Saturday, 17 October 2009

Be Thankful for Canadian Health Care

A battle is raging in the United States over universal health care which Canadians take for granted. The country is divided and people are very angry in the USA on both sides of the issue. There is clearly a strong insurance lobby out there trying to stop anything resembling "a public option". They are fearful that if there is a public option almost everybody would select it and the insurers would lose most of their business or perhaps worse have to compete with the quality of care and the price of the public option. In the United States now most people have private health care which is inadequate and President Obama's plan is to force the insurers to improve in how they provide service and specifically prevent them from excluding coverage for "pre-existing conditions". Now a new insurer can refuse to cover a person who had a medical condition before that insurer took over their coverage. Also, many plans cover only a percentage of the cost which means some people who suddenly have serious health issues are forced into bankruptcy by the uncovered cost of their illness. I met a captain of a small sail boat once in the United States who lost everything because his wife had a premature baby and the insurance only covered 80%. He did not own the sail boat but had to start a new career and move from where he had originally lived. Then there are the 40 million Americans who have no coverage at all.
To Canadians this is something we just do not understand. How can a country that has been the richest country in the world be so backwards. It now looks like universal health care will come to the United States but the availability of a public option is severely threatened and so it will likely be far from an ideal system. It certainly would be an improvement and I commend President Obama and those who fought for health care before him for many years like the late Sentator Ted Kennedy and of course the present Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
In Canada we have had medicare for many years which is all publicly funded and universal. It is seen as a basic right. That is true in most modern countries with the notable exception of the USA. The "public option" for Canadians is the only option. I certainly feel grateful as does my wife, Nancy Miskin, who originally came to Canada from the United States in the late 1970s. When she first came she was ill and had no health insurance but was taken in by a Toronto hospital and saved. More recently she had a severe stroke a year ago and has received the finest of care. On Thanksgiving last year before her stroke she wrote a letter to the Toronto Star which was published expressing her thanks for Canadian health care. That appreciation has certainly grown greater over the past year.
In Canada we do have a place for private insurers and that is with Extended Health Care which provides things like semi-private or private hospital rooms, dental care, vision care and prescriptions. Mine also provides health coverage while outside Canada which you really need if you are traveling to the United States.
I am writing this a week after Canadian Thanksgiving but I urge you to be thankful for your health which is so important and the fine medical care we get in Canada as a basic human right. Hopefully by the time of the American Thanksgiving in late November people in the United States will also have reason to give thanks.


Burr Deming said...

That's quite a personal testimonial. Frankly, much of the opposition to the public option strikes me as self-contradictory.

Anonymous said...

It was rather interesting for me to read this post. Thanx for it. I like such themes and everything that is connected to them. I definitely want to read more soon.

Anonymous said...

poverty class has little to be thankful for and are silenced

will this be posted or does censorship exist on the blog

there is little heathcare for the poverty class

Murray H. Miskin said...

I am writing on the American Thanksgiving November 25 and wish my American friends a happy Thanksgiving. I am happy to see that the healthcare bill has made it to the floor of the US Senate and hope it is passed without undue delay.
In response to the first anonymous comment above about the poverty class I do censor the blog but will not censor a comment that is not spam, an attempt to sell something or obscenity. Ideas are always welcome.