Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sicko Shmicko

Cover of "Sicko (Special Edition)"
Cover of Sicko (Special Edition)

My father's last year of life was difficult.

At one point I took him to Emerg and was told the wait

would be 4 or 5 hours.  He couldn't sit in the chairs and

they told me if I took him home and came back in 4 fours

he would lose his place in line.

I took him home because there was no other choice and

later he went back by ambulance.

This week a friend told me that she had just taken her 77

year old mom to the hospital where she was admitted after

sitting in the waiting room for 6 hours.

However there were no beds available so she was going to

have to spend the night sitting in a chair in Emerg.

I was so irate I made a comment on face book.

One of the replies I got was from a distant cousin named

Mike who lives in Texas.

I know that many American politicians who want to change

their health care system hold up the Canadian system as the

be all and end all. 

But the American people are suspicious.

And reading my comment Mike saw the dark underbelly of our

Any Canadian, from the richest to the poorest, can get the finest

health care in the world. 

Ten years ago I had major eye surgery 3 times, twice in Toronto

and once in Hamilton.

The cost to me? Nothing.

The wait? Months.

If you saw Michael Moore's movie Sicko, you may have wondered

where he found that Canadian hospital with nobody waiting,

nobody in crisis.

You may also have been horrified to the point of wanting to shut the

borders at the stories of financial ruin inflicted on middle class

American families by their health care system.

Probably the truth lies somewhere in between.

Canadians are not likely to give up universal health care, the

importance of the welfare of the group over the importance of the

individual is just too ingrained.

And Americans value the individual over the group. 

That isn't likely to change either.

But right now, we both have shitty health care systems.

Is there not some common ground?

Can we not look at the best of both systems,
borrow a bit here and there?





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Katharine said...

Amen! I sat in emerg for more hours than I care to count with my mom in the years before her death. None of them easy waits. My last hospital stay was for appendicitis. I waited 10 hours, (and laid on the waiting room floor at one point) before they did surgery... and everyone has a story! I too wish there was common ground.

Doug Jamieson said...

Francie, the solution is two tier healthcare, but that is the third rail of Canadian politics, so no government will publicly support it, even though there is plenty of nibbling around the edges as various services get dropped off the list and are taken over by private clinics.

It's either that or a descent into even longer wait times and healthcare budgets that consume even larger shares of the provincial budgets.

The reality is that we already have two tier healthcare. The affluent have been travelling to the U.S. for decades when the waits have been too long and the urgency too great. Why not bring those dollars home to support our system by permitting people to pay for service if they wish.

I realize you and I will not agree on this.

The Episcopagan said...

I'm more open to change than you might suppose, Doug. It is only once you've been separated from the herd and become a straggler that you realize how serious the problem is. My Father's last year just about did me in. But I am extremely fearful of the 2 tier system - it doesn't seem to work for the Americans. Somehow there has to be a middle ground.

Doug Jamieson said...

Yes, personal experience has a way of causing us to question the status quo.

Without beating this issue to death, I would just comment that the Americans do not have a two tier system. Their current system is almost entirely private, managed by HMO's and the insurance industry.

The coming Obamacare will still not have a "single payer" (government) as we do in Canada, so most of the bargaining power will remain with the private sector players, although competition may reduce costs.

I do believe some sort of blended approach will prove to be the ultimate solution.

Interesting times.

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

We all have these types of negative experiences. But there are good stories in there, too. I agree with you, Francie; there must be a middle ground in there that will work much better.

The Episcopagan said...

Obviously I don't know what 2 tier health care means. I'm going to BEG Doug to explain it in his blog when he gets a chance.
(Geezeronline - see my sidebar)

Mike Harris said...

hey cousin,
it's great that our facebook exchange was such an inspiration!

this is a great discussion concerning a VERY complicated subject with lots of moving parts.

i'm not smart enough to know what's best but here's what i know...
i have a company sponsored medical plan that by most people believe to be very good. it covers myself, my wife and one daughter. i pay $250/mo and my company claims to contribute more than $500/mo. my annual deductible is $6500 -- where i pay the first $6500 in expenses each year. then i pay 20% of the next $1000. once i've accumulated $7500 in charges, insurance pays the rest (as long as it is considered 'reasonable').
we expect these costs to continue to rise until 'obamacare' is fully implemented in a few more years...i can hardly wait!
yes, i have almost free choice to some of the best medical resources in the world that is relatively convenient or best fits my schedule but at what cost?!?
i'm quite blessed that we can afford this as i realize many cannot but this 'robin hood effect' is tough for me to embrace...

i hope we can meet someday, francie!

The Episcopagan said...

So you have immediate access to the best health care, Mike, but at a cost. I have to tell you I was shocked to read what you pay. Thanks so much for explaining how it works and taking the time to comment. I hope that with the upcoming changes in your system the costs for the average person drop!!!

momto8 said...

my 16 yr old son tore his meniscus at 10am friday at the pa state wrestling tournament, was evaluated by the sports dr at 10;15 saw an orthopedic surgeon at 12noon a cardiologist at 1;30 and had surgery 730pm...I would say that is about as good as it can get for health care.

Introverted Art said...

I know exactly what you are talking about Francie...

Pandorah's Box said...

YES! Finally! Someone commenting the TRUTH about our health care system. Some parts are great, some parts are super duper shitty.

Why can't you just run our country?

The Episcopagan said...

Thanks kato, ha ha, but I'm not interested. Secnarf, however would very much like to be PM.

Magaly Guerrero said...

The answer is always in the middle, in between... I've no idea why it's so difficult to get there.

I just came back to NY, so I need to get new doctors. Department of Veterans Affairs Doctors because of my injuries. Free. Let's just say that I've lived in Canada, and going to the VA for any appointment reminds me of the good old days at the Maritimes.

Mike Harris said...

i just ran across another nugget of related data and it made me mad so i wanted to share...

this is a long article but it contains many good points. if you don't/can't read the whole thing, at least read the first few sections and the last one.

One sentence i really liked...
"We may be shocked at the $60 billion price tag for cleaning up after Hurricane Sandy. We spent almost that much last week on health care."

bottom line...
the u.s. has a great system that costs a lot of money. obamacare doesn't improve the cost...

as i said, this subject is very complicated but anything that is so controlled by money and polities is bound to be bad...

sorry for the continued rant...