Canada’s Health Care Plan

October 4, 2009

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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:


  • 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.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kosmo
    Oct 04, 2009 @ 09:33:34

    I didn’t realize that prescription drugs were not covered by Canada’s plan.

    What do you mean about doctor’s note to an employer not being covered? Do you mean that doctors charge an extra fee for this? Or that if the sole reason for a visit was to get a note, the entire visit wouldn’t be covered? I’m not aware of US doctors charging an extra fee for this – it seems like part of the basic charges.

    Are ambulances privately owned in Canada? In the US, many ambulances are private business that are not affiated with hospitals (although there are some ambulance services that ARE affiliated with hospitals, as well)

    I hear people talk about “rationing” often. Do people often run into situation where the government refuses to pay for something due to their age – in other words, you need a heart transplant, but you’re 80 years old and they decide it isn’t warranted?
    .-= kosmo´s last blog ..Inside Kosmo’s Brain =-.


  2. Peter Rabbit
    Oct 06, 2009 @ 14:10:34

    I have family that lives in Canada and the big negative is that you can’t always get the top care or in a timely manner even if you are willing to pay for it.

    This system is pretty much an everyone is created equally system which is not what America is about. Americans relish in the competition and having more then the next door neighbor.

    While I am a big believer in everyone having some form of health care and also understand some of the efficiencies that Canada has gained I see some huge issues with going with a similar style plan. I think the right way is something in between what the US has what Canada has.

    For those that don’t follow healthcare you can think of it in terms of how Canada has also structured alcohol stores. The stores are affiliated with the government so the country is the largest buyer of alcohol in the world so they get a good price. However, as the government buys in bulk you can only get what the government buys. There is no specialty shop that imports that random whiskey that you may enjoy and there is no weird drive through alcohol store open at all times. The stores are basically identical. Think of healthcare in those terms and you will see why you may not want exactly what Canada has.


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