Just recently another Canadian died while waiting to travel to America for a cancer treatment that wasn’t available in Canada. This treatment was to have been paid for by their system but it took months for approvals. Unfortunately she couldn’t wait.
Some think Canada is just like America only with better beer. I have learned some facts that go with the previous story that every American needs to hear and it doesn’t have anything to do with beer.
I recently heard a story of a couple’s experience with the Canadian Health Care System that was chilling as well as enlightening.
The lady and her husband were on a cruise to Alaska and had returned to Vancouver, B. C. While in port there, he suffered a stroke. He was taken immediately to a hospital in Vancouver. As you may know Canada has a universal health care system that covers their citizens free of charge. Of course that is their citizens.
I will try to shorten this story because it was rather long. The lady’s first shock came from admittance to the emergency ward. She had to come up with six hundred dollars immediately before anything else would happen. This event happened on a Friday evening and she was unable to reach her health care insurer in the states as they were closed for the weekend. So out came her credit card and he was admitted. They were lucky, they were told, because he needed an M.R.I. and the only one in Vancouver was at this hospital and was only available on the weekend as all other citizens are scheduled during the week. Most Canadians wait up to eight or nine months for an M.R.I. His hospital room cost three thousand dollars a night. The hospital required the money up front. They didn’t care about her private insurance. Fortunately they took her credit card. His room was a four bed ward separated by a flimsy sheet with absolutely no room to even turn around. His ward mates were all women. There were no chairs to sit in and it really didn’t matter because there was not enough room to put a chair in the room anyway. In four days of hospitalization he was not bathed, until she insisted that he be cleaned up and took him out to the communal shower to clean him up herself. His sheets had not been changed. She again insisted that if necessary she would change the bed herself. They relented and finally changed the sheets. The lady knew her husband was just getting sicker being in this hospital. After much debate and discussion the medical staff finally agreed that he was healthy enough to fly. She had gotten in touch with her insurer who had convinced the hospital and the doctors that they would cover their eighty percent of the bill.
This lady also related that the place was filthy. Blood soaked cotton balls and bedding were strewn on the floor. In three days it wasn’t picked up. The hallways were littered with junk and equipment and cleaning supplies. She was assured that this was one of the finest facilities in Vancouver and was lucky they were there for her husband. She described it as a nightmare however.
When they finally arrived back home in the U.S. he was immediately taken to the hospital and was diagnosed with pneumonia and other respiratory ailments as well as the stroke. It took months for him to begin his recovery and is doing well today.
So what is the message here? For sure they have better beer and theirs is a beautiful country, but that’s where it ends. Their socialized medical system is a joke for the Canadians as well as anyone else who happens to fall ill there. This lady related that even though they were only fifty miles from America, they were truly in a foreign country. She hastened to add that this was just their experience however and may not be everybody’s. There is a reason though why Canadians, who can afford it, come here for medical care.
Another message is if you travel to a foreign country, carry trip insurance. Whether you are fifty miles from America or five thousand, the rules are different and like it or not it is their rules that apply.
A final message is just this. I believe some sort of universal health care is coming to America. Is this what we want? Can we do it better? We should be careful what we wish for. It may turn out to be something we truly don’t want.
Ron Scarbro January 3, 2009
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