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Pepe Lepew On December - 8 - 2009

canadian healthcareOk, this is the piece that I MEANT to post today. Now that I have calmed down, here it is:

This was a FANTASTIC post that I read on “the other site” from a very good and smart poster called, “More Dimensions”

This is a comment about the Detroit Free Press and an article it did about Canadian health care.

More Dimensions wrote:

“Here are some things I learned.

1. Most Canadians love there health care.

2. Canada has private insurance companies for people who want to buy coverage for optional treatments.

3. No doctors work for the government.

4. The Canadian government pays US hospitals to provide treatment to Canadian citizens for all approved treatments. This lowers wait times.

5. The wait times often cited by the GOP and insurance lobby are for elective surgeries and their related procedures. Canada is working to lower wait times.

6. One doctor surveyed in Windsor indicated that his office spends only 10 minutes a day on billing and payments.

7. Average Doctor pay is equivalent to US Doctor pay.”

Unfortunately, the link to this article only got you to a short summary of the main article. Apparently, the Detroit Free Press wants you to actually subscribe to read the whole thing. I was deeply grateful to More Dimensions.

Because I’m sick of hearing and reading lies about the Canadian health care system.

I heard it from teabaggers, you see it all over the threads at “that other site.” Oh, all these Canadians are coming to the U.S. to get better health care; oh, there’s all these horrible wait times in Canada. Bunk. It’s the one thing that brings out the fou side of me … where I got my nickname Pepe for a stinker.

Here’s the truth; from someone who has many relatives and friends in Canada. I have a mother who has myriad health problems. Much of it self-inflicted, unfortunately.

She had cervical cancer about 15 years ago. From the Canadian health care system, she received excellent care. Chemo, radiation and a hysterectomy. No wait times.

She had a heart attack. Excellent care.

She is a type 2 diabetic. Excellent care.

She has COPD. She has been hospitalized numerous times with pneumonia and bronchitis. No wait times.

She also has severe arthritis. She gets good care, good meds for that.

My uncle had throat cancer. He got excellent care. No wait times.

My grandmother had a series of strokes and had dementia the last few years of her life (She lived to be 98.). Excellent care. No wait times.

My mom *did* have a couple of wait times

She had to wait about 4 weeks to have gall bladder surgery, because it was considered “non life-threatening.” I seemed to remember it was longer than that, but when I went out of my way to ask her about it this Thanksgiving, she insisted it was four weeks. Her memory isn’t that good, but it’s her gall bladder, so I’ll take her word for it.

She also had to wait a year to have cataracts surgery, because this was considered “elective.”

An important thing to remember here is everything was covered. My mum paid minimal amount out of pocket. My uncle did, too. No one went broke. No one had to declare bankruptcy. No one lost their home or life savings. And I can’t imagine what my mum would be paying in the U.S. for all of her meds. She literally takes 30 or 40 pills a day.

My mum gets tired of the cold and fog in Canada. She spends a couple of months each year in California to get out of it, and she has considered moving to California to be near three of her great-grandkids. She saw one for the first time this Thanksgiving, and the other one for only the second time. But, she can’t. Medicare wouldn’t come close to covering all of her problems and she says most insurers either won’t insure her or would charge her more than she could afford.

Now, here is what *I’ve* gone through. Many years ago, I broke a tooth. I was living in a rural area of Oregon. Through my insurance, I could only go to a “preferred provider,” which was one of two oral surgeons in my town, who were booked solid. I had to wait six months to get in, or go to an oral surgeon in Portland that would not have been covered by my insurance. So for six months, I had to live with a toothache. By the time I got in, they couldn’t save the tooth and have to pull it.

I also tore a muscle in my calf in June hiking. I woke up one morning and it was throbbing. They told me they could do surgery or we could just wait and see if the tear healed itself. Well, after fighting with my insurer, which was doing everything it could to try and screw with me, we decided to wait to see if it would heal.

Well, it didn’t. After waking up screaming (a *slight* exaggeration, but everyone in the house is tired of it, even the dog and the cat) once a week at 5 a.m. when the muscle would tweak in my sleep (I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s *excrutiating*), I went back to the orthopedist, who told me the tear not only hadn’t healed, but had grown from 5 centimetres to 7 centimetres.

So, now I have to have the surgery (arthroscopic, thankfully — a four-week rehab) later this week. I would’ve liked to have had the surgery five months ago now, but we were hoping for the best. I would’ve had the surgery months ago if the insurer hadn’t given me so much grief. Now, my doctor sent a letter to the company explaining this is the only option.

