Socialized Medicine Sucks

No one wants the U.S. to be a backward third world country like Canada, do they?

In Canada they have long, long, long waiting lists and people just up and die waiting, right? Just ask the villagers, they'll tell you.

I live in Vancouver, BC. Canada's medical system is a single payer system as many of you know. The monthly premium for a single person is $54.

In B.C., premiums are payable for MSP coverage and are based on family size and income. The monthly rates are:

$54 for one person
$96 for a family of two

$108 for a family of three or more

Two years ago I developed a bladder infection, so I walked across the parking lot from work to a walk in clinic on my coffee break to see a doctor. The wait was about ten minutes. I presented my medical id card, saw the doctor, was diagnosed, and she wrote a prescription for antibiotics that cost me $18.

There was no bill for the doctor visit. It was covered.

She also said "men generally don't get bladder infections, so I want you to go for an ultrasound of your kidneys" and made an appointment for me with the lab.

I went to the lab, showed my medical id card, and had the ultrasound.

Again no bill for this. It was covered.

3 days later the doctor's office called me and asked me to come in for an appointment, to get the ultrasound results. I went in and talked to the doctor again. She told me the ultrasound showed my left kidney very swollen like a balloon, and that she was making an appointment with a urological surgeon for further examination.

Again no bill for this. It was covered.

A week later I saw the surgeon who examined me, looked at the ultrasound results, and told me I needed my kidney removed.

Again no bill for this. It was covered.

Seven months later they called to tell me to be at the hospital because the operating room was available now. The wait was because people with acute life threatening heart disease  or cancer  who needed immediate surgery were bumped ahead of me. Had my kidney problem become life threatening at any time I would have been in surgery the same day. I went into the hospital the next day, the kidney was removed, and I spent 3 more days in the hospital, and then three months recovering at home.

Again no bill for this. It was covered.

Now, for the entire 7 month period waiting for the operation, I had been on medical unemployment insurance, which was then extended for the remainder of my recovery time, so I was able to pay my rent and bills, including my regular monthly medical insurance premium

Total cost to me? $18.00, above and beyond my regular medical premiums.

Socialized Medicine Sucks...

Crossposted from Antemedius

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    Maybe, if I had gone (5.00 / 4) (#1)
    by Edger on Thu Jul 23, 2009 at 01:02:39 PM EST
    a couple of hundred thousand into debt, I could have saved the 18 bucks.

    Edger (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:26:41 AM EST
    Thank you for sharing your story--and welcome to the one kidney (or less) club.  I hope you are fully recovered and back to enjoying life.  

    Just out of curiosity, did you have some sort of blockage or reflux of the ureter?  

    Apparently I had been born with (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Edger on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 11:49:11 AM EST
    one malformed kidney that slowly grew scar tissue over 55 years till it blocked completely, and was nonfunctioning, and backing toxins up into my system.

    A condition... (5.00 / 3) (#13)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 12:36:31 PM EST
    ...we both share then.  Only in my case, it was the ureters that were malformed.  The result was the same, although a bit more immediate in my case.  

    Take good care of the one you still have.  Be very wary of any Rx you take.  You might want to consider a low phosphate diet as well.  

    Here's hoping you have and your remaining kidney have a long, happy and healthy life together!



    What A Coldhearted System You Have (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by squeaky on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 11:48:40 AM EST
    No wonder Canada is a third world country. You have put all those families out on the street, with no where to go. It makes me cry to think of homeless insurance execs panhandling just so that they can get a dose of viagra or STD meds.

    The viagra because they are so used to f*cking so many people, and the STD meds, well because they have f'ed so many without protection.

    Heh! (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Edger on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 07:07:59 PM EST
    I know. It kills me... ;-)

    Oh noes! (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by robert72 on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 07:15:27 PM EST
    This BC resident got a shock in the mail today. The monthly premium is going from $54 to $57....

    Great Post Edger (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by john horse on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 01:07:26 PM EST
    You don't hear much from people like yourself on the cable news shows.  They only seem to be interested in scary stories about the evil Canadian health system.

    Hope you are feeling better.

    Much better... (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Edger on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 10:39:13 PM EST
    Thanks, John. Good to "see" you. been awhile. ;-)

    There are more stories in here: Canada Has a Health Care Lottery?

