12.11.2007

extras on sicko, basics in canada

I had an interesting coincidence of events yesterday.

Last night we watched the DVD extras on Michael Moore's "Sicko". There's a lot of good stuff: an extended interview with the great Tony Benn; interviews with Dr. Aleida Guevara from Cuba and Dr. Marcia Angell in New York; information on HR 676, John Conyers's and Dennis Kucinich's bill for universal health insurance; Elizabeth Warren explains how even people who pay enormous sums for health insurance and think of themselves as well protected, find themselves bankrupt when they get seriously ill. And of course, there are more heartbreaking stories of Americans who have died because they are not rich.

In discussing these pieces, Allan and I agreed that real health care reform - single-payer, non-profit, universal insurance - would first require an entire overhaul of the election system.

In order to take on the insurance companies, candidates would have to be free of corporate influence, but still able to get their message to the public. It would take more than just limiting campaign donations, although that's important. A lot of it goes back to air time. If all candidates received free and equal time on television - on the publicly owned airwaves - they wouldn't need so much money to get elected in the first place. Free air time, and no ads. Only factual information on where they stand on issues.

Back in the real world, it happens that I had a doctor's appointment yesterday morning.

In Canada, amid all the talk of wait-times for procedures like hip replacements, an important fact is often overlooked. Canadians can see a doctor for routine, preventative care, and so maintain better overall health, without ever asking themselves, "Can I afford this?"

I've blogged about this before, in what turned out to be a very popular post. But it still amazes me. So I want to tell you what happened to me yesterday.

I had an appointment to see my doctor. For one of my prescriptions, she doesn't write refills, because she wants to check my blood pressure and find out if I'm having any side effects first. So this is a routine appointment. I waited less than 5 minutes, and went in.

She asked me the usual questions, checked my blood pressure (still normal!), and asked me if I've had a flu shot yet. I've never had a flu shot in my life. She explained why she thinks it's a good idea, why Ontario Health recommends it, and I agreed to get one. She gave me the shot.

I also wanted to ask her if she knows any acupuncturists that she refers to, as I've been thinking about trying it. (More on that coming soon.) We chatted about acupuncture, and how I might find a reputable practitioner, and she gave me her opinion.

She wished me well, we said goodbye and I left.

It was free. Or, it feels free because I pay for it with my taxes. The same amount of taxes I paid in the US.

As corny as this sounds, I left her office thinking, "Oh my god, I love Canada. I am so lucky to be here." I hope I always value Canada as much as I do today.

Then at night, we watched those DVD extras.

Why should I have access to this excellent system because I was lucky enough to be able to move to Canada? Why shouldn't everyone, everywhere, have the same access I do? And why shouldn't Americans, who supposedly live in the most prosperous and powerful nation on earth, have this basic need met?

In "Who Would Jesus Deny?", activist priest Mike Seifert calls health care in the US "a sin". Sin, crime, insanity. Call it what you will.

50 comments:

redsock said...

In the Conyers segment, one representative says that the only qualification any American should meet in order to get free health care is that they be sick.

I thought that was very well put.

As was the comment about how any American should not have to lose their life savings and their home because they (or a child) got sick.

Think about that. You are in a car accident through no fault of your own. Or you develop cancer. Does that misfortune consign you to be destitute, to lose everything you worked for decades, possibly living on the street? Or does that mean your child is, in effect, given a death sentence?

In the USA, the answer is "Yes".

18,000 Americans die needlessly every year because they do not have health care.

In the last seven days, the US spent another $2 billion in Iraq.

redsock said...

"Newspaper ads published yesterday in Iowa [by the California Nurses Association and the National Nurses Organizing Committee] said Vice President Cheney would "probably be dead by now" from his multiple heart attacks if he didn't have federally funded health care that most American's can't get."

***********

Yeah!

Oh, another good point in the extras was that the US military has the evil, dreaded "socialzed medicene".

James said...

