Okay, so while Pres Obama is trying to talk people in the US into his brand of health care reform, I have a fun little story about the wonderful public system in Alberta. First of all, I will say that I have had very few problems myself, but I have only ever needed emergency care. I believe this province puts a great deal of money into Emergency and while that is good... the same level of care is not reflected in other areas.
In February of this year, my boss' husband suffered a heart attack. Really, he was on the verge of multiple attacks and things were grim. He was rushed to hospital and received surgery involving angioplasties. All done, and home again, then back to work. However, he is still experiencing chest pains and it was found that at least one of the arteries worked on is still 60% blocked. It is my understanding that he needs a bypass or at least another attempt at an angioplasty.... but guess what? One week ago he was told he cannot get the surgery until/unless he has another heart attack!
Wow. So his prize for surviving another heart attack will be surgery (if he survives - I pray that he will). What happened to preventative care?? Only a few months ago he was in hospital with doctors, nurses and surgeons all over him helping him out. But now they can only stand by and wait for another attack? While knowing it's only a matter of time? Why not do the surgery NOW? If cost is the province's concern, wouldn't it actually cost LESS to do it now instead of involving all levels of emergency care too? Or are they waiting to see if he will die instead and then it will be FREE for them? I honestly have no idea what the hell they are doing. This man has paid his premiums and taxes for 33 years of working for the city, and now he is sitting there with a ticking time bomb in his chest. His specialist knows he needs the surgery and wants him to have it, but basically said his hands are tied and this is 'just the way it is'. Wow. I have been speechless about this for a week and have only been able to stomach writing it out today.
Why does this happen, do you think? And if it's an issue of cost (which it must be because I can guarantee you that the operating room is not booked 24 hours a day, every day!!), imagine what those missing health care premiums could have done by now. Last time I checked, it does not cost a million dollars to do heart surgery - so please explain to me why premiums were cut? One month alone would have brought the province over 44 million dollars. ONE month. It's been 6 months of no premiums now. You do the math, and then explain to all these patients around Alberta who are waiting for major surgery why they can't have it. It makes absolutely no sense at all. I never used to listen to what I thought of as 'Conspiracy Theories' but this is one I can't help but believe now ---- They take away the premiums because if it's free, you can't complain.
Could that not be true here? Sure my boss' husband has been paying all these years, but he hasn't for the last 6 months. He can't say 'I PAY MY health care! I want this surgery!'... because he does NOT pay now. None of us do. You can stand up and yell and scream that you need this surgery before you die, but you don't pay for it. It's free, so you are totally completely at the mercy of the system now. That is revolting and disgusting. I have been trying to hard to warn some of my US friends that Canada's system is not all it's cracked up to be - but they refuse to listen. It concerns me. We have 10% of the US population and can't make this work right for everyone.
I saw an I-Report on CNN recently where an american woman talked of her time living in France and how she wasn't working but got very sick and got excellent care and it was totally free. Yes. That is awesome, of course it is -- but CNN failed to add in that doctors in France make a small fraction of what they make in the US (the report I saw said an average of $55,000US/year). It failed to announce that France has been in a deficit for it's health care program since 1984 (another report I read online). It failed to announce that 'patient satisfaction' polls have been slowly starting to droop over the last few years. It did not report the income tax differences between France and the US to pay for the program. Etc Etc. There is good and bad about every system, but this is being peddled in the US as the answer to all problems and it just plain isn't. It is not wonderful for everyone. It is not perfect. And there IS rationing. It should not be a triage system from one end to the other - if you need a surgery you should be able to get it. If your heart is ready to explode and you could die, you should be able to get it fixed BEFORE having a heart attack. What the hell is the point of going for tests and checkups if you might find out about a problem, but not be able to get it worked on for a year?
I have friends that work at the hospital and I hear often about how there are entire days many times a month where no one is in the OR at all. No one. No surgeries, unless an emergency comes in. So why are people waiting 1-2 years? What the hell is up with that? Oh yeah - it's because the province can only approve a certain number of surgeries every month/year because of funding. If my boss' husband had the choice - he could pay the hospital directly and get in there, get it done, and be out.... Who does it hurt if the OR is empty anyway? It would also shorten waiting lists if some people could choose to pay directly for their care. It is not about the rich getting treatment before the poor - it would shorten the waiting list for EVERYONE. If my boss' husband paid for his surgery and got out of there, and 5 other people did the same, would everyone else on the list not get bumped up?? Of course they would - maybe they would wait 3 months instead of 6, or 6 months instead of a year. But we do not have that option in Canada. Why not? I do not understand. And I do not believe a system is working if a man needs a heart bypass and cannot get it until his ticker collapses on him one more time... if he dies I think his wife should sue because they KNOW he needs this and have told him, but the province will not approve the operation.