An American in Vancouver: Canadian Health Care
Thanks for stopping in for my grand opening of Health Care On Location!
This blog came about because I'm a health care geek in Vancouver for an extended stay. My husband is a regular on a new TV show that shoots in Canada so I have come here to be with him.
He's worked here a number of times since the late 1980s and I've always made a point of asking Canadians what they think of their health care system. For many years, I never heard a bad word except for the physician's wife who thought her husband should make more money.
So I used to be utterly convinced that the things we heard in the U.S. about problems with the system were strictly free marketeer propaganda. But the last time I was in Vancouver, about four years ago, I heard some negative reports.
Consequently, I decided to make a project during my sojourn here of recording the comments of Canadians of all walks of life regarding their health care system. I wrote up a number of these conversations, sent them out to my mailing list, and began toying with the idea of expanding the project into a blog about health care systems in various countries around the world. After all, I had heard so many people in the US hold forth with great authority about how health care works in Canada or in Europe. And most of them, as it turns out, don’t really know what they’re talking about. So without further ado, here’s the first installment of Health Care On Location…
As I sat on the plane flying up from Los Angeles, I began chatting with my seatmates. It turned out they were both Canadian citizens. So I decided to begin my project with a random sampling of two. Of particular interest was the woman who had duel citizenship, Canadian and U.S. She was a 59 year old middle class educator whose first words when I began my questions were ...
"Americans are stupid when it comes to health care."
In the thirty years she has lived in Canada, her family has had to use the health care system rather extensively. From the time when her daughter was four years old and she had idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (low platelet count with no known cause) to her husband's bout with cancer, she always felt they received high quality care with no delays. OK, Canadian health care scores 1.
My other seatmate was a 32 year old sales manager for Minolta. He first wanted me to explain the new U.S. health care law, the Affordable Care Act. A half hour later, I had given him a brief outline of the plan with its complex ifs, ands, and buts. Then he wanted to know what the taxes are on someone earning $100,000 per year. I thought, "Ah, healthy young man resentful of high taxes." But he surprised me by saying:
"I'm happy we're paying higher taxes because we're receiving better services."
I kid you not! His mother is a nurse and he had comments about nursing shortages and the problems hospitals have because of government budgets. But ultimately he said, "If you compare us to the U.S. we're really lucky." I had the impression he hadn't had any major health problems but he too had no complaints about waiting times or quality.
An added plus -- The young man lives a few blocks from our apartment and has offered to show me around Vancouver!
Well, that's all for now. I guess Canada scored 2 for today. Next time, I'll tell you what I learned about the health care not covered by the plan the government provides.