|Sent on:||Monday, September 7, 2009 6:28 PM|
Thank you for the comparison with Canada. I’m originally from Germany and can’t believe the lies that are being spread about the ‘socialized’ healthcare there. I wish every American would have the opportunity to go to one of those ‘horrible socialist’ countries one day and could experience for him/herself what life is like when you can count on your government to provide the basic needs for ALL…
I don’t understand that there are truly people out there who are OK with others suffering needlessly… and this is supposed to be a civilized country???
Anyway, I just moved here from Atlanta, GA a few weeks ago and am so grateful for the opportunity to get to know some liberal ladies thanks to meetup J
Can’t wait to meet everyone!
Hi to everyone,
With healthcare being the conversational topic of the moment I thought I would share the following comments from Sara Robinson (who has used both Canadian and US health care systems). They are taken from her article “Mythbusting Canadian Healthcare” on www.ourfuture.org/. I recap her article here (it was rather lengthy) because I wanted to share this information which supplies some wonderful talking points we all can use when confronted with the false truths being distributed by conservatives to stop health care reform. I think we all know that Republicans oppose any health care reform, not because they think the policy will not work, but because they know it will work, and Americans will like it and reward Democrats with their political loyalty the way Depression-era voters voted Democratic forever out of gratitude for the New Deal and Social Security. It’s time to really speak up in support of health care ladies, and the more informed we are the more likely we are to break through the fear being generated.
While many of us already now much, if not all, of this information, it is said here in a manner less-informed people can clearly understand. I urge you to pass it on.
Canada's health care system is "socialized medicine."
False. In socialized medical systems, the doctors work directly for the state. In Canada (and many other countries with universal care), doctors run their own private practices, just like they do in the US. The only difference is that every doctor deals with one insurer, instead of 150. And that insurer is the government, which is accountable to the voters if the quality of coverage is allowed to slide. The proper term for this is "single-payer insurance." In talking to Americans about it, the better phrase is "Medicare for all."
Doctors are hurt financially by single-payer health care.
True and False. Doctors in Canada do make less than their US counterparts. But they also have lower overhead, and usually much better working conditions.
First, they don't have to charge higher fees to cover the salary of a full-time staffer to deal with over a hundred different insurers, all of whom are bent on denying care whenever possible. In fact, most Canadian doctors get by quite nicely with just one assistant.
Second, they don't have to spend several hours every day on the phone cajoling insurance company bean counters into doing the right thing by their patients. My doctor in California worked a 70-hour week: 35 hours seeing patients, and another 35 hours on the phone arguing with insurance companies. My Canadian doctor, on the other hand, works a 35-hour week, period. She files her invoices online, and the vast majority are simply paid -- quietly, quickly, and without hassle. There is no runaround. There are no fights. One unsurprising side effect of all this is that the doctors I see in Canada are, to a person, more focused, more relaxed, more generous with their time, more up-to-date in their specialties, and overall much less distracted from the real work of doctoring. You don't realize how much stress the American doctor-insurer fights put on the day-to-day quality of care until you see doctors who don't operate under that stress, because they never have to fight those battles at all.
Third: The average American medical student graduates $140,000 in hock. The average Canadian doctor's debt is roughly half that.
Finally, Canadian doctors pay lower malpractice insurance fees. When paying for health care constitutes a one of a family's major expenses, expectations tend to run very high. A doctor's mistake not only damages the body; it may very well throw a middle-class family permanently into the ranks of the working poor, and render the victim uninsurable for life. With so much at stake, it's no wonder people are quick to rush to court for redress.
Wait times in Canada are horrendous.
True and False again -- it depends on which province you live in, and what's wrong with you. Canada's health care system runs on federal guidelines that ensure uniform standards of care, but each territory and province administers its own program. As a general rule, the farther north you live, the harder it is to get to care, simply because the doctors and hospitals are concentrated in the south. But that's just as true in any rural county in the U.S.
Critics should be reminded that the American system is not exactly instant-on, either. When I lived in California, I had excellent insurance, and got my care through one of the best university-based systems in the nation. Yet I routinely had to wait anywhere from six to twelve weeks to get in to see a specialist. Non-emergency surgical waits could be anywhere from four weeks to four months. After two years in the BC system, I'm finding the experience to be pretty much comparable, and often better. The notable exception is MRIs, which were easy in California, but can take many months to get here. (It's the number one thing people go over the border for.) Other than that, urban Canadians get care about as fast as urban Americans do.
You have to wait forever to get a family doctor.
False for the vast majority of Canadians, but True for a few. Again, it all depends on where you live. It is, absolutely, harder to get to a doctor if you live out in a small town, or up in the territories. But that's just as true in the U.S.
You don't get to choose your own doctor.
Scurrilously False. Canadians pick their own doctors, just like Americans do.
Canada's care plan only covers the basics. You're still on your own for any extras, including prescription drugs. And you still have to pay for it.
True -- but not as big an issue as you might think. A typical premium for basic coverage is $108/month for a family of four. However almost all employers pick up the tab for their employees' premiums as part of the standard benefits package; and the province covers it for people on public assistance or disability.
