July 9, 2007, - 2:43 pm

Letter to the Editor of the Day: The Truth About Canada’s Healthcare

By Debbie Schlussel
Although the buzz about Michael Moore’s “Sicko” has pretty much died down (though he’s making an appearance at the NAACP national convention in Detroit, today, to discuss/screen it), this letter to the editor by David L. Streeter of Rocklin, California, in today’s Wall Street Journal says it all:

Regarding the commentary on Michael Moore’s attempted documentary: Our family has experienced Canadian health care first-hand, having lived in the Toronto area three years and returning last summer to the U.S. I had to wait seven months to schedule an annual physical with our family doctor. Our young son suffered a hairline fracture in his foot playing soccer. No crutches were issued — just orders to stay off the foot for a few days and wait for any adverse x-ray findings; we were not notified until one week after the exam. Neighbors with hockey wear-and-tear told stories of scheduling MRIs at 1 a.m. due to limited equipment availability. I wouldn’t trade my employer-funded U.S. health insurance for social-funded medicine. Canadian medicine was indeed paperless but did not offer easy access to basic medical services that we’ve come to expect in the U.S. Besides the medicine (and the winters), the Canadian living experience and people were great. Just too much government.
David L. Streeter
Rocklin, Calif.

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13 Responses

That’s nice and all, however what about the 40+ million of us without health care in the US? If we get sick and have to go to the ER it can completely ruin us.
About 2 1/2 years ago when I was a waiter, I got food poisoning (a really nasty case of it). I got dehydrated to the point where I was having severe chest pains. As a precaution I went to the ER, despite not having health insurance. I was in the ER for 3 hours, received a shot, two bags of standard IV, and a mini bottle of water. The price? $8,000. $8,000 for a 3 hour stay. Now, what would have happened if I had to stay overnight? What if there was something serious? It would have completely bankrupted me.
Is the Canadian system perfect? No. But I’d much rather have their system than ours. At least if I got food poisoning up there it wouldn’t cost me as much as I payed for my car.

D*Rek on July 9, 2007 at 3:52 pm

D*Rek, you mean to tell me that you were expected to pay for services received?? Oh the horror!!
If you got food poisoning at work it should have been covered as workers comp.
Also, ER’s ARE NOT CLINICS. It ALWAYS cost more at the ER. You should have made an appointment at a doctor (and I refuse to believe, unless you were in Antarctica, that there was not one doctor in town who could not see you that day). What’s doctor visit cost? 100 bucks? 200?
If you live in a town of 25,000 or at least near one, there are almost always county sponsored clinics, or city sponsored clinics.
Anyone who thinks the Gov’t could possibly do medical care properly has not paid any attention to the way gov’t works. (it sucks, fyi)
Name one really great, successful, underbudget, and well managed gov’t program. (hint: there ain’t one)

airy anne on July 9, 2007 at 4:11 pm

For starters Airy Anne, I have no problem paying for services received, however you have to admit that $8,000 for a shot, a couple bags of IV and a 3 hour stay in a semi-private room is a bit overpriced.
Number two, as I did not get sick at work I couldn’t very well claim workers comp. I mentioned that I was a waiter to give you an idea of my income level.
Number 3: I’m well aware that an ER is not a clinic. I was sick for most of the day but started getting the chest pain around 10pm on a Sunday night during the week of Christmas. Not exactly the ideal time for a doctor or clinic visit. It’s not like I tore a muscle or sprained my ankle (both things that could wait for a doctor visit). This was a medical emergency (albeit a minor one. But if you’ve ever had food poisoning as bad as I had it that night, it doesn’t seem minor at the time).
And I never said that the Gov’t could do medical care properly, however it could do it a hell of a lot better than what we have now.
And no, there is no great underbudget well managed gov’t program, however let me ask you a question.
Name one for profit insurance company that puts the well being of it’s customers ahead of their shareholders (hint: there isn’t one. If there were, then these CEO’s wouldn’t be getting hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses).

D*Rek on July 9, 2007 at 4:33 pm

The truth is, although the best system in the world, our health care sucks. We need drastic change, and we need it now. Michael Moore is a hypocritical, socialist buffoon, and if he thinks Cuba or Canada’s systems are better overall, he’s more of an idiot than I’d imagined. That being said, if this mocumentary gets things moving toward change, it’s not all bad.

spiffo on July 9, 2007 at 6:22 pm

Spiffo,
What are you basing your claimm of “best system in the world” on? If you have all the money in the world, then yes, it probably is the best system. However, if you don’t have health insurance (or even good health insurance) then it isn’t the best system.
We have a broken system. Any system where a minor accident can bankrupt someone is not a good system.
Regardless of your your thoughts on Michael Moore, the number he put forth in this film are accurate (CNN did a study on the numbers last week). Even Fox News gave praise on this film. Oh, and for the record, for those of us who can’t get or afford health insurance, Cuba or Canada’s system is light years ahead of the system we have in this country.
The writer of the Op-Ed is complaining about having to get an MRI at 1 in the morning. I got a serious knee injury playing basketball a few years back and when I went to the doctor to have it checked out you know what they told me? The doctor said “you probably have some damage in your knee, but it’s going to cost you $10,000 for a MRI to find out.” Now ask yourself which position would you rather be in? Having to go to the hospital at 1 in the morning for an MRI or going without one for several years because you can’t afford to get one.