At a recent GOP candidate debate -- I think it was the "Value Voters" one -- the audience members had "approval dials". As the candidates talked, each member would twist his or her dial to the right (for approval) or left (for disapproval), with the amount of twist corresponding to degree. Then the analysts would take the aggregate data and compare the timing of the spikes one way or the other to who was saying what at the time.

There were two major "disapprove" spikes (points where the audience really didn't like what the candidates were saying): the first was when John McCain was talking about how useless and un-American torture was, and the second was when Mike Huckabee was talking about the Christian directive to care for those more unfortunate than yourself.

The two things the Value Voters were least happy to hear was that torture was wrong and helping the sick was right.

With morality like that, I'm glad I'm on the "immoral" side.

John said...

As a Canadian, I took two main points away from Sicko:

1. We have a wonderful medical system.

2. We shouldn't be satisfied with it, because we can make it even better.

We need to extend the system to cover prescription drugs. I am fortunate to have a good medical plan at work (I'm a civil servant), so all I pay for a prescription is the pharmacy's dispensing fee.

My uncle is not so lucky. He pays a lot of money each month for Coumadin, which is necessary to keep him alive.

So I agree with you, L-Girl. But we should remember not to rest on our laurels.

West End Bound said...

"drf" and I are so looking forward to the Canadian system upon vacating the US for BC.

Preventative health care makes much more sense than emergency room health care after the fact . . . .

L-girl said...

But we should remember not to rest on our laurels.

John, I totally agree with you, and have blogged about that several times. We also have to make sure we always safeguard the system against encroaching privatization and profit-making.

Re medical plans, it seems like Canadians often forget that they can purchase relatively (to my US-raised eyes) low-cost supplemental plans to cover Rxs, dental and professional services - like you have through work. They seem to be readily available and not expensive, but I think Canadians are reluctant to get them.

L-girl said...

The two things the Value Voters were least happy to hear was that torture was wrong and helping the sick was right.

Do you know where you heard this? I'm skeptical.

L-girl said...

Preventative health care makes much more sense than emergency room health care after the fact . .

But if you do need the emergency room, at least it's free - and you can always go to the closest one.

Amy said...

Interesting to hear how the Canadian system works. I wish I could be optimistic about things changing in the US, but alas, I am not. People here are still scared of anything that can be labeled "socialist," and there are too many with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

I hate to be even more cynical than you and Allan about the American political system, but do you really think that having free air time would make a difference? Candidates treat Americans like idiots---perhaps rightfully---and sell themselves like breakfast cereal. Using Oprah to make a statement is no way to educate people about ideas. People here have no patience to read or listen to ideas. They vote based on who they "like," just like seventh grade. Give them all the air time in the world---most people will not watch anyway.

OK, I need to go find something to cheer me up.

Wild English Rose said...

I wanted to check out the figures before commenting - as I haven't yet seen the film:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Healthcare#Economics

From the table you can see that Canada spends half as much per person on healthcare than the US (and the UK even less) - yet in Canada and the UK healthcare is universal, life expectancy longer and infant mortality lower. I was also interested in the differences between Doctors per 1000 people and Nurses per 1000 people. The UK has considerably more nurses (12.12 per k compared to 9.37 per k in the US) but less Doctors (2.3 per k compared to 2.56 per k in the US). I think this implies a preventative approach to healthcare: midwife visits to first time mothers, public immunization programs etc.

I don't think anyone here is arguing that the systems in Canada or the UK are perfect. But I do think that they provide considerably better value for money than the system in the US. It would take more calculations than I am prepared to do at this point in the evening, but it should be possible to prove that most Americans, even the middle class who are currently able to pay for adequate healthcare, would be financially better off under a universal system that covered everyone. A healthier society would also be more economically successful - the economic cost of time off work due to illness that could have been treated or prevented if caught at an earlier stage must be considerable.

Unfortunately if you read the comments section on You Tube for the extracts from the Sicko DVD extras that are posted there, it would seem that a fair number of people are still to be persuaded of the benefits. Why anyone would think that lifelong access to free-at-the-point-of-use healthcare is a bad idea is beyond me, but clearly many do....

