O Canada! That freedom-hating land!

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Every time I hear someone on the radio going on about how there's nothing wrong with the American health care system, I get so mad I can't see straight. I always wonder out loud what that person would say if he lost his job and his health insurance, or if she suddenly couldn't get coverage for a life-threatening disease because of some innocuous "pre-existing condition."

I have pretty good health coverage, but that's only because my wife has a good job. I don't want to think about what would happen if she lost her job. COBRA coverage would be available for 18 months, of course, but it's as expensive as half a month's rent. And even with our coverage, it's a tremendous pain in the ass to negotiate the thicket of requirements you have to go through in order to consult a specialist, which both Laura and I are currently doing.

In fact, yesterday I had to cancel a long-standing appointment I was supposed to have this afternoon with the urologist I've been seeing (in a professional sense, not the sense of having an affair with, although he's cute in a reassuring-older-guy kinda way) this year. Why? Because Laura's insurance just changed to a new company, and my procedure would not be covered unless I could get a referral form from my primary-care physician, but that office wouldn't cough up the form because we haven't received our new insurance cards yet....

Fortunately it's not an urgent procedure, but if it had been I would be, to put it crudely, fucked. I can reschedule for a couple of months from now, but how much easier and more sensible would this all have been under a single-payer system? I don't know how anyone with serious health problems manages.

With all the hysteria out there about socialism from people who would prefer shooting themselves in the foot and bleeding to death over guaranteeing their own unbroken access to good medical care, it's a good time to compare our American health-care system with that of our big, scary, freedom-hating neighbor to the north. Those dangerously deluded Canadians, who just don't realize that the road to hell or at least totalitarianism is paved with ideas like the desirability of keeping everyone in the country healthy. Aaaagh!

Back in early 2008, Sara Robinson of the Campaign for America's Future, an American living in Canada, very handily debunked some of the top myths about the Canadian health-care system (starting with the myth that their medicine is "socialized"), but without skipping over some of the drawbacks of that system. Her two blog entries on the topic are well worth your time to read:

The fascinating thing is how, even a year and a half later, these tired old myths are still common currency in the health-care debate. Thanks for pointing me toward these articles goes to the fine Canadian writer Michael Libling, who says: "We watch the debate in your country with a mixture of horror and incredulity. The fear and ignorance is mind-boggling, as is the assorted bullshit we hear in reference to our health care system. I know of not a single Canadian who would trade our system for yours."

Straight up. But I would trade ours for theirs in a heartbeat.

[ original post:  http://shunn.livejournal.com/496243.html ]

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This page contains a single entry by William Shunn published on August 20, 2009 8:29 AM.

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