Culture War Correspondence: Universal Healthcare

GORDON: Ladies and gentlemen, we appreciate your patience. Your doctor should be with you in flipping never, because you have privatized healthcare and as such, can only afford the most basic treatment.

KAT: Today, in case you hadn’t guessed, we will be discussing Health Care. I suggested this discussion for today because Stewart asked us to discuss it after I posted this video on our Facebook group. And since Gordon is from the States and I am from Canada, I thought it would be a good opportunity to compare our personal experiences.

GORDON: Now the fact I’ve been fortunate enough to have avoided needing anything much in the way of healthcare is probably a miracle, considering my lifestyle. Having grown up in the 3rd world, what medical issues I did have were largely taken care of at a comparatively low-cost and high-quality.

No kitten-therapy though…

KAT: Right. I guess you didn’t really spend most of your life in the States. What kind of medical issues did you have to deal with? If you don’t mind me asking. And what would those treatments have cost if you had them in the states?

GORDON: My braces would probably be the biggest cost I had to deal with, and having had those when I was a kid, I’m not exactly sure of the exact price. My understanding, however, was that the initial process back in Syria was approximately 2,000 bucks, as compared to upwards of 4,000 in the US.

KAT: Right. Unfortunately dental isn’t covered by our health care here in Canada either, which is unfortunate because I have terrible teeth. I just finished shelling out a couple hundred dollars to get a few fillings, and that was with my student discount.

The thing I am really curious about is the kind of service you receive from privatized health care. That’s one of the main arguments they bring up against universal health care in the video above. It’s also one of the few complaints most people tend to have of Canadian clinics. I took a friend to the walk-in clinic the other day to get her finger looked at and she ended up waiting over 4 hours. Emergency waits move considerably more quickly, but then I remember having a considerable wait in emergency back when I broke my arm.

Would the service be comparable in the States? Or Syria?

GORDON: It’s actually kinda interesting, seeing as how the deadline to sign up for the Affordable Care Act (more commonly called Obamacare) just ended yesterday.

Again, having had minimal use of both systems, I can’t say for certain. I know when a family friend injured his hand, his emergency room wait time took well over four hours. A big issue here in the States is actually the “abuse” of the ER- folks will wait until a problem becomes so dire that it justifies (free-ish) ER services, thereby overloading the emergency system and resulting in catastrophic wait times.

Again though, I can only offer some hearsay on this point. I do everything I can to avoid anything relating to the American healthcare system, and I live in constant terror that if I’m ever in a car accident, they’ll try to cart me off in an ambulance.

KAT: What is the cost of an ambulance there in the States?

GORDON: It’ll vary depending on the distance you have to travel, and the paramedic care you get along the way, but it can easily surpass 2,000 dollars.

KAT: Wow. I’m pretty sure the highest I’ve hear for an Ambulance ride here is a couple hundred dollars.

GORDON: We could probably go on all night comparing healthcare costs, but we should probably move on here.

Plenty of Americans favoring a more universal standard of healthcare look to Canada as being a kind of promised land in that regards, even mythologizing the healthcare offered by Canada, Britain, and other countries.

Any legends you want to dispel?

KAT: Honestly, not really. The only complaint I can possibly think of is “long waits” but from the sounds of it the wait time elsewhere is still longer.

I think it’s important to point out that health care here in Canada isn’t just a free for all, but that it charges you depending on your income/if you can afford to pay for your care.

I’m terrible with paper work, so for a while in my late teens/early twenties I was not filing my taxes, and since they had no idea how much money I was making I started getting health care bills. Once I did file my taxes and it became clear I was dirt poor I haven’t had to pay any fees, or even fill out any paperwork. I just show up at a walk in clinic, or the Emergency room if it’s serious, hand over my care card and get service.

GORDON: As a young man trying to work out my own taxes, it kinda amazes me that the government’s response to you not filing wasn’t a torrent of fees and/or jail time. But then again, the frozen wastelands of the distant north are filled with mystery and wonder.

Now as odd as it might sound from the nature of this conversation, yours truly is somewhat critical of the Canadian healthcare system- through not because I’m waving the sweatshop-made banner of privatization.

For any readers woefully unaware, I am in the slim minority of Americans in being a rabid socialist. We’re fans of universal healthcare, and we don’t typically view the Canadian system as being the masterpiece that most liberals do.

