Facebook Pixel

Health Care Reform: Health Care For Everyone

By HERWriter
Rate This

In the debate that is heating up in the United States over universal health care - a proposal that has many Americans searching for extreme Canadian examples to use against the idea - it's important to consider two things. One, that there are good and bad situations with the current Canadian system. Two, that there are good and bad situations with the current American system.

Ask any Canadian and they will tell you that that they wouldn't trade Canadian-style universal health care for anything. But that doesn't mean there aren't issues. As with any aspect of public life, whether government funded or not, there will always be aspects that people don't like or that don't work out as well as we would hope and, in light of those issues, sometimes change is difficult to initiate.

For example, the main issue Canadians have with American-style health care is that the whole system is based on whether or not you can pay for the health care. Just as Americans have heard some horror stories about the Canadian system, the main thing that makes Canadians cringe at our way are the stories we hear about someone being turned away from treatment by an American hospital because they don't have insurance.

Many Canadians feel that is simply unacceptable. Everyone deserves to be treated, and that treatment should be the same whether you're a multi-millionaire or a single mother struggling to make it in the Bronx. Your financial status should not determine whether or not you receive health care, and if you do receive health care, should not determine the quality of that health care.

Another issue Canadians see is the monstrous medical bills that come from just going to see a family doctor, which in many cases prevent people from seeking timely medical attention. Treating certain conditions early means that they won't turn into potentially more serious - and more expensive -situations down the road. Just the cost of having a baby can be over $10,000 and that's just for a normal delivery. Never mind if your baby is born prematurely and requires hospital care for months. Those Americans with good health care plans are fine, but what about those who don't.

In the Canadian system, it's already paid for. You go into the hospital and you don't have to worry about paying for the hospital room, the surgery and the drugs they use. It's all covered for everyone. You don't have to be worried about being turned away at the door because the doctor's afraid he/she won't get paid for treating you.

Canadians can make appointments with their doctor to address any health concerns, without having to worry about whether or not they will have sufficient money to pay for the consultation.

There are many issues facing Canadian health care. The three main ones are: 1) not enough family doctors 2) long waiting lists for more specific treatment 3) the transition - and resistance to - what is referred to as two-tiered health care.

Briefly, for the last 30 years or so, Canada has been losing many of its trained doctors to the U.S. because they get paid more in the U.S. There is money in private health care. Canadian doctors are still making more than the average Canadian, but for some the allure of thousands of dollars a year more is too enticing to ignore.

Canada has experienced long waiting lists for certain long-term treatments and unfortunately, no one really seems interested in taking the drastic step needed to change this. People need MRIs and surgeries and consultations. This is compounded by trained medical staff going to the U.S. and elsewhere for more pay and the fact that many doctors are retiring. Referrals for MRIs and CT scans are on the increase, which means a bigger strain on the only ones available - the ones in hospitals, which are publicly funded. This isn't the fault of the hospitals or the government. It's just a reality of having this extraordinary diagnostic technology available - everyone wants to use it.

Many Canadians believe the only way to resolve this issue is to establish "two-tiered health care" - to provide private MRI centers and other health care services so that those who can afford to pay to be treated can go there, and those on the provincially funded insurance plan (OHIP in Ontario) can still gain access to the treatment they need. This is actually beneficial because it lessens the wait times for the publicly-funded treatment centers. Many of those against "two-tiered" health care don't realize that we already have this situation - those that are richer than others that go to private health clinics in Canada or the U.S. for treatment, and those who can only rely on the provincial health care funding.

What doesn't help the waiting list or private health care issues at all is the fact that some provincial governments choose to stick their head in the sand and not even acknowledge the fact that there is a problem and that combining private and public health care in a new system could help solve many of our issues. The provinces should be picking up the tab for any Canadian who has to travel out-of- province or out-of-country to get the care they need. Unfortunately, government will be government and it continues to make things more complicated than they need be.

