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2010-12-03 11:34 AM
Response to Video about Socialized Medicine in Canada
Ryan posted this video on my Facebook and my response is really too long for Facebook, so I'm posting it here.
He starts up front with smacking Michael Moore a bit (and he should be smacked, don't get me wrong... I think his movies usually have a good message but he douches it up so hard as to destroy his own message), but he's filled his video with plenty of snarky exposition.
Alrighty, so far we've seen that the local urgent care clinic is closed so they head to the hospital instead. That's the same as it is here, so I'm not sure what the point of it is. The last time I was sick I tried to go to the urgent care down the street from me and they were closed, so I had to go to the ER instead.
Next they wait in the waiting room and a nurse comes through the triage area to determine how bad they are. That's exactly what happens in our hospitals too, so I'm not sure what the point is. Every time I've ever been in the hospital waiting room or ER waiting room, the nurse comes through and asks each patient questions about how bad they are because they aren't going to treat someone with a sprained wrist before they treat someone who is having trouble breathing or is actively bleeding. That just makes common sense.
When they talk to the nurse the next day and she recommends checking a private clinic... that sounds to me like even with a Single Payer health care the private industry can still exist. That seems contrary to what many opponents of Single Payer have said over time.... ;) The run-around these guys are getting is certainly a pain in the ass, but its honestly just not any different than we already have here with our private system. I've heard multiple stories from my sister and my friends about getting shunted around to different doctors and having to wait a weeks to get an appointment with the specialists who can perform the specific blood tests. There is no doubt that what we are seeing here is terrible, but it is no less terrible than we currently have.
The next bit is an interview with an unfortunate woman whose mother need surgery on her leg, but didn't get it and eventually both legs had to be amputated. Its a tragic story, no doubt. But dude... we have those stories HERE. And the thing is that she had the option to pay a private company and didn't. So clearly private health care wasn't the solution either. She most likely couldn't afford the private care. I know, its a terrible story and for every terrible story I can no doubt provide you with a wonderful, positive story. We have horror stories here in the US too with private care and before the Health Care reform passed it was worse. Perhaps the mother talked about in the interview had pre-existing conditions and wouldn't even have been able to GET private health insurance in the US... then she wouldn't have had _any_ options. That story can go SO many different ways if you transport it to the US and our private health care system. Maybe she would have gotten surgery and kept both legs. Maybe her insurance would have retroactively denied the procedure and the family would have lost their home trying to fend off bankruptcy. Maybe she wouldn't have been able to get insurance to begin with and the circulatory problem in her leg would have caused an anerism and she would be dead.
The interview with the mother and baby who had a "gastro", she had to wait and got sent home from the hospital with a diagnosis that was bad or completely unhelpful. Welcome to almost every doctor visit I've had in the last 10 years. ;) So they went to the children's hospital and received a WEEK of medical care... without having to pay. The baby looks healthy and happy. A week's stay in a hopital in the US costs about $80k-$100k. That's based on numbers from 2002 when my (now ex-)wife had to spend 3 days in the hospital for a bad infection. Costs have risen since then.
The next interview was with a guy who was trying to get an acne treatment. I can relate to this guy. I went through many acne treatments when I was a kid. I still battle with it today, but its much better than it was. It took him 5 months to see a dermatologist. It took me 3 months get a dermatologist. So, I did slightly better but again I'm sure we could find examples on both sides of better and worse. He said it took him about a year and a half until he finally stopped going because it was taking too long to get appointments. On my side, after about a year and a half I finally stopped going because even once I had an appointment I'd have to wait a long time and get almost no time with the doctor. I'm sure you've seen this countless times if you've ever been to the doctor. You have an appointment at 11am. You show up at 10:45 because they ask you to be there 15 minutes early to process paperwork. You wait an hour and finally get called into the examination room at 11:45. Then you wait 20-30 minutes for the nurse to visit you and take your vitals. Then you wait another 30-45 minutes for the doctor to actually see you. Then you get 5 minutes with the doctor who just sends you away with a prescription that either doesn't work, has side-effects which are worse than the illness or isn't covered by your insurance and you have to pay out the ass for it anyway. heh. :) In my specific example of the dermatologist, when I finally got that 5 minutes with the doctor, it turned out that he wasn't even a dermatologist and had to go lookup and read about the medicine I was talking to him about. So... no system is perfect. I agree. But Single Payer health care isn't the devil.
Ok, so next he begins talking about how care is rationed in Canada... but, Ryan, its rationed here too. Insurance companies drop people from coverage or accept premium payments every month and deny coverage later or simply refuse to even start a policy with someone. Private insurance companies keep doctors on staff whose sole purpose is to comb through people's medical records and _find a reason to deny coverage_.
Next he talks about how inefficient government systems are. Its an age-old argument. There are two problems with it. The first problem is that Medicare in the US actually has a LOWER administrative cost than the private insurance companies do. This is due to the efficiency garnered by having one system across the country while the private companies maintain multiple/different sets of paperwork systems (not to mention all of the work that goes into checking whether a specific condition is covered by a specific person's insurance, etc). Now, this is just one example though. Many govt systems ARE much LESS efficient! Part of the reason for that is because they have to cover everybody while the private companies can pick and choose to only cover those who are profitable. Just like with the Post Office. People like to take shots at the inefficiency of the post office, but it handles delivering post out to the most rural, back-woods parts of the country for 44 cents per piece. No private company will do that because there is no money in it. Private companies that want to take over certain govt services only want to take over the profitable parts. :) The biggest problem with that argument (and I don't know if you fall into this category) is that many of the people who float that argument also consider Military Spending to be sacrosanct and freak out if any cuts are attempted there even though its a govt system and clearly must be inefficient. :) (Again, that's about generalities, I don't know if you fall into that category.)
Next he compares prices at a Subway sandwich shop and the price of gas. He complains that the price of gas is WAY higher in Canada. This was a bad argument from the get-go because the reason why prices are so low in the US (the lowest of ANYWHERE in the world) is not because of capitalism, its because of govt subsidy. Our tax dollars are used to subsidize oil companies and bring the prices of gas down.
I totally understand there are many different views on this topic and I appreciate having intelligent discussions about them. I think capitalism is awesome. I'm a capitalist myself. However, there are certain things I would prefer that aren't done for profit. For example, the maintenance of my health. When my health is concerned, I would like my health to be the #1 priority. A private health insurer's #1 priority isn't my health, their #1 priority is profit which means the absolute highest my health can be prioritized at is #2. That's just not good enough for me. I don't want my Firefighters to be a for-profit business either. We tried a privatized Fire Department in the past and it didn't work.
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