Thursday, April 14, 2005

Here we go again

I have not been too explicit about the title of the blog. But there are now good reasons to explain it a little - as I knew there would be.
Canada is in the midst of a major scandal concerning the conduct of the government of the last few years, and the current government is trying to dissociate itself, quite unsuccessfully, it appears, from responsibility, though it is the same party in power, if a slightly different faction.
Yesterday, amidst some serious questions about how close the scandal was to the current government, yet another report was issued suggesting that perhaps Canada does not have a perfect medicare system, and that experimenting with private provisioning (we have a single-payer system - the provincial government, subsidized by the federal government, for provincially covered services) might improve efficiency.
The shrieking started immediately. We do not want "American-style" healthcare!! Now what is hilarious about this is that what was really being suggested was more like European-style healthcare. In most European countries there are parallel private and public insurance systems, and a variety of private and public provisioning, and government insurance is the payer of last resort. I will undoubtedly return later to this in this blog, but it is almost impossible to find reported publicly here in Canada the simple fact that our system is the odd one in the world (jokes compare it to Cuba and North Korea - and one need only watch the Oscar-winning The Barbarian Invasions, which you should, to half-believe this).
Another under-reported fact is that we have a profoundly effective medical subsytem in the country; I have never seen a single article in our media about waiting lists, or failures in this subsystem. No movies have highlighted its awfulness. It is entirely privatized, and there are insurers helping people even out the random aspects of medical bad luck. I encountered it recently - my loved one was unwell, and I had an appointment that day for examination (and experience suggests that even without a family doctor, I could have found one that day or the next). Lab results were available the next day, and the diagnosis a little rough. as home care would be needed. This was arranged the same day. Since then the patient has improved, though we know he has a serious kidney problem and are just trying to keep him well, but he seems to be enjoying life, and really looking forward to this summer.
Of course the loved one is my cat.
Why can't we find a way to treat humans so well?
Because that would make us seem like those Americans! What a silly little country!


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