L-girl said...

Unfortunately if you read the comments section on You Tube for the extracts from the Sicko DVD extras that are posted there, it would seem that a fair number of people are still to be persuaded of the benefits.

Do you mean comments from Americans? Everything they've heard about the Canadian health care system are lies. I am not exaggerating. 100%.

There is so much bad publicity - no, not bad publicity, flat out lies - about Canada's health care system in the US, it's practically an industry unto itself.

L-girl said...

but do you really think that having free air time would make a difference?

All I mean is in order to change the health care system, the election system would have to change first. Candidates would have to be free from corporate interests, and free ad time would be the beginning of that.

Under the present system, the health care system can't/won't be changed.

L-girl said...

I don't think anyone here is arguing that the systems in Canada or the UK are perfect.

In fact, no one is arguing at all. :)

Amy said...

All I mean is in order to change the health care system, the election system would have to change first. Candidates would have to be free from corporate interests, and free ad time would be the beginning of that.

Yes, that would be a start. But I still think the idea of the government controlling medical care would still frighten most Americans, and unless they were willing to read and listen to new ideas, they would remain frightened. But as you said elsewhere, things have changed in the US for the good over time when it happens from the grass roots. That's what it will take. Candidates speaking without corporate influence would help, but that alone will never be enough.

(On the other hand, Al Gore and his forces have changed people's views on global warming, and that has even started to change the government's views, so maybe there is some hope that the people will listen to new ideas.)

redsock said...

unless they were willing to read and listen to new ideas

You're not from this planet, are you? :>)

***

Nothing alone will solve the problem. The system is too broken to be fixed by one solution. Which makes it even harder to fix.

L-girl said...

But I still think the idea of the government controlling medical care would still frighten most Americans,

Even this is interesting, because the government in Canada and the UK and France do not control health care.

My medical care in Canada is entirely up to me and my doctor. Unlike in the US, where it is determined by insurance bureaucrats.

Yet that's the general perception. "The government will control it."

****

I don't think there'll be universal health care in the US in our lifetime. I hope I'm wrong, but it does not seem possible to me.

(And I'm not like that about any and all change. For example, I fully expect to see same-sex marriage in the US.)

lisa said...

"even this is interesting, because the government in Canada and the UK and France do not control health care.

My medical care in Canada is entirely up to me and my doctor. Unlike in the US, where it is determined by insurance bureaucrats."

That is SUCH a good point....wish it were understood better by (american) detractors of the public health care system. Doctors are still entrepreneurs, basically. They are simply paid for (many) of their services directly by the provincial and federal gov'ts, rather than individuals and/or insurance providers. But they're not "employees" of some Orwellian state-run "Ministry of Life and Death and Everything in Between" !

Funnily, from what I can gather from friends of mine who live(d)in the states, it turns out that the American system is MORE bureaucratic and controlled - that is, more "communist"!

Many Canadian detractors at least understand this point, for the most part. Makes it easier to get on to the next stage of the "health care conversation".!

Your occasional pointing out of your personal experiences with the Cdn healthcare system is soo good to hear. And always reminds me that we need to be vigilant. The alternative is just too scary.

deang said...

An example from just this week of how even well-meaning Americans have been misled on this issue:

A middle-class woman in her late 50s explained to me why she no longer had insurance, basically an all-too-common-in-the-US story of a needed mid-life medical procedure first being approved for coverage, then being disapproved after the fact.

Her twist was that during the TWO YEARS she was fighting the rejection of coverage (and she had to pay for the procedure herself in the meantime), her insurer was bought out by a larger corporation that required her to reapply for coverage with them. She reapplied with the new insurer and was rejected because she was classified as having a "preexisting condition" because of the very procedure she was trying to get payment for.

When I mentioned universal health care as a solution to such problems, she was taken aback: "But I want to be able to choose my own doctor!" This from a woman who now had no affordable access to doctors in the US system, though she was nowhere near poor herself. She'd heard the oft-repeated US lie that the medical systems of Canada, the UK, France, Cuba, etc. force people to go to doctors they don't like.