Our company is also switching to United Health Care, a company with a horrible reputation. They are the company that initially refused to cover a child because she was a few pounds underweight. Great. New dumb thing to worry about. My daughter is underweight. We try to get her to eat more, but we also make a point of it not to pester her over it because we don’t want her to develop an eating disorder.

Here’s the difference between the American and Canadian health care systems. Yes, the Canadian health care system is flawed. I am the first one to admit that. My mum did have to wait for gall bladder and cataracts surgery. It isn’t perfect. It can be improved. Canada is working on it. You will hear Canadians wank about it on occasion, but Canadians like to wank sometimes. It passes the time during the long, cold winters.

But the American health care system is exponentially beyond “flawed.” It is literally immoral. It is just flat depraved. There should be no profit in health care. America is insurance companies fighting their clients tooth and nail over claims, fighting for *their* profit margins, not for their clients, and companies dropping their coverage because they can’t afford it anymore.

Next time a teabagger starts going on about Canada, remind them no one in Canada ever loses their home or has to declare bankruptcy because a child gets leukemia or a mother gets breast cancer. Ask them if they’ve actually asked a Canadian, a real Canadian — not some woman on TV lying about having a brain tumour — if they would trade the Canadian system for an American system.

Categories: News & Politics

68 Responses so far.

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  1. TheRarestPatriot says:

    I remember watching a documentary about medical insurers and insurance companies across the globe. The film went and interviewed doctors, nurses and administration officials in several countries regarding their respective approaches to Universal healthcare and I have to admit I was dumbstruck. The integrity of these people to provide not just adequate care for the people, but what appeared to be genuine compassion and need to actually do their jobs well. I was ashamed of this country’s healthcare choices. Still am.

    The waiting times issue is a straw-dog and the GOP knows it. They also know Obama was born in the US. They just know they can disregard THEIR personal ethics and lie to and frighten their voters. When you have no chance of winning, cheat. That’s the new Republican mantra. But I digress.

    I believe that we (those of us living today) will never see true Universal healthcare in this country. It’s simply a matter of logistics and the power of the insurance lobbyists. I wish there was a better message, yet when greed, corruption, bribery, politics and hubris all get together in an orgy of excess…you wind up with one fugly baby….

    • bitohistory says:

      Welcome Rarest, Was that show on PBS? It was a writer with a bad shoulder and went around the world? That was good.
      I don’t believe that the republicans want to show the least hint of cooperation in helping to govern. The house is now up in arms about financial regulations saying the Dems want to kill capitalism.

      • TheRarestPatriot says:

        It was on PBS. Must be the same show. The older I get I watch these Republicans simply act like 7 year olds not getting their way and I wonder…is it ME? Have I changed SO much that I expect the grown ups in American leadership to act with a little more professionalism than the local Payday loan shop?

        And it’s funny you say that the House thinks Dems want to kill capitalism…when it was the Republicans that MANIPULATED Capitalism to kill…America.

  2. choicelady says:

    Wait times? I needed what one doc told me was ‘life threatening’ surgery for benign ovarian cysts -- I waited 3 months. In the US. Another doc told me it was not life threatening, but if it got big enough (one was 2″) it could twist the fallopian tube and BABY look out -- it would be excruciating. Nothing bad happened, had the cysts removed, lived life fine for the succeeding 20 years. But don’t tell me US medicine is any better than Canadian.

    I am listening to Bernie Sanders on the public option. If the Senate sells out, even if they expand Medicare, they MUST also expand Medicaid to at lest 300-400% of the federal poverty level for people UNDER 55. Why? KQuark reported that the MIT study on the existing plan was do-able financially, but private market plans are the same whether you’re on minimum wage or a hedge fund broker. That’s obscene. We have to have rates pegged to affordable INCOME.

    The reluctance to have a public option MAY be grounded in not wanting a new bureaucracy. Fine. Expand Medicare down in age and Medicaid up in eligibility. What we must NOT have is mandates to purchase insurance at market rates -- even with subsidies -- in the private market. With subsidies, to make it affordable for the government, it will be larded with deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses. In Mass. that is $5000 per year per person deductible plus $10,000 out of pocket if you get sick. That’s OUTRAGEOUS! You have two sick people, you’re talking $30K on top of your premiums. That’s not health care -- that’s extortion!

