On Twitter, I have seen several comments on the heated debate over universal healthcare coming to America. I made a couple comments and was asked a few questions. I have some thoughts on the matter but first, you must understand I am Canadian. A fiercely proud, passport carrying Canadian. That said, know that I LOVE America and enjoy living here with my American born family. Let's get that straight right off the bat. Were it not for America, Canada would be part of Russia by now - seriously.
Now, for my take...
1. America is ALREADY paying for the poor and the old to be insured (medicare & medicaid). Some of it is through federal programs and some through state programs. This aspect is not going to increase b/c people are doing it now anyway. In fact, it could decrease if people can go see a general practitioner instead of going to the ER for minor things like a cold. And yes, I've seen the reports and articles talking about the current abuse.
2. It's the working poor who really need universal health care. The poor get it for free. The wealthy can afford health insurance. In my 10 years in this country, I have been without health care for 3 months after J was laid off last year. They were the scariest 3 months of my life. Yes, we could have paid $500/mth for Cobra. If we HAD $500/mth!! It was a choice between paying for Cobra or making our mortgage payments. People can say all the crap they want about Obama and the Stimulus Package, but we could have really used the part where you can get COBRA for under $200 last year.
3. My first job in Tulsa was in the collections department of a major hospital. I went home crying more times than I can remember because I would see these massive bills for kids with cancer and leukemia. One girl racked up a bill of over $100,000 in 3 months. Her parents were from Kansas and came to Tulsa for treatment. They had other children back home in Kansas. What happens then? The parents can't work full time, they are racking up medical bills and travel bills and imagine the stress of not being with your other kids. Thank God for Ronald McDonald house who housed them for free. What happens to their home? To their kids' college funds? That is 1 family, representative of so many more.
4. The father of one of my best friends in Canada was gravely ill. She told me about a consult around her father's bed with 5 specialists. 3 of whom were the tops in their respective fields. And she marveled at the level of care her father received without a dime from the family's pocket. Sadly, in America, that does not happen unless you can pay for it.
5. Healthcare is BIG business in this country. I've been on the $500,000 yacht of a cancer doctor. Cancer pays. Sickness pays. For all their squawking, the insurance companies sure do own a lot of this country. Nothing wrong with business. For this reason, I believe it will be extremely difficult to get the fat cats to sign off on universal healthcare.
6. Metric System. I remember the conversion from Imperial to Metric in the '70's as I was growing up. People complained about the expense. They were mad a then Prime Minister, Pierre Elliot Trudeau. But the change was made and it's all good now. Has been for years. America never made the transition. If America had embarked upon it in the '70's, it would have been a paid for non-issue now. Even in the '80's. Heck, the '90's could have done the trick. But no. No changes. Same with healthcare. Just jump in somewhere and DO IT!! Yes, it will hurt at first, but then it won't be a big deal.
7. Is the Canadian healthcare system perfect? No, there are things that can be changed. That will always be the case with everything though.
8. How does Canada afford it? Well, yes, taxes are higher. But you know what? Health insurance ain't cheap either!! When I looked at my Canadian paychecks, I paid about the same in taxes as we did for health insurance in Tulsa. AND we paid taxes on top of that in Tulsa. So, gosh, we were behind the mark and we had co-pays and deductibles.
I was asked - Widney Woman, what would you do??
I would examine the universal healthcare systems of other countries - especially Canada and Britain. What works? What doesn't? What can we apply to America to bring the biggest results? Then DO IT!! Will there be opposition? Yes. Will there be growing pains and a need to re-evaluate? Yes. But you have to have a starting point somewhere.