An Example of Evil Socialized Healthcare
Posted on August 13th, 2009 in current events
While our friends to the south are debating the future of their country’s health care system, I thought I’d give a story of Canada’s health care from my point of view.
One seemingly popular tactic of the GOP is it scare Americans into thinking that a Canadian-like health care system will only lead to death and destruction. They talk about long waiting times, lack of doctors, patients having to go overseas to get care that is not available here.
I have an opposite point of view.
My father has heart disease. He had his first heart attack at age 42, when I was only 11. This really wasn’t unexpected; everyone in my father’s family has died of ailments related to heart disease. We knew he was going to get sick, too, it was just as matter of time. Of course, it didn’t help that he had already been smoking for nearly 30 years at that point, and ate a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet.
Fast forward about 15 years. He’d been smoking on and off (mostly on), and had not changed his diet at all. He could polish off a full-sized bag of Lays chips on the coach on a Sunday afternoon, only bothering to move to go out for a cigarette.
By that time, his heart was in much worse condition. He’d had several angina attacks and possibly small heart attacks over the years. but never bothered to get them checked out. He’d taken his angina meds if he’d had to, but that was about it.
After visits with the family doctor (a doctor he’d been seeing for 25+ years at that point), he was recommended to a cardiologist. He didn’t have to travel far; the best cardiology centre in Ontario was located right in the town in which my dad lived.
Within weeks he was in to see the cardiologist, who decided that within the next few months my father would need heart surgery. He was to have a triple bypass. He needed to have the procedure done within a fairly short period of time, but it wasn’t too urgent.
Being his only family by that time, I obviously had to take time off work to help him. My boss gave me the time I needed as paid sick time. So yeah, I got paid for sitting in the hospital with my dad.
My dad also got paid during his surgery and recovery. Not by his employer though, but by the province’s disability program. Short-term and long-term disability payments are part of the Employment Insurance program that all employees in Ontario pay into on every pay cheque.
When it came time for the surgery, the cardiologist decided he’d rather do a double bypass and a valve replacement, rather than the original plan to do a triple bypass. The change in the surgery really didn’t affect anything; there were no additional wait times, nothing had to be rescheduled. After days in the hospital, he was sent home for a year of recovery. During which time he still collected his paycheque from Ontario’s long-term disability program. He also still retained his company’s benefits program during this time.
After a year, he returned to his job. He wasn’t forced to quit because of his absense, and they welcomed him back.
Upon another trip to the cardiologist, it was determined that the heart surgery was not having the desired effect. His heart still wasn’t pumping as well as it should – or could – have been. So the doctor decided my dad should have a pacemaker put in. So back into surgery (day surgery, this time) within a few short weeks. More time off for me, on little notice. And then 3 more months of recovery for my dad, again while collecting his paycheque.
A few months after the pacemaker was put in, the cardiologist again decided it wasn’t quite working right. He wanted to try an implantable defibilator this time. Again, day surgery, however my dad’s blood pressure remained too low following the surgery so they kept him overnight for observation. Then more recovery time.
By this point, he’d been off work for most of two years. He’d had one week-long hospital stay, and two short ones. The last two surgeries were scheduled within weeks - like maybe a week – after the cardiologist saw him. And this was a man with a history of heart disease, a family history of heart disease, was a smoker, and had a poor diet.
When all was said and done, what did he pay for? The portion of his prescriptions that was not covered by the provincial health plan or his company’s benefits plan; about 10% of the overall cost of the prescriptions. He paid nothing for his surgeries, for his pacemaker or defibrilator, for his hospital stays, for seeing the province’s leading cardiologist. Nothing. Zip. Nada.
So, dear Republican scare mongers, what part of this story is so evil? A sick man got well, didn’t lose his job in the process, and didn’t go bankrupt in order to pay for it. He was not declined service for a “pre-existing condition”, he was in fact given priority because of the urgence and severity of his illness.
I know that Canada’s health care system is not perfect; none are. In every system, there are a few who’s experiences differ from the norm. But I’m glad every second that I have the health care that I do, and not a for-profit system like the US currently has.