    We are a weird and disgustingly ignorant nation, even our elected leaders. I WANT a public option that provides affordable coverage for me and my family, and I want it IN both the House and Senate plans NOW. Nothing else will do the job.

  3. PepeLepew says:

    If anyone wants to let More Dimensions know about my post, you are more than welcome to tell him (her?). It was a great post and he (she) deserves credit.
    There is a cute new poster on the HP main going after people lying about Canada.

    • TanzaniteDiamonds says:

      Hi Pepe: I did post that info to More Dimensions, moments ago. It’s in my comment history, if you want to follow it.

      I also noticed that More Dimensions has his/her e-mail address in his/her or profile on HP.

      Actually, you BOTH deserve credit for this very insightful and informative article; very interesting reading. Merci beaucoup!

      Tanzie

    • SueInCa says:

      Good Post Pepe. I hate how all these people against insurance reform make up stories. It is like quoting the Lewin Group as credible, a division of UHC for christs sake.

      • choicelady says:

        It was once. In CA they did a review of nine insurance plans in c. 2000, and they came up supporting one of the single payer plans as the No. 1 best alternative. THEN they got purchased by UHC, and despite assurances that the people working for Lewin were reputable, we could see the results were skewed in favor of insurance corporations. There are several analyses out there that are outstanding -- hard to find them though. Lewin no longer would be one of them.

  4. SeeknDestroy says:

    Pepe!
    How long is the wait to move to Canada?
    I’m kidding, but just a bit.
    I might actually consider it in a few years.
    I’ll be moving northeast sometime in the next year, and will be relatively close to border.I’m looking forward to visiting Canada.
    The health care there sounds heavenly compared to our nightmare.
    I’m a Type 2 diabetic and need to change at least 1 of my diabetic meds, maybe both.
    I have no insurance.
    Last years I spent a small fortune on meds. The number would shock shock people. Luckily, my small town Doctor helped me greatly reduce my out of pocket expense, by more than 75-80%.
    I was shocked how easy it was for him. He is the exception rather than the rule, sadly.
    We, as a country can do much better.
    Our people deserve it.
    Pepe aka Skunkworth.
    My favorite Canuck.
    Well done, my friend.

    P.S…Is calling you Skunkworth ok?

    • KarateKid says:

      Hmmmmm…. I wonder why you’re moving to the NE? LOL. And I’ll bet you my house it’s upstate NY.

    • escribacat says:

      Seek--have you looked at

      http://www.statedrugcard.com/

      I don’t have insurance either. I downloaded a Colorado state drug card from the internet. I checked their website and found the nearby pharmacies that would take it (my local Walgreens wouldn’t but the grocery store pharmacy would). I now get my prescriptions for $10 to $20 each. Regular price is $60 or so for my allergy medicine — something like that. Before this, I was ordering the allergy medicine from Canada. Between the shipping & cost and hassle of getting my doc to fax the prescription to them…I’m paying less now. I was also able to find a list of medications that were covered.

      This was the one time in my life when something that sounded too good to be true actually turned out to be true. It’s just as good as any insurance drug card I ever had.

    • PepeLepew says:

      You know my mom has been type 2 since 1970 — 39 years. Might be a record.
      My Canada paperwork is in the mail.
      Our situation is complicated. One American who just became unofficially Canadian/American again after 32 years of exile in April, one possibly illegal Kiwi, one American(Canadian, too? You got me!), and a brand-new mortgage in America. I dunno if I can move.

      [edit]

      Anyway, I wish you the best. I know type 2 is tough. My brother has it, too.

      • SeeknDestroy says:

        Thanks Pepe.
        I take pretty good care of myself these days.
        I eat well,exercise and all that.
        It’s good to see you.
        God Bless you and yours, and good luck with your surgery.
        ~Seek~

      • Obama20082012 says:

        The last time my fasting sugar was tested it was at 124, 1 point away, since then I have given up pop and all kinds of nasty food, and I have lost at least 20 pounds, I will find out when I go to the dr at the end of the month. I will NOT become a diabetic. It’s a horrible disease.

        • choicelady says:

          Exercise, too, Obama20082012. It really does help! Walking 20 minutes a day is all you need, more if you can.