I briefly tried to describe to her what little I knew of the way Canada's system works (thanks to your blog, Laura) and she appeared a bit more accepting. This was not one of the raving US right-wingers that are impossible to get through to; this was a very intelligent, cultured woman. But once she turns on that US TV again, her mind's a goner.

Amy said...

Thanks for all these insights into the Canadian system. It is sad that no matter what the reality may be, Americans will continue to hold onto the myths and fears that keep us stuck with the status quo.

Then again, I refer back to "An Inconvenient Truth" and Al Gore's crusade as a source of hope that maybe someone can be a source of enlightenment and inspiration on this issue as well.

James said...

Do you know where you heard this? I'm skeptical.

Off one of the prominent political blogs I follow, which had links back to the original news story.

Remember, this is the same "Value Voters" debate that opened with a choir singing "God Bless America" re-written as "Why Should God Bless America?", which featured these descriptions of historic Supreme Court decisions:

The courts ruled prayer out of our schools
In June of ‘62
Told the children “you are your own God now
So you can make the rules”


and

In ‘73 the Courts said we
Could take the unborn lives
The choice is yours don’t worry now
It’s not a wrong, it’s your right

L-girl said...

Your occasional pointing out of your personal experiences with the Cdn healthcare system is soo good to hear. And always reminds me that we need to be vigilant. The alternative is just too scary.

Thank you! That's exactly why I post them. :)

L-girl said...

Dean, many many thanks for that, both the story and crediting this blog with your knowledge.

"But I want to be able to choose my own doctor!"

This is such a crazy refrain, considering HMOs have the whole "in network" / "out of network" thing, where you are given a list of doctors from which to choose.

My list of doctors was: every doctor in Ontario.

Now, there is a problem in Toronto (although not in the suburb where I live) with finding a family doctor who is accepting new patients. There is a shortage of family doctors.

However, that doesn't mean anyone goes without care or uses emergency rooms for basic treatment. There are "walk-in clinics" everywhere, where you can go in and be treated without an appointment. These doctor's offices are both back-up for non-emergency but urgent care, and also any care anyone needs who doesn't have or doesn't want a family doctor.

L-girl said...

Remember, this is the same "Value Voters" debate that opened with a choir singing "God Bless America" re-written as "Why Should God Bless America?"

I heard about that. And I had heard about so-called Value Voters but I didn't realize they were the same people. So this is the latest name for the far-right-wing? Typically Orwellian.

I really have my head in the sand when it comes to the US campaigns. And there it will stay.

M@ said...

I've read some online discussions about Canadian/American/UK health care, and it's frightening how often Americans defend their system. They denigrate universal health care, of course, with the usual propaganda, but they also defend their own system.

The things I hear most often are:

I don't want to pay for someone else's health care.

Which is misanthropy on an absolutely foreign scale to me.

It's not so bad -- you can often negotiate with the doctor if you pay cash.

Welcome to the nineteenth century. Please enjoy your stay. I wonder how often hospitals are open to this tactic? And what good does it do to get an unpayable $150,000 bill reduced to $100,000?

The government would screw it up if they took it over.

As though there was any not-screwed-up aspect of the current system.

I have a good job, so I have great coverage, so I'm fine with the system.

So the system works until it doesn't.

The whole thing is absolutely depressing. TGNOTFOTE indeed.

Changing the subject: LG and RS, one of you mentioned something about Matt Taibbi on here a while ago and I've been looking for it but haven't been able to find it. I just finished his book and I was wondering if you guys remember -- something negative about him I'm pretty sure. Any idea what it might have been?

Scott M. said...

When I talk with visiting US residents, I usually try to avoid calling our system either "universal health care" or "socialized medicine" for the reasons outlined above.

Instead, I find it helpful to refer to it as a "single-payer" health care system. Most folks usually ask what that means, to which I say "you get to choose your Doctors, specialists and with them choose treatments. They aren't influenced in any way by the government, but when the treatment occurs it's the government who pays".