"The basics" covered by this plan include 100% of all doctor's fees, ambulance fares, tests, and everything that happens in a hospital -- in other words, the really big-ticket items that routinely drive American families into bankruptcy. It doesn't include "extras" like medical equipment, prescriptions, physical therapy or chiropractic care, dental, vision, and so on. But: you can deduct any out-of-pocket health expenses you do have to pay off your income taxes. And, as every American knows by now, drugs aren't nearly as expensive here, either.
Filling the gap between the basics and the extras is the job of the country's remaining private health insurers. Group plans are cheap enough that even small employers can afford to offer them as a routine benefit. An average working Canadian with employer-paid basic care and supplemental insurance gets free coverage equal to the best policies now only offered at a few of America's largest corporations. And that employer is probably only paying a couple hundred dollars a month to provide that benefit.
Canadian drugs are not the same.
More preposterous bogosity. They are exactly the same drugs, made by the same pharmaceutical companies, often in the same factories.
The taxes to cover it are just unaffordable.
False. On one hand, our annual Canadian tax bite runs about 10% higher than our U.S. taxes did. On the other, we're not paying out the equivalent of two new car payments every month to keep the family insured. When you balance out the difference, we're actually money ahead. When you factor in the greatly increased social stability that follows when everybody's getting their necessary health care, the impact on our quality of life becomes even more significant.
And True. Yes, the provincial plans are always struggling. So is every single publicly-funded health care system in the world, including the VA and Medicare. There's always tension between what patients want and what insurers are willing to pay. At least when it's in government hands, we can demand some accountability. And my experience in Canada has convinced me that this accountability is what makes all the difference between the two systems.
Government-run health care is inherently less efficient.
America spends about 15% of its GDP on health care. Most other industrialized countries (all of whom have some form of universal care) spend about 11-12%. According to the WHO, Canada spends a bit over 9% -- and most of the problems within their system come out of the fact that it's chronically underfunded compared to the international average.
Any system that has people spending more and getting less is, by definition, not efficient. And these efficiency leaks are, almost entirely, due to private greed. There is no logical way that a private system can pay eight-figure CEO compensation packages, turn a handsome a profit for shareholders, and still be "efficient." Shareholder profit, inflated CEO salaries, and top-heavy administration -- all of which serve to work against the delivery of care, not facilitate it -- are anti-efficiencies that siphon off 20-25% of America's total health care spending. Another benefit of single-payer health care is that it largely eliminates the entire issue of "fraud." You can only "cheat" a system that already views its primary business as rationing and withholding care.
Publicly-funded programs inevitably lead to rationed health care.
Don't look now: but America does ration care. And it does it in the most capricious, draconian, and often dishonest way possible.
Mostly, the US system rations care by simply eliminating large numbers of people from the system due to an inability to pay. Last year, one-quarter of all Americans didn't go to a doctor when they needed one because they couldn't afford it. Nearly that many skipped getting a test, treatment, prescription, or follow-up appointment recommended by a doctor. In Canada, those same numbers are in the 4-5% range; in the UK, 2-3%. Also: nearly 20% of all Americans had a hard time paying a medical bill last year; and these stresses now trigger over half of all personal bankruptcies in the country.
Being cut off or denied by your insurance company is rationing, too. And there are vast numbers of fairly well-off Americans -- many of them middle-aged, and too young for Medicare -- who have pre-existing conditions that render them uninsurable at any price. They're one heart attack, one diabetic event, or one bad turn away from financial disaster. Effectively shutting one-quarter of the population out of the medical system entirely, and putting many of the rest on short rations, certainly does make things so much nicer for those happy few who are still in it. In fact, Americans have these missing millions to thank for their system's impressively short wait times. Only 4% of American have to wait more than six months for non-elective surgeries, while 14-15% of Canadian and Britons do. (Don't blame this on government care, though: in Germany and the Netherlands, the number is closer to 2%.)
Another persistent (and ridiculously mendacious) rationing myth about the Canadian system is that old people are cut off from treatment and left to die. I've never heard about a single case of this in Canada; but it happens routinely to Americans on Medicare and many private policies, which have strict limits on how long you can stay in the hospital with an acute illness. When the benefits run out, ready or not, they send you home. If you die, you die. The Canadian plan has no such limits: you stay for as long as you need to. But in the US, these limits fit the very definition of "rationed care."
You can't have medical innovation without the incentives provided by the free market.
As in the US, Canada's government funds major medical research that has led to a continuous stream of new medical breakthroughs. And Canadian rate of innovation didn't slow down in the least when Canada moved to single-payer in the 1960s.
The Bottom Line
In America, a lucky employee with gold-plated employer-based coverage may well get access to A-level care (though that level of coverage becoming rarer by the month, even among the professional classes). On the other hand, about 50 million under-insured Americans are barely scraping by with C or D-level care; and the nearly 50 million with no insurance at all get next to no care whatsoever. Worst of all: 18,000 Americans die every year due to lack of access to healthcare. That's one every 30 minutes, around the clock, every day of the year -- the equivalent death toll of six 9/11s every single year that passes.
In Canada, everybody gets at least B-level care, pretty consistently across the board -- and, on occasion, quite a bit better than that. You might not like those odds if you're one of the shrinking handful of Americans who's used to A-level care; but if that's not you, you'd be getting a much better deal in Canada.
For the full article (more than twice as long as what I’ve included here):
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