    There are three pages to that sub-forum, with page-next links at the bottom...


    Everyone one in this country seems (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Chuck0 on Wed Aug 05, 2009 at 12:06:52 PM EST
    to believe there is something inherently evil with paying taxes. I don't mind paying taxes if I'm getting something in return. I have to problem re-directing my insurance premiums, copays, etc. for a single payer health care system. I honestly believe I'd save money in the long run. The current private insurance systems sucks. Give me SOCIALISM!! Woo hoo!

    Nice post Edger.... (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by desertswine on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 12:09:20 PM EST
    thanks for the education.

    Thanks, DS (none / 0) (#22)
    by Edger on Fri Aug 14, 2009 at 05:14:55 PM EST
    Been awhile. Hope you're doing ok?

    Thanks for asking... (none / 0) (#23)
    by desertswine on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 12:46:29 PM EST
    I'm on the mend, back at work, and feeling a little better every day.

    More on reality in the Canadian system (5.00 / 0) (#24)
    by Edger on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 12:35:45 PM EST
    and a post I highly recommend, is My brain and the Ontario health-care system, by Paul E. Barber:

    Late that night, unable to sleep because of a splitting headache, I got up to take some strong headache medication. The last thing I remember was reaching up to the cabinet containing the pills. My wife then heard a crash as I hit the floor. I had collapsed and gone into a convulsion.

    This is the point where we discovered just how fast and effective our health system could be. The complaints you hear directed at Canada's health system about waiting times for treatment are simply without foundation.


    Despite the extensive nature of the surgery, it was performed so skillfully that I felt able to leave the hospital and go home the following Tuesday - April 27. And the next day, Dr. Valiante called with the news that the tumour was benign, a slow-growing pilocytic astrocytoma, generally thought of as a brain tumour one sees in children. I would not need any further treatment. In less than a week, the system had me on the road to full recovery


    Our experience with Canada's health care system has been first-rate. This includes the cancer care my wife is currently receiving, which has included a sophisticated procedure whereby she successfully received a transplant of her own stem cells at the wonderful Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto. She did not have to wait for that complex operation either: it was performed upon completion of the essential preliminary treatment.

    Read all of it here...

    Great post Edger, thanks.. (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by dutchfox on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 10:42:04 PM EST
    I should read the diaries on TL more often.  

    We are being squeezed so bad here in the USA (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by bluegill on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 01:06:40 AM EST
    I pay around $11,000 a year for a good Kaiser plan for myself , my son, and my daughter. It is my single biggest expense besides rent. I would gladly move to Canada if I could. I would have a much better standard of living. We won't get it here without a revolution though. The news here is worse than Pravda in the cold war. There will never be an honest comparison in the media because guess what. The same crooked capitalist class that owns the medical insurance companies also owns our press.

    Not to be a drag here, (2.00 / 1) (#25)
    by BrassTacks on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 03:09:46 PM EST
    But I had a similar situation.  The difference was I had surgery within 2 weeks, not 7 months, and spent $5 on antibiotics.  I never saw a bill from any doctor or the hospital, except those that had already been paid by my insurance.  Granted, we pay for a good health insurance plan each month.  We made that choice, although it is not a cheap one.  We make sacrifices elsewhere to cover it and consider it vital.  But everyone's different and makes different choices.  That's why I am against any mandate that people MUST buy health insurance.  Not everyone needs the kind of coverage that we choose.  

    When diagnosed with cancer, by an oncologist, on Tuesday afternoon, I saw a radiologist Wednesday morning, began radiation treatment on Friday and chemo on Monday morning.  It was almost too fast, my head was spinning.  But later I realized that killing cancer quickly is the goal.  It worked.  Six years later, I am considered cured.  Never had to pay for any of that either, other than $10 copay for 6 chemo sessions, and $20 for prescription anti nausea meds.  I paid nothing for 3 nights in the hospital in a private room.  (I hear that cancer has hospital wards.  Is that true?  I hope not!  The last thing you want when you're so sick is a bunch of other people around.)

    Like I said, we have great insurance.  I realize that not everyone has this plan or would even choose to have it or choose to pay for it.  Nor should anyone be forced to have it or forced to pay for it.  