This is the lesson that Americans can learn from our Canadian system. An American government health care plan would guarantee everyone access to medical treatment when they need it. But that health care plan doesn't have to be exactly like Canada's. In fact, I would encourage an American-made solution to the issues that Canada has seen.

The United States is the only industrialized nation without a publicly-funded health care system. Since Americans have always been on the outer rim of trying new things and developing something bigger and better than everyone else, it is possible for the American system to work. The United States is recognized by most of the world for their medical expertise in a variety of areas. But, so much of this health care knowledge and expertise is not even available to its own citizens because they can't afford to pay for it.

This is a time of transition for everyone - finding jobs, trimming budgets, trying to make do with less. But whatever the current economic climate, people should not have to worry about the extra expense associated with being treated by a medical doctor. That is the advantage of a government insurance plan.

Even though the Canadian health care system has its flaws, many Canadians will not argue about the reason it was started in the first place - health care for everyone. A reliable health care system should be about making sure that everyone in society has access to medical care without worrying about the expense. If people have access to health care whenever they need it, then they can address potentially more expensive conditions early, actually saving tax payers and the system money. They will be able to live healthier, longer, more productive lives because they will have access to medical care that they couldn't afford to pay for before.

The solution to health care reform in the U. S. doesn't lie in not doing anything at all. I believe to do nothing is just as bad as some of the Canadian provincial governments sticking their heads in the sand and proclaiming that things are going to stay the same as they've always been. Someone once said that insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.

The solution to health care reform is to come up with a way that recognizes and addresses some of the issues that the Canadian system has seen and still provide all the citizens of the richest nation in the world, regardless of income or socio-economic status, basic medical care.

Add a Comment41 Comments

The Canadian system is not the only good model available for national health care. As you noted, the industrialized nations of the world all have national health care systems (except us), which generally function very well. Germany has a two-tier system that its citizens enjoy. France has a extensive health care system that provides home help for women with new babies and a variety of other services. I strongly favor putting a national health care system in place here. The two-tiered system might work well in the USA, although I personally would prefer parity. By the way, we also are experiencing a decrease in certain medical specialties, notably general practioner and gynocologists (particularly gynocologists willing to do abortions). Positive health care trends in our country include the increasing number of women becoming doctors. I've noticed that the women doctors seem to do a better job of creating a balanced life for themselves and hence, probably provide better care. They often use group practices as a way to share responsibilities and not be on call all the time. They seem to take more time in talking and listening to me. Anyway, to get back to the main point of this discussion, the film "Sicko" by Michael Moore makes some excellent points about our current system. Personally, although I'm pleased at the health care reform of the past year, I'd like our legislators to go further. I pay for a health plan for myself, my college son, and my 25 year old son. The 25 year old currently has a job without health insurance. My cost is roughly $600 a month. When my college son was not in school, the cost was $1000 a month. Eeks.

March 22, 2011 - 6:38pm
EmpowHER Guest

"Ask any Canadian and they will tell you they wouldn't trade it for anything in the world" I am acquainted with several Canadians and they will tell you it's the most horrible thing in the world. They HATE it. You need to get to know more Canadians.

July 4, 2010 - 6:44am
EmpowHER Guest

We have indigent care so NO ONE is turned away from any treatment they may need, so socialized medicine is really just a way for the government to take tax payers' money via MORE taxes (value added, anyone?) and more and more taxes on cigarettes and even a fine if you don't buy insurance. I'm a healthy young person and I don't feel i need insurance, so why does the government get to tell me I do? I'm already paying for the poor's health care, food stamps, and other forms of welfare. This is just a money making scheme that the government has put into place with the mask of 'public good'. There are only around 10 million people without healthcare in the United States, less than 15 percent, so why is this billed as something that is going to 'help everyone'? Because it's not. It's just pissing alot of people off. The government was so busy cramming this through legislation that it didnt pay attention to the millions of people saying to kill the bill and hosting tea parties. This is just another example of how the government is taking over and has developed a mind of it's own. The founding fathers created our government the way it is so that change happens gradually, not all at once like this health care bill has.

