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Old 09-16-2009, 08:22 PM
18 posts, read 24,355 times
Reputation: 31


Being a dual citizen I have lived in both countries (born in Canada, formative years in Canada). I've worked in both countries, have experienced employer health coverage in both countries. But I'd have to say looking back, all my experiences with the Canadian system have been good, and better than my experiences with the American system. Luckily I am a healthy person, no major health issues.

Anyway, in Canada, I've had some emergency room visits that I never paid for. I've been in a couple of (not serious) car accidents and never paid a dime for any exams. I've had my wisdom teeth removed by an oral surgeon (a specialist) that I didn't have to pay for. In fact, the bill was presented to me before the procedure took place, and I gasped - I was 19 or 20 and didn't have the money (or family) to pay for it- $700. The money I was making covered my rent and food, etc. I told the doctor I couldn't afford it, so he went to a back office for a few moments and came back telling me not to worry, they'd get OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) to cover it. Whew!

I've had a routine minor surgery with follow-up care - at no cost. I've had a precautionary ultrasound for a possible lump in my breast (which turned out to be nothing)- at no cost. I've had affordable meds when prescribed. Eye exams by any optometrist are covered every other year. (By the way, for a long time it's been illegal for pharmaceuticals to advertise in Canada. I think the law has slightly relaxed allowing for very vague advertising these days.)

I had a great family physician that I was able to see on a regular basis for annual female exams, among other things. I felt comfortable with her for any of my issues. She was a very patient, kind, helpful and informative doctor that I never felt rushed with. We developed a good patient-doctor relationship that was never threatened by me changing jobs or "plans".

In general, as a Canadian, worrying about my health care was never an issue. It didn't matter where I worked, or even if I was between jobs, I never had to worry about saving money every month to pay for "just in case I get sick or get in a car accident" medical bills that could potentially break me.

I had some very uncomfortable and confusing experiences with the American system, especially after having lived the Canadian system. I always thought having to choose a doctor from a network was strange. The process of doing that was always disjointing for me. So I would just ask my coworkers to recommend a doctor to save me hours of research. In general, I think people everywhere find their doctors via word of mouth, but in Canada you don't have to ask "are they in my network?" or "I've changed employers and have different coverage, do I need to find a new doctor?" One time my employer changed plans for whatever reason, didn't pay much attention, you see because I've already been conditioned not to have to worry about the availability of my doctor. So I didn't realize what this meant till I went to an appointment and the doctor told me flat out "I can't see you anymore". I was baffled. Still am, quite frankly.

The other thing I was conditioned to was not having to worry about unexpected bills coming in the mail. (In Canada you are told upfront how much something will cost, if there is a specialist cost, not necessarily so in the US). So you can imagine my shock when I got a lab bill in the mail after a PAP! The doctor never mentioned it. I had no idea it was coming. I didn't realize that only the visit would be covered by my employer's plan. Who reads those damn 12 inch thick policy books?! Even still, the book would only tell you what is and is not covered, you don't know how much something will cost till you get the bill, after the fact.

To sum it all up, in Canada I never hesitated to see a doctor and get things taken care of when something worrisome would arise. Or just for regular preventative care. The taxes Canadians pay so we don't have to worry about whether or not we can afford basic and preventative health care is totally worth it in my books. I'd rather pay the taxes then feel like I have to save up an extra 200-400 per month (just an estimate) for a personal health care plan or supplement that is made up of bloated costs created by providers and insurance companies.

