Post # 1
On the non-US bees thread about who people would vote for, a lot of people mentioned they would vote for Obama because they can’t imagine a country without civilized universal healthcare. I am pro-obama and I definitely believe true universal healthcare should be a goal. But, I was curious for people who actually live in that system currently:
What are your thoughts on it?
What is the best thing about it?
What is the worst thing about it?
Would you prefer to live in a country that did not have universal healthcare?
Post # 3
I think the system could still be improved.
The best thing about it is that you don’t need to worry about going bankrupt because of having a serious medical problem, or even not going to the doctor for something less major but that needs treatment just because you don’t want to have to pay for it.
The worst part about it is wait times. I’ve waited months for an MRI for a serious health problem. I’ve waited over 6 months to see specialists. I’ve been in the ER waiting room when I needed to be there for too many hours (7 or more). Even getting a family doctor can be difficult. It can also be difficult to get a second opinion as if you’re not happy with one specialist, do you want to wait to see another? People do sometimes go to the US to skip the lines, and sometimes they are sent there and reimbursed for it.
Also, it isn’t 100% free here. Drugs still cost, as do some tests. Even with insurance, it can be quite expensive. Dental can be very expensive, as we don’t really have Medicare (officially Canada Health Act) for that, and it’s mainly private insurance that covers that. I think there are some programs for low income people, but I never got anything as a student.
I would prefer to be in a country with universal healthcare. I think a 2 tiered system could work though, if it’s properly regulated. People who want to pay to get things taken care of quickly if it’s not neccessary should be able to, and that money can go towards benefitting the public system. Eg. If private MRI clinics were allowed, but so many slots had to be run for the public system out of them it would reduce the wait by removing people from the que who want to pay, as well as opening up more slots (both on the machine as well as the trained people who run them).
Post # 4
@CorgiTales: Is it too late to add an option to the poll for those of us who are in America? I want to see the results without having to click each time. (firstworldproblems!)
Post # 5
I would *never* move to the states for strictly that reason.
Of course its far from perfect:
-I personally pay for that overdosing bum on the corner when he collaspes and needs hospital care. He doesn’t have a job, and doesn’t pay tax but I still pay.
-I also personally pay for the kid who needs surgery but his mom doesn’t have healthcare insurance and is going to die if he doesn’t get it.
The problems are:
-very, very costly
But I’d never trade it.
Post # 6
I live in the UK so enjoy the good and bad of the NHS. It isn’t without its problems, there are long waiting lists and the resources are limited so many areas and understaffed. It isn’t well funded, or the funds are not managed well and do not seem to go where they are needed and every year there seems to be more cut backs.
Despite this I believe the NHS offers an invaluable service. People can go to their local hospital A+E and not worry that they can’t afford it. If you need some sort of test (blood test, X-ray, whatever) you know that you will get it (albeit some waiting lists for some diagnostic work can be very long if your case is not seen as urgent). You don’t have to weigh up what medical care or prescription you need more because you can only afford one, or if you need medical care more than paying your bills or buying food.
I always use this as an example, but when I was 14 I was recovering from a bad virus and kept getting headaches, my eyes hurt constantly and I felt tired all the time. I went to my GP and within 4 weeks I had an MRI to rule out a brain tumour (my brother had a brain tumour that had been treated a few years before hand).
On the flipside I have a friend who lives in Alabama. She had some serious problems in her late teens/early twenties with headaches, visual disturbances, odd mood changes and an array of other symptoms. Her GP told her she would need an MRI to rule out the possibility of a brain tumour, but her insurance would not cover the full cost. She ended up paying a lot of money for this procedure, but first she seriously had to weigh up her options on whether or not ruling out the possibility of a brain tumour was worth paying money for! Luckily she didn’t have a tumour, but if she had and she had not had the money to cover the remaining costs… I dread to think about what could have happened.
So no, it isn’t perfect, and yes there are many people that complain about the NHS; but I can’t help but think that the people that complain would seriously miss if it if it was taken away.
Post # 7
I would never consider living in a country without universal health care. I couldn’t imagine not being able to afford hospital bills, or stressing over them (when half of the time being in the hospital is enough reason to be stressed). I guess I would say the worst part about it is the long lines and waiting lists, but it is never that bad on a general basis (waiting rooms in the ER, walk-in clinic, etc). It really isn’t that inconvienient. Then again, I have had to her my grandma complain a number of times for the long waiting lists that she is put on for CT scans, surgery, etc. Overall though, I couldn’t even imagine living without it.
Post # 8
@vmec: you took the words right out of my mouth! Coudn’t say it any better myself!
Post # 9
Universal healthcare has its flaws, no doubt about that. Some hospitals have longer lines and the doctors don’t make as much money, but truth be told – it’s such an amazing safety net. I can’t fathom being scared to go to the hospital when I’m hurt because it might cost me too much.
There’s no fear of going to the hospital because you don’t have insurance. When I busted up my ankle I got seen at the doctor’s office, then the ER, had x-rays taken, and had a basic cast put on. The cast failed and I purchased a special air cast boot. Yes, I waited nearly 4 hours at the ER, but my doctor couldn’t do the cast at her office and there were other patients there in worse condition. I’m pretty much okay with waiting. Is it annoying? Sure. Would I give up UH for a private healthcare system? Absolutely not.
I just moved to the USA and luckily I’m insured, but the thought of not being insured in the future terrifies me.
I would rather pay a 13% sales tax and get UH than pay 7% and have to pay outrageous doctor bills.
