Truth about Canadian Health Care from my dad, a surgeon

My dad wrote this as a response to a family friend who was forwarding around one of the many anecdotal factually incorrect emails claiming horror stories about the Canadian health care system. My dad was a practicing orthopaedic surgeon for years in the system and still does medically-related consulting. He is a self-described conservative who loved, yes loved ronald Reagan. I grew up in Canada, listening to how great it was that Reagan busted the air traffic controllers strike (hey I don’t agree with my Dad on lots of things but I share this to support the fact that nothing he wrote here is about any kind of political agenda but a reflection of actual experience. My Dad sponsored me for my Green Card and always supported my interest in going to university in the US and living here. He thinks the US is teh awesome (my words, not his).

But there is so much erroneous information passed along in emails and blog posts about Canadian heath care. It’s not perfect but it covers everyone. And most Canadians LOVE it. (My biggest sacrifice in becoming a US Citizen was giving up Canadian health care. I would choose it over what I’ve experienced here any day. That’s another blog post for another day. it’s not an indictment of any individual doctor I’ve seen but my feelings overall).

Anyway, this was written from decades of experience. Dad was also involved at some points in the negotiations for setting fees between doctors and the province of Ontario.  

“I have personally been in this system for decades, both as an orthopaedic surgeon, and a patient. Here are some facts:

a) there is a monthly or quarterly fee for provincial health department, either family or individual based. The fee is very reasonable, given the  fact that our plan is universal, i.e. it covers the patient in any province of our country.

b) we do pay higher personal taxes per capita than those in the USA, but much lower rate on our highest dollar earned than those in Scandanavia, Britain, and France. Obviously with a small population (one tenth of the USA) we will be taxed more per capita, because we live on the same scale economically, and our infrastructure i.e. schools, hospitals, roads, public service personell, are on average better than anything in the USA.

c) there is no such thing or instance in which a patient, any patient, poor or rich, cannot get medical attention at any time.

d) no emergency department is allowed to refuse assessment, investigation, or management of a patient in any hospital in this province, and in this country.

e) the rapidity at which one is seen depends soley on the triage level, not the persons’s economic level, exept in very few exceptions, i.e. the leader of our country or one of our provinces, or a medical colleague at times, and not always that.

f) the level of care on average is excellent. There are more undergrad foreign trained doctors now, and they are reasonably good, but there is a significant drop off of expertise and training from the candidates from Eastern Europe and Africa with exceptions regarding the trainees from South Africa and any of the Eastern European candidates that do their post-grad training here in Canada. Most of these candidates are well trained. About one half the classes are female. That is the very nature of trainees everywhere, in Canada  and Europe.

g) some persons do not have a family doctor, but for various different reasons. Not just because they cannot find one. If one calls the provincial College of Physicians and Surgeons, they will locate a family physician for you.

h) most importantly, if one is truly ill, there is not a patient anywhere in this land that will not be seen promptly whether in an urban or rural setting. And you do know most of our country is rural. When in a city, a patient can go to any walk-in clinic or emergency department where the patient is mandated to be seen. Not only that, they must be triaged by a nurse within 10 min. of arrival at emerg. That is legislation. Depending on the triage level, i.e. the severity of the condition, rated f rom 1-5, that patient will be seen immediately, or may require waiting several hours.

i) all costs dealing with investigation, assessment, procedures whether invasive (surgical, catheter stent etc.) are fully covered. There is no extra charge, and one does not go through financial hardship of any kind for this. There is no inhibiting financial factor that impedes a patient from visiting an emergency department, even if involved investigation by numerous personell is required and complex surgery necessary. One does not pay an extra cent. Yes, the hospitals do charge for crutches or splints, but these are loan charges and are returned to the patient if and when the patient returns the loaned object.

k) if you are new to this country, with or without funds, health care in an emergency situation is never refused. Each hospital has a slush fund(not known to the general public) the covers such eventualities. In some places in the USA the technology is a little better or more voluminous than Canada. But I would match our best against the best in the USA any day. They are on average better candidates, better trained, not as buisiness oriented and more humanistically inclined in Canada.

Yes, there is room for improvement in our system, and it is a work in progress, with wait times for many ailments and surgical procedures much reduced from those of 5 years ago. And this from government mandate. At least, it is not as impeded by greed, big buisiness, and politics as it is in the USA. And this statement is coming from me, an avowed capitiilist, free enterprise  person, who made his asset base, not from surgery, but real estate and other areas of investments.

Medicine and surgery stand on their own,  for the benefit of patients within the country. They should not require demotion, dilution, or degredation because some corporate structure makes more money by limiting access to, or charging more for, as in the USA. And this from a guy who loves the USA and much of what it champions and stands for.”

-Dr Allan Gold

Posted via web from subvert with heather gold