I'm in the States right now, but heading back to Canada next month. Looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. The last 3 years I've been in the US I've basically been self-employed and haven't had a doctor or a plan because of the unaffordable expense and lack of employer coverage. So as soon as I get back to Canada I'm going back to my previous doctor and getting back to taking preventative health measures to keep on top of my health. And be confident of the fact that I have a doctor to see whenever I need to- worry, and bill free.
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Old 09-27-2009, 08:01 AM
1 posts, read 2,116 times
Reputation: 12
[FONT=Verdana]As a former Canadian resident, I miss the Canadian health care system. [/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana] [/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana]I didn't think twice about calling my doctor for an ailment and booking an appointment[/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana]I didn’t think twice about going to any hospital[/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana]I didn't have to pay a deductable[/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana]I didn't have to worry about an invoice showing up months after a medical service[/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana]I didn't have to wait for an insurance company to make a decision on my medical services [/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana]I didn't have to maintain a spreadsheet to keep track of all the medical papers/services[/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana]I didn't have to worry about budgeting for a medical service[/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana]I didn't have to sit with a neighbor who is stressed over medical bills and cannot afford to pay them[/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana] [/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana] [/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana]My biggest complaint in Canada - wait times.[/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana]But really, those who are in dire need of services, get them, sooner rather than later. Those with lower priority needs are going to wait longer. Makes sense. Life or death situations take priority. Sometimes you need to travel an hour or so for the right services. There are “centers of excellence” to treat people. Better to travel to one of these centers than have mediocre service available everywhere, though. [/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana] [/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana]With that said, you generally are NOT waiting long to see a GP. Generally one week or less to get an appointment. Those with critical issues are seen within 24 hours. [/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana] [/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana]I never worried about medical services in Canada. Never gave it a thought. Now that I’m in the US, I think about it often. [/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana] [/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana]The US is a fabulous country. It has a plethora of talented medical professionals, wonderful research facilities and terrific hospitals. I do wish that it wasn’t so difficult for the average American to have access to them all, whenever they needed it, for everything that they need, without fearing financial issues. [/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3] [/SIZE][/FONT]
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Old 10-26-2009, 04:10 PM
45 posts, read 40,694 times
Reputation: 19
Originally Posted by grmasterb View Post
Your post confuses me a bit. If one has insurance in the U.S., there's generally no need to choose between a car and an operation. The insurance pays for the operation, sans a deductible and co-insurance. Still, it limits the financial exposure to the insured. And the poor in the U.S. are covered under Medicaid.

More specifically to the Canadian system, however.....Aren't the provincial health plans essentially "government-run insurance," as you call it?
With the money that Americans waste on health insurance overhead (an average of $6200 a year), Canadians 1) pay off their mortgages 2) go on long vacations in foreign countries 3) start small businesses 4) go back to schools and universities to increase their skill and knowledge

Last edited by murphyj87; 10-26-2009 at 04:57 PM..
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Old 10-26-2009, 04:39 PM
45 posts, read 40,694 times
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Originally Posted by sunshineleith View Post
jtur I will leave you with this - statistics on Canadians' satisfaction with their healthcare system, albeit from 2005. This is from Patient Satisfaction / Health / Indicators of Well-being in Canada

Source: Statistics Canada. Patient satisfaction with any health care services received in past 12 months, by sex, household population aged 15 and over, Canada, provinces and territories, occasional (CANSIM Table 105-4080). Ottawa, Statistics Canada, 2006.
By every measure, regardless of population group, three times as many Canadians per capita are satisfied with their health care than there are Americans per capita who are satisfied with the US insurance-run health care system. Canadians would NEVER accept a US style insurance-run system.
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Old 10-26-2009, 04:46 PM
Location: St. Louis, Missouri
9,353 posts, read 19,266,528 times
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Originally Posted by murphyj87 View Post
By every measure, regardless of population group, three times as many Canadians per capita are satisfied with their health care than there are Americans per capita who are satisfied with the US insurance-run health care system. Canadians would NEVER accept a US style insurance-run system.
and they shouldn't.......
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Old 10-26-2009, 04:51 PM
45 posts, read 40,694 times
Reputation: 19
Originally Posted by Acajack View Post
Factoring deductions is tricky since they vary so much from person to person. The 40% figure for income tax in Canada is based on average deductions (which is to say not too many) in an average Canadian province. I live in Quebec which is a high-tax jurisdiction but my rate is lower than those posted for my province and my income level because I have lots of deductions for stuff like dependent children, daycare, day camps, public transit use, kids’ physical activities, etc.

I know someone who lives in Ontario who, based on his salary and average deductions should be paying around 40% in income tax but who says he brings it down to around 15%(!) by contributing massively to RRSPs (registered retirement savings plans that yield impressive tax savings). Since he has no pension plan where he works, he has to buy the RRSPs anyway to fund his retirement, but I think he may exaggerating a bit...
Before I retired, I was paying income tax (provincial+federal) of 16% of my gross income. Since I'm retired, I pay net income tax (provincial+federal) of 13% of my gross income. This is after tax credits, tax refunds, and GST rebate.
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Old 10-26-2009, 05:22 PM
Location: Pacific Northwest
1,076 posts, read 4,193,674 times
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DualCitizen101, one change you might notice upon return, a lot of family doctors have opted out of coming to see you in the hospital should you end up there. For one reason or another, mine has a family and only works part-time, and feels she can't give quality care being pulled back and forth from clinic to hospital.

Doctor before, same thing. She advised it was pretty much becoming the norm.

So you end up getting whichever doctor happens to be on at the time of admission.

One tends to get lost in the system because of it, as it's like being without your own doctor .. and by the time they get the paperwork sent to them, you've either recovered or the alternative. This also from my old doctor.

I've heard Americans with great medicare plans rave about the excellent service provided to them.

