For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Home is Where the Central Cardio-pulmonary Organ Is, and see what else has been going on.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Is Canada's medicare system "socialist?"

First, my apologies for not responding to folks who've left comments.  I've been recovering from surgery, but do intend to catch up soon and respond to specific points.

Until then...

I recently shared a video I found rather funny on my facebook.  This one.

A friend of mine, who happens to be on the liberal side of things, called me on it, saying that she's sure I cash my child tax benefit checks, and aren't I glad we have socialized medicine, so I haven't had to go bankrupt with my recent hospitalization?

Well, I will gladly give up the child tax benefit if it means we'll be taxed less.  Until then, I'll take my (or should I say, my husband's) tax dollars back where I can.  It's a pittance compared to what the government is taking off his pay to start with, never mind all the other taxes and fees we get dinged with every time we turn around. 

As for our medical system, I question defining as socialist at all.  In Canada, we have a mix of private and public care, and what's covered is determined not by the federal government, but by the provinces.  Some provinces even have premiums.  A good example of public/private co-operation was my breast reduction, several years ago.  Because it was deemed medically necessary, the surgery was paid for my our medicare system, but the plastic surgeon that performed it ran a private practise.  Other women paid for the same surgery themselves.  My medical needs did not cover getting a liposuction (to get rid of the "wings" under my arms), as that was considered purely cosmetic.  I could have paid almost $1000 for a purely cosmetic procedure.  I chose not to.

Let's take a moment, however, to look at our more recent medical needs.

Our family GP: private practise (our check ups are covered, but if I want to get a planters wart removed, I'd have to pay for it myself)
Our prescriptions: private insurance or pay for them ourselves
The clinic we usually go to for blood work and Xrays (no appointment necessary): a franchise
The clinic my husband used to get an MRI on his leg (no appointment necessary): another franchise.  In fact, it was located in what I can only call a medical mall, filled with private practises for types of care I'd never heard of before!
The clinic my gynecologist works in: private practice.  It's the same clinic I got my mammogram at.

The hospital I had my surgery: publicly owned

So far, that doesn't sound much like a socialist system!

So what does sound socialist?

A system that doesn't allow a family to arrange their own finances and medical needs to such a point that they'd be better off getting a divorce - the very situation my friend who called me on the video is in.

Or the situation another friend of mine is in.  Her doctor has prescribed for her a specific medication, but the bureaucrats won't cover it.  Not because it's an unapproved medication, but because... well... because she can't walk.  If she were still walking, the medication would be covered, but she's now a quad, so they won't.  At $1400 a month, she can't afford the medication.  She can appeal; a process that can take months. 

She's getting her medication, though.  The Evil Capitalist (TM) manufacturer is providing it for her anyway, on compassionate grounds, while she jumps through the hoops to get our medicare system to cover it.

What else sounds like socialism?  Procedures and practises being covered for political reasons, rather than medical need.  Such as some provinces covering sex reassignment surgery on perfectly healthy bodies.  If a patient wants the surgery, they should be free to pay someone to do it, but unless there's a medical need for it, it should not be covered by the medicare system.  Likewise, non-medically necessary abortions are covered the same as medically necessary ones.  Then there's things like the free needles for drug addicts, while diabetics have to pay for theirs.

Clearly, our system needs improvement.  Personally, as much as I appreciate our medicare system, I think we could do with more private partnerships and more personal choices available, less bureaucracy, and less political interference. 

What we need to be on guard for is actual socialization of our medicare system, such as the calls to restrict treatment based on things like body size or smoking.  We need to be on guard to avoid situations such as those in the UK, where patients are being denied medically necessary surgery because they're "too fat." 

Yes, we have a public health care system.  We also have a private one.  Both are limited.  It's not perfect and there's plenty of room for improvement, but I'm glad we have it.

Is it a socialist system?


No comments:

Post a Comment

Drop me a line...