Canadians Still Laughing at the U.S. Health Care System
My wife and I took a vacation in Maine in mid-September. In
the lobby of the motel where guests flock for free coffee, I ran
into two couples from Toronto. It didn't take long for the
Canadians to swing the conversation over to a subject that truly
baffles them: how in the world can the United States cling to a
health care system that is so obviously broken and unfair and
expensive? Adding to their bewilderment is the fact that the entire
rest of the western world has abandoned this foolish model.
I told my Canadian friends that I was not an advocate of the
American system and asked them how they felt about the many scare
stories about the Canadian system have been floated by American
opponents of a Canadian-style system. You know, the very scare
stories floated here in Vermont on a regular basis by the people
and groups dedicated to killing our state's effort to get to a
single payer system.
All four of the Canadians laughed. And laughed some
more. It took a minute or two before they could respond that
the stories were bunk. Other than longer waits for some tests and
to see some specialists, they LOVE their system. And all four of
these people chimed in that the long waits aren't nearly as
dangerous as portrayed in the scare stories-the stronger the need
for the test or the specialist, the shorter the wait.
I told them what my wife and I pay for health insurance: a
$4,000 deductible, plus some $800 per month in premiums, plus
co-pays. (I didn't even get into the rules about out of
network approvals, or the frequent disputes and misunderstandings
about exactly what is covered if you are sick enough to exceed the
I think my Canadian friends are still laughing.
Lee Russ, Bennington, Vt.