    The publicly funded (with your taxes) roads (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Edger on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:14:12 PM EST
    that you were forced to pay for, and drove on to get to the hospital, must have really pi**ed you off, almost as much as missing this sentence in the diary: "Had my kidney problem become life threatening at any time I would have been in surgery the same day".

    Late that night, unable to sleep because of a splitting headache, I got up to take some strong headache medication. The last thing I remember was reaching up to the cabinet containing the pills. My wife then heard a crash as I hit the floor. I had collapsed and gone into a convulsion.

    This is the point where we discovered just how fast and effective our health system could be. The complaints you hear directed at Canada's health system about waiting times for treatment are simply without foundation. As you will see from what happened next, my experience says quite the opposite.

    The next thing I recall I was being carried downstairs by some fire fighters who responded to the 911 call and had made it to our house ahead of the ambulance. I was taken immediately in the ambulance to the Mount Sinai Hospital emergency. I drifted in and out of consciousness and don't remember much from that period, but a CAT scan done in the wee hours of Thursday, April 22 revealed a large mass in my brain.

    A few hours later, I was admitted to the Toronto Western Hospital neurology ward (which has an international reputation for excellence). I had a brain tumour and needed surgery. The doctors were optimistic that what they didn't get with surgery could be dealt with by chemotherapy and radiation. They assumed I had brain cancer, but they said it would be a few weeks after surgery before tests could determine the exact nature of the tumour. The medical staff could scarcely believe that I had actually been at work the previous Friday.


    Just 60 hours or so after my collapse, on Saturday, April 24, , I underwent five and a half hours of surgery to remove a large brain tumour.


    Our experience with Canada's health care system has been first-rate. This includes the cancer care my wife is currently receiving, which has included a sophisticated procedure whereby she successfully received a transplant of her own stem cells at the wonderful Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto. She did not have to wait for that complex operation either: it was performed upon completion of the essential preliminary treatment.


    I think our experience with health care is comparable to that of most Canadians. Our system may not be perfect, but we are more than happy with how it has treated us, and, like other Canadians, we would not trade it for the American system.

    My brain and the Ontario health-care system
    by Paul E. Barber, August 20, 2009

    Are you a Canadian citizen? (none / 0) (#2)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Jul 23, 2009 at 01:20:46 PM EST
    Have you lived in Canada the whole time you've been posting here on TL?

    Where did the money come from to pay for your medical services?

    Canada's Health Care system is (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by Edger on Thu Jul 23, 2009 at 02:09:12 PM EST
    a cost spreading insurance program. Funding is from taxes and premiums paid.

    See: Health care in Canada

    Health care in Canada is funded and delivered through a publicly-funded health care system, with most services provided by private entities.[1]

    Health care spending in Canada is projected to reach $160 billion, or 10.6% of GDP, in 2007. This is slightly above the average for OECD countries. In Canada, the various levels of government pay for about 71% of Canadians' health care costs, which is slightly below the OECD average. Under the terms of the Canada Health Act, the publicly funded insurance plans are required to pay for medically necessary care, but only if it is delivered in hospitals or by physicians. There is considerable variation across the provinces/territories as to the extent to which such costs as outpatient prescription drugs, physical therapy, long-term care, home care, dental care and even ambulance services are covered.[2]

    Considerable attention has been focused on two issues: wait times and health human resources. There is also a debate about the appropriate 'public-private mix' for both financing and delivering services.

    Canada's healthcare spending is expected to reach $171.9 billion, or $5,170 per person, in 2008. Health expenditures are expected to be 10.7% of the gross domestic product. Hospitals account for the largest segment in spending at $48.1 billion, however, this amount is declining. According to the OECD, spending was second amongst other countries, less than United States and more than Norway, Switzerland and Luxembourg[3].

