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Old 02-16-2011, 03:36 PM   #1
Morgaine
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Default Canadian Health Care

Am just curious - to all you Canadians out there - are you truly happy with your health care program?

As everyone knows, this is such an issue in the U.S. and, quite frankly, our health care system is currently not real great (am withholding all the words I'd really like to use). I'm sure many Americans won't agree with my opinion. Many.

I've always been impressed with the fact that Canada has "socialized" (and I use that term loosely) medicine and it appears to work. Does it?

A friend, who is over 60, looked into immigrating to Canada and found out that he wouldn't qualify since he's over a certain age. The message he took from it is that Canada doesn't want America's aged moving there to take advantage of social services
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Old 02-16-2011, 05:44 PM   #2
charlene
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OUr health care is paid for from taxes so those who have worked/lived and paid taxes for most of their lives aren't keen on people showing up and having the same care for 'nothing'. Immigration involves 'giving' to the country as well as 'taking' from it.
Actually right now there's a push to stop immigrant families from sponsoring their elderly (and sometimes ill) parents from reuniting and living here with them because of the enormous cost of the health care money that could possibly go to other things like education etc.
There are problems with our health care in the big cities regarding wait times in ER, some surgeries take months to be done due to no times to have diagnostics done and shortage of operating rooms. Beds in hospitals have been shut down due to shortage of nurses because there's no money to pay them. Therefore surgeries are delayed. It's true there are horror stories. But then there are, for the most part good stories. It's a complex, huge issue that governments are trying to solve.
From my personal experiences I have had no problems. Health insurance through an employer helps cover prescriptions etc. Low income people and people on disability are provided medical and dental services.
It's not a perfect system but it doesn't allow for anyone to feel they can't get health care, including visitors to the country.
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Old 02-16-2011, 06:38 PM   #3
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Default Re: Canadian Health Care

Not wanting immigrants over a certain age makes perfect sense. And yes, you're absolutely correct, immigrating does mean giving as well as taking. I had heard about people having to wait for surgeries, etc. On the other hand, my son (23), who does not have health care as he isn't a full-time student (and therefore not covered under my X husbands insurance) and has no insurance through his employer, had to go to the emergency room and it was about $1,200 and he was declined for Medi-Cal (I paid the bill). I just wish the U.S. could find a humanistic solution to health care - I know it's complex and probably, at this point, not something solved anytime soon.
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Old 02-16-2011, 07:05 PM   #4
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Sorry to hear about your son. It's truly unfortunate that those citizens who need health care have to make a decision that could cost them their life at worst or their homes at best because they can't afford medical services. It's not right.
I can see my doctor at any time for any reason and not see a bill.
I (and my family) have frequented ER many times for many reasons seeing all kinds of doctors/specialists, had tests, MRI's. CT scans, hospital stays, births, casts, x-rays, etc. over the years and have never seen a bill other than for my choice of a fibreglass crutch instead of a plaster one. Some hospitals do charge minimal amounts for some things but at no time are we ever turned away because we don't have the right HMO (we don't have that here) or forego tests/medications//doctor or hospital visits because we can't afford it. I don't know how our healthcare system will play out over the next decade or so but it's part of the Canadian fabric of life that we essentially help each other, we help those who are most at risk, the physically and mentally ill of our population as well as those who are monetarily disadvantaged.
It's not a perfect system like I say but it sure beats worrying about huge health care bills for regular health care, a life threatening illness or an ER visit.
That would give me ulcers!
lol
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Old 02-16-2011, 07:24 PM   #5
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It must be nice to live in a place where people do have an attitude that is geared towards helping themselves and others as opposed to "me, me, me". And, then there is all this insanity in the U.S. that we'll become Socialists - I don't know if Obama's health care plan will work or be enough, but it pains me that with all the other issues the U.S. is dealing with, there are those whose main focus is to repeal his bill. I don't watch the news anymore - except for The Daily Show!
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Old 02-16-2011, 08:01 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Morgaine View Post
And, then there is all this insanity in the U.S. that we'll become Socialists - I don't know if Obama's health care plan will work or be enough, but it pains me that with all the other issues the U.S. is dealing with, there are those whose main focus is to repeal his bill. I don't watch the news anymore - except for The Daily Show!
The problems in the U.S. are not a laughing matter anymore. Become informed.
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Old 02-16-2011, 08:05 PM   #7
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When my older son was 23, he broke his wrist, which was then improperly casted. He needed to have it surgically re-broken and re-set. It cost him over $13,000 because he was still a student, had no insurance through his employer, and had aged out of our insurance plan. If that were to happen now, at least he would be covered under our plan...as long as ObamaCare isn't repealed. It's a mess.

