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Nestor_Kelebay 08-10-2009 10:34 AM

Unruly town hall meetings over health care reform
Up here in Canada we get CNN, Fox news and the major US TV networks like ABC, NBC and CBS. Lately they're all reporting that when congressmen have gone back to their constituencies to inform their constituents about health care reform, the town hall meetings have been "spirited".

I really don't know what kind of public health care system the US is gonna end up with, if any, but I can tell you that both Canada and Britain have public health care systems, and neither country has the problems that some people are saying will happen in the US if the government takes over health care.

So, let's talk about some of the concerns, and I'll just tell you what my experience has been with the Canadian health care system.

1. Abortions:
Here in Canada, abortions are NOT done in hospitals funded by the government because it's a sensitive area, but the procedure is covered by our health care system. That's because lots of our citizens are practicing Catholics and don't want to see their tax dollars going to provide abortions to women. So, the compromize solution we have here is that abortions are not done in hospitals unless it's medically necessary, and there are guidelines doctors use to make decisions on what's "medically necessary" or not. There are privately owned abortion clinics in Canada where women can have abortions doen within a certain time period of conceiving, and those private clinics bill the government health care system for their services.

2. Scope
Here in Canada, dental work is not covered under the government health care system. Neither are eye examinations nor eye glasses nor any form of elective plastic surgery nor prescription drugs. There are exceptions to elective plastic surgery if there is a medical reason for the surgery. If a person has a deviated septum (crooked cartlidge) in their nose that interferes with their breathing, then surgery to correct that problem is covered, but what we normally think of as plastic surgery; face lifts, boob jobs, tummy tucks, etc. are not. Generally, physiotherapy is not covered, but if it's physiotherapy prescribed by a doctor to help a patient recover from orthopedic surgery (repairing torn cartlidges and such) that was covered by the health care plan, then the follow up physiotherapy will be covered.

3. "DEATH" Tribunals
It's well known that the amount of health care dollars spent on normal healthy people is the highest in the final few years of their life. Consequently, it would make sense to an accountant to simply deny health care to the elderly in order to save the most amount of money. In Canada, there are no "death tribunals" to decide on whether or not to spend the dollars to save a person's life or not. The decisions on what procedures to do are left ENTIRELY in the hands of the doctors and nurses. I really don't know if our government puts pressure on doctors to influence their decisions or not.
In my own experience, when my 88 year old father was diagnosed with a unsteady heart beat, we took him to a hospital on his doctor's advice, and by the end of the day he had a $15,000 pace maker installed under the skin on his chest. He lived until he was 94, if you can call being not much more than a vegetable in a nursing home "living". I expect that pace maker is still working, but we buried him in February of 2008. It just shows that the focus of our health care system isn't saving money by deciding which old people live and which old people die.

4. Choice of Doctor
You have your choice of doctor here if you want to have a regular doctor you normally see. For example, my sister has had a regular family doctor since she started a family 23 years ago, and her two sons, now 21 and 23 still go to that same doctor if and when they need to. I'm healthy as an ox, and the only time I ever go see a doctor is when I pop in to the emergency entrance of my local hospital for what ever reason. Maybe I'm concerned I'm getting the H1N1 flu, or maybe I sprained my ankle or cut myself pretty bad. In that case, I see whatever doctor they give me. I don't mind that cuz to me they're all the same.

5. Waiting Lists
How long it takes to have an operation here depends largely on how badly you need it. The people that need it the most take priority over those that can wait. There was one story about some Canadian woman that chose to pay $45,000 out of her own pocket for some kind of brain surgery in New York because she believed she would die on the waiting list in Canada. I'm not a doctor, so I can't say whether or not she was justified, but I can assure you that this is not typical of what happens with our system.
I tore a cartlidge in my shoulder several years ago, but I could still work with the shoulder the way it was. I wanted to have it corrected, but it wasn't an emergency. I had to wait about 8 months for the surgery, but once they poked an endoscope into my shoulder joint they found the the cartlidge had healed and that they couldn't stretch it back over the joint, so it never was corrected.
By contrast, when I was knocked over by a truck while riding my bicycle in busy traffic, (the truck driver made a right turn without checking to see what was beside him, and subsequently told the police that he thought he killed me because it felt like his right axle went over a "bump") I woke up in the ambulance and they had me laying on a board all the way to the hospital. Once there, they were super careful not to bend or twist my spine. They asked me to move my fingers, then my toes, then they X-rayed me a few times and did a CT scan on my brain to check for brain swelling and did some more X-rays, and I was out of that hospital with a few bruises, cuts and scrapes within a couple of hours. My sister picked me up to get my bicycle from the fire station where it was taken. So, our system can move quickly where there is the need to.