    Canada has a federally sponsored, publicly funded Medicare system, with most services provided by the private sector. Each province may opt out, though none currently do. Canada's system is known as a single payer system, where basic services are provided by private doctors (since 2002 they have been allowed to incorporate), with the entire fee paid for by the government at the same rate. Most family doctors receive a fee per visit. These rates are negotiated between the provincial governments and the province's medical associations, usually on an annual basis. A physician cannot charge a fee for a service that is higher than the negotiated rate -- even to patients who are not covered by the publicly funded system -- unless the physican opts out of billing the publicly funded system altogether. Pharmaceutical costs are set at a global median by government price controls. Other areas of health care, such as dentistry and optometry, are wholly private.

    Also see: Has Canada Got the Cure?

    Publicly funded health care has its problems, as any Canadian or Briton knows. But like democracy, it's the best answer we've come up with so far.

    Should the United States implement a more inclusive, publicly funded health care system? That's a big debate throughout the country. But even as it rages, most Americans are unaware that the United States is the only country in the developed world that doesn't already have a fundamentally public--that is, tax-supported--health care system.

    That means that the United States has been the unwitting control subject in a 30-year, worldwide experiment comparing the merits of private versus public health care funding. For the people living in the United States, the results of this experiment with privately funded health care have been grim. The United States now has the most expensive health care system on earth and, despite remarkable technology, the general health of the U.S. population is lower than in most industrialized countries. Worse, Americans' mortality rates--both general and infant--are shockingly high.


    The United States spends far more per capita on health care than any comparable country. In fact, the gap is so enormous that a recent University of California, San Francisco, study estimates that the United States would save over $161 billion every year in paperwork alone if it switched to a singlepayer system like Canada's.3 These billions of dollars are not abstract amounts deducted from government budgets; they come directly out of the pockets of people who are sick.


    Thanks, I also read the wiki article. (none / 0) (#4)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Jul 23, 2009 at 02:33:56 PM EST
    Canada taxes its citizens more and uses those taxes to fund its health care system.

    Therefor, I would suggest that the services you received were not "free" but rather that you've been paying for them with every paycheck since the 1960's.

    The much lower health care expenditure/citizen in Canada is pretty compelling, though.

    You did not answer my other two questions though.

    You'd think after we've been debating each other here on TL for over a half-decade or so you would be give me the courtesy of doing so.

    btw, I'm glad you are now in good health.


    So? (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Edger on Thu Jul 23, 2009 at 02:41:47 PM EST
    Nowhere did I suggest it was "free".

    And you're right. I did not answer your other two questions. They are beside the point and immaterial.


    Edger (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by MO Blue on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:16:33 AM EST
    Are there different tax rates for married couples vs single people in Canada?

    I looked at the tax rates for the U.S. and Canada and in my income bracket they are approximately the same if you file a single return. Of course to do a real analysis, you would have to compare allowable deductions and Bush's cuts on capital gains and dividends would probably play a major role.


    There are differences, I think (none / 0) (#9)
    by Edger on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 11:47:32 AM EST
    but I don't know the figures. I married once for two years at 19, so I don't recall.

    There are single and family premiums for medical insurance...


    If people add insurance premiums. (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by MO Blue on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:26:51 AM EST
    the portion of FICA that goes to Medicare and out of pocket expenses to the amount they pay in taxes, there is a good chance that they are paying more than a Canadian.

    In addition to FICA and out of pocket expenses (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by esmense on Mon Aug 10, 2009 at 02:53:18 PM EST
    my husband and I pay just under $20,000 a year in individual insurance premiums (for coverage that requires a $6,000 deductible for each of us ($12,000 total), and of course various co-pays). We're small business owners -- we also pay to cover our employees. And of course we are contributing hefty taxes to both the state and federal government -- taxes that pay for what in many cases is "gold plated" insurance for state and federal employees. In fact, my state, one that does not have an income tax, relies instead on a "B&0" tax on businesses and the self-employed (a tax assessed on GROSS sales, not profit)for 50% of its revenues including the cost of providing health benefits to state workers.

    Health insurance is our biggest personal expense. If the yearly increases continue (we've just been notified of a new 9% increase), while the business environment remains stagnant, we, like so many other small business owners, may evetually find we can't afford our coverage. Yet, if we lose the coverage we have now, we will not have any other options.

    Nonetheless, whether we can afford coverage for ourselves or not, we will still be taxed to help pay for the 33% of Americans who already have tax payer supported health care -- not simply the poor, but the in some cases quite affluent retired elderly, military veterans, government employees and retirees, etc. Some of the very same people who are indulging in bullying tactics to stop any kind of reform that could make health care more affordable and dependable for us.

