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Old 16 July 2009, 09:15 PM
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Canada Debunking Canadian health care myths

As America comes to grips with the reality that changes are desperately needed within its health care infrastructure, it might prove useful to first debunk some myths about the Canadian system:

http://www.denverpost.com/recommended/ci_12523427
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  #2  
Old 17 July 2009, 01:05 AM
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That is one of the clearest comparisons of the two systems that I have read. She has chosen some of the most prevalent myths and debunked them thoroughly. This is one of the few articles that really hope will become a viral email that gets forwarded all over the net. Not that that's likely to happen, but I can always hope.

I heard an amusing story today about the mom of young american actor, who came to Vancouver to film. The mom thought that many common medications weren't available in Canada, so she brought a mobile mini-pharmacy with her, just in case.
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Old 17 July 2009, 01:11 AM
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That was a really good article. I can vouch for the accuracy of its figures, too (at least as much as a non-economist can vouch), since I just finished sending a long message on health care to a relative, and had to look up and calculate numbers of uninsured in the US, relative percentages of GDP, and so on.

I will send this article to my friends and relatives. In addition to appearing well-researched, it's well-written and easy to understand. Thanks, Snopes!
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Old 17 July 2009, 01:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Magpye View Post
In addition to appearing well-researched, it's well-written and easy to understand.
Hah! So its clearly chock-full of teh librul lies.

That's how they trap you, you know, with those nasty facts and well considered arguments.

Dropbear

Last edited by Dropbear; 17 July 2009 at 01:32 AM.
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Old 17 July 2009, 01:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Dropbear View Post
Hah! So its clearly chock-full of teh librul lies.

That's how they trap you, you know, with those nasty facts and well considered aruments.
It's well known that reality has a liberal bias.

[/tongue in cheek]
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  #6  
Old 22 July 2009, 06:12 PM
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I found the first line interesting: "After living in the US for the last 17 years..."

I can say from personal experience that some of her debunking of myths is outdated.

Comparison of taxes: The benefits and allowances mentioned do not apply to all Canadians. I get no family allowance or tax credits. I paid for my higher education years ago, about the time the author began living in the States. From what I hear from my brother who graduated from a Technical College for aviation mechanic, fees are much higher than they used to be. The author quotes that average after tax income is 82% of gross pay, compared to the US 81.9%. No way. I take home about 68% of my gross pay, my best friend is an accountant for Revenue Canada, and says that my after tax income is average for my income level.

Waiting for care: It's true emergency care is no wait. Define reasonable wait for a specialist...7 months to be diagnosed with lymphatic cancer for a neighbour, and that was mostly just to get an appointment to see him, seems unreasonable to me. Another friend had a 2 year wait for a hip replacement, and was eating painkillers like candy before getting the surgery.
Maybe the author considers that as a longer wait for an elective surgery.
Funny though, that athletes, politicians and such, if they don't get treatment in the States, get treatment in days, instead of months for the average Canadian.

Canadians paying their own way to the US for medical care: The author seems to deny this happens, saying the medical service covers the costs, quote "fully funds your care". That is, the author says if the treatment is necessary, not elective, and due to lack of high tech equipment, or longer than prudent wait times. My uncle had a heart attack in California. I would say that is non-elective, and medically required treatment. He was covered for $200 a day in hospital. He had my aunt drive him back to Canada in their RV because they couldn't afford the hospital costs, which were more like $800 a day than $200.

There aren't enough doctors in Canada: There aren't. The author says there are enough doctors statistically speaking in Canada, but most live in urban areas, leaving rural areas with shortages. That's logical. However, over 4 million Canadians don't have a family doctor http://www.healthzone.ca/health/news...rs-report-card, and specialists are in short supply. There is a demonstrable shortage of hospital beds, with a report of a woman in Toronto for example, waiting 32 hours in emergency before getting an in-patient bed. That's more a shortage of hospital beds than doctors.

It seems for every report defending the Canadian medical system, there's one (or more) decrying the system. I have had access to medical services in both the States and Canada, and in my experience, the US system is better than Canada if you have insurance coverage. As far as costs go, from what I have been quoted living in a similar geographical region in the US compared to where I live in Canada, the insurance in the US would be cheaper than what I pay now for "free" medical.
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Old 06 August 2009, 08:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rswarrior View Post
As far as costs go, from what I have been quoted living in a similar geographical region in the US compared to where I live in Canada, the insurance in the US would be cheaper than what I pay now for "free" medical.
Between federal, state, local and FICA taxes, and my employee sponsored health insurance, my take home pay is 75 percent of my gross. But the insurance is not figured as a percentage, it's a flat rate every 2 weeks -- so someone with a much higher gross than me would have a lower percentage taken away.
My insurance is not the best, I have a $50 co-pay and a $1500 a year deductable. It does not cover vision, dental or prescription, which which are available seperately for various price ranges.
I could have gotten a lower co-pay and deductable of course, but the increase in cost would have made it a choice between insurance or groceries.
If I have to see a specialist, I need to be refered by my primary care doctor or else it is not covered.
If I go to the ER (unless I've been in an accident involving police and municipal ambulance), I have to have a referal or it is not covered.
If I want to see the GYN who I've been seeing for the past 15 years, I have to pay for it, because he's not part of my "network".

