About Me

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Delta, British Columbia, Canada
I took very early retirement from teaching in '06 and did some traveling in Europe and the UK before settling down to do some private tutoring. As a voracious reader, I have many books waiting in line for me to read. Tell me I shouldn't read something, and I will. I'm a happy, optimistic person and I love to travel and through that believe that life can be a continuous learning experience. I'm looking forward to traveling more some day. I enjoy walking, cycling, water aerobics & and sports like tennis, volleyball, and fastpitch/baseball. I'm just getting into photography as a hobby and I'm enjoying learning all the bits and bobs of my digital camera. My family is everything to me and I'm delighted to be the mother of two girls and the Gramma of a boy and a girl. I may be a Gramma, but I'm at heart just a girl who wants to have fun.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Canada's Health Care

Update: I seem to have pushed some of Mary Anne's buttons over at http://latitude49.blogspot.com/ so go over there for the rest of the story about Canada's health care system. Mary Anne is a nurse in a small town on Vancouver Island so she has lots to share.

I mentioned earlier that I’d do a post on Canada’s health care system. If you’re interested in reading a very informative yet concise piece on it, go to http://www.canadian-healthcare.org/index.html There are 10 pages but it’s a quick read.

What I’d like to comment on now is how grateful I am to live in Canada with its excellent health care system. Our latest brush with it reinforced my feelings. From the moment my daughter was diagnosed with a possible cancerous tumour to the day she returned home from the hospital was 10 days! Every doctor and nurse we came in contact with was caring, compassionate, calm, and extremely professional. The emergency physicians at our local hospital moved quickly to expedite getting her to Vancouver General Hospital where specialists were able to diagnose her need for immediate surgery. There are 3 categories for emergency surgery – within 24 hours, within 8 hours, and within 24 hours. My daughter was categorised at needing surgery within 8 hours and from the moment the operating room was booked to the moment the surgeon came out to tell us it was all over was 7 ½ hours.

During that time, the following was totally free for her:

2 ambulance rides
1 ultrasound
1 CT scan
2 X-rays
lab and blood tests (cross-matched in case she needed a transfusion)
all drugs, including her bipolar meds while in hospital
IV’s for fluids and pain relief medication
3 days care in local emergency hospital
4 days care in Vancouver General hospital
diagnosis and care from a total of 9 physicians and surgeons
surgery by a well-known gynaecologic oncologist, assisted by a "Fellow" (Thank you Dr. Ehlen and Dr. Correa)
all bandages, stitches, staples, and sanitary supplies post-op
nursing care
food and beverages

Virtually everyone who lives in Canada has basic health coverage. If you can’t afford to pay the premium, it is free. I pay $54 a month for basic health coverage and through my teachers pension I pay another $120 for dental and extended coverage. Extended coverage pays for drugs (mine are totally free so the premium is definitely worth that alone), physiotherapists, psychologists, optometrists, massage therapists, and things like crutches or wheelchairs if I were to need them plus many more things. Not everyone gets extended or dental coverage, but most do through their employers.

There is a waiting period for coverage to immigrants, never more than 3 months. Everyone is taken care of on a need basis. Emergencies first and non-emergencies are done on a first come first served basis. Yes, sometimes things get screwed up to the point where someone will go to Alberta (Edmonton in particular) or Washington state for treatment if they don’t want or can’t wait for some reason or other. And yes, sometimes there are delays for treatment. And sometimes you have to wait for an operation...but let's face it, I'd rather wait knowing that those ahead of me are in greater need. From the poorest homeless person to the wealthiest, each individual receives top quality care according to his/her need.

I’ve never had to fork over money to any doctor, except in the case of optional flu shots or for my daughter if she had a severe migraine that needed a shot of something to kill the pain. I think $10 or $15 to relieve someone’s excruciating pain is well worth the money.

From what I know, there are more individuals in the United States who do not have any health coverage at all than the entire population of Canada. I’ve heard of people in dire need being turned away from American hospitals because they have no insurance or enough money to pay up front. That NEVER happens in Canada – it is absolutely unheard of!