The Daily Show is all you really need anyway!
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Old 02-16-2011, 08:09 PM   #8
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I'm certainly not going to argue the issue in this forum. To each their own, and best of luck to all of us.
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Old 02-16-2011, 09:25 PM   #9
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I'm certainly not going to argue the issue in this forum. To each their own, and best of luck to all of us.

Indeed.
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Old 02-16-2011, 10:53 PM   #10
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best of luck is right..
If you're lucky you'll never need medical assistance while having no insurance I guess.
wow - 13 grand in debt for a broken wrist as a young kid is pretty heavy stuff to get past.
I think I've had a total of 5 casts in my family and all that involves - ER visits, xrays/scans/followups etc....all I paid was about 175.00 in total for upgrades to fibreglass casts.
The hospital stays, and diagnostics, meds and specialists bills for various things over the last decade would have me living on the street by now I guess or in debt so deep that my grandkids would be still be paying.
That's most definately not a laughing matter.
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Old 02-17-2011, 12:18 AM   #11
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Fortunately, both the hospital and the surgeon had a "Helping Hearts" program that allowed them to forgive part of the debt. The rest Matt was able to slowly pay off once he graduated and began working full time.

What I find so frustrating about the health care debate is that people resort to cliches and scare tactics instead of being willing to look at different types of options. Invariably, you hear someone say, "Well, we certainly don't want Canada's health care system!" And I read and hear about the generally high quality of care, and the fact that no one gets turned away or gets subpar care because they don't have insurance, and I think, why is it, exactly, that we don't want that?
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Old 02-17-2011, 09:35 PM   #12
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Hi everyone.

As a person who works in the U.S. healthcare industry, I cannot emphasize enough how broken our system is on every level imaginable.

Independent family practitioners are leaving the profession in mass because they can no longer obtain adequate reimbursement from insurance companies or from government entitlement programs to cover their overhead and malpractice insurance premiums. Large hospitals that can afford to take the hit are taking over, resulting in corporate healthcare that is largely being run for profit.

To avoid getting sued, doctors are forced to order costly tests so as to reduce their risk for liability. This raises premiums even higher.

Because so many folks have lost the jobs to which their health benefits were linked, the majority of people now receiving medical care in our practice are the ones on a public option (i.e. Medicare), a term many elected officials condemn as being a terrible affront to our democracy. I talk to patients every day about insurance and can guarantee that not one of them would be willing to part with this entitlement program if you asked them to.

I’ve seen people show up in tears because they were ill with no insurance, and couldn’t afford to pay for a visit. My heart goes out to them. On many occasions, the doctor I work for will treat them knowing he will never be paid, in addition to treating those who can pay, but simply choose not to and ignore the bill. He's not sure how much longer he can afford to stay in business.

What’s most tragic is that we now have a system of government in America that is controlled by special interest groups. Since the insurance companies finance the campaigns of many of the people in congress, how likely is it that they will vote against the financial interests of the industry that put them there? Anytime a politician makes it their mission to overturn ANY kind of reform, you can pretty much guess where their bread is being buttered.

I suspect there would be much more sympathy for the problems faced by millions of uninsured Americans if the elected officials and their families suddenly stopped receiving the “Cadillac” insurance policy they provide for themselves, complements of the U.S. taxpayers.

Just thought I’d share with everyone what the perspective is from a family practitioners office, first hand. I’ve tried to be as apolitical as possible so as not to offend anyone with this posting.
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Old 02-18-2011, 12:25 AM   #13
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Redhead,

You and the family practitioner for whom you work sound like very kind and compassionate people. Thank you for sharing so eloquently.
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Old 02-19-2011, 02:28 AM   #14
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My husband works in the medical field and our son works in congress as an aide, so I get to see this issue from both ends. Most medical people know the system is broken and now, via our son, we get to hear just what a mess it is on the congressional side. I have long thought that if the people who make our laws had to have the same medical insurance as the bulk of their constituants, the health care in the US would be better. My son said this has been thrown out there to the politicians as an option, but so far, only a handful are willing to turn down their "Cadillac" insurance... what a mess.

