I am not following the current battle in the USA where Barack Obama is putting in his health care plan.  I don’t know if and when it will actually happen.  For those who are against it (or even for it) here are some thoughts from someone who has known only universal health care.

Here is a quick summary of what is covered and what is not:

Covered:

  • Hospital visits and all tests done at the hospital (CT Scans, x-rays, lumbar punctures, MRIs, etc.)
  • All drugs administered at the hospital
  • Visits/checkups to your general practitioner

Not Covered:

  • Ambulance rides
  • Prescriptions
  • Doctor notes to give to your employer

I should note that for the ‘not covered’, ambulance rides and prescriptions are covered by many benefit plans through employers.  For instance at my work, ambulance rides are covered 100% and my prescriptions are covered 80%.  So even with those, you often end up not having to pay/pay a limited amount.  And if you are also covered by your spouse’s plan, their plan will usually cover the remaining 20%.  So really in the end, there is not much that requires payment.

Why do I like this so much?  Well for one, I like the fact that everyone can get health care.  It doesn’t matter your background, your income, etc. if you need surgery for an emergency you don’t first have to produce a credit card or insurance card to get what you need.  Second, I like that if I am in pain and am suffering, I don’t have to add the worry of money on top of it.  A serious illness can be so stressful and debilitating to a family, I could not imagine the financial burden on top of that.  I think back to my own recent hospital visit.  The doctor proposed to me a lumbar puncture as a way to confirm that there were no serious underlying issues going on with me.  If this test carried say, a $2500 bill attached to it, I highly doubt I would have went through with it.  But since it did not, I could go ahead with it and get confirmation that I had no serious internal stuff going on.  On top of this, as someone who makes an hourly wage (not on salary) being sick already cost me a day of wages.  That can be tough enogh for people to overcome let alone the double whammy of a big hospital bill too.

So that is a summary of the good things.  Are there negatives?  I am sure there are, just like with most things in life.  But in my opinion, the positives outweigh the negatives any day.

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Tyson Turner writes a weekly column for the Casual Observer, focusing on Canadian issues. His articles can be found North of the Border.

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