Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Taking Notice

Just a few things I have made note of over the past few weeks ( I might add to this as I think of more that I forgot to include - I need a notebook to jot my ideas down in lol)....

First off, being a member of several health forums now for 'trigeminal neuralgia', I have run into several Canadians who keep mentioning that they are glad that we dont have a 'US-style' health care system (because of the cost).... but then as I read back through their own posts, I run into constant mentions of how the waiting list to see some neurologists in their areas are 12-18 months. This was in very urban areas, not rural. So they are glad they don't have to 'pay much' (see my note following this sentence), but they are okay with having to wait over a year for an appt to see a specialist? And that's just for a first consult - who knows how long it takes after that for followup appts. Ummmmmmm and they don't think they have to pay much??? They pay every single DAY of their lives through various taxes on just about everything. Higher taxes than the US has - so ummmmm yeah folks, you ARE paying a fair amount (and in one province in particular this was happening in - BC- they also have sales tax harmonized with GST, AND they pay a monthly premium to boot). So they ARE paying a lot AND they have a crappy waiting list to twiddle their thumbs to. That's just lovely. GREAT system. Blah! I can barely stand it! Another thing that surprised me is a woman living on 'the island' (Vancouver Island) who had a problem finding a specialist and when she did, it was a 1.5 to 2 year wait , and if she has to travel to Vancouver, the waiting list there was 12 to 18 months.... there are almost a million people living on 'the island' but not enough access to specialists?? Why not? Oh I know - because the provincial govt has not deemed it necessary. Well guess what, if we had a more US-style system, a neurologist might travel to the beautiful city of Victoria, or maybe Nanaimo, fall in love with it, and decide to set up shop there. Wouldnt that be lovely? He/she could take on patients that have been struggling with flight and ferry costs for appts (saving hundreds of dollars for many people per visit that they could instead put toward their direct health care costs through fee payment or private insurance), and do a world of good at the same time. But - that is not really allowed to happen here. The 'red tape' for opening up a private medical clinic is very tough to go through, from what I have read and heard over the years, so many do not bother. So - the citizens have to travel or not get treatment at all if they cannot afford all those ferry crossings or flights. Another thing many try to do is attend Pain Management Clinics in the meantime but there is a backlog there as well and when they finally get in, many find a replacement backup doc instead who cannot really do anything and is not familiar with the files. What a giant waste of time AND money. Another interesting thing to note - one patient tried to get an appt at the University of British Columbia Neurosurgery Dept but they no longer do facial nerve surgery - so where do you go?

Meanwhile, on the American members threads, I see no-end of lists of doctors and surgeons and specialists. Yes the population is 10 times higher than Canada, however it's not all about that. I have posted before that my friend lives in a city in South Carolina now and out of curiousity I looked up the number of allergy specialists there and there were 14 within an hour driving distance, but most right in the city. Her city is SMALLER than mine, smaller population and close to a few major urban centers, but they still had 14 allergy specialists in the yellow pages.... guess how many my city in Alberta has? NONE. We have to travel to Calgary..... but my city is larger than my friend's and they have 14 and we have 0. What's up with that? Is the US style system REALLY that awful? How is our's better? I'm not glad about having to wait several months or a year or longer for important appts and treatments. I would rather have the option to pay without having to travel half way across the country or down into the US. But I cannot do that. Even though I
pay for this system every day in several ways, I am not allowed 'choice' and have to endure waiting lists a mile long.
Enough about that, it's like beating a dead horse.

Another thing I made note of was from Monday night's David Letterman show. My brother is in NYC right now and happened to win tickets to that taping, so I watched Letterman for the first time in probably 15 or more years lol. During the opening monologue, DL made light of the news that the US has 'hit the debt ceiling'... and then he proceeded to say that he has no idea what that even means. People laughed..... oh how hilarious! Let's just joke about the dire circumstanes the US is facing.