Not me, but a friend of mine, with employee sponsored health insurance from the county -- a stoke survivor woke one morning and could not walk. Had 2 choices -- pay for the ambo and the emergency room, or wait 3 weeks to see her doctor for a referal.

So I really don't see how it can be any cheaper to get "private" insurance than it is to pay for better coverage (or at least equal coverage) in taxes.
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  #8  
Old 11 August 2009, 03:27 AM
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Canada A Canadian doctor diagnoses U.S. healthcare

The caricature of 'socialized medicine' is used by corporate interests to confuse Americans and maintain their bottom lines instead of patients' health.

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/...0,538126.story
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Old 11 August 2009, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Judecat View Post
Between federal, state, local and FICA taxes, and my employee sponsored health insurance, my take home pay is 75 percent of my gross. But the insurance is not figured as a percentage, it's a flat rate every 2 weeks -- so someone with a much higher gross than me would have a lower percentage taken away.
as a comparison, (as they like to say our taxes are so much higher..) my net take home pay is roughly 72% of my gross. Deductions include dental coverage, Life insurance, Prescription coverage, (life insurance is the biggie) plus EI, Canada Pension Plan, etc...

(side note, this is only for about the first 2/3rds of the year at my salary as EI and CPP will be coming off shortly as I approach the maximum yearly contributions, after which my take-home pay will be closer to 80%.
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  #10  
Old 29 August 2009, 05:22 PM
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Canada The truth about Canadian health care

Congress might not endorse a universal health care system this fall, for a whole host of reasons. But it is shocking and even a little tragic to think that uninsured Americans might be bullied out of access to basic medical care via nonsensical rumor-mongering about how the rest of the West tends to their citizens.

http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2009/...alth-care.html
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  #11  
Old 29 August 2009, 06:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rswarrior View Post
I can say from personal experience that some of her debunking of myths is outdated.
A tactful summing up in an excellent post.

There are pluses and minuses to most national health systems, and Canada is no exception. The OP article substitutes anti-Canada myths with a few that are pro-Canada.

To start where the article starts -- taxes -- you need to look at the all the types of taxes, including value added/sales. When you do, you find that Canada's tax burden is intermediate between the US and Western Europe.

There is no free lunch. In the US, we pay less in taxes and get less from government. Canadians pay a medium amount of taxes and get a medium amount of government services.
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  #12  
Old 29 August 2009, 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve Eisenberg View Post
There is no free lunch. In the US, we pay less in taxes and get less from government. Canadians pay a medium amount of taxes and get a medium amount of government services.
For an additional 5% of GDP, I think Canada's getting a far better deal.

Especially when they can cover everyone for $2,998 per person, where the US spends $5,711 per person (cite) and still doesn't cover 18% of their under 65 population (cite).
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Old 29 August 2009, 06:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Eisenberg View Post
There is no free lunch. In the US, we pay less in taxes and get less from government. Canadians pay a medium amount of taxes and get a medium amount of government services.
But that broad summarization doesn't take into account the fact that many Americans pay taxes plus the cost of private health insurance and still receive fewer (covered) medical services than Canadians.
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Old 29 August 2009, 10:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Eisenberg View Post
There is no free lunch. In the US, we pay less in taxes and get less from government. Canadians pay a medium amount of taxes and get a medium amount of government services.
I don't think too many people have said otherwise -- not even the OP.

In reality, the only people I've ever heard use the phrase "There is no free lunch" are people trying to decry the socialized health care model using what I think is a strawman. While we don't pay much (if anything) per hospital visit, we pay higher taxes. That is very true.

That is not the same thing as saying we don't pay anything at all.
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Old 29 August 2009, 11:18 PM
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Originally Posted by snopes View Post
But that broad summarization doesn't take into account the fact that many Americans pay taxes plus the cost of private health insurance and still receive fewer (covered) medical services than Canadians.
What is gained however is "freedom from taxation" which is, I reckon, effectively seen by many as a public good in its own right. It's a very curious notion but one which has a strong hold over the US public. Basically it boils down to a belief that it is better to have the market provide a good or service - even if it costs more - than to have the government do so. There'll be all sorts of justifications for this - generally all hinging on the notion of "freedom" and an appeal to tradition.

