Canadians laughing at us not with us

November 16, 2012

Deerfield Valley News

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 that 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 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 $4,000 deductible.

I think my Canadian friends are still laughing.


Lee Russ