22 July 2009

The Healthcare Debate

I've been following with great interest the current debate over healthcare in the United States. I don't claim to have read the bill (1000+ pages of legislation is daunting to say the least), but I'm going to comment on the situation anyway.

What I've read (from mainstream and fringe media, right, left and center) suggests that the system Obama is proposing is very, very similar to the current Canadian model. And that scares me. Americans deserve much, much better. I'm not even going to comment on the concerns that the proposed plan will fund abortions (as already happens in Canada) or that it will lead to rationing of healthcare (it does in Canada) or that it will lead to a utilitarian system where the disabled and elderly are not cared for because its too expensive (also a problem in Canada) because I think you all know where I stand on that issue.

Instead, I want to comment on this notion that free government healthcare is a good idea. I live the Canadian experience, and all I can say is thank God I'm healthy. The whole time I was going to university, I didn't have a doctor- I wasn't sick and didn't think I needed one. Now that I've settled into my career, I thought I'd find a doctor (my family and friends think that yearly physicals are a good idea, and apparently going 10 years without one is too long). So, I called every clinic in the area I'm now living in, and not one of them is accepting new patients.

Huh. I thought that under our universal medical care system, I could recieve medical care anywhere in the country. Apparently not. When I asked the clinics what I should do, they suggested I go to the ER for any problems.

Yeah, right.

I'm going to go to the ER for a physical.

And even if I did, and they would do it (which I'm sure they won't) what a waste of a) taxpayer money and b) ER resources. If the ER is busy dealing with people who should be seeing their GP, how can they help those who really need ER care? Our ER has essentially turned into a glorified walk- in clinic. Its a little ridiculous.

I also came across this story the other day. Apparently, this hospital has closed its maternity ward because there are no doctors to deliver babies in the city. Instead, expectant mothers are being told to go an hour away to deliver. This was supposed to be a temporary measure, but its been 6 months! Two women have already delivered en route to the hospital in the ambulance.

I don't know what the best solution is- the city can't seem to attract any doctors, but the patients are suffering. What happens when a women has a difficult or dangerous pregnancy/labour? Does a mother or child have to die before this situation is remedied? (I don't even want to think about the liability issues in this situation).

Anyway, my point is that the Canadian system is far from perfect. It is not something that other countries should try to emulate. Improve upon? Learn from? Sure- that's great, but this is not the route Americans want to take. Trust me.

The only "good" thing about Canadian healthcare is that its equal- rich or poor if you want treatment under the universal healthcare system, you will have wait equal lengths of time.

All I can say is, thank God for my health.

Pray for our neighbors to the south.

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