thatmom

real encouragement for real homeschooling moms

trying to keep a sense of healthcare humor this week

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16 Comments»

  Melanie wrote @

This was humerous, but I am wondering why conservative Americans are so fearful of a universal health care system?
I recently experienced the American medical system when my daughter had to be hospitalized while on vacation in Florida (Praise God we had travel insurance!!!!) and am appalled, to say the least, by how it functions. The standard of care was no better than ours in Canada and in fact, care for our daughter was unnecessarily delayed because the American medical industry is about making money on one side and avoiding lawsuits on the other. What a tragedy and how shameful that a nation such as yours has made a business out of people’s health!
Videos like this are nothing but fear mongering propaganda from those who stand to loose – namely insurance companies and ! Seriously, there are good reasons Canadians like myself, the British, French and Italians all vehemently defend their universal health care systems!

  thatmom wrote @

Melanie, it was interesting to get your take on our system and to see you compare it to your own. I don’t know much about Canadian health care.

I do know that President Obama’s health care initiative is being promoted in such a way that to oppose it makes you appear to be uncaring, unpatriotic, and not willing to sacrifice for the good of all. (The parody of this film certainly makes that point!) Health care is also being called a “right,” though, interestingly enough, the right to life is not considered a right with this administration.

The truth is, as the details of his plan are coming out this week, each day brings more concerns for those who are expected to foot the bill. Small businesses will be hit the hardest, resulting in loss of jobs. Business owners will be expected to provide medical coverage for their employees or face a fine.

I don’t know if you spent time in an emergency room when your daughter was ill in Florida, but many Medicaid patients use the emergency room as their doctor’s office, going in for the most minor things, compromising the care of those with real medical needs. Once people don’t have to pay out of pocket for things, they tend to abuse the system and seek medical attention for things the rest of us would treat over the counter. We already see this now and it will only be a larger problem once everyone can participate.

I imagine that those of us who live in rural areas will fare better but I’m not sure. Some doctors in my small down already aren’t taking new patients because we have the largest percentage of welfare recipients in our county than any other county in the state of Illinois outside of Cook County.

I also look at the way other areas of life are compromised when the government gets their hands on it. I think the public education system is a good example of this. The more far removed the schools are from local control, the more problems there are.

How exactly does your health care system work? What sort of taxes do you pay and what percentage of them go toward health care? Do people have the option to pay out of pocket?

As I have been reading about President Obama’s plan, I was reminded of this quote by Winston Churchill: “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”

