Sunday, July 27, 2008

Don’t destroy American health system for Canadians

I have many Canadian friends who come to Florida each winter. From them I have heard many horror stories about the ills of socialized medicine. Here is another story complete with some important facts and information for American voters as they contemplate the candidacy of Senator Obama:

Don’t destroy American health system: Canadians need it
July 19, 2008 Shona Holmes The Providence Journal

CANADA promises good health-care coverage to all that it claims is free at the point of service and financed through taxes. Unfortunately for me and millions of Canadians, the actions of our government all too often belie that generous pledge.

Canada’s cost-conscious, government-run system wasn’t there for me when I needed it most. And even worse, it continues to overlook the most fundamental rule of health care — that patients ought to come first.

As America considers ways to reform its health-care system, I hope that my experience reminds decision makers that more government intrusion in health care is a poison pill.

No one should be forced to travel thousands of miles to obtain accessible good care. Yet that is exactly what I was forced to do after being diagnosed with a brain tumor three years ago.

After my government told me that I’d need to wait four to six months to see a neurologist and endocrinologist, and with my eyesight rapidly deteriorating, I decided to seek a diagnosis at the storied Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz.

After a battery of tests the doctors there told me I needed treatment immediately, advised me to return home for surgery. I returned to Canada confident that no doctor would turn away a patient in such obvious need of care. I was wrong. Ten days later I flew back to the Phoenix area and underwent successful surgery that removed the tumor and restored my vision.

Why would someone who lives in an industrialized country with a high standard of living and a promise of guaranteed health care need to go anywhere else?

The answer — incredibly — is that Canada’s bureaucratic health-care system transformed me from a human into a number, put me on a waiting list and essentially told me to hope for the best. Free health care was indeed about money. It refused to pay for treatment outside its borders, even though life-saving surgery was quickly available a short plane-ride away in the United States.

As a daughter, a wife and mother of two wonderful children, I really had only one choice — paying thousands of dollars, relying on family, friends and creative refinancing for an operation at the Mayo Clinic’s world-class facility nearly 2,000 miles away in the Arizona desert.

My story, with all of its unfortunate twists and turns, is relatively simple: Stay in Canada and let the government gamble with my future or journey south of the border and benefit from an accessible, patient-oriented, and compassionate facility that responds swiftly to medical emergencies.

My gratitude over receiving a new lease on life has turned me into a full-fledged activist — fighting for free-market change in Canada. Hopefully, we’ll win that fight soon so my country can actually redeem its longstanding promise of providing timely, efficient health care to its 33 million citizens — a population equivalent to the State of California.

And I hope that American voters will remember my story when U.S. candidates this year begin touting the Canadian health-care system as a role model for reform in their own country.

Americans already are being blitzed with a propaganda barrage that bashes America’s current private-public health-care partnership as little better than that of an emerging Third World nation.

Movies like Sicko and John Q, a wave of admiringly reviewed new books, newspaper pundits and cable-news commentators batter Americans with a daily message that the U.S. needs to embrace a universal, government-run system similar to Canada’s or Britain’s.

What they don’t tell you is that both those countries routinely block or delay access to needed treatments and often treat elderly patients with cavalier contempt.

The national health-care system in my country is racked by agonizingly long waits and rationing of many vital medical services, starting with a severe shortage of family physicians, who are the gate keepers of our care.

More than 800,000 Canadians currently are in a lengthy holding pattern for operations that would be done in the States a few weeks after the initial diagnosis.

Sadly, many will die before they make it to the head of the line. Those who can find a way flee to the United States for the quality medical service so often lacking at home.

The benchmark question for any nation’s health-care system is whether its citizens are forced to go abroad for good accessible health-care treatment.

The answer in America is obvious. In the decades since World II, million of Canadians, Europeans, Asians, Africans and Latin Americans have flocked to the U.S. for life-saving medical procedures. And, with few exceptions, that has been a one-way flow.

While I work to reform Canada’s creaking health-care system, I sincerely hope that Americans won’t destroy a system that is the envy of the world by placing it under the yoke of Big Government bureaucracy.

Until Canada breaks free from the Alice in Wonderland absurdity of its system, droves of Canadians, including me, will join millions of others around the globe in seeking medical sanctuary in the United States. If your “patient first” system begins to crumble, we’ll have no place to go.

Shona Holmes is a wife, mother and patient advocate from Toronto. She is pursuing a lawsuit against Ontario to repeal a ban that prevents its citizens from purchasing private health insurance.

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At 9:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I once read a statistic that relates to this story.

The City of Philadelphia has more MRI machines than the ENTIRE nation of Canada.

The sad think is I'm beginning to notice stories of folks who are sent home and die within a day or so.

Today's local newspaper had a story of a child who saved his single mom's life because he dialed 911.

That said fact is that she had been to the local hospital 3 different times within 4 days and was sent home each time.

Recently a dear friend of mine who could be described as having mild "Special Needs" was rushed to the local hospital. Kept in Intensive care for 2 days, moved to PCU for 2 days, then sent home.

He died at home that night after collapsing at the age of 50.

Several friends question if was sent home because of who he was and perhaps didn't have solid Insurance?

At 4:50 PM, Anonymous Joe said...

The Democrats are going to say; "Hey,- we promised you free health care, we never said that it was any good!" "What do you want for nothing?"


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