Canadians Discuss Canadian Health Care

For a consumer’s-eye-view of the Canadian health care system, which some urge Americans to adopt, check out the comments on the Small Dead Animals blog post I mentioned earlier. The commenters, who appear to be Canadians, are discussing their country’s health care system, its failings, and how they would like to change it.

I wish every American would read these comments (and every official in the Canadian government, for that matter).


“Reminds me of my mother way back in 1998 when she was sick with a degenerative neurological condition known as ‘striatonigral degeneration… In short, the condition… causes the gradual loss of all the autonomic functions, such as elimination, muscle control, focusing one’s eyes, body temperature regulation, and eventually heart. The ‘system’ told us to wait for 9 months to get a Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI) scan. This was after about 9 months with still no diagnosis… This fall 2005 my father in law was in need of an MRI for a degenerative spine condition follow-up. Again, we were told that the wait would take some 6 to 8 months…” – Hans“I have a brother in law who cannot walk without numbness and pain because he has a degenerative disk. Why is his only option on Canadian soil to wait until Feb 2007[?]…” – Jeff

“20 yrs. ago the father of my friend was diagnosed with cancer and told the next step was to see a specialist, and that there was a 4 month waiting period. The doctor suggested a doctor in the U.S., since he knew that quick treatment was vital. Since one of his sons had money, they made an appointment, got in right away, and were told the same thing, he needed to see a specialist. 10 minutes later he saw the specialist, and then straight to the lab for tests, and then directly into the hospital (which was attached to the clinic) for surgery. 9 days later he was discharged and lived another 12 years until he died of old age. In Canada he would likely have been terminal…” – Dirtman

“The more get away from a single-payer the better… I’d rather see a system where you could use before tax dollars to purchase health insurance and you were free to buy whatever plan suits you best. It’d be mandated by law that you had to buy it… Maybe then there would be incentive to treat sick people instead of ignoring them.” – MolarMauler

“We don’t want people to have to go to U.S. for treatment, we want a system that works, what a radical idea… I implore you to go to someone who has just gotten the news that they have a debilitating condition and blithely tell them that they should travel the ‘2 hours’ to the U.S. to get healthcare… Don’t worry that we spend enough per person in Canada to get top flight insurance in the states, but the people who get timely treatment are those who know someone in the system…” – Jeff

“Why not just have the gov’t buy us all private insurance in the U.S.? Or better yet allow us to buy it. They get coverage for everyone and no hassle for them. Contract the healthcare services out like they have done our military capability for the last 50 years.” – Shawn (To which, another commenter wrote: “With 30 million of us, I’d bet they could give us a great rate.”)

“Did you know we are losing specialists to the U.S. because they’re only allowed to do their work a few days a week? There are surgeons who can only operate 1 day a week in the public sector because there aren’t enough support staff or beds… We’ve had world-class surgeons leave for U.S. teaching hospitals because of lack of funding for basic care, never mind research… The governments thought… the problem with the health care system was that there were too many greedy doctors billing too much instead of seeing the problem as a direct consequence of a ‘free’ service out of control. The demand for anything ‘free’ is infinity. There will never be enough… The health care mess would be the biggest class-action law suit in U.S. history if it were an American HMO…” – Warwick

“I always get a chuckle from those who defend mediscare, and attack private clinics. They are usually those who are cue jumpers or haven’t been left stranded. My daughter has a chronic illness and the nightmare that the ‘system’ has put us through would make good reading in a suspense thriller… I have the advantage of being married to an ex-nurse who knows what it used to be like. She can spot soviet-style care a mile off, and believe me, that is what we have in many departments and on many wards. I saved my daughter’s life by becoming a total asshole and ‘demanding’ action…” – Debris Trail

“I had a major heart attack. I was put on a gurney, in a hallway. At the time I was in great distress. Having a Major heart Attack. For 13 hours as I laid there dying. During this, one nurse talked to me for about five minutes. One aspirin was given me before I was put in the hallway… If not for a Jewish Intern I would have left the Hospital. He seen me pull out the Glucose drip needle. I was on my way back home to die. I could not take it anymore. He took one look at my chart & fur flew. He was outraged. I believe to this day he saved my life…” – Revnant Dream

“…Our hospitals are becoming Third-world calibre. When my family and I lived in Central America and our three-year-old had a reaction to penicillin, she spent the night in the hospital. I stayed with her. Families brought food to their family members and their own blankets and sheets. They went and got the nurses when their family member needed something. That’s where we are. If you want your loved ones to have basic care when in the hospital, you’d better arrange for someone to be with them, to be monitoring the health care very carefully. You’d also better be prepared to ‘be a Brunhilda,’ to scream bloody murder if things aren’t going the way they should. Eight years ago the system was in disarray and almost utterly dysfunctional. I can only imagine what it’s like now. Kyrie Eleison. One can only pray to be taken quickly when the Avian Bird Flu arrives in Canada.” – New Kid on the Block

“…As someone deeply embedded within [the health care system], in my opinion we are past the point of no return. The opportunity to fix the health care system passed, depending on the province, 5-10 years ago. Currently, it lurches from one crisis management scenario to another and there soon won’t be enough critical mass within the system to do even that.” – Boudica

“Waiting lists are frequently cited as indicative of our medical systems ills, and while they are perhaps the best measure, there is no mention of the ‘rationing’ that goes on. A relative was recently diagnosed with a coronary blockage on her second trip to Emergency. The first trip resulted in a mis-diagnosis because the Doctor on shift used an old 12 probe ECG. She was given a powerful clot dissolving drug that gave her a better than even chance of surviving. She did survive and was advised by her specialist to have a follow-up coronary catheterization… She was denied the second procedure with a bogus medical reason. She had no chest pain, a symptom commonly missing with heart attacks, mostly in women. Not on any waiting list.” – Gunney99

“I have family in Illinois and Oregon and emailed them this article and a few of your posts. I wanted to make sure they were informed of what exactly Canadian-style universal healthcare will get you. I know that there is a continuing debate in the US about their healthcare system – it may not be perfect but it sure beats what we’ve got here…” – Sooz

“Unlike many Canadians, I actually have quite a number of friends of various ages who live in the U.S. I’ll let you in on a little secret – I’ve yet to hear any of them worry aloud because they were on a waiting list for diagnostics or surgery.” – Kate

We Americans need to pay attention — close attention — to the lessons we can learn from our neighbors in the north. Read the entire post and all the comments — there is a lot more there than I have excerpted.Note: I corrected some spelling and punctuation in the comments above.

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