          Also -- everybody -- eat Promise Control or Benecol. It WORKS to lower cholesterol which has a link to Type 2. I got into some bad habits and refused Lipitor since my system is already screwed up from a sulfa drug -- I’m now highly intolerant of foods such as wheat (no bread or pasta or anything GOOD.) Was not about to make it worse with Liptor. So I used these margerine substitutes with plant sterol esters. Lowered my cholesterol SIXTY points in three months. I am not exaggerating. It’s expensive (around $5 per 8 oz container) but think of it as your co-pay. It’s bland but not awful, and it melts nicely so is good on toast, veggies, etc. One tablespoon a day -- that’s ALL you need (don’t take more -- will give you the runs.) It works, it helps both cholesterol AND some impact on blood sugar. It’s also good for helping to lose weight. It’s the same thing that I think is in Alli, the weight loss drug, but why pay for that -- it’s OTC so not covered by insurance either.

          Take back your life. NO one needs to be sick from these things. (There are other things you cannot control.) But docs won’t tell you any of this -- my doc is fine, but she throws drugs at me, and is NOT happy I can regulate my stats myself. Tough.

        • PepeLepew says:

          Do you know how to make a kid gain weight without giving her an eating disorder. :)

          • PatsyT says:

            Avocados, Pasta with pesto or cream sauce (alfredo) & cheese, Garlic Bread

          • escribacat says:

            How about lots of nuts. They’re fattening and good for you!

            • PepeLepew says:

              Hah, I once had a *horrible* sunflower seed habit, but I was forced against my will to give it up because sunflower seeds are a disgusting habit. Almost as bad as chewing tobacco.

            • escribacat says:

              LOL. I’ve seen much worse habits, believe me.

            • PepeLepew says:

              It’s gross and disgusting and I’m a bad person for having that habit for 20 years. There is a special circle of Hell reserved for sunflower seed junkies.

            • escribacat says:

              LOL. I once had a roommate with that habit. Frigging sunflower seed husks all over the place.

    • HITO says:

      Skunkworth should be his new sock, when he’s ready to go back in and bring more over here.

      Seek, can I go to Canada with you?

  5. kesmarn says:

    Beelzebub himself could not have dreamt up a system worse than ours. Lucifer must have been a health insurance exec. Mephistopheles had to have been a Republican. Does that communicate how I feel?

    Ah, Pepe… I’m IN U.S. healthcare and it is unimaginably horrible. Even in the “non-profits,” it’s always, always, ALWAYS about the bottom line. The level of hysteria among the bean counters is ridiculous. No one wants to be caught with his/her financial pants down when/if one of the many possible variations of health insurance reform passes. Staffs are stressed out of their little gourds. Patients who need care aren’t getting it while “frequent flyers” have hospitalization after hospitalization for conditions that are dubious at best. Frail elderly are pressured to get in/get out pronto or get to the nursing home. I could go on and on.

    To me, Canada sounds like heaven. On the occasions when I have travelled there, the lower level of stress among Canadians was almost palpable. (It’s been a few years, but back in the late 90’s there weren’t even any drug ads there, and no billboards urging “customers” to patronize X hospital over Y hospital. It was wonderful.)

    Mon Dieu! We need to be more like yieu!

  6. nellie says:

    Pepe, is this the Detroit Free Press article? I seem to be able to see it:
    Public health system satisfies

  7. AlphaBitch says:

    Hey Pepe! Thanks for the honesty. I used to live in Seattle, and worked for law firms (both defense and plaintiff). Several clients were Canadian citizens, who had car accidents while here in the states. I spent hours with these clients. NOT A ONE OF THEM would have traded our system for theirs for all the tea in China. One of them had a mum with cancer, who also received great care. This guy had back problems, and his treatment was less invasive and more effective than he could have had here.

    I still have a good friend up north, and he is adamant that their system is humane and ours is a piece of crap. I agree with him.

    Thanks again for even more proof!

  8. Obama20082012 says:

    Great post Pepe, funny someone is creating havoc over at Hp called Free LTTL, you wouldn’t know him would you?

  9. javaz says:

    Another great post, Pepe.

    We lived in Montreal from June ’07 to late September ’07 and we befriended a few Canadians, and they had a hard time understanding the US health care system.
    They could not fathom people being unable to go to the doctor or hospital when needed because of cost.

    • kesmarn says:

      j’avaz, I’ll bet you’ve already seen the parts of Michael Moore’s “SickO” regarding health care in France and Canada. But if you haven’t, please check it out. It totally supports your point of view.


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