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Talk to Me (Us All) About Health Care: Open Thread

SAN FRANCISCO - MAY 29:  Healthcare reform act...

Let’s talk about health care. You know I’m happy with the care I receive here in British Columbia; I don’t think the system’s perfect, but I’ve had no major complaints about it, and it compares favorably against the care I got when I lived in the U.S. But I don’t want to talk about my personal experience.

I have a nagging knot in my gut that tightens the more I read about the state of “debate” on health-care reform south of the border. In an attempt to untie it, I’m confessing the following:

I think it’s wrong—capital-W, amoral Wrong—to deny society’s responsibility to take care of its members. It’s not an issue of whether you’ve pulled yourself up by your dead-horse bootstraps, it’s not an issue that’s in any way related to killing old people or the infirm, and it certainly shouldn’t be an issue that’s even remotely related to corporate interests.

Most countries of the developed world spend less per capita on health care than the U.S. does and provide coverage to all citizens. Decent coverage.

Given all these things, I don’t understand why people oppose universal health coverage so vehemently. Please tell me why.

(If necessary, I’ll moderate comments that don’t contribute to productive discussion. But I’m sure I won’t have to.)

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Lili

I just recently joined the BC health care system and while I haven't yet (knock on wood) had to use it, I am thankful for the opportunity to pursue my creative interests without worrying about health care.

My parents though, I worry about them so much. A few years ago my mom just switched into a new department with full medical benefits. Just a short few months later my dad had a major health problem. My parents didnt have any medical before that and I am positive that my mom's coverage saved my dad's life.

Now, my mom is facing being laid off. Its scary. Its my mom's job that kept my dad alive and she might lose that. She is fortunate enough that the financial impact of losing her job wouldn't be immediate but the medical impact would be instant. If the option for affordable health care was available, my mom wouldn't be terrified. She and thousands of other employees wouldn't be held ransom by their employers for medical coverage.

The only reason I can think of for people not wanting health care is that they have health care, and they're afraid of change. We were watching some news last night covering Ted Kennedy's life, and other senators commented on how Teddy's thoughts were always on how he could help the less fortunate. And what an unusual and amazing man he was for doing that. In no way do I want to take away from the wonderfulness that is Ted Kennedy, but I hope for the day when Americans can proudly say they helped the less fortunate, those without coverage. Wouldn't it be lovely if that wasn't so remarkable?

juliewitt

I have also been gritting my teeth with the references to “death panels” and the comparing of Obama to Hitler (!!!). I can't help but take it a bit personally (being Canadian) because we have so-called socialized medicine and as much as people beef about the wait-lists our system really does work when we need it. A dear friend had a heart attack yesterday morning at 11:00. By 2 p.m. he was stabilized and on a med-evac helicopter to Victoria. By 6 p.m. he was out of surgery, with a new stent, and talking (albeit somewhat incoherently due to the drugs) to his family. He is over 65, nobody decided that his life wasn't worth saving, he is alive today due to excellent medical care and he won't be mortgaging his house to pay the bills.

denise567

Well since you asked…. I think our societies (both US and Canadian) have their priorities wrong. I think we, as a people, should make health care the number one issue, instead of all the political and financial agendas that seem to rule the council chambers. Although I support people's interest in sports, I think we've gone too far with it. Just because your RBI is higher than someone elses, doesn't mean you should get paid $1.2 million (or more) for it. If people refused to pay $300 for a ticket to see a hockey game, they would have to lower the prices. And if people paid $100 for a ticket and gave $100 to charity (or healthcare) – can you imagine where we'd all be? Our province is going to be paying for these dang Olympics for many years to come – for a 1 week sporting event. Our priorites are wrong! At least with Expo, it was a six month event and introduced different cultures and new techologies to people. If joe-average spent as much time learning about current world events as he/she does remembering who got traded where and that '02 was his/her best season, we'd have a much better society. From the little I do know about the HMOs in the US, I think it's disgusting that profits come first and would love to hear from doctors caught in this system – do they actually like working this way? And having to wait for your HMO to approve a hospital before you get there is horrible, cruel and archaic. Our culture has stalled, people have hundreds of years of knowlege to learn from, and resources such as the internet, TV, telephones to reach people around the world to learn from – but we don't. We lack leaders… Read more »