Jen said...

From WildRose: "I was also interested in the differences between Doctors per 1000 people and Nurses per 1000 people. The UK has considerably more nurses (12.12 per k compared to 9.37 per k in the US) but less Doctors (2.3 per k compared to 2.56 per k in the US). I think this implies a preventative approach to healthcare"

These numbers may also be reflective of the longer-standing Nurse Practitioner role in the UK (and midwives if counted as nurse-midwives and not an autonomous profession). Canada is only starting on the Nurse-Practitioner role for primary care and advanced clinical practice (kick-started in the '90s with full system development implemented only in the past 3-4 years http://www.cnpi.ca/faq.asp).

From L-girl: "My list of doctors was: every doctor in Ontario.
... There is a shortage of family doctors...There are "walk-in clinics" everywhere, where you can go in and be treated without an appointment"

This site (http://www.npao.org/registry/Default.aspx) lists NP's taking new patients in Ontario. It's currently listing 24 NPs in primary practice (i.e.: family practice) taking new patients. A good alternative for anyone stuck on finding a doctor.

Jen said...

Correction: the site listed above lists 24 NPs taking new pts in TORONTO (since that's where L-girl mentioned a specific problem)

L-girl said...

I've read some online discussions about Canadian/American/UK health care, and it's frightening how often Americans defend their system.

Frightening, yes - and in keeping with everything else from right-wing Americans. U-S-A must be defended, no matter what.

It's not so bad -- you can often negotiate with the doctor if you pay cash.

I've never heard that! Wow. That's really out there. Spoken by a person who has never gotten sick, perhaps?

M@, I will try to find out re Matt Taibi. I know of him, but right now the only thing that's ringing a bell is his old NYC reporting.

L-girl said...

When I talk with visiting US residents, I usually try to avoid calling our system either "universal health care" or "socialized medicine" for the reasons outlined above.

Instead, I find it helpful to refer to it as a "single-payer"


I also never refer to the Canadian system as "socialized medicine". I say "universal health insurance," because that's what it is.

It's also single-payer, but in the US, that phrase is associated with some pie-in-the-sky dream that wacky moonbats talk about. It has a leftist connotation that scares people.

Scott M. said...

Wow, "single-payer" is seen as a nutbar notion in the states? In a similar vein as "liberal" I take it?

{shakes head}

L-girl said...

Canada is only starting on the Nurse-Practitioner role for primary care and advanced clinical practice (kick-started in the '90s with full system development implemented only in the past 3-4 years http://www.cnpi.ca/faq.asp).

In the US, I saw a nurse-practitioner for GYN. They are the greatest. I would love to see that really take off here as an alternative to a family doctors.

Correction: the site listed above lists 24 NPs taking new pts in TORONTO (since that's where L-girl mentioned a specific problem)

That's great. Thanks so much, I will pass that along if I hear anyone asking about finding a dr in Toronto.

I had heard about this family dr shortage, and was very concerned about it. I need a family doc, and I've had both very bad and very good experiences with them - so I know the difference a good dr can make in one's life.

It turned out not to be a problem at all. I found a female doc who I like in a very convenient location.

I still feel like I'm doing something wrong when I leave without paying. :)

L-girl said...

Wow, "single-payer" is seen as a nutbar notion in the states?

Yeeup. It's something leftards talk about, so it must be bad. Right?

{shakes head too}

redsock said...

That is SUCH a good point....wish it were understood better by (american) detractors of the public health care system.

I don't think the detractors care about the facts or learning anything about the system. For whatever reason, they have a stake in misrepresenting any non-US system.

First, they tell 100% lies about the Canadian system. Then, if somehow the lie they are currently telling sounds similar to something in the US system, they then have to lie about the US system to make it sound better.

It is quite amazing -- and it is heard throughout the ENTIRE US mainstream media.

redsock said...

Taibbi is a good lefty writer -- I've seen his stuff in Rolling Stone -- but he refuses to believe the US government could possibly not be telling the truth about all aspects of 9/11.