So I feel fortunate that I’m a Canadian who can count on the health care system here for my everyday needs, for my emergency needs, and for my out-of-country needs. I urge all Americans who might be reading this to think carefully before you put an X beside the name of someone who wants to be your President. Of course you have other issues to consider as well, but health care for every individual should be a right for all, not just for those who are lucky enough to be covered by their employer or for those who can afford to pay private premiums.

Think of the children. My child could have died from this even if it turns out to be benign. But she’s alive because of the excellent and expeditious care she received.


enigma4ever said...

wow...this is so amazing...and such a good lesson..WE in America Could have THIS...it is not impossible...and I hope and dream....if it does not happen soon I will have to leave the States...

I am so glad to know that your daughter was so well cared for...and got the care that she needed...

I am adding you to my New Years Watergate Summer Blog Round Up if that is okay- I would love people to know that they could have this kind of CHANGE...but if it is too personal- I understand....

enigma4ever said...

( on 2nd thought I will just send them to the Canadian Sites on Healthcare...I think you have more than enough on your plate then to have a flood of new visitors...but I have to be honest- the list of care that your daughter recieved is stunning...people never believe that you all have good care there- I know you do- I used to live by the border in the NW..so I know that you have great are....but the media here is always bashing the care- saying there are waits etc..)

Anyways thanks again for blogging on this..

I hope you and your daughter get plenty of time to rest and heal...( taking care of someone is also alot of work..)

take care....

Josie said...

Leslie, this is a fabulous post. Working in the health care system in Canada, I know how efficient it is. No one goes without care, and everyone gets the best care, no matter what their social status or income. And the care is always in a timely manner. One of my functions is to schedule special diagnostic tests for patients, and sometimes CT scans, ultrasound, biopsies, etc., are the next day. I often have difficulty getting ahold of the patients in time to get them in for their further testing, because it's so fast. America could have a system like ours if they tried. I don't understand why they are so afraid of it.

No one in Canada dies because they cannot afford medications or necessary procedures. Hillary Clinton was saying in her speech today that 37,000,000 Americans are without health care. That's more than the whole population of Canada!

Casdok said...

Its so nice to hear possitive things about health care.

jmb said...

Well Leslie I am glad that you had a good experience but it is not all perfect here in Canada. I know because I worked in the hospital system for almost twenty years. Waits for elective surgery and that just means not emergency, even gall bladder surgery is considered elective can be long and the wait for hip and knee replacements is almost a year. My friend was in VGH ER with a broken hip for three days before they could fit him in for surgery because there were no beds on the orthopedic ward open to take him. All my friends have had to pay $300 extra per eye for cataract surgery since soft lens are not covered although recommended by the ophthalmic surgeons. Some people wait months for CT scans and MRI scans. All is not rosy by any means. But I'm glad that your daughter got the care that she needed.

Incidentally, you will get the bill for ambulance services, but six months later. They are so slow with their billing.

the walking man said...

Health care in America is a for profit industry, as is the pharmaceutical Industry, which is the main reason there is no national health care coverage.

Americans who buy pharmaceuticals actually pay full price through their insurance and co-pays or out of pocket because being unregulated we subsidize the rest of the worlds drugs because every other country regulates the drug industry. So they make their profit from us, which is why until it was outlawed so many Americans tried to get their scripts filled in Canada.

You are right Leslie as of now there are more than 46,000,000 people with no health care at all and more every quarter because company's that sponsored coverage are cutting it out or making it unforgivably high for their workers.

Look at wal-mart for example, they have classes to teach their general store employee's how to qualify for Medicaid; which is federally supported state administered health care, which only some doctors will take because it caps the amount it will pay.

The only thing here is if you go into any emergency room they have to treat you until you are stable enough to leave, but they will bill you and hope to recover the cost but usually for the un-insured they never do, so those with insurance are charged $25 per aspirin for them to recover that written off cost of the un-insured.

We could have single payer health care in this country with a near three trillion dollar budget but with bush' war and pork barrel spending it will never happen because a bridge to nowhere in Alaska is more important.

Besides the more impoverished that die means a savings in other entitlement programs like food stamps and subsidized housing. And that is the way it is, plain and simple.



beachgirl said...

