Health Care Reform

With all the talk going on about health care reform, I thought this was an interesting account. Click here to read the column from the New York Times, titled

Op-Ed Columnist: This Time, We Won't Scare


What one woman's medical experience in Canada can teach the United States about health care reform.

Now that you've read that, here is an e mail correspondence from Honeybob and my sis regarding the column. I know this is a bit long, but worth reading, I think:
**I changed names for privacy purposes

Honeybob: "I would be interested in your thoughts on this editorial."

My Sis: "My thoughts on this article are in line with the woman whose story was told... It has been my experience that you can always get good care in Canada, just maybe not as quickly as you would like, mainly if you need a specialist..."

"When Jack was about 2 years old, we noticed a lump on his neck... We had him checked out with our family doctor who watched it for a couple of months, and then referred him to a pediatric ENT... We got the appt. about 3 months later... Our doc wasn't super concerned, but wanted to have it checked out... We took him in and they decided to do a biopsy, which happened about a month later (if I can remember right:))... It ended up being benign... He was sedated for the procedure, and was in recovery for an hour afterwards... I can't remember if we went back for the results or if our family doc met with us... Anyway, we NEVER saw any medical bills for any of it... We were never asked about who would pay..."

"Obviously, because we all have our care cards and our health ins. premiums are a benefit with Hubby's job... We don't see the bills even for our premiums... On Hubby's pay stub it is listed (and FYI, we pay $108 per paycheck or month, I'm not quite sure for our FAMILY)... We pay more for denal ins. and extended health benefits (prescriptions, glasses, etc.)... I personally have no problem with the system, but haven't had to "test" the system with serious health concerns..."

"In Feb. of this year, George travelled to San Diego with the provincial rugby team to play, and he was knocked out in the first five minutes... He had a concussion, and when he got home (he was looked after by a US doctor who was covering the games, and a team trainer) we had him checked out by our family doc the day after he got home... He was fine... He didn't need an MRI (which the doc would have ordered if he deemed necessary, he specializes in sports medicine, and travelled with the Canadian Olympic team)..."

"For all of the births of our babies, we were never billed... We had good care and safe births... The hospital staff was always good... The housekeeping had a lot to be desired, as well as the food... When I had the twins, I had monthly ultrasound, was seen by a specialist every month until I was 7 months along, and then I went every 2 weeks... I had non stress tests... I had good care... When the twins were born, I could have had an epidural if I had gotten to the hospital earlier;)... They were delivered by the specialist on-call... My regular doctor was there, but the specialist I had been seeing wasn't on-call so he didn't deliver... Did it really matter? No... I stayed in hospital for 5 days with them... I wasn't rushed out the door, nor did I want to be... I didn't have a great room, the bathroom was across the hall, but I did have a private room, which isn't a given here (I shared a room when I had Joe, Sally and John)... I could take my babies to the doctor whenever I felt there was a concern, and didn't have to pay any copays or such... It is uncommon to see a pediatrician unless there is a concern (which we did when with Joe when he was hospitalized with pneumonia when he was 4, and the twins saw one because they were premies)... I ramble on..."

"Hubby has been able to speed up some of his dad's care when he had his first bypass surgery, he was able to get him into the hospital and on the fast track because of his connections... I'm not so sure he would have gotten in so quickly if Hubby hadn't been able to expedite things... That may be one of the drawbacks, that the wait lists for surgeries (both elective and non-elective) are longer than can be accomodated efficiently..."

"One of the sisters that I VT has breast cancer, and I have been with her for some of her information seminars... It seems to me that cancer is treated pretty quickly... She had found a lump, and had it biopsied and then a mastectomy in a matter of a couple of weeks, I believe... She has opted not to do chemo at this point, but can change her mind... But she is still under her doctor's care, along with an oncologist..."

"Anyway, from my limited experience, I haven't had any real problems with our health system, I am grateful for what we have... Especially when I hear of horror stories of receiving hospital bills and seeing you were charged 10 bucks for tylenol... Things like that boggle my mind..."

"If you have any questions, feel free;)... I'm sure Hubby has a lot to say on the matter too;)"

Honeybob: "I appreciate the response. Obviously this is coming up because we're about to have a long conversation in the U.S. about proposed changes to our health care system. I have never talked to a Canadian who would trade health care programs for what we have, but conservative talk show hosts like to point out that wealthy Canadians come down here for service. My surgery is going to cost us well more than a grand and the total bill was more than $10k. We pay around $300 a month for the family, I think. I've had to stay overnight twice for my little cuts and I didn't have a private room. The bathroom was in the same room, but I don't think across the hall would have been that big a problem."