6. The "Nuisance" Factor
Although our health care system works well on the serious stuff, it's the day-to-day medical needs that tend to rub my fir the wrong way. It seems that because health care is expensive, the hospitals and clinics are doing everything they can to PREVENT people from going to see a doctor. For example, if you don't have a family doctor you can make an appointment to see, you have to do as I do and just pop in to the emergency ward of a hospital or to any health care clinic and just wait to be seen by a doctor.
These places make it as hard for you as possible:
A) You can't make an appointment there. You have to come in and wait. And, sometimes you can bloody well wait all day.
B) You can't give them your cell phone number and ask them to phone you when you're up next. They won't do that cuz they say they're too busy.
C) They seem to intentionally subscribe to magazines that simply aren't interesting. Like, Good Housekeeping, or Chatelaine (a Canadian woman's magazine) or Family Circle. Basically stuff that guys aren't interested in.

Truthfully, I DO believe that they do these things intentionally so that people try to avoid going to the hospital if they can help it. But, truthfully, I do believe that this is as far as they do go in restricting health care. They probably could save more money by limiting the amount of health care afforded to seniors, but I have never experienced any evidence of that.

Also, doctors do make an effort of discouraging drunks from coming to the hospital to get patched up after a fight over who's the better fighter. You often see some of our finest aboriginals in the hospital emergency wards on Friday and Saturday nights, and a lot of the time it's because they're all battered up, (but you should see the other guy). Most of the time the health care workers just check the guy over and then phone the police to escort him out the door. However, there have been instances where native people have died from injuries in hospital waiting rooms because the health care workers didn't attend to them promptly. Sometimes people get internal injuries in these fights but aren't aware that they've been seriously injured, or are too intoxicated to speak coherently and so can't explain what happened to them. What might appear to be someone sleeping it off may be them dying of internal injuries.

So, in summary, you Americans should take the time to find out what your government is proposing, and see how that will affect you. I am happy with my health care system that is run by my Canadian government, but I'm relatively healthy.

What seems to me to be senseless is to go to these town hall meetings, ask a serious question that's on everyone's mind, and then yell and scream at whomever is trying to answer so that no one can hear what they say. That's just stupid.

I say this because it seems to me that private health care in the US is a very lucrative industry, so there's a lot of money at stake here for some people. I'd be concerned that in just the same way that your government lied to you (yes, they did) about prescription drugs from Canada being less safe than US prescription drugs, it's very possible that someone will lie to you about what kind of health care system you're gonna get. That's why you need to go to these town hall meetings and listen instead of yell.

oldognewtrick 08-10-2009 07:19 PM

Nestor, in my opinion I think what we are seeing is frustration with out of control Government spending and an attitude of our elected officials that they know whats better for us than we do. We have a news media that have given a complete pass to anything and everything that the govt wants to implement and I think people are saying enough is enough. I think we are just seeing the beginning of more things to come. I dont think the only issue is a nationalized health care system.

We are borrowing about 46 cents for every dollar we spend on entitlement programs. They have to either print it or tax it, inflation is the ugly monster thats ready to come crashing through the door. Buckle your seat belts folks.

majakdragon 08-11-2009 01:08 PM

Nothing is going to change by disrupting these meetings. I do believe that some of the attendees are paid to interupt and cause chaos. Writing to a Congressman or Senator gets more results than acting crazy in public. What is happening now is private meetings with selected people attending. All the disruption has caused is not being able to find out what is being done. I guess some people feel better being uninformed. I am not for or against the plan since it has not come to a final description.

homefish 08-12-2009 10:37 AM

This article is interesting read about who is providing the info that peopel are using.
Daily Kos: State of the Nation

Also, I think that the fanatics who are disrupting the meetings will soon have the opposite effect than what they desire. I know that there are fanatics on both sides, but these are giving themselves a poor image.