HI Leslie,
I am lucky that I have health insurance. But I pay a lot for it. And a co pay. And I still can't get in to see my Dr.. Too many patients, too few appt's.
If you have no insurance you actually get seen quicker in the emergency room. They don't have to get approval thru the insurance company to treat you. And they bill you more than they could ever hope to get from any insurance company.
My son had surgery a few years ago right out of college. No insurance. His Dad is a DR and was on staff at the hospital. For 4 hours in the hospital for knee surgery the bill was $17,000. The orthopedist gave us professional courtesy . If we paid him cash up front, (we did), only $1600. Now he would bill an insurance company for the same surgery (ACL) 10,000. He could hope to get paid $3,000 6 months later after it had been kicked back 5 times for ridiculous reasons. He wanted to get paid for something some time. All the other people who worked on our son billed separately.
They got paid. They cut us a break.
The hospital said if we paid it off in full they would cut us a 10% cut. I think my son is still paying them off at $25 per month. No interest.
Now my husband was working 3 days a month at the free clinic the hospital owned. He stopped. The practice no longer is on staff at the hospital. They hire a private Dr to cover their patients. Greed. Now who lost in that display of greed?

Maybe Canada does have a better system. At least everyone can be seen and not bankrupted for not having health insurance.

Have an awesome day.


Anonymous said...

Leslie: Your health care system sounds wonderful. I pay around $100 a month which only covers 80% of medical and prescriptions. The last emergency hospital care I had left me with a $2700 bill. The thing that gets me is that those that don't have medical insurance are treated just as well as I am, but have no bill to pay afterwards. The homeless are given more priortity dollar wise, than those that have medical insurance.

Ignore my asking again about the results of Jaclyn's test in my email to you, as I see you have indicated it will take a few more days for the results.

I will continue to pray for her health and your emotional well being.

I think I need to move to Canada for better health care. I wonder why so many Canadian come here for their health concerns?

Hugs and Much love

Nancy said...

WOW, thanks for the information. I had no idea that Canada had such great benefits. After I retired, my teaching pension pays my insurance but I have to pay $450.00monthly from my pension for my husbands insurance. We then pay copays for everything. Have you got an extra bedroom? hehe

Glad Jacklyn didn't have to worry about the money part of all of this. That is a blessing indeed!

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

That is amazing Leslie..my uncle in Australia says where he lives the system is very very good as well.

Best Wishes to you and your daughter.

Dave said...

You are so right.... Canadian Health Care... pays to lives here in Canada. Hope your daughter is going to be fine. :-)

I am glad that I am a Canadian!

BBC said...

"What I’d like to comment on now is how grateful I am to live in Canada with its excellent health care system."

Really? Because I keep hearing a lot of complaints about it. I've heard that Canadians come to the states for the health care that they can't get in Canada.

On the other hand I think it must be very hard for any country to set up a good health care system being as everyone wants to live forever.

Where do you draw the line?

nancygrayce said...

So glad your daughter is doing better. Thanks for your prayers, I'll keep you and yours in mine too! I've been so busy that I have to stay up late to read blogs!

heiresschild said...

i cannot say the same for the U.S.A. perhaps i should consider moving to Canada, and i mean that for real!

Susan said...

First of all, please forgive me for not visiting for so long. I was so focused on Kayla over the holidays, and had a house full of visitors, that I neglected my blog friends.
What a frightening thing to have to go through. For both of you! When someone you love goes through something like this, it affects you so deeply.
I will keep you both in my prayers, for peace of mind and continued recovery for Jaclyn.
A Happy new Year.

Smalltown RN said...

Leslie, I am so happy that things did work out....I am looking at folks who have commented on your blog and I see enigma4ever has been here...I have just recently connected with her and I think it was via Josie's blog...but when I read your post today,I was going to tell her all about you and yoru post...and here she is...small world...what's that saying...six degrees of seperation.....amazing....

I would be so happy if you and Josie came by and we met for coffee or something in Qualicum.....oh yes that would be fun......take care my friend

Smalltown RN said...

Leslie...after reading your post and enigma4ever I just had to make a post on health care myself....I referenced your post today and put a link to your blog...I hope you don't mind...but you make some very good points that I want more people to hear about....

CD said...

