A relative e-mailed me a newspaper story about Michael Moore's latest movie. I'm a bit out of the popular-culture loop up here and haven't seen it, but I do know that Mr. Moore has rose-coloured glasses where Canada is concerned. He's also a bit too quick to jump to conclusions about our society. I will offer a quick overview of our health system, in case he leaves out some details:
- Doctor's visits (including specialists): FREE, sort of. The government is now taking $1500 out of my paycheque every two weeks. I go to the doctor maybe three times a year.
- Hospital visits: FREE, sort of. See above. We do not pay the cost of any medical procedure that is done in a hospital.
- Medical supplies, including medicine: PATIENT PAYS FULL PRICE. Steve's diabetic pump cost $5000, and his blood-testing strips cost $1 each. A person I used to work with is taking pills that cost $100 a day. You can buy medical insurance to cover all or most of these costs.
- Ambulance trips: PATIENT PAYS FULL PRICE. About $300 per trip, at least here in Name of Town Withheld. This is a good deal, as it gets you four handsome and sympathetic ambulance attendants at your door in about five minutes.
- Wait times: ABYSMAL. A friend of mine (full disclosure: who has nothing but good things to say about our system) almost died from a weird pregnancy illness that caused severe vomiting. She spent a LOT of time in emergency wait rooms, often next to people with severe alcoholism and mental illnesses. You can imagine how great this was for her.
- Freedom to choose your doctor: NOT TRUE. When your doctor leaves town, you have to beg another GP to see you, and most will not even consider it. It has been over a year since I had a doctor. Steve convinced a GP to be his doctor about six months ago, and we are hoping that she will agree to treat Michael and me. However, it is true that we do not have HMOs that assign doctors to patients or demand that you cycle through cheaper treatments before trying treatments that are more expensive.
- Satisfaction with Canadian health-care system: MIXED. The first thing any Canadian will say about our system is that it is better than the American one. You will usually get this from people who have no experience with the American system, so you can judge for yourself how much their opinions are worth.