The New Health Care Reform....Have Your Choices Already Been Made For You
The most popular example being touted by both sides of the current health care debate in the US is the Canadian, government run, Medicare system. Depending on which side of the issue you currently find yourself this example is being presented as either the worst form of socialistic evil ever devised or the shining example of what the new American health care system could be.
The Canadian system of health care is unlike anything most Americans can relate to. Every Canadian is entitled to free health care from cradle to grave. Although there are limitations in some areas and certain procedures must be approved for the most part whenever a Canadian requires medical care throughout their life, they are covered.. For example if you were a Canadian and needed a minor sprain attended to Medicare would cover the total cost including the hospital visit, x-ray, any tests and the doctors time. You would leave the hospital without a bill and would never receive one. By the same token if you were in need of a heart transplant, considered the most expensive of medical procedures, the same rules would apply. When you left the hospital there would be no direct charge to you ever. It all sounds great and most Canadians would agree it is a comfort knowing that a catastrophic financial health related issue can not happen in Canada like it does regularly in the U.S. However while the medical procedures are covered there is the issue of prescription drugs but we will leave that for another time.It may seem to good to be true for an American looking at the Canadian system from the outside but before you go and choose sides in this debate there are a few things you need to know about this system.
Because the system must include everyone no matter what their health care needs are the problems began to arise very early . Before Medicare all Canadians, like Americans had to pay to go to the Doctor. After free medicare was introduced Canadians started going to doctors on a more regular basis. The doctor visits were free and so were the hospital visits and if you needed an ambulance that was free too! Soon millions of people started using the new free system. It was great but there was a serious trouble brewing and very few recognised it at first. What most politicians and bureaucrats failed to notice was that there were not enough hospitals, doctors, nurses, support staff. diagnostic equipment and everything else. . The system was overwhelmed and things only got worse.The politicians would build hospitals only to realise after they were built that there were no doctors, nurses or budget to run the buildings. It quickly became evident that either they opened at reduced capacity or another hospital had to be closed and the overall capacity of the system was not improved and even sometimes reduced. Canada has one of the worst doctor to patient ratiio in the Western world ranking 29th out of 30. While the official numbers put the ratio at 2.2 doctors for every 1000 patients the true figure is more like 2.2 doctors for every 5-6000 patients. . Most family doctors have patient loads of 2500+. A large percentage of doctors have cut their office hours to part time levels. More than 5 million Canadians or 1 in 6 do not have a doctor and must go to the emergency room of their local hospital for what are considered minor illnesses. This has the effect of swamping emergency room across the country dealing with hundreds of thousands of cases daily that are not emergencies. Eventually nearly every procedure within the system developed waiting list. Patients had to wait for their turn to get , at first, operations and then even simple tests grew into long waiting lists. Canadians are now waiting 6moths to 1 year for surgery or even as long as 3 years for such things as hip replacement surgery. The system is broken and no one knows how to fix it. In extreme examples patients are dying on waiting lists and sometimes, while lying on beds, in hospital corridors waiting for an emergency physician who is tied up with another patient complaining about a minor case of sniffles instead of doing what he is there for EMERGENCIES. The Medicare system is overwhelmed by the number of people seeking treatment. The numbers are the problem and there is no easy answer.
In Canada the provincial governments are responsible for the delivery of heath care to their citizens while the federal government provides the funding. For the most part the provinces determine how the money is allocated within their jurisdiction while the federal government sets the guidelines on such spending.
While the provinces have the power to ignore the federal governments guidelines in reality , since the federal government controls the funding, the provinces must wait every year to see how much the feds are going to send them for their health care budgets. In essence the federal government controls the health care system because they control the funding.
In a Government controlled health care system All doctors , nurses, technicians, hospital staff in fact everyone involved in the delivery of health care are paid by and in essence are employees of the government.They are and will be subject to government controls and policies and will lose much of their autonomy Perhaps the best example would be to imagine a government runs system whereby your senators, members of congress, the president and the Washington bureaucracy will be charge of all your health care decisions in the future. What you have to decide is does this represent a dream come true or a nightmare
If you believe the numbers being attributed to the health care discussion these days there are 47,000,000 Americans without health care and a further 25,000,000 who have health care coverage that is so restricted with cap limits and high deductible cost it is almost like having no health care at all. While it is a wonderful idea to make sure all Americans have some form of health care it is something that must be approached with extreme care. Common sense will tell you that the current system could never absorb upwards of 70,000,000 new people that it is not equipped to handle. There are not enough doctors, nurses , or hospitals to handle anywhere near that number. Shortages and waiting lists will be the norm and extreme shortages will be the rule rather than the exceptions. If you use the Canadian system as your guide to make the decision one way or the other in this debate do your homework and use a little common sense. Do not, automatically, accept anything your politicians are trying to feed you from either side of the spectrum.Their motives must be suspect they are , after all , politicians . Health care can be improved and it can be delivered to the people that need it most There are ways to implement a new system but it is your professional medical people, not your politicians, who must be at the forefront of any changes. They are the ones who deliver the health care and they are the one who must be the go to group when designing a new system of health care.
In Canada and the UK there is a saying that Americans need to give consideration to. It goes something like this. "A government run health care system is a great idea as long as the government doesn't run it"!!!
We must not let our politicians hijack the debate and make decisions without our imput. Stand up and let your voice be heard after all IT IS YOUR HEALTH CARE WE ARE TALKING ABOUT HERE AND YOU NEED TO HAVE YOUR SAY!!!
Canada and the UK are very good examples of what's right and what's wrong with government controlled heath care. Study their systems closely. Demand that the decision makers take the time to get it right instead of rushing though a health care bill that even the politicians do not know whether it is good for America or not. You will get a new system but unless you become involved in the debate it will be imposed upon you by professional lobbyists and politicians. At this moment the choice is still yours...........what will you do?