This Canadian American Mourns the Public Option

On the cusp of the U.S. healthcare vote, I am in the throes of a family health crisis in Canada, offering many moments to consider the “evils” of universal healthcare.

This week my Canadian brother-in-law, Bruce, had a bone marrow transplant in a last-ditch effort to kill his leukemia. He is a 46-year-old union guy who likes motorcycles, hockey, beer, bad jokes and looks (much to my glee) a lot like Freddy Mercury. He has been with my sister for 14 years and they have three daughters, two dogs and have taken only one vacation that involved an airplane (Toronto, family wedding). He’s neither wealthy nor connected, but Bruce has full heath insurance like every other Canadian, and through his union he has extended disability (not a rare occurrence, as approximately 33 percent of the Canadian workforce is unionized versus about 10 percent in the U.S.).

To pay his medical bills so far, Bruce has at no point needed to produce a credit card, a bank statement,  pass cash under the table or coerce family members to run marathons to fundraise. And what would his bone marrow transplant alone cost in the U.S.? A random Google search indicates a price tag of about $100,000 – $250,000.

But what about the dreaded waiting that plagues these socialist health care systems?

On a Thursday last November, Bruce took his daughter into the local storefront walk-in clinic in his small town, Mission, British Columbia, because she had a bad cough, and the doctor convinced him to have a blood test as well because he wasn’t looking so good. The next day the lab and the doctor called to tell him to be at the regional hospital in Vancouver on Saturday for a bone-marrow biopsy. On Sunday, chemo started. When the chemo failed, the search for a donor started, and marrow was flown in last Friday from Europe. So much for that long wait.

Meanwhile, evidence continues to mount about the failures of the U.S. system of health care. Illness and medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy. Even with approximately 45.7 million uninsured, we spend far more on healthcare (and get less) than nations with universal healthcare. For women the reports are even bleaker, especially if you’re older or not white: Latinas were  twice as likely to be uninsured for an entire year compared to white women, and getting married seems like the best route for older women to get insurance.

But facts don’t seem to matter in our healthcare debate. Even Sarah Palin admits she has benefited from Canuck healthcare.

When Bruce walks out of the hospital in several weeks, he will still have health care coverage. For the rest of his life. No questions asked, no forms that would disqualify him or his family.

So tell us again what was wrong with having a public option in the U.S.?

Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/imuttoo/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

Comments

  1. I am Canadian and feel blessed to have universal health care. I have Crohn’s disease and i know if I lived in the U.S. I wouldn’t be able to get the care i need. I have had to go to the hospital many times in the past year because of an on going issue with my Crohn’s and last year I had to get surgery. I didn’t have to pay for a thing and didn’t have to worry about paying for a thing. Like most chronic diseases stress aggrivates it so not having to worry about bills helped my recovery by a lot.
    If I were in the U.S. I would vote yes to universal health care.

  2. Jane Farmer says:

    Unfortutately, I’m afraid the HC bill in the US is not going to pass this time. Before I became disabled, had free employer paid insurance, etc…, I was against the bill. I have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. I spent over $ 2500.00 in medication copays and $468.00 month in cobra payments in 2009. I have seen the light now that I am on the other side of the fence, now if only congress would open their eyes. I live in Texas.

  3. I am also a Texan, who is chronically ill without Health Insurance. It has been horrific! TX Health and Human Services is SO CHEAP! No Medicaid lest you be pregnant! I have Narcolepsy with Catplexy, Fibromyalgia, RA, etc, and I am unable to drive work. The Social Security Disability Determination processes for SSDI and SSI are unacceptably leaving our most vulnerable citizens to a life of poverty and needless suffering.
    Please Sign my Petition!

  4. Jane Farmer says:

    Rachel,
    Social security denied my appeal and now my lawyer says 6-12 months before I can even get a date for a hearing before a judge. That, to me is ridiculous. Have you applied for disability yet? I agree with you, they are pathetic in allowing their own citizens to be without healthcare coverage and living expenses. I don’t know tour circumstances but I’ve worked 2 or 3 jobs for the last 26 years, so I feel like I have contributed and they should pay up. I think the problem is that there are so many fraudulent people that the people who are deserving it because of true illness can’t get it. I never learned how to work the system! Maybe we should get pregnant:) Have a good weekend. Jane

    Hope I’m not too far off topic to be posted.

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