Dropbear
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  #16  
Old 29 August 2009, 11:48 PM
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From the OP article:

Quote:
Myth: There are long waits for care, which compromise access to care.

There are reasonable waits for most specialists' care, and much longer waits for elective surgery.
In this case, the myth is true, but so is the refutation.

Take an admittedly extreme example, documented in the March 2009 Canadian Journal of Surgery:

average waiting time for bariatric surgery in Canada is just over 5 years

Now, I don't have any problem with this because I am no fan of this surgery. But it's fair to say that a five year wait compromises access to care, thus validating the truth of the "myth." As for the refutation, it says that there are much longer waits for elective surgery than for most specialist care, something this example certainly demonstrates.

Next I googled another type of optional medical care that I suspected might also have long wait times, despite, I think, having a strong scientific basis -- sleep medicine. Unfortunately, I could not find current data, and will gladly accept correction from a reliable public source. But as of five years ago:

Quote:
In eastern and western Canada the wait for sleep specialist consultation averages 4 to 6 months (in some places it exceeds 12 months), and completion of a polysomnogram varies from 8 to 30 months, resulting in a total wait of approximately 24 months (range, 8–36 months). Patients in Quebec experience similar wait times as the Western and Eastern regions. With greater sleep studies per capita in Ontario, wait times are much shorter for consultation and polysomnography, averaging 2.4 and 2 months, respectively, and there is generally little time required to start CPAP.
Is 24 months consistent with the myth? By itself, maybe not. Fixing your sleep is important but far from an emergency. But read this:

Quote:
Because of extensive wait times, primary care physicians have started to order home oximetry for their patients and will not necessarily refer these patients to the sleep center.
This is totally consistent with the supposed myth -- because of the long waits, people get treated without having the diagnostic procedure that is associated with, I think, virtually all the research on the CPAC machine.

More on wait times here. It's a bit interesting that ophthalmology, which I've heard described as the most crowded specialty in the US, currently has some over-one-year waits in Canada. Maybe these are for eye conditions which come on so slowly that waiting 14 months is OK.

My point is that there is a lot to be said for both sides.

Last edited by Steve Eisenberg; 29 August 2009 at 11:58 PM.
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Old 29 August 2009, 11:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Eisenberg View Post
From the OP article:



In this case, the myth is true, but so is the refutation.

Take an admittedly extreme care, documented in the March 2009 Canadian Journal of Surgery:

average waiting time for bariatric surgery in Canada is just over 5 years

Now, I don't have any problem with this because I am no fan of this surgery. But it's fair to say that a five year wait compromises access to care, thus validating the truth of the "myth." As for the refutation, it says that there are much longer waits for elective surgery than for most specialist care, something this example certainly demonstrates.
I know a doctor who specializes in bariatric surgeries here in town. She requires her patients do one full year of intensive therapies prior to scheduling the surgery, because her theory is that until people develop healthy relationships to food, the surgery, which can be very dangerous, will ultimately fail.

However, bariatric surgery is something that isn't covered under most US health insurance plans, anyway, so it could easily take someone 5 years to save up the cash for it.

Just putting that in there.
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Old 30 August 2009, 12:05 AM
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Originally Posted by AnglRdr View Post
However, bariatric surgery is something that isn't covered under most US health insurance plans, anyway, so it could easily take someone 5 years to save up the cash for it.
I wish you were right, but it sure is covered under my plan. And googling:

bariatric surgery insurance

gives the impression that, after going through a paperwork rigamarole, they usually pay.

If you can show me I'm wrong, I will be glad to compliment US insurance companies for having more backbone than I thought.
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Old 30 August 2009, 12:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Eisenberg View Post
I wish you were right, but it sure is covered under my plan.
It isn't under mine.

Quote:
And googling:

bariatric surgery insurance

gives the impression that, after going through a paperwork rigamarole, they usually pay.
Actually, what you'll get is a bunch of sites that sell coverage for bariatric surgery, and clinics, that if you do have coverage, they will make sure it pays.

Quote:
If you can show me I'm wrong, I will be glad to compliment US insurance companies for having more backbone than I thought.
More backbone? They are expensive, dangerous, and rarely successful surgeries. It would be poor business for them to pay for them.
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  #20  
Old 30 August 2009, 01:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnglRdr View Post
However, bariatric surgery is something that isn't covered under most US health insurance plans, anyway, so it could easily take someone 5 years to save up the cash for it.
One of the problems with U.S./Canada wait time comparisons is that they can't adequately account for all the Americans who don't even get scheduled for particular medical procedures because they lack the insurance/money to pay for them. For them, the wait time is essentially infinite.
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