[quote=redhead;169702]Hi everyone.


Quote:
I suspect there would be much more sympathy for the problems faced by millions of uninsured Americans if the elected officials and their families suddenly stopped receiving the “Cadillac” insurance policy they provide for themselves, complements of the U.S. taxpayers.
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Old 02-19-2011, 10:59 AM   #15
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I (along with many others) sent a fax to our newly-elected representative, asking that, since he voted to repeal ObamaCare, he also opt out of the Congressional health care program.
We haven't heard anything back.
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Old 02-19-2011, 12:15 PM   #16
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The 'haves' and 'have-nots'...and ne'er the twain shall meet it seems.

I imagine that part of why our system works (even with its flaws) is that the mindset to help each other as a society goes way back and it's just a part of the way things are. The Canadian system seems to be polar opposite to the American system not just in 'how' health care is delivered but in the 'why' it's delivered (or NOT delivered) the way it is. In large part I think the the health of a country is reflected in the health of it's people.
The assurance that we can get medical care is a huge part of the way Canadian society functions I think. There are problems no doubt - it's a huge system across the country encompassing large cities and small remote towns. But for the most part we know that through our taxes (our health care is NOT free) we will receive medical care for those people in our society who are most at risk - the sick amongst us. If healthcare aid is not available for those most at risk (healthwise) in our society what does that say about us as a civilization?
It makes my blood run cold just thinking about a young person breaking an arm, needing surgery and being in debt for 13,000.00 dollars. This is when he is just setting out for post secondary education and it's debts, purchase of a car possibly, maybe having to rent a room, have living expenses - all while trying to better himself with an education and start contributing to society and his country. Not all who find themselves in debt for medical care are blessed to have a "Helping Hearts" group come along and help pay a medical debt.
If U.S. taxpayer money can provide Cadillac healthcare for special interest groups then why can't it help the citizens who live there and pay those taxes?
I don't know the answer to the American health care issues but I do know that despite many other things that keep me awake at night I am not kept awake with worry over medical bills for services I (and my family) have used over the last several years.
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Old 02-19-2011, 01:30 PM   #17
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Very well said, Char. I now donate to the hospital where Matt's surgery was performed, so that other people in similar situations will also receive help. But there's just no way of knowing how many are falling through the cracks.
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Old 02-19-2011, 02:01 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by charlene View Post
I imagine that part of why our system works (even with its flaws) is that the mindset to help each other as a society goes way back and it's just a part of the way things are.
I agree with that. I would label it as a cultural mindset. I'm afraid that the idea of an American culture has been splintered by population growth, and the thought that America can be all things to all people all of the time. Of course, one can add in a generous dose of greed, which comes in many forms.

Question : Do Canadian physicians have to carry malpractice insurance ?

Last edited by RM; 02-19-2011 at 02:06 PM.
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Old 02-19-2011, 03:36 PM   #19
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Law Library of Congress has some detailed info re:
Canada's HealthCare/Doctors/Malpractise etc.
http://www.loc.gov/law/help/medical-...ity/canada.php
You're right about that Ron - it is a cultural mindset.
Canada has also experienced population growth with huge influxes of that growth from immigration.
While the system tries to be all things to all people at times it does fall short at times...but it tries and that's better than not doing anything at all. Taking the most important thing to a person, their health, and making it into a money maker for people/businesses/doctors/hospitals who only care about the bottom line with huge profits while people die from lack of care or lose their homes due to huge medical bills is beyond belief to me. I really have a hard time grasping that reality.
I don't need a special insurance card that is accepted at only specific hospitals or doctors or clinics, I can be anywhere and if needed I can walk into a clinic for any reason and be seen without any questions asked or bills received. That goes for emergency room visits, ambulance rides and hospital stays with required physician care and operating room services.
Lightfoot is a perfect example of all of that including the life saving ORNGE helicopter ambulance service that flew from Toronto to Orillia, picked him up and flew him to Hamilton.
If he received any bills I am sure they were negligible in respect to the care he received.
Without our health in good order, be it mental or physical, we can't be the people we need to be to contribute to society.
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Old 02-19-2011, 04:48 PM   #20
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Law Library of Congress has some detailed info re:
Canada's HealthCare/Doctors/Malpractise etc.
http://www.loc.gov/law/help/medical-...ity/canada.php
Thanks for the link. Very informative, and suggested reading for all interested.
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Old 02-19-2011, 07:05 PM   #21
charlene
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today's Toronto Star has a timely column by their Business Columnist:
http://www.thestar.com/news/insight/...h-care-systems
A tale of two health-care systems
Published On Fri Feb 18 2011
By David Olive
Business Columnist