He doesn't put it quite like that, naturally, but he has ridiculed (at length) anyone who suggests that Bush/Cheney is being anything less than 100% honest and forthright about 9/11.

At the same time, he called Bush/Cheney opportunistic liars about everything else.

Think what you will about 9/11, but it is batshit insane to think that Bush/Cheney would lie about everything under the sun EXCEPT the one event that has enabled them to do all the evil things they have done and then lied about.

Therefore, I have serious questions about Taibbi's true leanings.

redsock said...

What is Taibbi's book about? Is it a collection of his writings?

A post that Taibbi (and everyone else) should read, from what I believe is an absolutely essential blog: The 9/11 Commission doesn't believe its own report, so why should you?

L-girl said...

I don't think the detractors care about the facts or learning anything about the system. For whatever reason, they have a stake in misrepresenting any non-US system.

This certainly does seem to be the case. It's just a closed-minded bashing.

James said...

I had heard about so-called Value Voters but I didn't realize they were the same people. So this is the latest name for the far-right-wing? Typically Orwellian.

Well,sort-of. It seems to be a coherent -- or incoherent, more like -- organization of far-right-wing, like the Moral Majority or Christian Coalition.

"I don't want to pay for someone else's health care."

Which is misanthropy on an absolutely foreign scale to me.


What do they think health insurance is, anyway?

M@ said...

What is Taibbi's book about? Is it a collection of his writings?

Yes, a collection of his essays roughly 2003-2006. I'd read some of them before but I don't mind having them in a printed volume.

I remember now that it was the 9/11 truth stuff that you mentioned before. I don't think there are any mentions of it in the essays in the book though. I do have my issues with Taibbi too, but it's nice to see someone writing angrily, coherently, and well about the state of the USA.

Anyhow, not trying to distract from the discussion here. I'll look into what he's said about 9/11 (and I'm reading your link right now)...

M@ said...

I've never heard that! Wow. That's really out there. Spoken by a person who has never gotten sick, perhaps?

Or an idiot.

But honestly, I've seen this advice from multiple people. I know this sounds patronizing, but if they just took a step back and thought about what kind of system would lead them to make such a statement, they'd turn into advocates for change immediately.

Raheretic said...

I am an American advocate for universal health care....or at least have been, but have serious questions based not on my philosophical basis or values, but the expereince of friends and family members. My father is 89 and a remarkable man. He still drives and drives well. He has amazing mental acuity for an 89 year old. He lives in an independent living center with meals and houskeeping provided and access to nursing when he needs it, although I think he could live completely independently if he had to in an apartment. He is currently living thaks to his fouth pacemaker. Pacemakers have kept him alive the last 16 years. I have a good friend who lives in Windsor. Her father, in his 70's, had classic cardiac sinus node erosion requiring a pacemaker to survive. It was deemed too expensive, not cost effective to make that intervention. He was treated humanley over the two weeks it took him to die. If my father had been a Canadian we would have been robbed of the last 16 years of his life. He would have been robbed of the last 16 years of his life.

We have a close friend who is undergoing a haelath crsis. She is in her 50's. She had thought she was menopusal for a year. She bgean bleeding again. She has a family history (mother) with ovarian cancer. There is great concern that she could be at risk. It was decided she should have a D&C and biopsy. She had a choice. It could be done in a hospital with anesthesia in three months. The procedure could be done in her doctor's office with no anesthesia immediately. Because of her high degree of risk, based upon her family history, she underwent the D&C and biopsy without anesthetic as an outpatient. She was horribly traumatized by the pain she experienced. Even then it will be five weeks for her to recieve her results. The outside expectation to receive those in the states would be 72 hours and most likely a 24 hour turn around would occur.

Even the poorest patient presenting themselves for charity care at an American hospital facing cancer, would have been biopsied immediately and no one would ever consider performing that procedure without anesthesia. To do so would cost them their medical license.

