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.