Americans seem to feel that the Canadian health care system is far superior to the American system simply because it is free. Health care in the United States is flawed, but the Canadian system is far from perfect, despite the low cost to its citizens. Free health care requires patience waiting for your medical care, diagnostic tests, and surgeries – and we are a “wanted it yesterday” society.
My experience in Canada
A few years ago, I had the misfortune of experiencing the Canadian health care system as a patient. My family and I were headed to Canada for a ski trip. Our plan was to fly out of Jacksonville with a connection to Canada in Charlotte, N.C., but our flight was significantly delayed because a screaming toddler refused to stay in her seat.
In order to make my connection, I got on the moving walkway. A man was taking up the entire walkway with his bag. Despite my pleading, he would not move out of my way. I stepped over his bag and my foot caught in one of the handles. Next, I tripped and heard a snap. I finally got past him and started my sprint towards the gate. Upon arrival, I noticed my foot was swollen in hues of black and blue, but I boarded the plane anyway.
Our first stop in Canada was the emergency room. I was diagnosed with a hairline fracture, given a boot, and told I could walk out of the ER. I couldn’t bear any weight on the boot without being reduced to tears, and I finally persuaded the doctor to give me crutches. He looked at me as if I was a pathetic female exaggerating her condition.
Thankfully, I left with a copy of the X-ray. Once I viewed it and consulted with my podiatrist, it was obvious that my fifth metatarsal was fractured severely. I was instructed to avoid bearing weight on my foot for a few weeks.
The reality of universal health care
Canadian health care is like Medicare for everyone, not just seniors over the age of 65. Medical care in Canada is free, and it covers almost everything other than prescription drugs, glasses, and dental care. The system is publicly funded, and citizens qualify for care regardless of their medical history, personal income, or standard of living.
The drawbacks of this system are its ability to deliver treatments in a timely fashion and the shortage of doctors and nurses. There is only one primary care doctor for every 1,000 Canadians, and this is a result of Canada’s poor compensation for health care providers.
The United States is heading in this direction as health care providers receive less compensation each year. Americans want health care for free, but they don’t realize free still comes with a price.
The cost is quality of care. In any health care system, one can have either quality or free care. Apparently, you can’t have both.