Nestor_Kelebay 08-13-2009 01:10 AM

What might be annoying to a lot of Americans is that whenever any government program is paid for by tax money, we always have the same thing happening. That is, most of the funding is coming from taxing the people that are working and earning a good living, but much of the benefit is going to those people who aren't working and aren't pulling their own weight (because there's just so darn many of the buggar$). In my business, I wish I had a nickle for every 17 year old girl wanting to rent a 2 bedroom apartment for her and her baby and she's telling me I don't have to worry about her not paying the rent (cuz she isn't working), because the government is gonna pay for it all. I wish I had a nickle for every bum, tramp or hobo that comes looking for a 1 bedroom apartment or bachelor's suite because they're tearing down the derilict hotel he's been living in for the past 20 years on welfare.

Every person in society needs to pull their own weight in order to make for a prosperous and just society. But, having some people live their lives in a state of perpetual intoxication and rely on government programs to keep them housed, clothed and fed is the very definition of an unjust society.

Governments get their money WHERE THEY CAN, and on a municipal level that means you use your police to raise money. No, not by having a bake sale or by police officers raising money by walking a marathon, but by going out and ticketing people for any infraction that will draw a fine, like overstaying one's welcome at a parking meter, going faster than the posted speed limit, not signalling before turning, not wearing a seat belt and of course, the perrenial favorite, not coming to a complete and full stop. That is, you raise money by cracking down on law abiding citizens because, well, anyone driving a car can afford to pay a fine, right? And, the alternative is absurd. Fining the poor is like trying to staple Jello to a tree.

So, just like every other government program, the rich provide for the poor by paying higher taxes, and that's what's going to happen with any public health care plan you guys adopt. But, that's just nothing new. I'm not saying anything you guys didn't already expect was gonna happen with any government administered plan like public health care. In the eyes of the law and your constitution, we're all equal. But in the eyes of the politician and the tax man, we're really not.

Obama says: "If you want your private health care plan, you can keep your private health care plan." But, is he saying that you can opt out of helping to fund the public health care plan through your taxes as well? I didn't hear him make that clear. So, I interpret that as saying that you can keep your private health care plan, but you'll still be helping to fund the public plan through your increased taxes. You'd be a fool not to switch to the government's public health care plan in that case because you'd be paying for something you're not getting. That's something people should be finding out about.

I'm not saying public health care is a bad thing, I'm saying that just like every other government run program, you can expect that the rich will pay for the poor, and so you gotta look at it as yet another form of welfare. But, it's a form of welfare that everyone benefits from. It's not like you paying your taxes and having the government take that money and give it away to some banana republic as "foreign aid". There's enough need for that money to provide "domestic aid" right in your own country.

shan2themax 08-14-2009 03:43 PM

I must say that as a healthcare worker, it is frustrating to see people coming in and 3/4 of their foot is in the coffin, and why are they coming in like that? They didnt have health insurance or the deductible is too high.
So now that they have been diabetic for lets say 10 years and it hasnt been treated at all because they didnt go to the dr. and were unaware of the signs and symptoms of diabetes, you assess them and find out that that black foot was not like that a few months ago, I stepped on something and it just keeps getting worse.......

So, now we have a situation where a body part needs to be removed, they still have no healthcare, and now they would have a hard time finding an insurance company to insure them because now they not only have a preexisting condition, they are teetering on death. (which is expensive).... back to the assessment: You have found a rotting foot, cant feel any pulses on the feet, cant hear them on the doppler, cant find a vein for an IV, adn while you are talking to the patient you find that they havent peed in a week....... so, now we are talking, a foot needs to come off (after it is debrided) because we are going to take you to Interventional Radiology and put a catheter in your body and check out your arteries to your legs and put in stents, while you are down there and before we do anything, were going to put a PICC line in (peripherally inserted central catheter) because your veins are ruined from your undiagnosed diabetes. And, since your kidneys arent working and weare going to put a vascath in before you go to IR so we can do dialysis after we have done the stents, because we use dye that is hard on your kidneys and they are no longer functioning...... and yeah, I forgot about that wonderful stuff called mucomyst that you will ahve to drink prior to and after the procedure for stenting to help protect your kidnes.....

ok, I am done..... the moral of the story is.... If we had had universal healthcare of some sort and this person had gone to the Dr. this situation could have been postponed for 30 years or just never taken place at all......