I have a dear friend in Michigan whose older sister died in October of a heart attack at age 76. When she passed away, Agnes had been living in her Dearborn house only by the grace of corporate bureaucratic inertia.

Agnes had defaulted on a second mortgage she had taken out to pay medical bills that peaked at $99,000. Bank of America was poised to seize the house once it decided what it would do about this particular bad debt. The impaired mortgage was among the hundreds of thousands of so-called “toxic” mortgages held by lenders worldwide in the unprecedented U.S. housing crisis that triggered the global Great Recession.

Agnes and her husband, Bill, had realized a modest version of the “American Dream.” They owned their house outright. But Bill suddenly began accumulating tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills after suffering a stroke in November 2004. He died of complications from the stroke two months later.

Determined to honour the debt obligations, Agnes in 2005 took out an “adjustable-rate mortgage” (ARM). She tapped her only source of funds, the equity in her home, to settle her late husband’s medical bills.

A relatively new and seductive “innovation” of Wall Street that gained tremendous popularity in the United States in the previous decade, adjustable-rate mortgages bear low initial “teaser” monthly payments. These later “reset,” or skyrocket, typically beginning in the third year of the mortgage.

ARMs are cousins of the even more toxic “subprime” mortgages equally popular in the 2000s. The notorious subprimes were offered — like candy — to borrowers who lacked adequate collateral and income, were unable to make a down payment, and had a poor credit history. The predictable massive defaults on these dubious ARMs and subprimes have so far cost the global financial industry more than $2 trillion (U.S.) in bad debt.

The pain was no less acute for the borrowers. Agnes’s initial $345 monthly mortgage payments in 2005 leapt to more than $900 by 2008. The sudden cash squeeze prompted Agnes to apply for credit cards she used to pay for things like property taxes, utilities, food and medicine.

It wasn’t long before Agnes fell behind in payments on her maxed-out credit cards, her property taxes and the mortgage. This triggered more interest-rate hikes and late fees that were tacked on to a debt load that had already overwhelmed Agnes’s resources. Agnes’s initial $60,000 loan burgeoned into a $133,000 debt in the short space of five years.

The mental strain for Agnes was considerable as the dunning notices began pouring in. Agnes’s sister, my friend Janet, is convinced it was the escalating stress that killed her sister. Laid low after gallbladder surgery in 2008, Agnes was not in ideal health in her last two years as she struggled with creditors.

Agnes was one of several million Americans expected to lose their homes by the time this unprecedented crisis has run its course. The new-found austerity of Americans who have lost their homes or fear that prospect explains in large degree why the U.S. economy stubbornly fails to recover.

My own father died last spring, at 85. He succumbed to a series of maladies including diabetes, shingles and a rapid, steep decline in his hearing and eyesight. Dad had been treated by many specialists, in gerontology, ophthalmology and audiology. Despite long odds against success, Dad had corrective eye surgery at Toronto Western early last year. It was ineffective.

From the time of my mom’s first of two hip-replacement surgeries almost a decade earlier, Ontario had been providing home health care to my parents at no cost to them. This was done through the Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) branch of the Ontario health ministry.

Conditions in my parents’ Scarborough home began to worsen in 2009. Mom and Dad were isolated in their suburban home now that Dad could no longer drive. They lived far from their GP, the nearest pharmacy and grocery store, and from me, in High Park. In early 2010, the CCAC district supervisor, Katie, decided to intervene.