D*Rek on July 9, 2007 at 6:37 pm

I’m not sure if Canadian health care is better than American health care… no one is claiming either system is perfect.
As a Canadian, the thing that reassures me most is that if something catastrophic happens to me, I feel reasonably confident that I’ll get quality care and it won’t bankrupt me. That doesn’t mean access to care couldn’t be better, but at least I don’t have to get less care if my income doesn’t warrant it.
The biggest difference I see between Canada and the United States is that there isn’t the vitriolic debate about health care between those who can afford it and those who can’t… in Canada we accept that our system is geared more toward to those who can least afford quality care, which can be a bit of a burden on the system… but it’s the ethical thing to do.
But, then again, Canadians haven’t really been brainwashed into thinking the words “socialism” and “liberalism” are heinous terms, as is the case in the USA. Sometimes we feel a responsibility for our fellow citizens.

James Scearce on July 9, 2007 at 6:45 pm

D

spiffo on July 9, 2007 at 7:28 pm

I’ve seen photos of cockroaches on the floor of operating rooms in Cuba. I’ve seen testimonial of a Canadien citizen who would not be alive today, had he not crossed the border for diagnosis and treatment. I suppose these were propaganda pieces, since Cuba and Canada are “light years” ahead of us?
And James, yes! heinous are the concepts of liberalism and socialism to conservatives who dare promote “personal responsibility”. We Americans would certainly feel a sense of responsibility to our fellow countrymen, but we’re tapped out! BTW: How many million aliens sneak into Canada on an annual basis?

spiffo on July 9, 2007 at 7:34 pm

The thing that bothers me about both sides, though primarily from the Michael Moore angle, is that there’s no recognition that no matter how you choose to run your health care systems, there are going to be trade-offs.
Michael Moore goes around to different countries with socialized health care, and says, “Hey, look how great it is over here! America’s system sucks for reasons X, Y, and Z!” I’m fine with that so far, because there really is a lot broken with our system. What gets me is that he never tells the other half of the story: “And here what’s wrong with their system that we get right.”
I know I’m not going to change socialists’ minds. Some people are just going to be for socialized health care no matter how stupid I think it is. What I want is some sort of admission that rules of economics still apply – that when you have a limited resource, there is no way to dole it out so that everyone gets everything they want. At that point, at least we can have a reasonable debate.
I can live with people saying, “I value universal health care more than I value it being top-quality and timely.” It’s something you can discuss, and if you make your case that what you give up in quality and speed is not worth the gains in universal access, you might actually change someone’s mind (or the other way around). “America is idiotic for not imitating Europe. There is no reason not to completely overhaul our system to be more like theirs” is not so useful.

LibertarianBulbasaur on July 9, 2007 at 8:49 pm

Spiffo,
You seem to have overlooked a major point in my argument. If you have money in this country you’re taken care of. If you can’t afford health insurance in this country then you’re left to fend for yourself. If you have no insurance then Cuba, Canada, and every single other goverment sponsored health care system is light years ahead of us.

D*Rek on July 9, 2007 at 8:49 pm

I agree that only the wealthy in this country can afford health care, (especially if you’re self-employed and over 50). I also agree that if you do not have a life-threatening condition, the Canada care thing works great (forget Cuba; never, no way, no how). That being said, we need to put the insurance companies here on notice, and fix our system, not adopt the socialist paradigm. If I had a choice of paying more in taxes to support such a system, or taking that money and putting it toward the health plan of my choice, the latter wins hands down.

spiffo on July 9, 2007 at 9:42 pm

Living in washington state near the border opened my eyes on the healthcare in canada. Many canadians crossed the border because of the huge wait they had in getting tests run. They were able to get into the usa docs with no much wait. Not one canadian that came here to get medical care in the usa complained about the cost. They were middle class people.
That is a fact.

Highrise on July 10, 2007 at 7:10 pm

This clown (Michael Moore) should be worried about health care. He looks like he is no more than one hotdog away from a massive heart attack!!! God forbid that he would actually spend HIS own money for his health care.

newinnewark on July 10, 2007 at 10:44 pm

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