Sunday, August 9, 2009

Health Care Stories: London, Ontario, Canada

Bill shares his concerns about the Canadian health care system and what he feels are the benefits.

I’d suggest that the first concern for me about our health care system is that a lot of Canadians are not able to find a General Practitioner or family doctor. While that’s not the case with our family--we got lucky because we knew someone in town who was accepting patients--many Canadians use emergency rooms or simply go without treatment and observation over periods of their lifetime. The cost of this is that simple issues are not diagnosed early.

Actually paying our GPs a decent earning wage would be a great way to improve our system.

Of course, from the other perspective, how many doctors fresh out of university are virtually given a complete business without even having to try?

The other concern that I have is that our system--much like that of the US--is being overrun by greedy corporations that overcharge for medicines, hardware, and machinery. The cost of these products represent anywhere from 50 to 75 percent of the expense paid for our governments, raising questions about why American corporations would resist such a program in their own country if social or public health programs are so beneficial to their bottom line. Like the US, we are overprescribed and this needs to stop.

Now, to focus on the benefits. My GP is an exceptional woman. In the last two years, I have complained about two issues and they were addressed immediately. When I say ‘immediately,’ I say that they were handled in a reasonable amount of time so as to squelch any concern about cancerous growth (yes, one concern was related to a potential cancer scare). I met with a specialist within 6 weeks and had a diagnosis shortly after.

On the second occasion, I was referred to a specialist to take care of an elective surgery, which was again completed within a reasonable waiting period.

What’s important in all of this is that I haven’t spent anything on these requests, tests, or discussions, and I feel like I’ve been treated fairly and with the utmost degree of professionalism. My faith in the Canadian health care system is at a maximum and despite the two complaints above, I believe that we are on the right track.

My GP also sees my wife and child and we discuss any range of questions, concerns and interests with her. She is knowledgeable, professional, and I’m happy to have met her.

In all of this, I haven’t mentioned that I’m a small business owner and I don’t have to spend anything on health insurance to have these services. I haven’t had to pay additional premiums because I’ve asked the questions and I haven’t had to take time off work to balance my schedule with other professionals.

My final thought is that I’m a productive member of society because my health care system isn’t killing me for a profit.

London, Ontario

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