Thursday, September 20, 2007

What Makes Canadian Health Care Work?

The same thing that makes their tiny military spending possible--living next door to the United States. From September 14, 2007 Canadian Television:
Liberal MP Belinda Stronach, who is battling breast cancer, travelled to California last June for an operation that was recommended as part of her treatment, says a report.

Stronach's spokesman, Greg MacEachern, told the Toronto Star that the MP for Newmarket-Aurora had a "later-stage" operation in the U.S. after a Toronto doctor referred her.

"Belinda had one of her later-stage operations in California, after referral from her personal physicians in Toronto. Prior to this, Belinda had surgery and treatment in Toronto, and continues to receive follow-up treatment there," said MacEachern.

He said speed was not the reason why she went to California.

Instead, MacEachern said the decision was made because the U.S. hospital was the best place to have it done due to the type of surgery required.

Stronach was diagnosed last spring with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). The cancer is one of the more treatable forms but Stronach still required a mastectomy -- which was done in Toronto -- and breast reconstruction.

Stronach, who announced last April she would be leaving politics before the next election, paid for the surgery in the U.S., reports the Star.

"As we said back in June when we confirmed the surgery, this is a personal and private matter between Belinda, her family and her physicians. I think you'll understand that because of respect for Belinda's privacy, we refrained from offering specific details around her medical treatment," said MacEachern.

While it is rare for MPs to seek treatment outside Canada, MacEachern said Stronach was not lacking confidence in the system.

"In fact, Belinda thinks very highly of the Canadian health-care system, and uses it when needed for herself and her children, as do all Canadians. As well, her family has clearly demonstrated that support," MacEachern told the Star.
I know that this isn't that unusual for ordinary Canadians. I blogged a few weeks back about a mother who was about to give birth in Calgary--and had to be flown to Great Falls, Montana, because there weren't enough neonatal ICU beds available in one hospital in all of Canada. It makes you wonder: could the Canadian system that Michael Moore thinks so highly of work if Canada was in Australia, and they didn't have a less fair but overall better health care system available an hour's flight away?

Some of the comments on the Canadian Television story from Canadians are very revealing. A lot of the liberals are basically saying that it is an invasion of Stronach's privacy to discuss what seems to be a failure of the Canadian health care system. Other comments by Canadians reveal some deep disgust with what is going on:
If I had her money, I'd receive my primary care in the States too. We have been saddled with a Stalinist, second-rate system.

The best physicians and the best equipment are in the U.S.
I had cancer and am now 'cured'... and thankful for the treatment I received in Toronto.

But going through the system here in Canada is quite the ordeal; no treatment for the 'whole person.'

Perhaps having had a taste of this, Ms. Stronach decided to go elsewhere, and hopefully will present some ideas for improvements when she returns to public life.
Sure she should get her treatment where she can if she is able to pay for it.

The story here isn't about those who get treatment in the states. It's about a liberal politician that is part of a political party that espoused the Canadian public system and vowed to ensure that no private health care was ever going to uspurp the current system. She is an MP for the party that relentlessly attacked the conservatives for their "hidden agenda" to privatize health care.

The irony and hypocracy is the story here. The rich get health care, the rest of use wait in line. All because of liberal fearmongering that does not allow for a real debate on the state of the health care system in Canada.
9,000 Canadian-trained doctors in the US. Why should we be surprised if some of the patients head there too? It's time for the Liberal Party to acknowledge the gorilla at the dinner table and work with the Conservatives in a non-partisan way to start thinking about fundamental changes to our health care system. This means either raising taxes to Scandinavian levels, or openly allowing privatization instead of operating in the shadows and slowly cutting services one a a time. Let the NDP scream about zero compromise on socialized medicine, time for the mainstream parties to get a grip on this.
While living in the USA several years ago I found a lump in my breast. I went to the doctor the next day, she had me in for a ultrasound and mam the very next day. We are now living in Canada again, this time my doctor here found a lump, she sent me to a specialist ( 10 1/2 weeks it took), still haven't had a mam. This Canadian system is scary, and needs to be fixed! I too if I had the money would seek treatment in the USA.
Something that doesn't get discussed enough in the debate about universal health care is that the cost of health care is huge. Yes, there are some efficiencies that having everyone insured will bring to the table. If we are prepared to accept the Big Brother approach of John Edwards of forced preventative health care, we can probably save a bit more money. If we are prepared to accept doctors telling us we have to eat healthy, can't smoke, can't drink to excess, how and with whom to have sex, and how much exercise to get, we can probably save a lot of money. But not only will most Americans balk at this level of government intrusion, I'm sure the ACLU would file suit the instant that the federal health care nazis started to wag their fingers about unprotected casual sex (just homophobia, is what they will say).

If we can't make a big difference in the costs--and I don't think we can--then we have the face up to the fact that medical care for everyone at the level that most Americans have come to expect is very, very expensive. Canada has opted to go cheap, rather than raise taxes to the level required to provide American levels of medical care. Will Americans be willing to raise taxes enough to provide medical care for the uninsured? If those caring and compassionate Canadians won't, why would we expect that Americans will?

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