Monday, March 23, 2009

Alternative Health Care Approaches

On one of my favourite blogs, this discussion is raging about health care. Since Canada was cited so much, I decided to chime in with my 2 cents:

Like with all things, one's views on health care depends a lot on one's political views.

I, for one, have TONS of evidence of ENORMOUS problems with the Canadian health care system. Its very nature breeds inefficiency. Yet once one gets past the [often] long waits then the actual care by the nurses & doctors et al is supposed to be superb.


I pay $52 per month for health care here in British Columbia. If I didn't make sufficient income then this fee would be waived. I'm in good health so haven't had to use the medical system for years. But if I did get sick then I'd have to try to find a personal GP, which is exceedingly difficult these days. Another option would be to walk into a local clinic which operates with a pool of doctors in rotation. My third option would be to walk into the Emergency of any local hospital. In the latter two cases you're guaranteed a multi-hour wait (note: 4 - 10 hrs isn't unheard of) almost all the time. Even with a personal GP you usually still have to wait.

My mom's in the hospital right now. Thankfully there was a bed available for her. If there wasn't then she'd be on a waiting list for who knows how long.

A good friend of mine, John, had some major heart problems for years. When it got so severe he went to his GP simply to get an appointment for a heart specialist. Then he waited and waited and waited. His wife morbidly joked that only time would tell whether she would sit in on an appointment with the specialist or with a funeral director. Eventually John did get into the specialist after 8 months. By that point things were so serious that he was immediately scheduled for surgery. And all that wait was simply to get a pacemaker installed. He's now doing better.

The father of a close friend of mine has been suffering with different types of cancer for a few years. While waiting for surgery for his stomach cancer, he started getting blurry vision. Only at the insistence of his daughter screaming at the medical officials to give him an MRI was one done. It turned out he had a brain tumor. Thankfully space was available within a week to have an operation to remove it. All went well. But if there had been many others in line then he would have had to wait & wait & wait.


Because of the crazy rules preventing one from paying for private medical care here in Canada, it's actually easier to take one's dog in for an MRI than to get one for a human.

The powers at be refuse to share the costs of one's medical treatment with the patients. I've advocated for years that a bill should be presented to each patient, albeit with the costs waived. But the hospitals have no real cost controls per say so they don't actually know what it costs to treat each patient. Let's be clear: if costs are not closely monitored then inefficiencies and corruption are certain to result.

I have heard before, but don't have this confirmed, that there are more MRIs in the City of Philadelphia than in the entire country of Canada.


Things are slowly changing for the positive here in Canada with more of a mixture of private and public health care. The fact is that competition improves things, no matter how much the public sector health care unions are in denial of this fact. In my province currently between 40 - 50% of all taxes go towards health care. This number keeps on increasing. The fear is that one day it will consume 70% or even 80% of the budget.

I have no specific advice for my American friends but the notion that health care is peachy keen here in Canada is a myth that only the likes of Michael Moore and other Obamunists will buy into.

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