"The one thing I go back to was how quickly everything got taken care of. I called the doctor and saw her on Monday, saw the surgeon Tuesday, got cut on Wednesday and was home on Friday. I wonder if we would give up that speed. Frankly, for what I had it might be worth it to not have to pay what we owe."

My Sis: "Canadians who come down to the States for care are either desperate for surgery, or rich and don't want to wait... Interestingly, there are now privately funded clinics here that are starting to pop up that people can get their surgery done faster, but pay out of pocket (I'm unsure if medical would reimburse them, but I would think they would)... Maybe their fees are above the system's fees..."

"I think if you had been here, it would have been uncertain how quickly you would have gotten your surgery done... I would think not that quickly... But I think too, when you are in need, and it is affecting your daily, hourly, and even minute-ly life, money wouldn't come into the equation... It is so hard to know... Luckily, we have not had to go there... I really do appreciate the fact that I don't worry about taking my kids to the doctor, or myself for that matter... If we are sick and need help, we can go... I can't believe how much people are expected to pay for ins. premiums in the states... I have heard in excess of $800/month??? That is INSANE... In no way is that fair or affordable... I believe that there needs to be an overhaul of the system, to weed out those things that are draining the system... Like that 10 dollar tablet of tylenol;)... Definitely a touchy subject..."

I'm curious how others feel about this. Feel free to leave comments... In fact, please do leave comments. I'd love to know who reads my blog 8-)

5 Responses
  1. 5 ibarras Says:

    very interesting read!.....i too, am interested to see what comes of the whole health care system. angel and i were just watching the news and discussing this very thing the other night....
    thanks for sharing

  2. KRad Says:

    I hope you don't mind me adding my 2 cents... I feel like I have a very different perspective on this than most. First of all we have and HMO insurance plan - in general we pay less than most, both in co-pays and what come out of the paycheck in terms of premiums. There are a lot of hoops to jump through if/when a specialist is needed - it's not too hard to navigate (not super easy though either) once you know "the system" & how to make it work. For us it works & honestly we are grateful for it - & here's why. My parents & my sister's family both have medical insurance through their employers. They both happen to work for the state government where they live. My brother in law is a counselor for the state juvenile detention program & my father works with wildlife conservation with a state agency - both professional men. The premiums that come out of their paychecks are higher than ours, they have annual deductibles (my own family does not) and they still have co-pays. So even between working families with insurance our system is extremely unbalanced. The last few years have been hard on my parents & my sister's family medically & they are still paying the bills as proof. Honestly I would like to see something better than this. One last example - my sister & I both had babies last year - our care was pretty comparable in all aspects except one $$$ - I payed my $15 copay at my first prenatal visit & didn't pay anything after that - my sister paid 15% of all office visits & 20% of all procedures (any lab work, tests, ultrasounds, etc.) - after her deductible was met. Her hospital bill after her insurance paid their portion, for a natural birth and only 24 hours in the hospital was more than $2,000. I had a c-section, stayed 3 nights 4 days & I didn't pay anything. This doesn't seem right to me - my family works just as hard as we do they should be able to have the kind of insurance/access to health care that we have, but they don't so that's why I say - something needs to change.

  3. Diana Says:

    Yes, something does need to change! Krista~ I'm in the same boat with your sis as far as coverage goes. It does put a damper on things when unexpected surgeries come up. We may as well have had another baby with the costs and all.

  4. Stephanie Says:

    I agree that something has to change. My sister in law went to the doc for a UTI and left with a $700 bill. Not sure what change will work, though. I was a little disappointed when I read what the title on the blog was...when I read your e-mail asking everyone to read the blog, I thought you were going to announce an addition to the family :-)

  5. Anonymous Says:

    If I were a doc, I would donate my life to trade care. (I would trade service for service) Money to pay the bills would come from the people that 'could' pay- or a little of this/that. I wouldn't live in a big house, drive a nice car, eat at expensive places, own real estate. We had insurance up until about 4 or 5 months ago, then it became too expensive and we couldn't afford it anymore. I haven't missed it much but if I had a health crisis, I suppose I would make my way to the beach somewhere and live out my last days...