The Canadian medicare certainly isn't what it used to be, and now have lengthy wait periods for have tests done, such as MRI, cat scans, etc. But if one feels their health is at risk, and can't get one provided as early as they'd like, there is the option of paying extra for it, or going to the US and paying for it there.

Even though it's not perfect, I'm appreciative that it's there when we need it.

I don't know how American people do it frankly, how they survive with the amount they have to pay out of pocket any time something goes wrong. Just to have a baby! .. wouldn't that almost bankrupt you alone?

It's so easy to say to someone .. get to a doctor! .. but boy oh boy, if you had to pay for every visit, blood test, not to mention hugely expensive testing and such .. or even a short stay in the hospital .. I'm surprised people manage to keep their heads above the water.

I'd rather pay higher taxes, because most don't have extra hundred's or thousands of dollars just sitting around waiting for a time should you require a doctor or hospital visit, I agree.
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Old 10-26-2009, 05:26 PM
91 posts, read 242,060 times
Reputation: 58
Originally Posted by latetotheparty View Post
and they shouldn't.......
Damn right! Medical expenses are the number one cause of bankruptcy in the United States. On top of that, I find health-for-profit to be completely immoral because companies are focused on maximum profit, not getting you healthy; they have stockholders and boards of directors to answer to, not the family grieving over the loss of their loved one. Kaiser is not only bad about this, they are also smug enough to "emphasize prevention" which is code word for "don't get sick, fat ass". And then there's the issue of "pre-existing conditions"; if you are born with a vascular problem, what can you do? Kaiser, Blue Cross/Blue Bull****, UHA, Anthem, inHumana etc will all charge you more for your insurance because of this condition.

And then on top of that, once you can't pay, they kick your account to a "debt collector" who harasses you non-stop until they take you to court, sue, win and then garnish whatever wages you have or put liens on everything you own.

F the American system. It is crap. An ambulance ride of TWO BLOCKS cost my pal $700. Around here, I wouldn't recommend going to the hospital unless you're bleeding or a limb is turning black (and you aren't black) or you can feel a serious internal problem.
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Old 10-26-2009, 08:54 PM
4,282 posts, read 15,332,916 times
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Let's just stick to discussing the Canadian health system in this thread, please.

There are plenty of discussion on US health care available in the Politics forum for those so inclined to participate.
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Old 10-28-2009, 10:04 AM
13,420 posts, read 12,745,580 times
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It was actually 16 hours. But it is still very sad. The longest I have ever waited in an ER was four hours, but it is more often a couple of hours - unless you are bleeding or having a heart attack -- in which case they rush you in.

The long waits in the ER is one of the symptoms of a "free" system - a lot of people do run to the ER unnecessarily with colds and sniffles and tie up the doctors and nurses who should be dedicated to seeing the severe acute cases.

In seeking solutions to these, where I live (New Brunswick), they have started a lot of "after hours" clinics, which seem to have alleviated the pressure on the hospital ER's. They also have "Tele-Care" which is great - you can call in and describe your symptoms and they will assess you over the phone and advise whether you should take an aspirin and go to bed or go to an after-hours clinic or the ER. It is particularly helpful for the people that tend to run to the doctor for everything.

.................................................. ...............................................

Since some Americans seem to be jumping in here, I will too to make a remark or two.

1. I live in a mountainwest state. The population is not large. The ratio of doctors to overall population is good. Nevertheless, I have waited almost two hours on some visits to the ER. (Nothing like being asked for proof of insurance while you writhe in a chair or a gurney from a kidney stone--and yes, I've had that happen) ER's are jammed here with people without insurance.

2. When I was in Canada with my son once (actually in NB) I had to take him to the doctor and than to a hospital. We waited about 3 hours for emergency care, but after that everything went pretty quick. Overall, I found the people in the hospital were very dedicated to their jobs and the attending physician saw my son five times alone the first day he was admitted to the hospital. Medical facilities in Canada are definitely older than in the USA and are more spartan. However, I actually think this is the way it ought to be. When you go to the hospital it ought to be for medical care not to visit a luxury hotel.

3. I actually think the quality of care is probably pretty similar in both countries. It should be, doctors and nurses are trained the same. We speak the same language etc. I think there is the same level of committment to professionalism in both places. The difference in the USA is this damned private insurance system. You do worry about things being covered. You do have to get things pre-authorized. Hospitals and doctors will want proof of insurance before treating you--unless you are in cardiac arrest.

4. The single payer system would eliminate alot of confusion and alot of paperwork. It also would see to it that everyone got care. It seems the most logical reform in the USA because we have a Medicare system that already covers our elderly. We just need to extend it to everyone else.
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