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March 26, 2006

Adam at Highly Obsessed's Knee and Canadian Healthcare

Don't want to get all political on you, but Adam over at Highly Obsessed has a bum knee. And really who among us doesn't. He tells his story of trying to get things figured out up in Canada, get his knee treated, and get healed:

I'll spare you the gory details, but suffice it to say the needle they drained my knee with was goddamn huge, and was filled entirely with blood. Even the orhopedic surgeon was surprised. At that point, he was 100% sure I had torn my ACL, and that I would need an arthroscopy. But once he drained the knee he was able to examine it, and was surprised at what good shape it was in.

So that's good news: it's likely not related to my ACL.

But now things get interesting: no-one can tell me what's wrong, exactly. And why is that? Because I need an MRI.

Well, that's not a problem, you think. Get an MRI. Here's the problem: the waiting times for an MRI are insane. At North York General (the hospital where I have been going) the waiting time is 55 days.

55 days? I have to wait 55 days to find out what's wrong? So then someone can figure out whether I need physio, arthroscopic knee surgery or otherwise?

I have to say, this is the first time I've really needed to rely on Ontario's health care system for something beyond a trip to the doctor in quite some time, and a 55 day wait is a joke. And really, I'm just a jackass that screwed up his knee playing recreational basketball.

I am openly asking Tim and Erich, who better be reading the site regularly since they have both gotten to stay in the pimp condo, to weigh in on the superiority of Canadian Healthcare since they have explained how vastly superior long wait times for free care are to our system of paying your own way.

When you tear an MCL or ACL, let me know whether you would rather have an MRI right away and be back on the board or wait 55 days to find out what it wrong. I think I will take my $400 per month insurance premium and immediate access to healthcare. Adam may end up heading to the US and spending $1000 to get an MRI in Buffalo simply because he cannot wait for the "free" Canadian MRI. Welcome to government run idiocy. Customer Service--Ever get customer service at the MVD? Same folks will be running the Healthcare system that run the MVD.

While old folks may be running to Canada to buy Canadian drugs on the cheap, Canadians are running to America to get the care that they cannot get in Canada due to long wait times.

Posted by Justin at March 26, 2006 12:05 AM


Whoa there, dood.

I live in Toronto (like Adam) and recently required an MRI for my left knee. My family doctor put in the request and I recieved an MRI
in 2 WEEKS. So let's not condemn the whole system based on one person's experience. There are
health-care horror stories on both sides of the border.


Posted by: Jebby at March 28, 2006 10:32 AM

Alberta is openly choosing to defy Ottawa and begin offering a two-tier system of both private and public care.

The Canadian province of Alberta has proposed a wider role for the private sector in providing medical services, fuelling a politically charged debate on the future of the country’s increasingly strained healthcare system.

While all Canadians at present have publicly funded healthcare insurance, coverage is generally available only for care delivered through the public sector. Doctors and hospitals are barred from accepting private patients.

But Ralph Klein, Alberta’s premier, said this week there was “virtually no disagreement that the health system must change to survive”. He added: “People are waiting too long. The system is too expensive and growing more expensive day by day.”

Healthcare makes up 40 per cent of the oil-rich province’s budget. Alberta’s proposals would allow doctors to perform some procedures in privately owned clinics, with patients paying out of their own pockets.

40% of a Province's budget? Long wait times? Not me making the argument, it is the Premier of Alberta. It is the people of Alberta and people across Canada that are barred from obtaining private coverage or private providers. And it is the folks that cannot get the treatment they need in a timely manner due to an overburdened system.

When 40% of a budget goes to healthcare, what portion goes to infrastructure and business development? To creating new industries and technologies? And if Alberta is spending 40% of their budget on healthcare, you would expect there to be zero wait times. Two weeks is unacceptable. Sure there are horror stories on both sides--the difference is that we have choice when we experience problems whereas Canadians have none.

Posted by: Justin B at March 28, 2006 11:43 AM

You only have a choice if you can afford it.
What choice do the 43 million Americans who lack health insurance have?

Actually "some procedures in privately owned clinics" sounds like a reasonable compromise between the two systems.


Posted by: Jebby at March 28, 2006 04:34 PM

But that is the ultimate choice in anything. For instance, my Chevy Avalance has side impact airbags. When I am t-boned by another car, my truck probably outweighs anything but an H-2, Suburban, or semi, and has airbags to protect me. But you are only protected by side impact airbags if you can afford them too. A 1991 Honda Accord's occupants would likely be killed in the same accident, but I survive unhurt. Lots of poor people drive older cars and therefore don't have airbags, too. But ultimately, it is a choice and some folks are willing or able to pay more than others for a different level of care. It isn't always fare, but my healthcare is something I am willing to pay more for and I have the means to do that, therefore, I should be allowed to invest in my own care rather than forced to consume the exact same care that someone living in poverty gets. I work hard precisely so that I can invest in myself.

You ask "What choice to the 43M Americas who lack health insurance have?"

Well, first, they can pay for health insurance. But assume that they don't. Then they can pay for medical treatment out of pocket. They can still get emergency care, but must pay for it.

Lots of folks don't have collision and comprehensive insurance for their cars. When they have an accident, they are not protected. Lots of folks don't have life insurance and when they die, their families are not taken care of. Insurance is for those that weigh the risks of bad things happening versus a fixed cost of paying upfront in case they do. Same as the futures market for commodities. Farmers don't have to buy and sell futures to protect against lower commodities prices or higher costs or production issues. But the market exists to provide folks the opportunity to protect themselves against catastrophy. Canada has no market. It has no protection for folks when they cannot get an MRI right away. You deal with it. You wait 55 days.

43M Americans sounds like a lot, but in perspective it represents 15% of the population. So 85% of the population has healthcare coverage of some sort. And Americans have vast arrays of choices. So the real question is--"In order to provide the other 15% with health insurance, what kind of price are we willing to extract from the other 85%?" Providing coverage for everyone will undoubtedly change the quality of my coverage, my tax rates, or my quality of care. And that is what is happening in Canada. The availability and quality of care is suffering as is the tax situation of the average Canadian.

Posted by: Justin B at March 29, 2006 09:23 AM