Kimsmom

Many oppose universal health care because they are listening to fear-mongerers rather than researching the issue themselves. Most of these same people who profess to be against universal health care in the U.S. because that would be Socialist would NEVER accept abolishment of Medicare or Social Security or (the largest provider in the nation) Veterans Administration Health Care! I truly (and sadly) believe that many people oppose universal health care out of ignorance on this issue.

hen77

Growing up with the NHS in Britain we often complain about waiting lists and the poor state of hospitals. I never had any complaints, though, and since moving to Canada I've realised even more how bloody fantastic it is to have access to free healthcare and prescription drugs for a standard fee of about 8 pounds, no matter the actual cost of the drug.

I know Canada also has free healthcare for citizens, but I don't qualify for the MCP as I'm a temporary resident with a work permit of less than one year, and the only insurance I'm allowed to purchase is emergency-only. I'm not prone to ill health, but being without it has left me lost. How on earth the US can say it's a bad thing is utterly beyond me, and having idiots like Dan Hannan doing the rounds saying how bad the UK is, really makes me despair.

LisaBurrito

I'm also baffled by the debate in the US right now . I think Lili is right that the people who are freaking out are people who have health care and are just ill informed and frightened of change. Fear of change is a powerful thing, unfortunately.

My experience with the Canadian health care system has been minimal (knock wood) but I've never had a problem. I definitely appreciate my health care not being tied to my job. When I lived in the US (and had good health care through my employer), I remember being kind of annoyed that I had to choose my doctor from one of their clinics – the idea that I couldn't just pick my own doctor seemed crazy. I can't imagine the stress of living in the US without coverage.

Interestingly the one story I've heard from a friend about wait times in Canada turned into a good thing. She screwed up her knee and the wait for surgery was quite a few months. So in the meantime they sent her to physical therapy to gain some mobility and turns out…. she doesn't need surgery after all. =)

VJ

I'm in the states and I admit, i am really pointedly not following the quote-unquote debate because it will ruin my health! It makes me so livid that health care is seen as a free-market issue and not as a human right issue, and it irritates me that in the US media, the people who are fear-mongering are not called out as such.

I have health insurance through my job, which is pretty good. I live in fear, however, that I'll lose my job. I'm 47, had a rough year with a major breakup and major depression, and my body is steadily falling apart. My mom is trying to get along on Medicaid and the insane pharmacy plan, and I can't say that's working out so great for her. She's lucky because she has reasonably good health, and savings, but I fear once her good health fails her, the savings may well be gone.

askatknits

Kim, you got me!

I work in health care and see a HUGE need for coverage for all citizens. It sickens me that people are so short sighted.

We already have “socialized medicine” – the insurance companies dictate what physicians you can see, proscribe a protocol for treatment that if it is not followed – they won't pay, they also dictate what is an allowable payment.

It is wrong, horribly wrong.

Give me a single payer system – and quickly.

avivagabriel

I'm also deeply disappointed in President Obama. I've been told to keep my criticisms to myself by progressives who fear our agenda will be harmed by expressing our disappointment in his weakness or lack of clarity. I tried that for three months.

But…After watching Bill Moyers' videos (Healthcare as a Human Right, Money-Driven Medicine), I don't think I'm doing progressives, Obama, or the people of my country any big favor by shutting my mouth, slapping on a brave grin, and chanting “I'm optimistic, I'm optimistic” mantras 24/7.

I'm NOT optimistic. That doesn't mean I'm gonna lie down and roll over, or collapse in a puddle of apathy.

In fact, my pessimism drives me to do more, say more, and become an activist. My pessimism is politicizing me. Speaking one's “truth” is the fire, the passion, and the energ that drives change.

VJ

Oh, believe me, I know. In 2007, 60% of bankruptcies were due to medical bills. That's a 50% increase since 2001 [1].

I don't know of anyone who's divorced because of medical bills, but I do know an uninsured asthmatic who can't afford primary care, and so she ends up every year or two in the ER — which definitely costs the taxpayers more than a couple primary care visits.

Portland, like Vancouver, has a large population of mentally ill and/or addicted homeless people. Our city government knows that housing, and taking care of these people costs less than leaving them on the streets and having them end up doing petty or not so petty crimes, ending up in ER or an emergent mental health treatment center… but, the public will seems to think that the homeless are just lazy, that if they'd just get a job, they'd be fine, not looking at the situations that caused them to be homeless in the first place.