I can’t understand why someone wouldn’t want UH. I guess if you can afford private insurance or you have a great job, that’s fine. But for the average and low-income households it would be an amazing blessing. I can’t figure out why Americans refuse to get behind it.
An interesting statistic : Canada spends far less of its GDP on health care (10.4 percent, ver-sus 16 percent in the U.S.) yet performs better than the U.S. on two commonly cited health outcome measures, the infant mortality rate and life expectancy.
Post # 10
I’m SO thankful to live in a country with health care! Yes, it costs us a lot in taxes, but I’m so grateful that if anything happened to me, a family member, friend, friend of a friend, anyone, that they’d be taken care of. There can definitely be wait times, but I’ve also had great experiences where I had next to no wait times at all. It can be hard to find a family doctor (especially if you’re picky about gender) and as a result, a lot of families use the emergency department as a walk-in clinic, but I think that’s slowly being worked on with more urgent care clinics being opened instead.
I also love that here in Ontario (not sure if it’s Canada wide?) we have Telehealth where you can call in and speak to a registered nurse and they can assess whether you need a family doctor, urgent or emergency care. It’s also little known, but you can also get a house call doctor in Ontario, you just have to call at the crack of dawn to be first on the list for the day 🙂
All in all, it’s one of the very many reasons why I love living in Canada and it would be hard for me to live somewhere without the same benefits. I think it’s tax dollars well spent, I don’t begrudge any of it.
Post # 11
Healthcare in Canada is administered by provincial governments, so the difficulties change dependent on where you live. In Ontario, for instance, we think we’re dealing with a lack of doctors and long waiting times, particularly in emerg., but compared to Alberta, we’re actually better off. While I’m certainly not saying that the system isn’t perfect, for the most part it’s pretty good.
The premise of socialized healthcare means that everyone, regardless of their socio-economic situation, gets their basic medical needs met, People are quick to take advantage of this, but far too many of us complain that we’re supporting those who cannot, for whatever reason, contribute as much in taxes as we do. I think that’s wrong. No-one knows why some people are on the street and, quite frankly, I think the fact that they don’t have a roof over their heads or the ability to feed themselves is a more pressing issue than that a small portion of my tax dollars go to providing them basic healthcare.
Often people are unaware of their rights as patients, including referrals to specialists. You can request a specific practitioner, or that you be referred to a newer doctor in order to shorten the wait time. Diagnostic testing such as x-rays, bloodwork, and ultrasound is available fairly quickly, in some cases the same day. Cases are basically triaged according to need rather than who can fork out the money. As far as hospital care is concerned, I have never had an issue with the level of care provided.
We are very fortunate in Canada to have standardized healthcare available to us, and we shouldn’t take it for granted. Just because it has its problems doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work and I, for one, wouldn’t deny that basic human right to anyone. Not even that bum hanging out on the street corner.
Post # 12
@AB Bride: Interesting idea about the 2 tier system!
@bakerella: wow, doctors still do house calls?!
To all: Thank you so much for weighing in! I’m really enjoying reading all your responses. And yes, I totally agree with you all that it is scary to live in the US with healthcare like it is! I’ve been very lucky that I’ve always had at least adequate care, and currently have quite good insurance. But my brother has not always been so lucky and he waited far longer than he should have to see a doctor about a tumor growing out of his back because he knew he couldn’t afford it without insurance. As a result of waiting, he was wheelchair bound for years and will be disabled for the rest of his life. It makes me so angry that he waited just because of finances– but on the other hand his medical bills have been over 2.5 million for this issue so if he hadn’t waited until he had insurance he’d basically be f’d forever…
Also, re: emergency rooms– same deal in the US! I have waited upwards of 8 hours in the ER before.
Post # 13
I love the NHS. I know that the section in the Olympics opening ceremony baffled many outside the UK but there is so much goodwill towards the NHS from the majority of the population.
No one thinks its perfect, not even close, but it’s comforting to know that if I won’t be charged more because I have a plethora of pre-existing conditions.
Yes, I have to wait for treatment for non-life-threatening illnesses but once you know how to “work the system” you will be treated in reasonable time. If you don’t like waiting times, pay for private health insurance and see the same doctors quicker.
When it comes to emergency medicine, I’ve actually had very good experiences. My dad had a mild stroke a few years ago. He called NHS 24 (our telephone health service) who quickly picked up that he was having a stroke; they sent out an ambulance to take him to his nearest hospital, which also happened to host the specialist stroke treatment ward. He was there a few days and had continuing out-patient care until he moved to Spain.
That cost him a grand total of £0 at the point of use. Yes, he almost certainly covered the cost in taxes (largely those on tobacco, to be honest) but he didn’t have to worry about whether he could afford the treatment (even though he was self-employed and nearly broke).
I have recurring health issues and I know that if I need to see my GP (family doctor) then I just have to call them at 8:30 on a weekday morning and I will be seen. If I fall ill later in the day, I call the same number to speak to a nurse and will either get an appointment for that day or another. That level of basic care is very available.
So yes, I love the NHS and I will defend it to my dying day!
Post # 14
@Sibiohan: wait….You had to wait 4 weeks for an MRI!? WHAT!? To rule out a brain tumor in a child!?
Post # 15
- Wedding: March 2012 - Pelican Grand Beach Resort
I want to hear from the Bees who voted that they would rather not have universal health care. I mean, really, if you have lived somewhere with it and didn’t like it, it seems so unfair to just vote and not say why. I’ve never heard a single person with universal say they’d rather have non-universal health care, so tell me your reasons!!!
Post # 16
@mrsSonthebeach: I figured it was probably people just wanting to see the results and ticking that box to wind us up.