I've been a left wing liberal throughout my almost 6 decades of life. My career is social activism. I've aspired to emigrate to Canada, thus my interest in this Blog. I do not know how I'd make a living there and in that I am not 30 and have health issues, moving to a country where life saving procedures in the U. S. are considered to be "not cost effective", or where one can only receive diagnostics facing a posssible cancer through inhumane medical practice and even then exremely retarded processing of results, has given me huge pause.

I am disgusted by the U. S. health care system's profiteering, and lack of accessibility to the disenfranchised and poor. I am fearful when I meet Canadians that moving towards anything that is similar to their system is jumping from the frying pan to the fire.

Tom

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined.

Lone Primate said...

What do they think health insurance is, anyway?

Yeah, that's a good point. Do they really think the 20 grand they put in over ten years or so has magically inflated all by itself to the half a million it takes to cure their cancer? Someone else is paying for that; someone whose number hasn't come up... yet.

L-girl said...

"I don't want to pay for someone else's health care."

. . .

What do they think health insurance is, anyway?


Excellent point.

There are so many assumptions being made there, too. The biggest one - I'll never get sick, so I'll pay for other people but they'll never pay for me - is just wishful thinking. A fantasyland of selfishness.

L-girl said...

The outside expectation to receive those in the states would be 72 hours and most likely a 24 hour turn around would occur.

Where do you get that information? I had excellent insurance in the US and I waited 2 weeks for a biopsy result, as have many other people I know.

Not to mention that at least one-third of the population can't get the biopsy done at all.

Even the poorest patient presenting themselves for charity care at an American hospital facing cancer, would have been biopsied immediately and no one would ever consider performing that procedure without anesthesia.

Where do you get this from? "The poorest patient" in the US gets nothing. They are sent home to let their cancer grow.

What kind of nonsense are you spouting here?

To do so would cost them their medical license.

BULLSHIT. Pure bullshit. You are making this up out of thin air. In my own experience alone, I've had painful procedures performed with no anesthesia. In the US. And paid for them in cash. And was in debt because of them. This was when I was in my early 20s.

I'm not sure what you're trying to do here, but your "knowledge" of the health care in the US is spectacularly inaccurate.

L-girl said...

Her father, in his 70's, had classic cardiac sinus node erosion requiring a pacemaker to survive. It was deemed too expensive, not cost effective to make that intervention. He was treated humanley over the two weeks it took him to die. If my father had been a Canadian we would have been robbed of the last 16 years of his life. He would have been robbed of the last 16 years of his life.

This is, at best, a gross oversimplification.

Unless you know both people's full medical histories, all their conditions, and what went into the decisions for each, you don't whether (a) the procedure for your friend's father was medically necessary or (b) if your own father would have denied a pacemaker.

It seems extremely unlikely that provincial health care would have denied an otherwise-healthy man a pacemaker. That's very routine here. It's also highly possible you're leaving out some key factors about your friend's father's case. (Or you're just another troll making shit up.)

You might as well pick out two random people, tell us one random fact about each, and say, one lived and one died, then blame Canada vs US.

Raheretic, you are hardly a heretic. You are spouting the same old myths and lies we've heard about Canada all our lives. Too bad for you, people around here know the facts.

L-girl said...

I do not know how I'd make a living there and in that I am not 30 and have health issues

I'm closer to 50 than 40, and I have health issues. And here in Canada, they're all being taken care of. When I lost my job earlier this year, I didn't have to worry about losing medical care, too.

L-girl said...

but it's nice to see someone writing angrily, coherently, and well about the state of the USA

Oh, always! For Allan, attitudes towards 9/11 truth are a kind of litmus test. Taibbi apparently goes well out of his way to ridicule and deride, without ever engaging to see if there's something he could learn.

It amazes me how otherwise informed and open-minded people do this about 9/11. Have the yahoo-fringe of the movement ruined it for everybody?

Lone Primate said...

Tom,

The story you tell of the woman in Windsor is indefensible. It verges on unbelievable but I have no reason to imagine you'd make it up. It does underline the point that no human system is ever perfect, and they need to be constantly watched and improved. Clearly, your friend was let down, inexcusably.