KAT: Please do tell, what do you think could make our system better?
(just to clarify, when I say above that I got medical bills, it should instead say I was being charged a medical premium… since once you start making above a certain amount you are required to start contributing extra funds to medical…)

GORDON: I guess my most major complaint would be the role that the government plays. Centralization, contrary to its association with the radical left, isn’t something we’re a huge fan of. Breaking down the healthcare system by regions and ensuring all major changes and decisions are made by referendums by healthcare professionals and the public at large would be my own view. As the Canadian doctor in that clip you posted states herself, organization seems to be the issue- and from what I’ve heard in passing, the healthcare system hasn’t been as effective among the native population as it certainly could be.

KAT: I have to be totally honest and say that most of the time I just take our medicare for granted. I’ve been reading up on it since we decided to discuss it and I still feel like I only have a vague idea how it works. That being said, I’m pretty sure things aren’t entirely centralized, since we have different care cards depending on the province where we live. I’m pretty sure that the federal government just provides funds to the provinces, who then organize the spending somewhat differently from province to province. I realize even that is still fairly centralized, but quite frankly it can be a pain/a lot of paper work just to move health care from one province to another. I couldn’t imagine creating even small boundaries, wouldn’t that just further complicate the system the moment you moved beyond your community?

Also, I agree with your point about health care in the First Nations community, but I’m not sure that is the fault of our health care system so much as it results from a much larger problem with the way the government of Canada interacts with First Nations groups.

GORDON: That’s probably true. And in an ideal world, I guess I imagine healthcare working in terms of massive preventative care, with the ability- nay, the right- of every citizen to simply waltz into a doctor’s office or a clinic and receive free service. The whole decentralization move is just based on the idea that people from different areas will have unique healthcare issues. Folks living up in coal mining country in the Appalachians will probably need a different system than would be provided to the scantly populated areas of the northern Midwest. Again, I guess it just comes down to organization and a crippling fear of bureaucracy.

KAT: I think that’s why some decentralization is important. I think it would be really hard for Ottawa to try to run our health care over here in B.C., that being said, I’m glad I didn’t have to change health cards every time I’ve moved around in B.C. I feel like that would just cripple organization even more than it is.

GORDON: “More than it is?”

KAT: Slow things down, I mean.

I guess I’m just confused how you would see decentralizing things as making the system less bureaucratic, since I feel like the more middlemen you have to deal with the more complex it gets.

GORDON: I guess I mean that while you can go into any clinic or hospital anywhere in the country, each individual region calls their own shots, dictated by the locals and healthcare professionals of that region. The only centralized body would be tasked more with dealing with issues of fraud or malpractice, y’know?

KAT: Yeah, that makes sense, but I would argue that individual doctors/hospitals/etc actually have more say that you might think once their funding comes in. I’m no expert though, so I don’t want to assume.

So just to go back to comparing Canada and the States a little bit, it always seems odd to me that the American “Christian” community is so against universal medical care. Is this just a perception I am picking up from Fox News? Or is that actually a pretty common opinion in Christian communities?

GORDON: Eesh- that’s a tough one. The Christian community in the US tends to be a lot more conservative, and along with that comes an endorsement of traditionally Capitalist positions privatization being a big one. More Socialist policies, such as universal healthcare, tend to get associated with more secular countries which I think it puts a lot of the Christian community on edge.

KAT: It just seems so odd to us Canadians, especially considering it was a Baptist minister (Tommy Douglas) who kicked off the battle for Universal Health care here in Canada. Since then it’s become so popular that even our most conservative province (Alberta) has even protested attempts to bring in privatized hospitals.

GORDON: Well, that’s the nature of life beyond the wall.

And with that, we’re just about out of time.

KAT: Thanks again for joining us for our Culture War Correspondence. Please let us know what you think below. Personally, I’m pretty happy with the Canadian Health Care system, but even a good thing can get better right?

2 responses to “Culture War Correspondence: Universal Healthcare

  1. I enjoyed reading your view points on that. One thing that really stands out to me is maternity/paternity leave issues. My goodness- America is the WORST at that. (literally. so bad). There are no required leave options at all. It’s mindboggling to me.

  2. Pingback: Culture War Correspondence: Being Canadian | Culture War Reporters

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