A question for Candadians and UK folks and the Universal Healthcare

Whispering Winds

11 Years
Jan 14, 2009
Bond County, Illinois
I was at the office meeting yesterday (Real Estate) and the subject of universal health care came up. One of the agents is just flat out Republican (not saying anything is wrong with that, my dear ole' dad was just as bad!) and if you aren't then you don't count . . .but she and the Libertarian in the office was going on about how lousy it is, you stand in lines, you come to the US for your surgeries and stuff, and I had actually believed I read the opposite on here when I first joined BYC. Just wondered if you might clarify it for me . . .not trying to get ANY kind of debate started. Just wondered if it works for your country, and the pros and cons of it.
I'm from Canada. We do not have enough doctors. Wait times in ERs are outrageous. Eye care or dental are not covered. How either of those is not seen as medically necessary I will never know. I have not been covered for either eye or dental for years. I would really love to get my teeth checked out but we just do not make enough money to be able to go in and get it done or to get me fitted for a mouthpiece (I grind my teeth badly). Eye care, I had to pay for my own tests and what not recently. I put it off for a long time because I simply did not have enough money. I worked full time for years living on my own. Cost of living in Canada is high. I had to spend my money on the priorities, like food and rent.

Wait to see an arthritis specialist- over 3 months (and that is considered quick). I am not looking forward to having to see a dermatologist. It is near impossible in my area to find a family doctor.

We are taxed a lot of money and a lot of that money is wasted, pure and simple. At one point I was keeping a tally of all the newspaper articles discussing the millions being wasted. One big one was the millions wasted in the eHealth scandal.

Our health care system needs a lot of work here in Canada. But then again so does our entire government system.

There are good things about our healthcare system, don't get me wrong. It just needs a lot of work. It is not all rainbows and unicorn farts.
Thanks . . .my husband worked for a huge utility (power) company at a coal-fired plant and we never had dental or optical either. A company that DID have that bought this company out, but do you think they offered it to us? Nope. This whole northern hemisphere sounds like its a mess . . .thanks for letting me know this!!!
i grew up in canada and am now living in the states......i thought the health care system in canada was great!! yes SOME times you have to wait, but not always, and every one is garenteed free health care, yes it's a mystery why eye and dentel are not coverd...although quebec was trying to bring in a co-pay that flopped like most other thing's they try. the health care system is free!!! there are some clinics that you can pay at to have thing's done faster but that is by choice, unlike the u.s health care system where you have to pull a second morage out a hat to see a doctor, i do not want to start any thing but i find the health care system very unfair. when my youngest son was born my ob screwed up buy nicking his umbilical cord to early (my son wasn't even out)in a c section which caused him to wash his serfacton (sp) out, my son was rushed from a small town to dodge city by ambulance then flown to wichita to a nicu there and spent 19 days in hosp, total cost for every thing 375,000.00 before insurence kicked in.....not including the 18 days we spent at the ronald mcdonnel house, in the end we paid 3,500. i find the american health care system totaly unfare ..... and yes far to many canadian doctors are taking the opp to earn more money down here due to a cap the put on canadian docs a few years ago
I was born at about the time the National Health Service was created in the UK after WWII. Previously, less wealthy people had relied on the benevolent attitude of their local doctor and had to stump up cash for hospital treatment or die. There was no chance that they could afford insurance.

Things changed a lot in Europe after WWII because people realised that they had sacrificed a lot for the fat lazy elite and got nothing but death and destruction in return. A Labour government was elected in the UK and it created a system of health care that was free to everyone. Nothing is free, of course and it was paid for from taxes. That and the tax for Sate pensions has always been high but you are guaranteed both until death. It's made a huge difference to the UK population and few would be without it. Some people have private insurance. That's either because they don't like to get too close to the rest of us or they are in jobs where being able to plan minor operation dates is convenient. With the NHS you are told when your appointment will be.

The NHS was a huge social experiment and, consequently, it's had it's problems. The costs became higher then originally anticipated as new technology was brought in so charges were introduced for outpatient medication and dental care. There were loopholes in the system that enabled scroungers, even from the Commonwealth, to take advantage of what the taxpayer provided. That's mainly be dealt with now. Some complained that work shy people got the same benefits as working people but that was dealt with through the system of welfare pay for the unemployed. We learned as we went along!

Another issue was huge queues at the local doctor's surgery and hospitals. Eventually, mass block appointments were replaced by a better arrangement. Also, the local health authorities were given standards to work to. If you wait more than thirty minutes beyond your appointment time in a hospital routine outpatients' department the administrators get a black mark. It's livened them up no end!

I can't understand the strong opposition to the recent changes in the US. Actually, I don't fully understand the previous or new system but am I right in saying that there is now compulsory private insurance? Those who said that it was wrong that tax or premium payers should fund a system from which the unemployed also benefitted left me speechless. Not all sick, old and unemployed people are scroungers and the UK has shown that most of those can be dealt with through another system. I thought that it was part of being in a civilised society that the strong helped the weak.

WW, yes it works and it takes a lot of stress out of life in the UK knowing that if you have, say, a heart attack, a fully equipped ambulance and paramedics will be there quickly and you will go to a fully equipped A&E department - no questions asked. The NHS even uses air ambulances services where a road vehicle would take too long in an emergency.

I hope that gives you an insight into what universal health care can be like if it's done with commitment.
I'm American, but have family in Norway, which also has universal health care.

FWIW, because of my own medical condition, it took about 3 months to get to a orthopedic specialist for my knee. Yes, I could have gotten a plain ortho appointment the next day, but they wouldn't be able to treat me because of my condition. So, three months wait it was.