  Melanie wrote @

Karen, I don’t know much about what Obama is is proposing but it doesn’t sound like it would mirror our system or others like ours if small business’s are going to be required to provide coverage for employees. It sounds like it just shifting the expense from one pocket to another but maintaining the status quo in how the system fundamentally operates.
To answer you questions, our tax system is based on income brackets: at the bottom end of the bracket it is 15% and at the top end (120,000+) it is capped at 29%. The first 10,000 of earnings are tax. From what I understand that is pretty comparable to yours? About 10% of the Canadian GDP goes toward health care, with 17% of that going toward administrative costs. We receive 100% medical coverage for 100% of our citizens and permanent residents. What is not covered are prescriptions, dental care, eye exams for those over 18, and alternative medicine like chiropractic and homeophathy.
(It should also be noted that while a portion of my taxes go towards the public school system, as a home-schooler I receive $1000 per child per year to purchase curriculum of my choosing. All families receive $1200 per year per child under 5 to go towards child care or to allow a parent to stay home, plus depending on your annual income another percentage in family allowance, so I get on average $6000 per year back just because I have kids! This is cash in my pocket, not a deductible. But I digress…)
It is my understanding that the average premium for health insurance for an American family is between 10 to 12,000 annually. I used to pay $500 per year for extended medical services like the ones I listed above. Also our travel insurance, for two weeks coverage was $50 for the whole family and we had 100% of the $12,000 bill paid and what we paid out of pocket was refunded.)
The only “service” otherwise provided in our health care system that a Canadian has the option of paying out of pocket for is an abortion. There is so much I could say about this situation, but suffice it to say our abortion rate is no higher than the American rate because a woman can get one here for free. There are a few reasons for this I won’t get into now, but suffice it to say it makes me very angry that my tax dollars fund abortions.
On that note, I agree with you that it makes no sense to deny the right to life for an unborn baby while making access to health care a “right”. BUT I think BOTH ought to be rights esteemed by any healthy society. Just as, while we choose to home-school and take primary responsibility for our children’s education, there is a place for public education, ensuring all children receive one. And just as we don’t want child welfare telling us how to parent, there is a place for them to protect children from abuse. Making sacrifices for the health and welfare of the community as a whole does not automatically translate into a socialistic ideal any more than having a judicial system makes for a socialistic society. I think the statement you quoted could just as easily be applied to capitalism. Right now, the US is experiencing the worst of capitalism. I think you need elements of both systems. Ultimately we need Christ.
I’ll be honest, I think to oppose reforming your health care system is uncaring. Obama’s solutions may be problematic, but he is pointing out a very real problem that needs to be addressed and changed.
We did visit the ER. With two kids. A couple major differences upon entering: we saw a reception clerk and than another clerk who took our insurance information. Then we waited 30 minutes before seeing a triage nurse. From there we waited over an hour to see a Dr. (This was after having two ER Dr.’s at another hospital and the pediatrician we saw for a second opinion refuse to treat our daughter for liability reasons – despite the fact that we have NO history of suing anyone and offering to sign liability wavers.)
The other difference we noted, aside from the filthiness of the waiting room at what is one of the top ten children’s hospitals in the US, was that it was crowded. You noted this problem.
When we visit the ER here we see a triage nurse first and then an admitting clerk. From there, depending on the severity of your case you may get a bed right away or have to wait. The longest I’ve personally had to wait was 3 hours and that was for something that realistically I should have just waiting until morning to see my Dr. about.
I live in a smaller city, so often Dr.’s will phone the Children’s Hospital for advice and then act on it. There is no fear of being sued for malpractice and needlessly sending patients there for fear colleagues will testify against them.
Crowding in ER’s is not a huge problem here. On weekends and holidays it can get pretty busy but there are a few things that help prevent that. One is that because we don’t have to pay to see a family Dr. those who have one can see their Dr. If they don’t have a regular physician, most communities have walk-in clinics and after hours clinics so one doesn’t have to go to the ER. In my province we have a 24 hour nurse-line, so I can call a nurse to find out what I should do and if a visit to the ER is warranted. Our local ER has a fast track service where patients are redirected to another area of the hospital for care. They handle less urgent cases keeping the ER free for more urgent ones.
Another difference we noted was that because of the risk of being sued, Drs. treat based on the worst case scenario rather than what they are actually observing in a patient, meaning patients are subjected to far more costly and invasive procedures than is necessary. In my daughters case it was recommended that the abscessed lymph node she was hospitalized for be surgically drained and requiring an additional 2 to 3 days in hospital. We chose to take her home to Canada once she was in stable condition and refused the surgery. Upon arriving home, she saw an ENT in the ER who gave us 3 choices: surgically draining while 1. anesthetized OR 2. sedated OR he could freeze the area locally and drain it right there in the ER and we could be on our way in less that an hour. The first two options would require us waiting an hour or two for and OR plus and additional 2 to 3 hours in recovery before going home. We were given NO choices in Miami and why did the surgery require and additional 3 days of hospitalization? My only guess is profit for the hospital on one side and liability on the other.
Because of the nature of health care here we are healthier which eases the demand on hospitals – especially when it comes to the elderly and children.
Here is a good overview comparing the Canadian and American systems:
http://www.bspcn.com/2009/06/27/debunking-canadian-health-care-myths/
In all, there are some major differences in Canadian and American ideologies that make a discussion of this sort difficult. American culture is a culture of fear. The government tells you to fear terrorists and conservatives tell you to fear the government. Both sides peddle A LOT of propaganda inciting fear among their people. Much like the video you posted.
Here, we don’t worry about mind control, most people are concerned about the fiscal bottom line and maintaining freedom of speech. The federal budget and how the money will be spent determines how a person votes here, not political ideologies, religion, etc…

  TulipGirl wrote @

And, another perspective from another Canadian, homeschooling mom. . .

http://parentingfreedom.com/2009/07/14/i-am-canadian-i-know-about-socialized-medical-care/

The current system in the US is messed up. But ObamaCare is NOT the answer. Gov’t directed health care is going to make things more cumbersome, less efficient, less available. . .