Katie began routinely double-checking to ensure that only fresh food was on hand and that my parents’ meds were up to date. Kate briefed me by phone at least fortnightly on worrisome conditions I had overlooked in my own visits.

When Dad died, on June 24, Katie immediately increased the one-hour CCAC visits from three times a week to each weekday. The next time someone uses the expression “faceless government bureaucrat” in my presence, they’ll have to explain to me why Katie — who knew my parents for all of three months — became such an integral and affectionate member of our family that she was at Dad’s funeral to console me and Mom.

It was the CCAC, too, that acted quickly on the emergency nursing-home placement for Mom ordered by my parents’ GP. In the government’s assessment, Mom’s early stages Alzheimer’s disease merited jumping the queue for nursing homes.

Within five weeks of my father’s passing, Mom had relocated to Shepherd Lodge, also in Scarborough, and one of the best nursing homes in the province. Here she would be safe. With her own severe hearing disability and limited mobility, I worried Mom would not be alerted to an outbreak of fire in that Scarborough frame house, or be able to navigate her way to safety.

Mom’s care now is around the clock. Her aversion to medication has been trumped by caregivers who ensure that Mom takes her many prescribed medicines at the proper times and doses. Her three nutritious meals taken at set times, replacing an irregular eating pattern, soon cleared up her digestive complaints. And lights-out at 11 p.m. has Mom, a longtime night owl, sleeping soundly for the first time since her 30s. At modest additional cost, Mom has her hair done fortnightly rather than every few years, and delights in the novelty of frequent manicure and pedicure treatment.

Shepherd Lodge isn’t paradise. Like all institutions and workplaces, it has its rules that restrict one’s freedom. No one wants to go to a nursing home. But Mom is making the adjustment to a new way of life with the help of loving family and friends, and especially the competence and good cheer of her new 24/7 caregivers.

These two stories are strikingly similar in a crucial respect.

Health-care costs are burgeoning in all major economies. Baby-boom demographics and ever-improved and costlier medical treatments already consume a huge portion of society’s resources. We have to do a better job of preventative care in our personal lives if we hope to keep those costs from crowding out other needs. And we must pioneer every imaginable cost-efficient improvement to the system.

Beyond that, these two stories sharply diverge. My parents never saw a bill from a hospital, a GP, surgeon, clinical specialist or the CCAC. There is rent to be paid at Shepherd Lodge, to be sure. (About $1,700 a month). But Ontario shouldered most of the cost of building that facility, and covers more than 80 per cent of its operating costs. And if the day comes when Mom and I cannot afford our entire rent at Shepherd Lodge, Ontario has a means-tested subsidy program to help cover the difference.

In short, a family medical crisis in Canada tends to be just that, a health crisis. It is rarely also a financial crisis. For that I thank my fellow Canadians. They have each chipped in to care for my parents. And I make my own contribution to the welfare of friends I have yet to meet in Kelowna, Hay River and Yarmouth.

In that sense, we are a nation of caregivers, every one. “Taxes are the price we pay for democracy,” a wise person once said. One could add that it’s the price we pay for the health care, education, law and order, and environmental protections that secure a blessed future for our progeny.

That wise person could have been Desmond Tutu or June Callwood. But, as it happens, it was Franklin Roosevelt. His vision of a caring society is, from the news that crosses our porous border with the U.S., currently out of favour with many Americans. The downright antipathy to progress just now among our friends to the south recalls the line that closes the account in The Great Gatsby: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Is that another of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s canards, along with, “There are no second acts in American life”?

