Diana of Creative Structures introduced the idea of blogging each Friday about things we are grateful for. My list is extremely long and it's a shame that I don't think often enough, every day, about all of the things that I am grateful for.
Now this photo, of a kitty I met last month as he basked in the setting sun in Montefalco, has nothing really to do with the rest of this post. Although I am grateful I saw him -- just looking at his pose makes me feel more relaxed.
My topic, instead, is how grateful I am for Canada's single-payer health care system. By this, I mean Canada's medicare system where a single payer, the federal government (channeling all of our tax dollars,) covers the cost of basic health care for all Canadians.
Is the system perfect? Of course not. Does it work well? I think so.
Under our system, no matter who you work for -- or if you're unemployed, retired, a student, a homemaker -- you have full health care benefits. The benefits aren't tied to your employer and the company's health plan; or tied to where you live or what you do. Or how much money you have.
My description is pretty simplistic, I admit. There are hundreds of caveats. Some provinces and cities have longer waiting lists for services than others; some charge premiums (usually based on income and often paid by employers); and some services aren't covered. Prescription drugs, for example. Not generally covered.
There are waiting lists for all sort of procedures. But the system is based on triage -- the more dire your condition, the faster you receive care. I waited 3 months for sinus surgery. I thought that was fair.
The bottom line: if you are sick, you will get good care no matter who you are or how much -- or little -- money you have. For this, I'm extremely grateful.
This is top of mind right now because the provision of heath care -- who gets it, who pays for it -- is yet again becoming a very heated debate in the U.S. as President Obama moves to introduce a more fair and efficient health care system.
His extremely wealthy opponents who like the status quo (presumably, it's contributing to their wealth) have found a Canadian spokeswoman to denounce Canada's universal medicare system and in so doing, is creating a lot of harm and misunderstanding.
Shona Holmes, of Waterdown, Ont., is now being featured in a U.S. TV ad campaign, running in 50 states, claiming that she would have died if she had waited to be treated in Canada for a rare type of cyst at the base of her brain called a Rathke's cleft cyst. So, she re-mortgaged her home and paid about $100,000 for the treatment at the Mayo Clinic, in Arizona, after doctors in Canada told her she would have to wait several months for a referral to a specialist here.
(She's now seeking reimbursment from the Ontario government)
But experts quoted today by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation say that Holmes has greatly exaggerated the severity of her condition, especially the claim she was facing death.
Neurosurgeon Michael Schwartz of Toronto's Sunnybrook Hospital told CBC that he's never seen or heard of a death from a Rathke's cyst. He told CBC News symptoms can be alleviated if the cyst is drained or part of it removed to take pressure off the optic nerve.
Add the neurosurgeon: "If somebody called me about a patient that was losing her vision or had a structural abnormality of the brain, I would see them within days."
Which is how the system is supposed to work: triage. Most severe, dangerous cases take precedence. In an ideal world, there would be no waiting lists of course. But I think triage is the next best thing.
Anyway, it seems the fight against U.S. health care reform is getting to full gear. The contentious advertisement is being run by a conservative lobby group, the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, and some estimate it will spend $250 million this year to fight Obama's plan to involve the government playing a role in reforming U.S. health care.