  TulipGirl wrote @

Btw. . . we’ve been blessed to both have fabulous health insurance and no health insurance.

The important thing to remember is that health insurance is NOT the same thing as quality health care. We had great health care when we paid out of pocket. We’ve had great health care when we had our fab insurance. And, we’ve also had lousy care.

We didn’t go without CARE when we haven’t had insurance. . . Certainly did think twice before going in to see the doctor, that’s for sure.

When people get all up in arms about people who don’t have health insurance, they make the illogical leap to these same people having no health CARE. And that’s just not the case.

  thatmom wrote @

Melanie, thanks for posting your experience with Canadian healthcare.

I wholeheartedly agree that our health care system needs to be improved but the solution certainly is not the plans that the Obama administration are trying to push on the American people.

TG, you make the exact point….it is wrong to assume that no insurance equals no health care. As with everything else, we choose how we will spend our money. (Except when the government has confiscated it first!)

This is a new phenomenon that has shown itself in this generation. My grandparents who were hard working and frugal would never have assumed they had a right to things many people today think ought to be standard for everyone.

  Melanie wrote @

Here’s the bottom line: should a person’s health be a commodity and patients made consumers?
There are people, no matter how frugal who cannot afford huge insurance fees and are not blessed with employers who pay a portion of those fees. They are left with the option of paying out of pocket for services, with minimal and marginalized care (I understand they cannot be refused care, but $$$ determines quality).
Socioeconomic position should not be the determining factor in who gets QUALITY care any more than race should determine where one goes to school. Not all poor people are poor because of laziness and lack of frugality.
When we were in the ER in Miami, it was disheartening to see a 15 YO boy in no pain, with what may have been a twisted ankle get wheeled right in to see a DR. without waiting while there was a crowded waiting room full of very sick babies, many continually vomiting. Oh, no they aren’t being “denied” care but $$$ and level of insurance sure talks louder than actual NEED for care. And as Christians you are OK with that kind of situation? Would you really look the mothers of those babies in the face and say “you should budget better and work harder” then maybe you can be treated better by the medical system? I’m not comfortable with that.

  TulipGirl wrote @

“. . .Socioeconomic position should not be the determining factor in who gets QUALITY care. . .”

I agree. And as the way medical care in the US has operated when the gov’t becomes involved, the quality goes down in direct proportion to the amount of gov’t involvement.

One small example. . . A friend was on the phone for over an hour last Friday with Florida KidCare (a state subsidized health insurance program.) She’s been trying to enroll her son in this program for nearly 6 months, done all the paperwork right, paid the premium in advance as it is supposed to expedite the paperwork, and still isn’t enrolled. She’s pursued it several times. And now her son is ill and the gov’t subsidized health insurance still isn’t in effect. Inefficiency, waste, bureaucracy, frustration. There is no reason for US citizens to believe that a federal plan would be any better.

When she’s taken her son to the Health Dep’t (again, gov’t subsidized), the pediatrician she sees is great. Someone who really cares. But everyone else she deals with there — nurses, staff, assistants — treat her like crud.

Again, you’ll find individuals within the system who are great, in spite of the system. But expanding to a federally run program for health care? The system as it is now will only get worse.

I don’t disagree that the health care system is broken. But a federal health care system is not the way to raise quality of care in the US.

  keebler wrote @

A few issues are brought up here. One is medical malpractice. Yes, doctors do “unnecessary” tests because of fear of lawsuits. Because there is no cap on awards or “loser pay” it is really a system that encourages lawsuits whenever there is a bad outcome, regardless of whether the doctor did the right thing or not. (Familial experience many times with this.) The lawsuits will often forgo the people directly responsible for the error because they don’t have “deep pockets” and will go for those perceived to have the money.

Second: my father has been in medicine a very long time and has noted at many of his medical meetings the number of Canadian doctors who are ready to come to the US because of frustration with the way things work in Canada. If we go to socialized medicine here, then the trickle down effect of loss of doctors will compound the problem. Why would you want to go to medical school and come out $100,000 in debt just to be paid such a little amount that you can barely pay back that debt? That is a normal occurrence even now. That is also why so few doctors go into family practice and instead go for the higher paid specialties. When I hear about a lawyer intern being paid $3000 a week as compared with a medical resident being paid maybe $30,000 a year, (20 years ago, my husband made $18,000 a year for about 110 hours per week) it makes sense that someone would be more willing to go to law school than medical school.