April 12, 2010 - 12:08pm
EmpowHER Guest

Hmm. As a South African, all I can say is you all have it ridiculously good. Here the vast majority of people are forced to go to government hospitals (if they are lucky enough to see a doctor before they die). The hospitals are horrendously understaffed, under-funded, under-stocked, and overworked. Our biggest hospitals sometimes run at something like 50% capacity simply because there are not enough personnel to run them. If you have the cash you can use private hospitals, which are mostly ok, but most people have nothing.

Ironically we produce some of the world's finest doctors, mainly because they are forced to deal with anything and everything from the word go.

Oh, and our government is talking of implementing universal healthcare. I shudder to think how much of disaster that would be right now. And yet I still think it is the way to (eventually) go. No worldview which espouses looking out for others (this includes christianity, islam, atheism, etc) can honestly deny someone in suffering relief. I think the problem most people have with the idea is that the helping is being done on a largely impersonal scale.

January 24, 2010 - 3:24pm
EmpowHER Guest

Unreal, Since I happen to know a lot of Canadians who can't stand the system they have and come here for simple things. The only good thing they have going is the prescription prices. If you don't want or can't afford insurance that's not the rest of the country's fault.
You want real reform? Simple, allow insurance company's to compete nation wide, reduce the amount of money a Doctor can be sued for, AKA Tort reform. Sorry as a person who is on medicare, and who has cancer, I would not trade our system for all the money in the world. As it stands now, if this awful bill (can't call it reform because that would be a lie) gets passed I will lose 2 out of 5 of my personal Doctors who will retire rather then take another pay cut.
Not to mention we are not replacing the number of Doctors we are losing each year. This will only make things worse.

November 1, 2009 - 10:07pm
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

That may be because of certain wait times. That is one issue I mentioned we are dealing with, but it's not directly related to the type of system we have. It's due to mismanagement of things on a variety of levels, as well as not enough doctors to replace those who are retiring.

As a direct example, cancer care up here is available to anyone, regardless of social status, and no doctor is inaccessible because of pay cuts. In fact, I don't believe they're paid enough - but the rate at which they are paid varies by province.

November 2, 2009 - 4:05am
EmpowHER Guest

In Canada, according to the Canadian press, health care in some areas is allocated by lottery, with the winners getting "free" health care and the losers being left essentially to die or treat themselves. The elite in Canada of course get special treatment everywhere at government expense that the ordinary folk cannot even dream about.

this is completely untrue.....please give me the name of the newspaper this was printed in. This does not happen.

October 5, 2009 - 10:43am
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

I don't believe I've ever heard a report like that. Are you talking about the Canadian Press reporting on the situation with health care in the U.S.? I'm unsure what you're referring to....or perhaps you were quoting another commenter?

October 5, 2009 - 10:56am
EmpowHER Guest

I am an American living half the year in the States and the other half in Tokyo. As I have both insurance in both countries, allow me to compare them for you. Keep in mind that America and Japan are the two wealthiest countries in the world. I have a private insurance policy in the states for myself and my wife and daughter. It costs me 620 dollars a month. I have a 5,000 dollar deductible and 40 dollar co-pay. Considering I pay over 7G a year for the insurance and my deductible is 5G, if I get sick I'm out 12G. And as you know, an aspirin costs 5 dollars in an American hospital. To be perfectly honest, I am scared to go to the doctor in the States, because I know that it could break the bank. Now in Japan, I pay about 5% of my paycheck for insurance that the government runs. So if I made 1,000 dollars a month, I would pay 100 dollars into the system. If I make 10,000 dollars a month, I'm in for 1,000 dollars. Now get this, I can go to any doctor, get immediate care, and pay about 3 dollars for the bill. Granted, the office doesn't have a fish tank or look like something fancy, but I'll take the Japanese system over the American system any day of the week.