    Is anyone in Canada being asked to bear this kind of financial burden in terms of health care -- with absolutely NO guarantee that health coverage will be available for them when they need it?


    To answer your closing question (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by Edger on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 05:34:45 AM EST
    No, not as far as I know. Everyone in every province of Canada is covered. In fact, some provinces, Manitoba for example, charge residents no premiums at all for health insurance but instead cover their residents through general tax revenues (Canada generally has higher income tax rates than the U.S.), and some provinces that do charge, such as B.C., also have premium assistance available that lowers your premiums depending on your income level, and even completely indigent or homeless people will be treated first in most clinics or hospitals and the medical coverage to pay for the services will be sorted out later, usually by a social worker I think. No one goes ever into debt for medical treatment, as far as I know.

    --> In British Columbia:

    Regular premium assistance offers subsidies ranging from 20 to 100 per cent, based on an individual's net income (or a couple's combined net income) for the preceding tax year, less deductions for age, family size and disability. If the resulting amount referred to as "adjusted net income" is $28,000 or below, a subsidy is available. See the Monthly Premium Rates chart ... for full details of premium assistance rates.

    The current adjusted net income thresholds are:
    $20,000 - 100 percent subsidy
    $22,000 - 80 percent subsidy
    $24,000 - 60 percent subsidy
    $26,000 - 40 percent subsidy
    $28,000 - 20 percent subsidy


    Temporary Premium Assistance

    Temporary premium assistance offers a 100 per cent subsidy for a short term based on unexpected financial hardship. See the Ministry of Small Business and Revenue's web site, under Temporary Premium Assistance, for more information.

    According to wiki: (none / 0) (#11)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 12:11:34 PM EST
    Social Programs
    For its higher taxes Canada has a larger system of social programs than the United States. This includes having a national broadcaster in the CBC, a largely government-funded health care system, and having all major universities receive partial government funding.
    [My bolds.]

    This of course does not account for (none / 0) (#12)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 12:13:05 PM EST
    out of pocket expenses.

    As I said in comment #4:

    The much lower health care expenditure/citizen in Canada is pretty compelling, though.

    Really? (none / 0) (#27)
    by catmandu on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 10:21:16 AM EST
    If you read the Canadian Health department bulletins-especially July's-you will find that the Canadian health care is very spotty.  Some areas have no waits and full access to care, others are long long waits for primary care, procedures, and rationed care.
    I had a friend who waited three years for a carpel tunnel operation. She was in quite a bit
    of pain.  
    To their credit, they are trying to figure out how to make their health care system more fair.

    Thank you for sharing (none / 0) (#29)
    by DWCG on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 04:10:57 PM EST
    And the reality is, the only drawback - the wait, was a product of something that needs a solution, which has absolutely nothing to do with the financing of health insurance: the need for more medical physicians.

    Actually, the "reality" is (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by Edger on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 07:29:18 PM EST
    that it got done.

    I was born with a malformed kidney. A U.S. health insurance company would have called it a pre-existing condition and refused to pay for it.

    And I might be dead by now.

    Instead it got done in what I considered a reasonable length of time that I was quite comfortable with, as their were other people with more urgent conditions, as I explained in the diary, who needed more immediate surgery so they wouldn't die in a matter of hours or days.

    And the "reality" is also that it got done costing me only a kidney that I had no need for, rather than costing me an arm and a leg and bankruptcy.


    Economics Professor Richard Wolff of the New School University in NY made a very good point a few weeks ago when he suggested in a TRNN video interview:

    ...a return to the the old American prideful mindset of "if we're not producing the best quality at the lowest price we should go and find out who's doing that and replicate their experience", and points out that the number one thing standing in the way of doing this is the lack of will to challenge the status quo and to do what everyone already knows needs to be done: spend less to get more.

    Wolff is effectively asking in that video: "Whatever happened to American Exceptionalism?"


    Kaiser (none / 0) (#32)
    by diogenes on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 07:55:15 PM EST
    Actually, Kaiser is a better health system then Canada.  And as cheap.