Another anecdote: My husband used to deliver babies, but the malpractice insurance cost overran the reimbursement. It was as if he was paying to deliver the baby. He was getting less per nine months of care per delivery than a lay midwife had been twelve years earlier. Needless to say, their practice dropped deliveries though he would have liked to continue. That reduced the choice for local patients. This was government reimbursements – socialized medicine. And how does the proposed care plan to save money? Reduce reimbursements to doctors and hospitals.

My husband spent four years in the military with what should be the best in socialized medicine. He hated it. It is terribly inefficient and the system works very slowly. A good day had a doctor seeing 15 patients a day from 9-12 and then 1-4. There was no incentive to work any harder when they were paid the same amount no matter what. When he had found a medicine that worked for a patient, the formulary would change and he would have to have the patient back several more times to get the new drug adjusted to work, just to have the formulary change again. He had patients who had to wait for six months for a necessary procedure because there weren’t enough doctors in the military doing the procedure. In the meantime, these patients had to suffer. I think that is called rationing.

Back to government reimbursements. Medicare and Medicaid people are having a harder time finding doctors. Why? The reimbursements are so low that they cost the office money to see. There are some practices that will not accept any Medicare and Medicaid, and there are some that limit the number so that their practice can be profitable. Without profit, they cannot pay their employees, the malpractice fees, the professional fees, the electricity, the rent, the EMR company, the equipment company and all the rest of the costs of running a business.

It is quite frankly scary to think that lawyers are going to be in charge of medicine and to know that there are very few of the lawmakers listening to doctors as they make these new laws. It is bad enough for my husband to have to talk to a person with a high school degree at best at the insurance companyt trying to tell them that the test or procedure is necessary, but there will be many more people like this making medical decisions with no training. It may take awhile for the disasters to show up, but it will be unrecoverable when they do. The only thing I can do is remind myself that God is in charge of all things and that he will sustain us through it all.

  Melanie wrote @

The picture is certainly getting clearer and I am beginning to see why the hesitation to see a broadened Medicare program.
When in the Miami ER my daughter was seen by a Dr. from France. We asked why he chose to practice in Florida when France has one of the best health care systems in the world.
His response was that it may be good for the patient, but not the Dr. He was there for the money. It is true, Dr.’s can make A LOT of money in the US but I’d venture to say that the Doc’s in Canada who are tempted to work in the US would find much, much, much more bureaucracy there than at home. The payoff may be worth it though, as the French Dr. found.
Canada’s system is not a “true” socialized system in that while the government pays, they don’t make decisions on who qualifies for what. EVERY permanent resident qualifies for care, no matter what.
Doctors decide what treatments are necessary and are free to act accordingly; the only limitation is that yes, we do have longer wait times than one would experience in a capitalistic system. It is a small price to pay and it is non-urgent cases that wait. I had to see an ENT recently and waited 6 weeks. But that is not because of government caps it is because there are only 2 ENTs in a very large, and mostly rural region and they travel up to 800kms away to see patients and my case is minor. As in the US, we have the same problems trying to get physicians and specialists to practice in smaller and more rural communities.
On the flip side, my son waited a week to see an asthma and allergy specialist. Anyways, it is the Dr. who decides what’s urgent, not the government or insurance companies.
If the US would go towards a single-payer system I don’t think you would have a hard time retaining Dr.s nor would you necessarily lose Dr.s. The US is the only nation where Dr.s can get rich – where would they go to make more? There is nowhere else to go.
Here a Dr. earns between 2 – 300, 000. A department head employed by a hospital can earn 700,000 or more. All doctors are considered self-employed and are paid per service, so can work more to earn more. Many go into a joint practice to save on overhead costs, plus they don’t have the high liability insurance costs that American doctors do. Canadians just don’t sue the way Americans do – we tend to take personally responsibility to heart (ironic, I know, since we see health care as a right). For example, we insure our van for 100,000 liability but when traveling to the states we bump up our coverage to 1m.
Anyways, sounds like there are no simple solutions, especially in a system where there is a deep distrust of government, huge profits to be made by doctors, hospitals and insurance companies and lawyers who encourage people to sue at every turn driving costs up all around.
In all, I am very grateful for what we have here.

  thatmom wrote @

Keebler, thanks for that perspective.