Regardless, we will go on in Canada with our practice of collective action on behalf of the individual, and individual contribution to the common good. We’ve been at this now for more than a century, and it works. My mother is alive and well because of it.
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Old 02-19-2011, 09:28 PM   #22
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The Canadian health care system is often referred to as "free' which is not quite accurate. While we never have to pay for essential medical services out of pocket, we all pay for it through our taxes. We all pay so that if I, my family, or my fellow citizen needs medical attention that it is available without first having to show your wallet. Restoring your physical health should not destroy your financial health. That makes it “socialized”medicine -a dirty word in some folks vocabulary, sending them screaming in terror. Social in the sense that we all give a little to benefit all. Every country has some socialized organizations which don't seem to strike fear in those that pay for their existence. Basic education, fire departments and the police are just a few examples where, whether we ever have need of their service, we pay for the benefit of all. Just try to imagine a society where if you aren't enrolled in a fire or police 'plan', they refuse to come to your home when in need. Is your health any less important?
As a proud citizen of my country, I don't wish to see any fellow citizen denied medical assistance because of their financial standing nor lose their life savings in the process. I know of no other people as proud of their country as Americans. It still baffles me as to how 'the home of the brave' can be so frightened of the word 'socialized' and allow each citizen to fend for themselves when most vulnerable.
Choice? We have freedom of choice of any doctor or facility we wish to use. If treatment is not available in Canada, medical treatment outside the country if often covered as well. Second, third, fourth opinion, not a problem.
I mean no disrespect to my American friends. ....after all, I married one, and as a landed immigrant, she too is automatically covered. Is the system perfect? Far from it. I know of no system which couldn't be improved, but I am grateful for what we do have.
This is one portion of my tax I have no problem paying...
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Old 02-19-2011, 10:21 PM   #23
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This thread evokes the lyrics to Lightfoot's "The House You Live In".
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Old 02-20-2011, 01:35 PM   #24
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It still baffles me as to how 'the home of the brave' can be so frightened of the word 'socialized' and allow each citizen to fend for themselves when most vulnerable.
Code:
I mean no disrespect to my American friends.
No offense taken here.

I'm convinced that the people on Capitol Hill who scream the loudest about the evils of socialism are the ones who stand to suffer the biggest financial loss from the backers of their future campaigns, i.e. the insurance and pharmaceutical companies, if a workable solution that doesn't favor these industries is found. Don’t forget, they themselves are the recipients of taxpayer funded healthcare and have no problem with it from the top down. They only hate the idea of it from the bottom up.

In order to get the country to vote against their own best interest, our elected officials expertly use social issues as a wedge to divide us. They'll exploit a hot button issue (we all know what they are) by shining a spotlight on it, while the real agenda (which would probably piss us off if we actually paid attention to it) is being carried out, almost by stealth.

I've heard people who are against a public option state that the government cannot be trusted to incorporate this without messing it up. Given the state of affairs in our country, they certainly do have a point. My answer to this, however is not to abandon the notion that quality healthcare can and should be made available for all, but to continually pay attention to what they are doing, and when they begin to stray away from acting in the country's best interest, demand that they stop. Loudly!

When we are bickering with each other, it is their finest hour because it takes the focus off of them and what their greed is doing to the nation. Until we can figure out a way to stand as a united front, nothing will change and it will in fact, continue to get worse given number of us that will become senior citizens within the next 15-20 years.

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The problems in the U.S. are not a laughing matter anymore. Become informed.
I believe this is the single, most important thing we must to do as a country in order to get back on track. Instead of only worrying about what color our next SUV should be, take a few minutes each day to review what's going on in varying media outlets to avoid getting only one political slant, and pay attention to what these people are up to. I can't count the number of times I've reference a piece of legislation under consideration to a friend or colleague, and they'll have absolutely no idea as to what I'm talking about.

We can no longer afford the luxury of indulging in intellectual laziness. It's now literally become a matter of life and death, as the future of our healthcare as senior citizens is at stake.
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Old 02-22-2011, 05:22 PM   #25
Morgaine
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Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Sonoma County, CA
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Default Re: Canadian Health Care

I've really appreciated all your thoughtful comments. I heard an interesting story on NPR (which, by the way, segments of our government is trying to take away funding for). There is a realtor in Miami, who is Canadian, who "specializes" in selling property to Canadians (he referred to Florida as the 11th province). it's a perfect storm for him - housing prices in Florida are down 40 - 50%, interest rates in Canada are low. AND, Canada didn't experience a real estate collapse because there was no sub-prime lending. That shocked me - it never occurred to me that sub-prime lending was U.S. specific. One part of me says "if we're suppose to be the greatest nation, why is it that we so stupid". Another part tells me that the obvious reason is that everything is focused on the rich getting richer and corporate greed. The rich have money, the poor can get the increasingly limited social services, and the middle class is getting crunched (not the word I wanted to use).
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