Thursday, February 01, 2007

Hypertension 33: Could I Afford Hypertension Without Socialized Medicine?

32% of this blog’s readers live in Canada. 48% live in the United States, the other 20% live elsewhere. The way I'm feeling at the moment, I need to say to the 68% living outside Canada: socialized medicine works.

You get the doctors you want, you get the services you want. You pay once, through your taxes. There are some waiting lists where I live, but my Province is rural--it only has one million people, and not the resources necessary to maintain a large number of specialists.

I did not have a family doctor when it was suggested I had Hypertension. I found a doctor by calling a government help line, where I was given the names of three family doctors. If I did not like any of those, the line would give three more names.

Don’t believe anyone who tells you that the government medical system in Canada forces a doctor on you. Ain't true.

All of my physician expenses are paid. Yes, I pay for it through taxes. I have not done a study to determine if I pay more than I would in the US, with private medical care such as an HMO. But I can say my taxes are not much higher than those in the U.S., and that they do not go up, no matter how often I get medical care.

To give my fellow Americans an idea, in particular: the second time I had kidney stones, I was in a hospital emergency room twice. The first visit, I was seen by a doctor, had X-rays, was given medications, and was discharged with pain medications. When that did not work I returned to the emergency room, had more X-Rays and medications, and then had minor surgery (the doctors went in and got the stones--don't ask).

Total cost? Nothing—it was all covered.

A relative in the U.S., who works in medical administration, was astounded. She told me you can’t breathe the air in a U.S. emergency room for less than $1000. How many people go into hospital in the US and are saddled with huge medical bills? How many life savings are wiped out?

When my mother first came to Canada five years ago, after hip replacement surgery, she fell and dislocated her elbow. She went to another hospital here, had two sets of X-Rays, was seen by a doctor and an orthopedic surgeon, and had her dislocated elbow repaired. She was legally a “visitor”, so she was charged—a total of $175. What would that cost in the U.S.?

Now that she is a "landed immigrant", her medical costs are completely covered.

Just thought I’d make these points, as there is a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation in the U.S. about the Canadian health care system.

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