American Health

As a Canadian watching the debate over health care in the United States, I can’t help but be amused by the rhetoric that opponents of universal health care use to ensure health insurance companies and health care providers continue to make extreme profits at the expense of their fellow citizens. Why am I amused? Because universal health care is accepted as a most valued right of citizenship in my country.

We had a similar debate back in the 1960s when Tommy Douglas first proposed universal health care. Although the same tired arguments about a person’s right to gouge his fellow man and woman were made by the usual suspects (e.g., vested interests in private-for-profit health care), common sense prevailed and today we have a system that ensures no citizen is without fundamental access to health care services, and no citizen becomes bankrupt as a result of obtaining those services. So, using Canada as an example of a bad health care system just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny on this side of the 49th parallel. Citizens here consider their health care system fundamental to being a Canadian, and vigorously defend that system when politicians seek to weaken it. As well, independent surveys of health care systems around the world, place Canada’s as one of the best, and consistently above that found in the U.S.

Can our system be improved? Of course it can! Like most such systems around the world, it has its problems and drawbacks. However, no matter what financial status you may find yourself, as a Canadian citizen, you will never be refused basic health care.

Is there a role for the private sector? Yes, the private sector still provides much of our health care services. Most doctors are employed by the private sector. Insurance companies provide coverage for those services not considered essential by the government (which varies from province to province).

Is it expensive? Yes, like elsewhere in the world, health care costs are constantly rising, and governments struggle to keep pace. However, Canadian health care costs are consistently cheaper than those in the U.S.

How is it paid? Through our taxes. It is one of the major reasons Canadians generally pay higher taxes than citizens in the U.S. But we don’t pay the expensive health care insurance premiums many citizens in the U.S. do. Maybe our taxes aren’t that high after all.

What about wait times? Wait times are indeed a problem, again depending on where you live. Governments and health care providers are constantly trying to lower these times but it is an ongoing issue. However, if you have an emergency condition or are threatened by a fatal disease or condition, wait times are not an issue. Despite what distorted stories you may have heard, such patients are treated expeditiously.

So argue all you want about the need for universal health care, but please don’t distort how we Canadians feel about our health care. While we may criticize specific aspects of our system, we will also defend it as being a most valued benefit of citizenship.

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About Don Meredith

I am a writer and biologist living in Alberta, Canada. I write a monthly column for the Alberta Outdoorsmen magazine.
This entry was posted in Canada, General and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to American Health

  1. Fookie says:

    I am sure your visitors find your site as useful as I did.

  2. anne says:

    When my husband had a slight stroke a few weeks ago, the last thing on our minds was health insurance coverage because we live in Canada and enjoy universal health care coverage. Within minutes of arriving at the Emergency Dep’t of our local hospital, we presented our health card and were seen by a Doctor. After an initial examination, he ordered a brain scan, an ecg and bloodworks: all at no cost to us! subsequently, we had an appointment with a nurse specializing in neurology as well as neurologist. More diagnostic tests such as a Holter monotor and an echocardiogram and more extensive bloodworks were also administered. At no time did the doctors need to consult with insurance companies for approval of tests. We came home with procedures to follow and absolutely no worries about how we were going to be able to apy for these excellent services. It boggles my mind the a lot of Americans can not embrace such a plan. not only are Canadians amongst the healhiest in the world, our health care costs less per capita than the present American plan that leaves MILLIONS of people with absolutely no coverage! I commend President Obama for his great efforts to bring similar health care to Americans. His great vision for the American people is one that I admire. We would welcome with open arms a man of such vision. I hope that his efforts are not in vain…..

  3. tripplex5663 says:

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