Kudos Nester on allowing us to know what it is like in Canada... I hope we do something useful here, I am just not sure what the answer is.....

oldognewtrick 08-14-2009 06:25 PM

shan, thank-you for your service in the medical field, my mother was an oncology nurse and I remember her telling stories about the state some people get to, thanks again.

majakdragon hit the nail on the head that the outbursts we are seeing are not doing the cause of dissent any good. There is a more effective way to promote the view of reforming health care, and I really do believe the health care system needs an overhaul, not the national, one payer system being force feed to us at this point. The plan before congress does not address torte reform, ability to form groups to reduce exposure or not removing illegal immigrants access to free health care. These alone would greatly reduce costs. There is nothing in the Constitution that guaranties the RIGHT to health care. Its another entitlement program. What happened to personal responsibility? Why do we rely on the GOVT to provide everything?

I really do admire those in the silent majority for finally getting off our fat butts and speaking their opinions. Seems to be scaring some who just thought we would roll over on yet another trillion dollar spending program.

dennisprange 08-14-2009 09:49 PM

ditto olddog
Ditto, about personal responsibility, the illegals,etc. what about all the foreigners in prisons around the country. I know in California, they make up a huge %. One of the reasons health care is so expensive is that when "someone else" is paying no one asks about the price, so everything goes through the roof because of greed in the name of covering all bases (covering their backside). The courts who allow the absurd law suites is another huge unnecessary cost because it makes the malpractice insurance 10 times as much as in other countrys. Will stop now as I can't figure out the spell check function.

Nestor_Kelebay 08-14-2009 10:30 PM

You've got a point there, Dennis.

In order to make health care more affordable, we could place a limit on monies awarded for medical misdiagnosis lawsuits, and pain and suffering. As long as the legal profession is allowed to expect perfection from the medical profession, malpractice insurance is always going to keep medical services expensive.

Truth be known, I'd like to see alcohol banned in North America. I'd sooner see people high on pot than drunk on alcohol. Alcohol takes away a person's sense of judgement, so people will say and do things when they're drunk they wouldn't say or do when they're sober. And, it's that poor judgement that leads to fights, wife abuse, family violence, and so many of the social problems in society. In my view, short of certain drugs, alcohol is the greatest burden on our society. People act silly when they're stoned, but they behave irresponsibly when they're drunk, and that's the greater evil. People might not like muslims here in North America after 9/11, but I believe the absence of alcohol in muslim countries is what keeps their crime rates so low.

Beyond that, I'd also like to see organ donation become "non-voluntary". If organs could be harvested from every young and healthy person who died accidentally or by violence, then there would be no waiting list for hearts and livers and kidneys. Very few people would be in a position that they'd have to donate one kidney to save a relative because the availability of human organs would be very much increased. I don't consider that any person that no longer needs their organs has the "right" to deny them to someone else who does.

Also, I don't believe it's reasonable to allow parents to refuse medical care to their children on religious grounds. If a 10 year old needs a blood transfusion (which is against the religious beliefs of some groups), then it should be done with or without the parent's consent to save the life of the child. Once the child becomes an adult and is legally responsible for his own decisions, then he/she can refuse medical procedures that would save his/her life. But, children naturally want to please their parents, even to the extent of sacrificing their own lives, and I think that is totally wrong. Any parent that would prefer to see their child die than violate their religion has got things upside down and bass ackwards in my books. The First Commandment of Mother Nature is to strive to survive. Once you're strong and healthy, then you can practice whatever religion you want.

(I can't help thinking that the entire practice of seeking solutions to modern problems in ancient writings is somehow inherantly flawed. Going back a few millenia in time doesn't move you any closer to an eternal God.)

If we do some of these "controversial" changes, then we could have an affordable health care system without long waiting lists and without people's religious and personal beliefs getting in the way of other people's effective health care. People might not like these changes, especially organ donation being non-voluntary, but it simply makes sense from a medical perspective, if not necessarily from a moral one.

dennisprange 08-15-2009 02:31 PM

manditory organ donation; mmm. Very intresting; would that stop the attempts to produce little babies in order to harvest their organs for other more productive or important persons? I think that once a person dies it is just matter so why not use what can be used? The real person has left the building.

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