Weighing in on the healthcare debate

I’ve been trying to stay quiet on the American health care reforms/NHS debate because it’s a subject that makes my blood boil so quickly.

Instead, [info]calapine said it for me: http://calapine.livejournal.com/569192.html

And in the same language that I’m tempting to use 😀

While the NHS is the most visibly attacked system for most British people, the conservative right is also using the Canadian system as an example of how terrible socialised medicine is. I remember people asking me when I moved, “What are you going to do about health care when you’re in Canada?”

I think this was largely because most people assume that Canada has the same system as the USA. Don’t get me started on the English perception of Canada as either the 51st State or a frozen Arctic wasteland populated by penguins. I’m serious about the penguines, yes. Geography, people. Learn some.

The Canadian system, in many ways, is what I think the USA will be going towards if they ever do get true universal health care. Here all the hospitals, doctors etc. are ‘private’ and the government pays their bills, administered via a couple of large insurance companies. Kind of like government funded health insurance. Some provinces charge a (very small) monthly fee, waived if you’re on benefits, Nova Scotia doesn’t. And if you have permenant residency here (either through PR or citizenship) then you’re entitled to that free care in NS from day 1. Some provinces have a wait period of 30 days when your originating province has to cover you. Slightly more complicated to sort out, but still not costing the user to access health care even during that wait period.

There are a few things it doesn’t cover: dental and drugs (unless you are 11 years old or under), eye care and extras like private physios. Although your doctor can refer you for hospital physio if you can’t afford private physio. Er, so it’s just like the NHS is that respect 🙂

Nova Scotia is also one of the first provinces to bring out a government drug plan. Each year my earnings are assessed and they work out how much I can afford to pay in drug costs. When I reach that ‘cap’, all my drug costs are paid for by the government. So there’s no chance that cancer will bankrupt me even if I need $40,000 of treatment. Oh, and all drugs administered in hospital are paid for no matter what happens. So, basically, a hospital stay won’t cost me a cent.

All the funding for this is administered through private insurers. Doctors and hospitals submit their bills to the insurer and are refunded, the government refunds the insurers. No need to get pre-authorisation for a procedure or drug because the government will always fund it (apart from the above exclusions).

Do I have private medical insurance? Yes, through my work. It pays for nice extras like a private room in a hospital, dental, money towards glasses and alternative therapies such as private physio, accupunture, chiropracty, a great drug plan etc. Nothing that’s essential to my healthcare, but nice-to-haves. The eye care is awesome because that’s just the NHS doesn’t pay and nor do most private insurance plans in the UK. In other words, private insurers aren’t out of business here. And I’m not thousands of dollards out of pocket every time I dislocate a joint, need surgery or get an infection. My family doctor sees me and doesn’t present me with a bill at the end. Same with my specialist. This is despite me having pre-existing conditions.

It’s an excellent system, just as good as the NHS, and that’s why my blood boils every time Republican conservatives scream about the dreadful care, the impossibility of implementing it and the harm it causes. Right now, my uncle is in hospital due to congestive heart failure and a pulmonary embolism. They’re doing an excellent job and there was never any debate about whether he’d be seen. And when he eventually dies, nobody is going to be left with a huge hospital bill to pay.

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