I'm going for a CT scan tomorrow, so I can relate to the benefits of our system.


Russell said...

Wonderful post! Every American should read this!! Or at least every American politican!!!

The information you give is so interesting and enlightening to those of us here in the states. I pay a lot of money every month for health care and, well, there must be a better way. I think Canada has developed it and it is time for the US to stop, listen, learn from your experience.

Take care and thanks for such a great post!

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I couldn't agree more. Canada has a great health care system. Cherish it and don't ever lose it.

Smalltown RN said...

You know what is interesting about all of this Leslie...is that it gets people talking and thinking about health care...we as Canadians value our health care sytem...we can't let our politicians take it away from us....our Campbell government has been allowing private clinics to open up...touting that it will help with wait lists...as I said in my post it does just the opposite...yes it gets' the professional athletes through faster and the inusrance companies who want claimants off of insurance benefits....our government has been trying to whittle it's way at our public system....laying off union employees and contracting out services and in certains these companies are american....did you know they have contracted our health care records sytems to an American company? That scares me

Ellee Seymour said...

I would be happy to pay a monthly contribution if I felt assured that we would get good treatment. At the moment in the UK, hospital wards are closing because of sickness bugs, two pregnant women died after contracting a bug, our hospitals are full of bugs, they are dirty, people are upset about it. And it depends on where you live whether you get the medication you require, it depends on costs.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Leslie. It 's good to read of a health system thatis efficient and your daughter obviously received excellent treatment. However, as a Brit, I am horrified that anyone has to pay any premium at all, other than for dental treatment.

leslie said...

Ellee and Welsh, do you not pay any premiums in Britain? Maybe that would be the answer. I sure don't mind paying my fair share so that all can have such good treatment in a clean hospital.

Janice Thomson said...

I'm absolutely glad I live in Canada too. Their health care is awesome. Excellent post Leslie!

MedStudentWife said...

hear, hear !!!!!

Great post Leslie !!!!

kat said...

Dear Leslie, Hope you can answer this for me please. Are you able to choose brand name medication on the Canadian National Health system at a low cost or do you have to have generic medication? I live in the USA and on Social Security Disability HMO insurance I pay $25.00 for my bipolar medication. It is Wellbutrin XL 150 mg. If I was a Canadian citizen and living in Canada would I be able to get this brand drug on the National Health Care system at a low cost. If I didn't have the insurance or if I maxed the amount I could use for brand name.I would have to pay about $125. I have dual citizenship. British and American. I wanted to go back to England and live but with British Nation Health System. I would not be able to get the brand name or even come close to a medicine like Wellbutrin XL and could never afford private insurance. At the time I thought that this was the only medicine that helped me and decided not to risk moving.Since then it seems the medicine is not really working. Very afraid of taking depression medication because of the side effects. Was thinking about moving to Canada if able but wanted to know more about the National Health Care in the way of medicine and mental health. My income is too much for medicaid help and not really enough to get decent mental health care needed. Trying to find out the best place to live. Thanks

thedudeofsnow said...

Wow, your daughter was indeed fortunate to receive prompt healthcare and I hope she continues to do well. Your post paint an overly "happy" story of Canadian healthcare which is in fact falling apart at the seams. Unfortunately, my experiences with Canada's healthcare system are not happy reports. So, I'm glad your daughter had a positive experience, but not everyone has such experiences. My mother was denied care for a serious infection, and she suffered for months. I've also watched a friend die, because it took too long for him to receive necessary tests and care. He had cancer. The hospital thought he was a drug addict and would not believe that he was in pain. This all caused a delay in him receiving necessary tests. This man had never abused drugs in his life. He was in pain caused by a large tumour on his kidney. A family member waited months to have bypass surgery and was very sick during her wait. I've waited well over a year and have finally received a specialist appointment for a serious medical condition. To say all is well in Canada, No, I will just have to shake my head in disbelief and disagree.

thedudeofsnow said...

Waiting for a home
Transitional-care patient, family say conditions in unit deplorable

By AMY SMITH Provincial Reporter
Sat. Jan 26 - 6:10 AM


thedudeofsnow said...

Medication is not free in Canada.

Cancer Press Conference in Ontario, Canada - HQ


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