But you must know that your case of cost effectiveness is hardly unique to Canada. HMOs in the United States make exactly that same judgement call every single day, for thousands of people every year. But in those cases, they're not doing it simply because there's a limited pool of money for expensive procedures, they're doing because as well because there are shareholders at the end of the process who are expecting a certain return. Human misery is not their problem. It's their opportunity. Now your cases are valid, but most of us here would not want to undertake the risks of going back to the system we had before.

And really, your blanket claims that anyone in the US would have received better treatment than your friend in Windsor, or the pacemaker your father had, are simply unsupportable. We know that people get turned away from hospitals in the US because they can't pay. We know some get shunted from hospital to hospital. You father was fortunate in the care he received... but what about the 40 million of your fellow citizens who can't even walk in the door, and the reputed 18,000 of them who die for that reason every year? And what about the millions who are insured, but only so far?

There are horror stories on both sides. But there are also uplifting ones, and I have a couple that illustrate why medicare has become identified as virtually a birthright of citizenship here.

I had a friend visiting from Los Angeles about ten years ago. He had liver problems and could not find an insurer. Though he made into six figures, he had no health insurance but his own savings. While he was here, he developed a kidney stone. We took him to the hospital where, in spite of the fact he was not an Ontarian or even Canadian resident, and had no insurance, they admitted him, treated him, and told him they would send the bill to his home address. Frankly, I was surprised. I didn't know what they would do in his case. I'm proud of how they treated him.

I also have a friend who, in her 40s, needed triple bypass surgery. While she was on the table, the team discovered a fourth blockage, and informed her husband... not because they needed him to come up with the additional tens of thousands of dollars that represented, but because they needed his consent to proceed on that instance. At the end, they were presented with the "bill" that OHIP issues people... not something they have to pay, but a list of what was spent on them, to raise public awareness. The "bill" for the quad bypass was over a hundred thousand dollars. They had to pay essentially none of it. They didn't have to mortgage their home or deplete their savings.

But these are, of course, anecdotes. They're illustrative, but they only go so far. For every good one, someone has a bad one. Nothing is perfect, and ultimately, human beings die. Bureaucrats in Canada and the US alike daily make hard choices about matters like that, so there's little point in raising the specter of cost effectiveness as a charge against single-payer... multiple payers do it every day, and probably more often and for more venal reasons. So I think it's important to look at the big picture. Stories of Canadians being ruined financially by health problems are comparatively rare. There is no body of Canadians, certainly not a proportional four million of them, who cannot afford to see a doctor. And perhaps most telling of all, Canadians live two years and four months longer on average than people in the US. Rather than focusing on horror stories (which certainly exist in the US system as well), you should consider the larger context and find perhaps find reassurance there.

L-girl said...

Rather than focusing on horror stories (which certainly exist in the US system as well), you should consider the larger context and find perhaps find reassurance there.

Thank you, LP!

I was trying to come up with something like this excellent comment above, but you made it unnecessary. :)

M@ said...

For Allan, attitudes towards 9/11 truth are a kind of litmus test. Taibbi apparently goes well out of his way to ridicule and deride, without ever engaging to see if there's something he could learn.

I understand that, and I've no desire to defend him, of course. Some of the things he wrote, especially WRT Iraq, similarly made me question the guy's position (and intelligence). Oh well.

AviShalom said...

"real health care reform - single-payer, non-profit, universal insurance - would first require an entire overhaul of the election system."

And, for the second time in this visit, I respond with my "Amein!"

I am going to be blogging soon about the recent public commitment by the Union for Reform Judaism to support universal health care--it's about time--and add to that, with my small voice, an appeal to understanding that electoral reform is a precondition. It may be a precondition for any real universal care in the USA, but it most certainly is a precondition for single-payer, which I believe is the only form that will actually work.

(Unfortunately, the electoral system is only one obstacle to this sort of policy reform. There is also the Senate, the presidential veto, among other institutional biases in favor of the big-moneyed-interest status quo. But electoral reform "couldn't hurt.")