Sunday, July 26, 2009

Another Random Thought...

... last week I came across an article in a small Texas newspaper (sorry, I can't find the link), where the author was doing a mini-interview with relatives in Claresholm, Alberta to ask them about our health care plan. One thing really stood out to me - basically it was talking about how our 'Universal' system was doing just fine but now that they took away the premiums we had to pay, they are cutting programs left and right. There were references to wondering what the PC Alberta govt is up to, etc etc.

It bothered me because #1 - Albertans had to pay premiums for all these years, on top of any money collected via various taxes. So guess what? It was NOT technically a universal system. If you did NOT pay your premiums, you got a nice big fat bill in the mail for any basic medical services you required. Case point: my former coworker fainted on the hospital grounds after attening a prenatal class. She was taken via ambulance to the other side of the hospital, she had an xray done on her arm, and was treated and released. A couple of months later, she discovered the hard way that her ex husband was not paying her health care insurance premiums because she got a $250 bill in the mail for the xray. He also wasn't paying her EXTENDED health care premiums so she got a $300 ambulance bill, and other assorted charges from her emergency room visit. THAT is NOT 'universal health care'. Alberta did not have that - but people keep saying we did and it's really annoying.

But guess what? We DO have universal health care for basic health NOW - and it SUCKS, doesn't it? So all of these people who complain about what the govt is doing right now, but keep calling what we had before 'universal', need to think about what they are saying. NOW it is universal - before it was not. There have been people doing organized protests all around Alberta, one here in my city this past week. They do NOT like it - they don't like the cuts, the transfers of some things to 'extended' health, etc. But this is what universal is really like, so why are they whining?

For many many years I have heard various people in Alberta complain that because we are such a rich province, we should have free health care. Talking about using royalites from the oil companies to pay for it, etc etc. Well what good does that do when taking royalities scared away some companies, and now with uncertainty in the future do to 'other reasons', only 25% of Western Canada's rigs and wells have been up and running this year.

I think it was totally mental for the AB govt to cut the premiums and then turn around and say it doesn't have enough money to support certain things like glaucoma surgery --- but I am not the one crying out for free health care either. This is just for 'those people'. What's great about free? Haven't they heard the saying 'You Get What You Paid For'?? You pay taxes, sure, but how much of it actually goes to Health Care? Taxes are spread so thinly across a multitude of programs, and the red tape and bureacracy that goes with it, not enough gets to where it 'should' be going. We have a saying at work that goes 'Every dollar in funding we receive has been spent 40 times before it reaches us'.

Now health care is under the wire. May I also point out that Alberta definitely hasn't had a 'universal' system for eons because we have to pay extended health care if we want to be covered for Eye, Dental, Ambulance, etc... now Casts fall into that category, chiropractors, physio has been in that category for years, and so on. How is that universal? But people keep calling it that for some reason.

Anyway NOW we are getting a little taste of what a Universal System is REALLY like and it's crap. Can you imagine how awful it would be if eye and dental were on there too? At least when I call my dentist or eye doctor now, I can get an appt within a couple of days (or that afternoon!), but good luck getting in with a medical doc.

Can you believe my son is 16 months old and my family doctor has never laid eyes on him?? So many appts have been cancelled, rebooked for when I can't take time off work, or I found out a replacement was filling in, I have given up seeing him at all. He is a super nice doc and I really liked him, but I can't get in so what's the point? My MIL has him as well and she is very ill right now, but has to see him at walk-ins instead of making appts because he is booked over a month in advance all the time. How is that a good thing? And that has nothing to do with the cuts - it's been like this for many years. The premium cuts only just happened in January of this year.

So anyway I just wanted to ramble on about this. People are complaining about what the govt has done, but not seeming to realize that this IS what a universal system is like (for our basic care at least) - but then they turn around and tell Americans that our system was great without really giving the REAL details: Prior to Jan 09, Albertans were paying around $200 a month for their health care plans, if they did extended as well. The cost of my family's plan was $88 a month for basic, and $140 a month for extended (but the workplace chose to pay half, so our portion is $67 a month). It still wasn't perfect, but if you think about it, either the basic premiums we paid were not enough, or the tax money was being mishandled while divvying it out among the mutlitudes of social programs (or both). Alberta DID NOT HAVE universal care, and still doesn't fully, but we are getting a taste of it now and don't like it --- so shouldn't we be passing this info on to our American neighbours while their president is trying to push something similar onto them??
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Just adding in a little tidbit for an example. My friends are here from South Carolina right now and we were randomly talking about our kids and allergies. I mentioned my daughter's strange allergies and my friend's husband asked if she has been to an allergist. I laughed - it's a year wait for people that have anaphalactic reactions --- how long would I have to wait with my daughter just getting a rash from bandaids? Anyway he said they have allergists all over the place - I said we have to drive 3 hours to get to Calgary and those appts can take a year. He was shocked. I wasn't. THIS is what can happen with a small across-the-board premium and tax-based system, and now it will only be worse with a purely tax-based system. And before you get any ideas - the population of their city is LESS than the small city I live in right now. They have allergy centers right there in the city with several docs in each. But nah - Alberta folk have to travel to Calgary and Edmonton for testing.

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These are my views and opinions. If you don't agree or think I am sadly misguided, that is your view. Feel free to share your thoughts but I also reserve my right to moderate content (IE foul language, excessive flaming, etc).

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