September 9, 2009 - 5:41am
EmpowHER Guest

Americans agree that health care reform is needed. But our government has demonstrated time and again that it cannot be trusted to run ANY system - let alone one as large as 1/6 of our entire economy. The entitlement programs it DOES run - medicare, medicaid, VA care, etc. - are bleeding debt out every pore. They have racked up trillions of dollars in debt. I cannot imagine extending that to the 47 or so million uninsured (among this particular statistic, illegal aliens were included as well as the uninsured by choice - young, healthy people starting out their lives on tight budgets). Until very recently, I myself chose to keep the money that I would otherwise be paying into a system that will not benefit me yet. Right or wrong, that is certainly a choice Americans should make for themselves, and not one the government makes for us.

Only 4% of our medical breakthroughs originate from the government or government funded studies. Yet, if we subsidize a health plan, artificially shrink deductibles, and penalize business not providing care to their employees (paying the government 8% is dramatically easier than paying for private plans for your employees), you will see businesses that do NOT provide health care go bankrupt, while businesses that DO provide it will switch to the government plan, saving money and effectively destroying the private industry as we know it.

The problem in America is not lack of technology or skill, or even emergency treatment - healthcare or not, money or not, if I'm shot on the sidewalk, I'm taken to a hospital where I am patched up immeddiately. The problem is treatment for non "emergency" issues - rather, things that won't kill you "today." Chronic disease, Cancers, etc...these require multiple treatments in combinations of rx's, radiation, chemicals...you need health care for it. And people are dying.

The problem is not that "not everyone is not covered." The hierarchy of needs says you need food, shelter, reproduction, etc. But we don't guarantee a house, 3 meals a day and a mate for everyone in our country. The problem is that it just is not "available" enough right now. The way to make it more available, without turning us into a nanny state, is to decrease costs. There are many ways this can be done, but the unifying factor is that it is through LESS government invention, or rather, the elimination of laws that are destroying our industry.

1) Preventative care.
One of the lightning-rod issues, preventative care cost estimates on health insurance price range from 1% to 70%. That is an enormous gap. The reason I believe that lower numbers such as 1% show up is because the study probably only took into account legal fees, and NOT the extra cost of "defensive medicine"s extra, redundant studies to rule out strange exotic diseases you have no chance of having.
Inextricably linked to this is the medical malpractice insurance, which is literally hundreds of thousands of dollars. We need to deregulate this system desperately.
Fix the system and make it "loser pays." Tort reform is a must, here. And allow competitive pricing on malpractice insurance. This brings us to

2) De-regulate the collusive system.
That's right, one reason our health care costs are so high is because our government has mandated that only X amount of hcp's can compete within each state. This is ridiculous, but it's not hard to imagine why the lobbyists fought for it. We absolutely need to repeal these laws and allow the buying and selling of health care across state lines This move alone will DRASTICALLY decrease prices, stimulate a market, and reinvigorate a stagnating, bloated and collusive market. This single act would turn "the only game in town" into a national bidding war.

Much of the rest can be found in John Mackey's Wall Street Journal editorial, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204251404574342170072865070.html

But there is one point he doesn't make that I would like to introduce.

When health care becomes more affordable through these points (if we were to take such a path), we would run into the same problem that socialized health care would - when health care is cheaper (or in the socialized case, "free"), more doctors will be required.

I propose a a fund that subsidizes the cost of a basic medical education that could either be taken along with a college major path or if, say, a 43 year old wanted a new career. There would be some bureaucracy involved in selecting participants least-likely to drop out or fail (and waste the taxpayer's money). We do this on the requirement that, upon completion of their medical schooling, they work off their "debt" by working as a provider pro-bono for X hours/patients.
The end result is that the money we invest in this program is payed back in benefits to our system, increased availability of care and, best of all, an empowered population where our government invests in the people and not the problem.


August 27, 2009 - 11:11am
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Financial Health

Get Email Updates

Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!