Although I have worked for years in the United States including in and around health issues, I have never fully understood the ways in which Americans pay for their health care, or why their insurance company-based system is so important to them. This article explains how complicated it is to choose a medical plan and how expensive it is not to have one. And fundamentally this doesn’t change under Obama’s new plan. The premium this family pays, even now under the plan they want to keep, are more than twice what I pay for a family of four in a public health care system in Canada, and because we make more than $30,000 a year we are in the highest bracket in BC. We pay $133.00 a month and here’s what we get. There is no deductible. It’s basic, and extended medical plans obviously offer more benefits like dental and eye care, pharmacy and ambulance services (Great West Life’s mid-range plan is close to $400 a month). But with this basic coverage, my son has been in the emergency room twice in the past year with “12 year old testosterone accidents” – broken and suspected broken limbs – and we have incurred no costs other than paying a small fee for ambulance transport. If I wanted the same extended coverage as this family, I’d probably end up paying the same or more (and the deductibles would be WAAAAAY less), but if I don’t want to deal with an insurance company – and believe me, I don’t – then I don’t have to. My basics are covered and I have peace of mind. If I work for an employer, I just sign on with their extended plan. No problems.
Many Americans object to being “forced” to pay insurance premiums. How would you feel if you had the thought that paying premiums to the state for accessible health care was actually a peace of mind situation rather than the actions of an overzealous government seeking to limit your freedoms? This is all a matter of perspective and while I know millions of Americans share the view that I have about publicly funded health care, millions still do not and neither of course do the insurance companies who make their money by charging premiums and minimizing coverage. And now, in Washington, their political lap dogs are doing their dirty work and frankly it hurts the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of Americans who would rather be doing their own thing in the world than tying themselves to wage slavery for the benefit of a cheaper health plan.
Public health care is not perfect but it is brilliant. In Canada, we have very little stress about these issues compared to our southern cousins. Every American I know – and I know hundreds – worries about their health care insurance. In Canada we only worry about it when we have a wait for a service or a bad experience in the hospital, or we have a cranky complaining day. The rest of the time, we are cared for and cared for well, and I don’t think we know how lucky we are.
Good luck my American friends.