Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Socialist healthcare will be the downfall of America

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.


CrystalStrickler said...

All I can say is finally someone gets it! :) hehe This topic has seriously been bugging me for the past few weeks as I know it is getting closer to a decision. I think there are definitely be some growing pains, but I know in the end I think it will benefit all. Healthcare has even become almost unattainable for even some of the middle class now it is ridiculous. I've seen my own mother almost die b/c of an HMO screwup. It is definitely time for some change as other countries who have universal healthcare are far more advance in treatment and care of their patients :) I could say a lot more, but you really summed up a lot of what I have been observing and witnessing.

Dan Bryan said...

Simone - thanks for taking the time to put that down. Very helpful perspective to get from someone who has actually lived in both systems. Most of what we all hear are pundits without first hand experience.

Where I'm stuck now is the nature of the debate (if you can even call it that). This is surely lacking, but this is my basic assessment and I'm taking great liberty with generalization:

- Oneone side you have a party in power who has been itching to make this change and now has their chance. I believe the intentions are great, but the pace seems incredibly hasty. I worry that haste could be the downfall of our ability to really nail it on such an important (and needed) reform.

- On the other side you have a party not in power who seems has to decided they are unsure about this proposed overhaul (perhaps for reasons I just listed) BUT instead of collaborating on the creation of a solution it seems to have chosen the role of cement shoes in the decision making process.

Where I'm at right now is that I can't decide which of those evils is "lesser" - you feel that at all?

This idea is new for us, we aren't good at it yet. As you said we couldn't even embrace the metric system. Given your very well articulated rationale for a change, do you feel the proposition on the table is the right change or do we have some work to do yet? I'm all for a starting point, but let's start well. Fire away:).

Shan said...

Great post Simone! As a Canadian I agree our system, may not be perfect, but it's good far outweighs the bad. I had one baby who was going to require open heart surgery at 6 months (only by the grace of God she didn't). Our second baby had serious breathing issues and minor heart issues that required all kinds of doctors and specialists to see her, serious tests to be done and an extended NICU stay. I shudder to think what that would have cost us had we been on the other side of the border. My girls have been taken care of in the best children's hospitals by some of the best doctors without us having to worry about the cost. That is real peace of mind. I don't understand how someone could thing that's a bad thing.

Dan Bryan said...

Simone and everyone else, came across this article from the ceo of Whole Foods on their approach and the relevance to this debate, thought it might be interesting for you to read:


Jen of A2eatwrite said...

BRAVA! You have the perspective that we need - having lived in both systems. You already know where I stand on this. Loved. this. post.

Threeundertwo said...

Awesome post. Your voice is what people need to hear. I'm getting more than a little tired of the ranting and raving on twitter.

Katie said...

Simone, I appreciate you expressing yourself on this issue but, my understanding through my friends and my sister with alpha1...is that medicare is ineffectively run. They have policies and procedures that seriously need to be reevaluated. They are neither kind to the enviorment or to the bottom line. For this reason I am opposed to the gov't health care program. Get one run appropriately then work on the second. I do my own $2400 IV in my own home once a week to save money, protect my low immune system and to reduce my carbon foot print on the planet...under medicare you can't do it. To learn more about alpha1 look up alphaone.org