So when I do watch TV, anything other than say Rachel Maddow, or read the paper, I have the uncontrollable urge to start screaming things outloud — which is fine when I'm at home with the windows shut, not so great otherwise….

It's a huge moral failing on our part.

[1] http://www.fleshandstone.net/policy_trends/1531

milkfish

To be fair, the President is the president of the entire government, not only of health care. I believe that if he weren't personally committed to health care reform, willing to expend personal capital on the subject, it would simply have slipped off of the national agenda as it has for the past decade or more. It helps that there is some alignment between the containment of health care costs and the long-term management of the Federal budget, but in the short term this subject has to fight for resources along with many other priorities.

Also, as you know, the President does not run the Congress, which controls the pursestrings. He can influence and cajole, but if the legislators will not step up and spearhead the sweeping changes that are needed, because the constituents aren't pushing them to do so, then it's not as if he can fix the whole mess by Executive Order.

Eva Owsian

We are suppose to have good insurance BUTT recently my husband had something on his face so here is where the “good insurance” comes in. We call the clinic where we are told “oh gee we are positive we can't help you BUTT you do need to come here so we can refer you” Ok we go pay the co pay takes a total of 5 min and we are told we have a choice of 2 Dr's one we can see in 2 weeks the other 6 weeks so naturally we take the 2 week Dr. BIG MISTAKE we go pay another co pay (this makes 2 now) he gets a biopsy and of course we have to wait for the results, we have to make another appointment and of course make another co pay (this makes 3 co pays and nothing has happened yet except a referral and a biopsy yeah) Husband gets told it is one thing but Dr. is not sure it isn't basal cell cancer so come back in 2 months…2 months and the “C” word plus me looking up stuff on WebMD = me thinking OMG cancer can eat your face off (yes I am dramatic sorry) so back to the clinic where we pay another co pay (this makes 4) get sent to the other Dr. who my husband likes and he freezes it, it didn't work but we were told it might not so he has to go back again and yes another co pay (this makes 5) and another biopsy (this makes 2 biopsy and yes we do have to pay a portion of that) we get the phone call (yes I know you are just as disappointed as I am that there wasn't a 6th co pay yet) yes it… Read more »

Lili

I agree!

Instead of the entire focus on Obama, I think more pressure should be applied to the Democratic party as a whole. They have the votes in the Senate, lets stop tip toeing around the issue and trying to be bi-partisan. This needs to be done, write the right bill and vote.

Kinnicchick

Speaking to this, (well not to the fact that she used a footnote or that you love her, but to the above) my dh had a brain tumor removed in 2001. We had pretty good health insurance (he's self-employed so it isn't CHEAP by any stretch of the imagination) but still, when you're talking brain surgery and the hospital stay involved, you still have a bit of out-of-pocket costs involved with that. Plus the time not working (a year) and so on. We ended up paying those costs with (dare I say it) credit cards. We already had a rather sizable debt. We got a handle on things eventually (selling our home before the bottom fell out of the economy because we had extremely lucky timing), but we easily could have been among those statistics.

I'm perplexed about this country being so incapable of getting a handle on health care. Watching the insurance companies continually dictate now what medications my dh should take or having to fight the consistently to pay for the scans he needs to keep watch for recurrence. (I could go on and on).

Kinnicchick

Speaking to this, (well not to the fact that she used a footnote or that you love her, but to the above) my dh had a brain tumor removed in 2001. We had pretty good health insurance (he's self-employed so it isn't CHEAP by any stretch of the imagination) but still, when you're talking brain surgery and the hospital stay involved, you still have a bit of out-of-pocket costs involved with that. Plus the time not working (a year) and so on. We ended up paying those costs with (dare I say it) credit cards. We already had a rather sizable debt. We got a handle on things eventually (selling our home before the bottom fell out of the economy because we had extremely lucky timing), but we easily could have been among those statistics.

I'm perplexed about this country being so incapable of getting a handle on health care. Watching the insurance companies continually dictate now what medications my dh should take or having to fight the consistently to pay for the scans he needs to keep watch for recurrence. (I could go on and on).

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