there is no line. You get the care you need immediately. By the way, why do so many Canadiens cross the border and come here for medical care? The healthcare option is not an option. You must buy it or go to jail. (read the bill) Now I don't know about you folks in Canada, but our money tree here has only yielded to AIG and GM. I am facing the stark reality that if the "public option" passes, I will go to jail. Jolene, you don't see what people are afraid of, well here's it in a nutshell. I have a combination of very unusual health issues because of a concussion I received in 2005. I need a very specific and unusual treatment to keep living. Now, if the government steps in, there will be assigned treatments for this or that and I will lose the very medical care THAT I PAY FOR OUT OF POCKET and have to accept whatever the government says is the assigned treatment for that injury. You pointed out that private charities are already in place that help such situations. People here get the treatment they need even they they are not from this country. Instead a better system is to force everybody to pay for government system that will be grossly inefficient and abused, as it destroys the healthcare system 70% of Americans are happy with. The U.S Federal government is losing $300B a year on the post office. If they can't figure out how to deliver mail, do you really want that same system deciding what medical care you get? If you want to make healthcare affordable, the State of Mississippi has the answer. They put limitations on the frivolous lawsuits that the tort pimps (our term for class action lawyers) have gotten rich off of. Since then, Hospital costs have dropped by 80%. Doctors are flooding into Mississippi because it is a better place for them to work, and with more doctors available, there is competition that drives prices down. The other answer is opening up state borders for insurance companies. Here in Florida, insurance is expensive because many here are wealthy and can afford it, so the insurance is a certain price. If we could get the same coverage from GA where it is half the price, Florida insurance prices would be forced to drop or people would get their insurance from other states, either way, it would be affordable to those less well off financially. I know what a "public option" does as I lived in Tennessee from 02-04 and they had Tenncare. It was the model of what our government is trying to pass and in 10 years it bankrupted the state and is now being phased out. The quality of care given was horrible and abuse and mismanagement was rampant. As for the religious aspect of this, we as Christians are commanded to give of our means and help where and whenever we can. We are not told to force our neighbors to give what they own to any government in the hope that people will be taken care of. Mandating everyone to buy and pay for a government run healthcare disaster is not exactly a "Christian" way of doing things. Do want the government to mandate what you can or cant read or where you worship because if we open the pandora's box of putting our bodies and health responsibilities under the command of the government (it used to be called slavery when you didn't own your body) the things I warned about will come next.

  4. >When you are in a life or death situation, you should not have to worry about how long you will have to wait to get government approval for your health care. If Canadiens are happy with what they've got, then great. However, only 30% of Americans support Obamacare now and that number is dropping. So I think that the debate on our health care should be an American debate. Unfortunately, the majority is being silenced by the media and our government. I believe we need changes in our health care system, but destroying our healthcare system in favor of a government system would be a disaster.

  5. >I've seen the adds that claim Canadians are crossing the border for medical care and quite frankly they are lies! There are only 2 reasons that happens and they are both functions of our relatively small population, not an indication that the system is broken. #1 – Many proceedures that are deemed elective have long waiting lists. Under the Canada Health Act it is illegal for a hospital to offer preferencial treatment to anyone regardless of their ability to pay so rather than wait 3 to 6 months for an elective proceedure some people will go to the US and pay out of pocket. If they were a bit more patient that could get the proceedure at home for free. But this is never the case for urgent, required treatement. #2 – Some smaller communities don't have the facilities readily available for certain proceedures and have deemend it more economical to send patients to other communities for treatment. Sometimes those other communities are in the US. The city of Windsor Ontario for instance does not have an MRI machine. Therefore the local hospital gives patients the option of travelling to Detriot, about 30 minutes away for treatment. Patients pay out of pocket for the priveledge but are fully reimbursed by the government within 90 days. If they can't afford to wait for the reimbursement they can travel to Toronto, about 4 hours away. So the choice is a 30 minute drive and 90 day wait or a 4 hour drive and no wait. This isn't an indication that the tax payer system is broken, it just shows that those running the system are good financial managers.

  6. >I am a Registered Nurse from Mississippi. Trust me, Andrew33, when I say that doctors are not "flooding" into Mississippi. Are you kidding me?I keep dreaming of a day, someday most likely in the far future, when the US will finally adopt a healthcare system like that of Canada or England.For now, I guess folks will keep believing the lies that are fed to them daily on TV. It grieves me.

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