Saturday, June 27, 2009

debunking canadian health care myths

i know that many people out there don't believe in socialized medicine. and, if you talk about it, they're throw out a bunch of tired lines about slower care, higher taxes, and more. i came across a great article about the issue, focusing on canada and the myths that persist about their health care system from the denver post.

i suggest you read the article, but here are some key points gleaned out:
"It is becoming increasingly more difficult to dispute the fact that Canada spends less money on health care to get better outcomes."

"Myth: Taxes in Canada are extremely high, mostly because of national health care.

In actuality, taxes are nearly equal on both sides of the border. Overall, Canada's taxes are slightly higher than those in the U.S. However, Canadians are afforded many benefits for their tax dollars, even beyond health care (e.g., tax credits, family allowance, cheaper higher education), so the end result is a wash. At the end of the day, the average after-tax income of Canadian workers is equal to about 82 percent of their gross pay. In the U.S., that average is 81.9 percent."

"Myth: Canada's government decides who gets health care and when they get it.While HMOs and other private medical insurers in the U.S. do indeed make such decisions, the only people in Canada to do so are physicians. In Canada, the government has absolutely no say in who gets care or how they get it. Medical decisions are left entirely up to doctors, as they should be.

There are no requirements for pre-authorization whatsoever. If your family doctor says you need an MRI, you get one. In the U.S., if an insurance administrator says you are not getting an MRI, you don't get one no matter what your doctor thinks — unless, of course, you have the money to cover the cost."

"Myth: There are long waits for care, which compromise access to care.There are no waits for urgent or primary care in Canada. There are reasonable waits for most specialists' care, and much longer waits for elective surgery."

"It is not a perfect system, but it has its merits. For people like my 55-year-old Aunt Betty, who has been waiting for 14 months for knee-replacement surgery due to a long history of arthritis, it is the superior system. Her $35,000-plus surgery is finally scheduled for next month. She has been in pain, and her quality of life has been compromised. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Aunt Betty — who lives on a fixed income and could never afford private health insurance, much less the cost of the surgery and requisite follow-up care — will soon sport a new, high-tech knee. Waiting 14 months for the procedure is easy when the alternative is living in pain for the rest of your life"

if people are going to just throw out their pre-scripted talking points, let's hit them back with knowledge. socialized medicine isn't the bogey man. it's not evil. it is about providing health care for all our citizens in a humane manner.


Uber Steve said...

I've felt for a long time that the common middle class American complaints about so-called socialized medicine are really just a kind of snobbishness. No, no, hear me out. The oral argument is, "I'd have to wait longer to see my doctor." The subtext is, "There's only so many doctor appointment slots to go around, and if everyone is suddenly able to have access to the same health care that I get, then I'll be competing for those slots with people of a lower caste than me."

Anonymous said...

I think this doctor is talking about the Canadian Health Care system as it used to be before 17 years, when she used to live in Canada, but things have changed since then.

Now we have a shortage of family doctors everywhere. In the city where I live, there are about 20,000 people without a family doctor (the city's population is 72000 people). And most family doctors hire a Nurse Practitioner in order to accomodate more patients. The nurse checks patients, makes decisions and prescribes medications. We also have a shortage of specialist. It takes about 3 months to see one. Many canadians leave to the US to get treatment because it takes a long time to get one, and as far as I know, they pay from their own pocket or from insurance.

Canadian tax also depends on the income. The more money you make, the more taxes you pay. Also people with a higher income don't get that much of family allowance or benefits. When my husband and I used to work, they'd cut about 30% of my salary and about 40% of my husband's salary, and at the end of the year before filling our income tax, we have to deposit money in RRSP's otherwise we'd end up owing the governement more taxes. We also pay taxes on purchases we make (15%). We pay taxes on the interest we earn in our bank accounts. We pay taxes on our yearly tax returns such as the Health care tax. We also pay taxes on the properties we own (starting at $150 a month and higher), even if you own just one house. We pay taxes on our utilities bills (15%). We even pay taxes on the child benefit we get from the governement because it is considered an income!

As for education, it used to be cheap in the early 90's (over 17 years ago) but not anymore. I used to pay $1500 for a full year in university in the early 90's. Now it's about $6000 a year.

One final note, not all health care cost is covered by the government. Physiotherapy, prolotherapy, chiropractics, eye exams and dentists costs are not covered by the government. Canadians pay from their pockets or insurance will pay a portion of it if they have one.

I believe this doctor is trying to mislead the American reader or simply talking about things as they used to be over 17 years ago.

edluv said...

pretty much everything you say about how it is in canada is the same way in the united states, except we don't have health care for all our citizens.

and, in many places here there aren't enough health care providers. i live in california's 5th largest city, so we don't have a shortage, but many of the towns in the surrounding 50 miles have very limited availability.

your suggestion is intriguing. can't say i could prove or disprove it. i know that i like my insurance, my doctor, and the general ease of visiting. i'm rather slow to visit the dr, so if i finally want to make an appointment i usually want to get in asap. my doc's good about it. there probably is a hesitancy for those with something to give up their benefit for the benefit of those that have not, especially if they harbor negative feelings toward the poor.

Primerica said...

Nice article, I wonder if this situation in the US could be solved with a simple test. We see how all the single payer systems work around the world but it's different in every country. Mr. Obama should have one county in the US adopt the single payer system for a period of time and see how it runs, see the peoples responses, get a lot of stats and graphs with interesting numbers and then show it to the people. And then decide on that. It would be a lot of work but maybe it would satisfy all the people.

Take care, Lorne