Anyway, the comment was by a Canadian; I thought it was worth sharing. Sometimes it helps to get an outside perspective on our particular brand of crazy. Purely anecdotal, of course:
We Canadians aren’t quite sure what to make of the hoopla over healthcare in the US. (Most Americans I meet are boggled that we know so much about American politics, but really, when you share a border with a country that has more Bombs than anyone else on the planet, you tend to pay attention to what they’re doing and what wingnut they’re electing next…. That and we get a lot of American TV.)
The healthcare debate to the south of us is sort of the horrifying hilarity of two minicars full of clowns crashing at high speed. Terrible, but come on, they’re clowns. For us, Universal healthcare is a no-brainer. And it costs us next to nothing in our taxes. I read a study last week that surprised me. I honestly and truly believed that we paid more of our income in taxes than Americans. Turns out we pay approximately 2% more. A lousy two percent more of my income goes to taxes and I never have to worry about losing my house to pay for cancer treatments or heart surgery.
It’s true that the Canadian system is not perfect. I had to wait 11 hours in the emergency room to get my finger fixed after I tripped over a snowbank and dislocated it. That, admittedly, was a bit of a pain (pun intended). But I didn’t have to sell my car to pay for the splint or the 8 weeks of physio therapy required to get it working again. I’m currently 5 months pregnant. I will pay exactly ZERO dollars for my prenatal care from my family doctor (I am lucky enough to have one), my OB-GYN, all the tests and ultrasounds, the actual delivery and my postnatal hospital stay (though my supplemental insurance from work will get me a private room instead of having to hang out on the ward). I will also get a full 12 months guaranteed maternity leave, though I will likely not take all of it myself as my hubbie wants to take some of that leave time. (I get 12 weeks actual maternity leave and the other 9 months is technically parental leave that can be taken by either parent at half-salary — which is again paid for by my measly extra 2% in taxes).
And the thing about death panels is laughable. My 90-year-old granny spent a week in the hospital not long ago with an issue with her gall bladder. Nobody executed her or denied her care to save money. Trust me, Granny Alma is still kickin’ and offering up her opinion about how my sister got married in the church while I got married in the showy splendor of Nature.
Our system is definitely not perfect, far from it, but I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it is to not have to worry that you or someone you love will die or go bankrupt because of a lack of access to reliable healthcare.
[I'm back.] The Canadian healthcare system is not the only universal healthcare system available in the world. Neither is the British one. As T.R.Reid points out in his book The Healing of America, there are many ways in which to reach the goal of affordable healthcare for everyone in our country. Our job now is to figure out which way to go. The question is not whether reform is needed; it is how to best accomplish this reform.
So anyone who wants to say reform is not possible, or that it leads to fascism, or that it would cost too much? Please educate yourself. Health care reform is possible. Japan does it. France does it. Germany does it. Almost every industrialized democracy has it. We can do it, too. As far as its costing too much? It already costs too much. Many of these costs are hidden in depressed wages, etc. But that's why we need reform. All these countries spend less than we do and cover more people. We look like fools.
I personally don't like career-counseling my teens and telling them, "Make sure you get a job with insurance" rather than "Work hard, follow your dreams, be all you can be." It seems to me that a free market economy cannot function at its most efficient when talent and skills cannot move to where they need to be because of the fear of losing health insurance. My neighbor isn't happy that her son and his long-time girlfriend can't get married because the son (who is pursuing a Masters) would lose the health coverage he gets through his mother's job. Another acquaintance of mine has a 62-year-old brother who needs back surgery. The longer he waits, the more damage he does to his back. But if he gets the surgery, he'll miss so much work he'll be laid off. And then - you guessed it - he'll lose his health insurance. He's going to turn 65 and go on Medicare a lot sicker than he should be, which of course will cost all of us more money in the long run than if he had gotten proper care when he needed it.
Our system is horribly broken. It needs fixed. The solution won't be perfect; nothing in this world is. But it will be, hopefully, several steps in the right direction. Remember - you don't really know whether you have adequate medical coverage until you actually need it. Each one of us is just one step from medical catastrophe. The house that health care reform saves? It may very well be your own.
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