According to the  USA Today, President Obama has begun his health care push.

child medicineAnd you know what that means.

Like it or not, President Obama wants to give you a great big taste of Canadian style healthcare.

So, I thought that I would take a few minutes to let you know a little bit about my experience with the Canadian health care system.

  1. It is a massive (government) bureaucracy that eats up a lot of money and can frustrate the people who rely upon it.
  2. It’s full of hardworking doctors/nurses/technicians/etc who work long hours trying to keep sick people from dying
  3. It’s seems to work fairly effectively – according to the CIA, Canadian life expectancy is 81.23 yrs. (#8 in the world)

So, let’s compare that to the current American health care system.

  1. It is a massive (medical insurance) bureaucracy that eats up a lot of money and can frustrate the people who rely upon it.
  2. It’s full of hardworking doctors/nurses/technicians/etc who work long hours trying to keep sick people from dying
  3. It’s seems to work fairly effectively – according to the CIA, American life expectancy is 78.11 yrs. (#50 in the world)

Hmmm, seems pretty similar to me.

Except of course, the Canadian system is a public health care system. And everyone knows that a public system is essentially socialist, which is another word for communist, and dammit, no way is America going to have a communist health care system.

wow

I got a little excited there…sorry about that.

But seriously, other than this political/ideological argument, what are the differences between our two systems of health care?

1. Quantity of Life (longevity): We all want to live a long life. And without nitpicking, it looks like both countries are doing pretty good at increasing longevity.

Let’s call quantity of life a tie.

2.   Quality of Life: This one is a little trickier. Is there a difference between the general health & vitality of Canadians and Americans? According to all of the latest studies, both nations are growing more fat and less fit year after year. And as far as I can see, both of our health care systems are based on treating illness instead of  preventing illness.

fat couple exercise

So, once again, let’s call this a tie…both countries stink.

3.   Cost: In 2006, per-capita spending for health care in the U.S. was US$6,714; in Canada, US$3,678. (dollar amounts adjusted for purchasing power parity)

healthcare costs

Winner: Canada

And now for a personal story.

My wife blew out her back a few months ago…by sneezing.

I’m not kidding. Excrutiating pain, incapacitation, inability to work, sleep, sit, etc….

So, how did we deal with it?

Because of our personal experience with acute injuries such as my wife’s bad back, we knew that treatment needed to begin as soon as possible.We did not want this acute injury to become a chronic injury.

And that is the biggest problem with Canada’s public health care system. SPEED of SERVICE. Acute injuries become chronic injuries.

So, instead of going through the normal channels (go see the family doc, get an x-ray, wait for a consult, start public-pay physio, etc…), we began a series of physical therapy treatment – chiro, massage, acupuncture, laser and finally osteopathic. All on our dime. Yes, this is possible in socialist Canada.

We also made an appointment (the next day) with our publicly funded sports medicine doctor. Great guy, lots of experience working with professional athletes. And while my wife isn’t exactly an athlete, we like the fact that they focus on optimum health not just pain management.

At the sports medicine doc, my wife was assessed and given an x-ray at the first appointment.(public pay)

The x-ray showed nothing wrong…Yippee!!!

The next step was a requisition for an MRI. Here’s where it get’s interesting.

If we had followed the “normal” procedure, my wife would be getting her MRI in late November.

However, because my wife is in a lot of pain and is a pro-active kind of gal, she made a few phone calls, day after day and less than 2 weeks later, she had her MRI. (public pay)

Supposedly, this is impossible in the Canadian health care system. When I tell people that we got an MRI in 2 weeks, they don’t believe it. They have bought into the mind virus that Canadians are supposed to wait in line like a good little socialist patients and wait their turn.  Like sheep.

So, what’s the moral of the story?

The Canadian health care system isn’t perfect. But neither is the American system.

  • Wait times in Canada can be longer than in the U.S.
  • Medical expenses are the #1 cause of bankruptcies in the U.S. (Pre-Recession stats) That doesn’t happen in Canada.
  • Both systems ignore disease prevention
  • Both systems spend huge amounts of money trying to save very old, very sick patients
  • In a large part, the Canadian system is run by our government
  • In comparison, the American system is run by insurance companies

Pick your poison…I mean medicine.

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