I had forgotten about the frustrations we experienced when my husband was in the army and we had to take the healthcare available to us.

When I was expecting our second child, we were stationed at a post in Germany where I had two choice…to either fly by helicopter to a military base 4 hours away when the time came or to deliver in the German hospital in our small town with the local doctor. I opted for the local doctor and was pleased with our experience. A couple months after the delivery, I experienced hemorrhaging and went into the post clinic several times, being told nothing was wrong with me by these young doctors who had little to no experience with gyn issues. Finally, I happened to be in the clinic on a day when one of the local German doctors was there and she immediately ordered blood work which showed that I was severely anemic and she sent me immediately to the doctor who had delivered me. He put me in the hospital and did a D and C, which solved the whole problem.

I remember feeling like these military doctors were so used to seeing women for all sorts of simple things that when it came to something that could have been life threatening, they blew it off. That was my experience with government-run medicine.

  thatmom wrote @

“The only thing I can do is remind myself that God is in charge of all things and that he will sustain us through it all.”

This is exactly right.

And in our local newspaper yesterday I read an article about the needs sharing ministries and how they will be forced to close when this new system is put into place. So these laws will also infringe on religious beliefs and convictions as well, not to mention the use of our tax dollars to determine who will get the treatment, ie which persons are deemed worthy of it!

  Anthea wrote @

Karen, it’s sort of odd to see such a heated debate on this, but Melanie is right about a system being a good fit for the culture. President Obama can’t make you accept something you don’t want and that does not suit the American mindset.

The National Health Service was created in 1945. The British people had endured so much and given so much during WW 2 that the post-war government wanted to reward its people with a renovated and renewed nation. We were bombed out, still living on rations, families torn apart by evacuation and bereavement on a massive scale. Even today, people will talk of how that generation deserves a return on its sacrifice. The local General Practitioner is a small businessman who runs his practice on behalf of the government. So it’s not the communistic bogeyman that some would have you believe. But it works for us because it’s ours. The British are very patriotic about the NHS.

It’s not as good as it was, and every now and again there will be a debate about how to reform the NHS. Everyone will have a good old British moan about what’s wrong with it: can’t get the drugs/treatment we want without a wait; old hospitals; not enough nurses;snooty doctors,;too much spent on the obese/smokers/malingerers; mixed wards; elderly not getting good care; long waits at Accident and Emergency. This will go on for half and hour or so, and then someone will pipe up with,”Well, we’ve got our problems, but at least it’s not like America.” “Ooh, yes, at least here you can get treated without showing your credit card.” Everyone’s got story about some relative who was asked for their money before anyone would help them. But we can’t really have a proper grasp of your system if we are not part of the culture.

  Savannah wrote @

Anthea, your anecdote about people moaning and groaning about healthcare, but then coming around every time to “Well, at least we’re not like America” kind of says it all for me.

I am a Christian, considered conservative by many, and liberal by a few, but either way, I support this president’s goal to overhaul health care in this country. Just because all of the conservative/Christian talking points are against Obama, it should not be assumed that he does not have the support of many, many Christians in this area.

  Melanie wrote @

This may be of interest, regarding an American ad campaign featuring Canadian Shona Holmes claiming she would have died if not for the treatment she received in the US:
http://www.straight.com/article-244124/shona-holmes-joins-great-american-healthcare-debate

  Savannah wrote @

I quickly forwarded the link to my dear friend, a Canadian physician who is currently on a missions trip to South America. When I first became aware of this woman through a television commercial, Shona Holmes, I emailed my concern to my doctor-friend. She told me that she wasn’t personally aware of the person (nor did I expect her to be), but it would be her guess that IF she did have a brain tumor, that it would not be of the life-threatening variety, because her whole “story” just didn’t ring true to my friend, who has been a physician in Canada for more than 15 years. She explained to me how there can be many different kinds of lesions on or in the brain, and some are devastating, and some are innocuous. She was guessing this lady’s was in the latter category.


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