I tried to think of an analogy to help poor mr DL and immediately I came up with this: You are in a house when water suddenly rushes in and fills it up until you are floating and your head hits the ceiling. You are gasping for air in the shrinking space while water continues to flow in - but it is no use, you are now drowning. But suddenly - someone comes along and raises your ceiling! Cranks it up another foot and you are floating again,breathing in the sweet air ---- however the water is STILL flowing and it fills up to the ceiling again. You are drowning again.... and yet somehow someone still magically comes along and raises the ceiling for you and you float and breathe yet again.... Does that sound like it's going to ever solve anything? Are you going to get out of there alive because someone keeps raising the ceiling for you? Not if the water keeps coming and coming. You are going to be dead eventually. You;ve only been given a temporary teaser of air that will not last. The only thing that will save you is cutting off the water flow. Someone has to figure out how to stop it before you can be sure to have a chance...

Now back to the debt ceiling - if the US is oozing money, bleeding money, or completely out of money - is raising the debt ceiling (again) going to actually save anyone? If the problems that caused this in the first place are not addressed, it's just going to keep happening!


  1. They spend about twice as much on healthcare as we do now... No surprise those who have the insurance or the cash to see a doctor there don't have to wait like we do.

    We can either increase supply (i.e. increase public funding) or decrease demand (i.e. privatize healthcare). Or both, I suppose.

  2. By 'they' do you mean the govt bodies or the individuals. If you mean the people, I think it depends on how you look at it. I have seen numerous reports over the years that show that in Canada, the average middle income family actually spends $300 to $400 a month on health care whether they realize it or not. This based on the % of income taxes that goes to health care (Fed Govt reports say currently 46% of total tax revenue brought in goes back out for health care costs in the provinces, for example), taxes on goods and services, embedded taxes on items such as cigarettes, alcohol and fuel, and then of course all the taxes we are also paying embedded in every product due to taxes on the manufacturers, suppliers, transportation companies, etc - and then there are some direct costs in a few provinces in the form of premiums, as well as provincial sales tax on top of the GST...

    I have friends in many US states such as Cali, South Dakota, North Dakota, South Carolina, Florida and Virginia that all pay between $300 to $500 a month for their family health insurance.

    If Canadians are paying $300-$400 a month via taxes that come right out of our bank accounts, is it really any different than people who have much lower taxes and goods costs but pay directly through insurance or medical savings accounts? Is it REALLY? If those totals are indeed correct, as I have heard many times, but we have to wait for ages to get treatment and have much fewer specialists and doctors to choose from, that doesnt sound like a very good deal to me. I think I would rather have a choice to try to pay for private insurance for basic health care and have a wider selection and shorter waiting times.

  3. Neither system is doing that great, but in our's people are forced to pay for health care every single day of their lives, their entire lives, whether they need it or not. My kids have never had emergency care and my oldest is almost 14. I have only had overnight stays when I was giving birth and one incident of heart stuff back in November, and I am almost 40. My boyfriend has been to a doctor's office ONCE in more than 10 years (that was last month) and only for a 5 minute walk in appt - yet he has literally paid multiple thousands of dollars towards the health care system in that time period. Through taxes, premiums, and so on.....

    The same can go for insurance but at least you can choose your company, the premium, etc. Up here, the govt IS the insurance broker. It is called 'alberta health care INSURANCE' for a reason. Even though there is no longer a premium, I get asked for my AHCI #, not my 'alberta health care' numbers. 'Insurance' is key here. We DO pay it, and we pay it every day through every item we buy, every penny we earn, and I would think it's really not that far off what people in the US end up paying for their own insurance - but with much faster care in many areas. If people choose to live in a rural area, it kind of comes with the territory that it's not going to be easy if someone has a health problem. But even in urban centers people are waiting months or years for treatment and appts - something is seriously wrong there! I dont care how much we pay or don't pay - this is Canada and we should not be having so much difficulty medically treating our citizens. People lose their homes here due to medical issues as well - not just in the US. A woman in my city almost lost her home just last year because it took over 10 months start to finish to get all of her appts and treatments done for breast cancer - when it should have only taken 3 months. She used up her savings traveling back and forth to calgary since my region does not do chemo or radiation anymore (even though we have an oncology wing at the hospital), and then her EI ran out because you only get 15 weeks for medical - if it wasnt for her friends, neighbours, and church helping out, she could very well be homeless right now despite the fact she paid into the system just like the rest of us every single day for over 40 YEARS.

    That is not working and it's very sad.



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).