If you go to the closest hospital, you are going to bet on a 6hour+ wait in the Emergency Room. That's just what it is. (If you're smart and go to the sattelite hospital that everyone thinks is closed, but *YOU* know it still operates an emergency room, there is no wait, and if your condition is serious and requires admission, you get a free ambulance ride to the other big hospital).

I know untold numbers of people who do not have health insurance, and if they do, do not have vision or dental. If they do have insurance, they still pay out the nose. My pregnancy and complications cost us $10,000 out of pocket - on top of the taxes we pay.
Our child is almost 3 years old, and we're still paying on those bills.

My great aunt needed a knee replacement in Norway. She waited about 2 months I believe. Less than I waited for my knee reconstruction (which was as invasive as a replacement - not a scope surgery!).

I know people who don't go to the doctor because their insurance doesn't cover any local doctors - one right now is a pregnant woman who has a UTI - and she has to pay $80 just to go in and get a prescription for antibiotics to treat it. She has tried all the OTC remedies.

I think if one calculated the tax we pay, the check deductions for insurance through work, copays, deductibles, and other out of pocket expenses, we pay a heck of a lot more for healthcare than our "Public" healthcare friends do
It would be interesting to check that to see. Even if the cost is greater, having guaranteed health care for your family is a great comfort, especially these days when you can be out of work for a while and lose private insurance.

In the case of the UK system at least it would be a difficult comparison because the tax for the NHS is combined with the State pension tax. Every earner pays and employers contribute too so the cost to each individual may well be lower than systems where some people can simply opt out. Also in the UK, you pay for the NHS a percentage of salary with a maximum - private insurers like to hike their rates if you have or may have a serious problem that needs treatment and may even refuse to insure you. It doesn't happen in the UK. We all get full entitlement, guaranteed. Just having that cushion of certainty takes a lot of stress out of just living. Babies and children get the same care, of course.

Should anyone think that this is a political thing, even though the NHS was created by a Labour government in the 1940's, not even the most right wing government since has suggested cancelling it. To even suggest it would be political suicide.
I know that there have been suggestions of introducing such a scheme in the US. I just wanted to comment generally on this topic as I was born in the first year of the NHS introduced into Britain in 1948. The scheme is simple enough. All working people contribute throughout their working life to the scheme which also gives them sickness benefit, should they be off work, and a state retirement pension at age 65 years. For these contributions, which are taken at source, everyone belongs to a GPs list (a family doctor). The GP services include annual screening for the over 60, blood test etc, annual flu vaccines, and cervical screening. All medicine prescribed costs approx $9 an item, regardless of the cost of the drug. Retired people, children/students and unemployed don't pay. Consultations are free. Should you be referred for treatment at a hospital, you must be seen in eight weeks, unless cancer is suspected when it is four weeks. All and I do mean ALL hospital treatment, no matter how costly, long and complicated, is free. Age is no barrier, I have met 96 year olds having hip replacements etc. There is also a scheme for free mammograms (patients are called every 3 years) and blood tests for testicular cancer and bowel cancer. Hospitals would, I think, seem basic to some. Most patients are accommodated in wards rather than separate rooms. Food is very basic but these are all cosmetic things. Staff are lovely and the treatment state of the art. All maternity services are free, including pre and post natal care. The scheme is not perfect, and incredibly costly to run but who wouldn't happily contribute to a scheme knowing that their health care needs, those of their children and elderly relatives would be taken care 'from cradle to grave'. I would urge anyone to find out more about the different schemes suggested. I know America has a long tradition and culture of individuals looking after themselves, but with the advances in modern medicine, which are at once so marvellous, but so costly, some form of national insurance that provides health care would ensure no one falls below the net of having health care, whatever their needs provided.
I don't mean to jump thread. I just wanted to add my experience with & with out insurance. My experience is that the medical profession has taken advantage of the insurance system. That's why insurance is so pricey. With insurance I had a 35% co pay. The total of the doctors bill was always about 400% higher when I had insurance. Which made my Copay higher than if I had paid cash. If I pay cash the doctors is always willing to adjust the bill to whats called a sliding scale. A sliding scale adjusts your payment to your income. Example: My daughter just broke her foot. Paying cash for the cast was only $300 compared to $1200 my friends insurance just payed for his cast. The total of my daughters bill after seeing specialists was less than $2000. The doctors excepted a cash payment of $800 for the total bill..............................

Point #2 I was waiting for my daughter to get done with her appointment & a lady comes in. She showed up in a cab (Very well dressed in new leather). The cabby waited 40 minutes for the lady who was there to get her ears cleaned! For real! I was talking to the cabby & mentioned I'd hate to have to pay her cab fare. The cabby looked at me & said "She don't care welfare is paying for it." My jaw dropped.........

When I herd Obama blaming the faults with in our medical system on the people that don't have insurance, it ticks me off. He made accusations that the people that don't have insurance are the reason that insurance is so pricey. That statement alone told me how out of touch he is with the common man & the reality of how the system really works. You can make anything look good on paper!
I have family in the medical field and they all have mixed reactions about national health care. My mother does compliance, making sure things are billed according to Medicare guidelines and says that the way bureaucracy handles things, it's not the most effective. She thinks doctors, RNs and other medical personnel should be included in writing new bills and laws since the politicians don't know what they are doing.

My father--a physician--would like the 'scrip drug commercials on TV to stop. Says that it has created a lot of problems. He thinks everyone under 25 should have universal health care but once you get over that point, you need private insurance. I tried pointing out that not every job provides insurance, but he just said people need insurance at that point. Although he has one of his offices in Detroit near Hamtramck (speaks Polish so he sees many older members of the immigrant generation), he's never said anything about a lot of Canadians coming here.

I have heard that Mexico will have health care by 2012, and Costa Rica has it in the works.

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