I just spent 10 days in Canada and had the opportunity to listen to stories from multiple Canadians about there health care experiences.
I was able to speak to 3 different people about their health conditions and what kind of treatment they received. It was very interesting because as they told me their stories I thought how those conditions would have been treated here in United States.
The first situation was a gentlemen that need a double knee surgery. He needed both knees to be essential rebuilt. He had multiple tears in both knees and really had problems walking. When he would walk down the stairs he had to walk step side ways. He has been on a waiting list for over 5 years. He lived in Toronto which is a major metropolitan city. I was amazed that it had really been 5 years. Here in the US he might have waited 5 weeks. Now if was on a private health plan here he might have had to pay his out of pocket max for that surgery. If he was on a subsidized plan like Medicaid he would have paid very little out of pocket.
The next case was a women that suffered from Gall Stones. She had been in extreme pain and unable to eat. It took the Canadian health care system well over a year to figure out what was wrong with her. The big problem they had was access to diagnostic imaging to detect the stones. She started the treatment in a rural hospital that had very little resources. They decided to move her treatment to Toronto. At that point she had no relationship with any of the doctors. She stated to me that in the Canadian system its very important to have your primary car physicianact as a gate keeper to all of your care. Once she lost that gate keeper none of the health care providers really show any case of urgency even though she was losing weight. After 8 months she was finally able to get diagnostic services to detect the stone. Once the stone was it took about 6 months and 3 outpatient surgeries to remove it. There was problems removing the stones because of a lack of having the correct instruments for the surgery. On the 3rd procedure they were finally able to remove the stones. It was indicated to the patient that the gall bladder was close to dieing because of a lack of blood. The patient lost almost 50 lbs and was on her death bed. Her husband though that she had a couple of weeks left had the 3rd surgery not worked. Here in the US this condition could have been corrected in just a couple of months tops. There would have been immediate access to diagnostic imagining. With our technology the removal of the gall stone would have had a much higher probability of being success on the 1st surgery. There is absolutely no reason a person should come close to death because of a gall stone.
The 3rd person had a much different story. She was diagnosed with a very rare kind of cancer. So rare that her life expectancy was months if not treated. She was treated and the cancer went into remission in just a couple of months. When she told me this I asked how she was able to get such fast treatment. She told me that it was her doctor that saved her. The doctor put her on a list of need treatment immediately. I did not understand. I asked if there was a panel of people that make these type of decision and she said no just the treating d0ctor. So in this situation it sound like she a doctor that saved her life. I think had she received treatment here for the condition the treatment level would have been about the same with her sharing a small fraction of the total cost.
With our current system all three situations would have be treated quickly with less suffering for at least 2 of the 3 cases. The trade off would have been the patients would have had to pays a small portion of the overall treatment.
With the new health care reform pushing Universal Care through an Employer Based plan I fear we are going down the socialized medicine route. The route is going to ration health care on a very large scale if you are insured through a subsidized health plan. Will US citizens have to wait 8 months for diagnostic imaging? Will it take 3 out patient surgeries to correct a condition? If your condition is not life threatening will you wait indefinitely?
After 2014 we could see to market of health care in this country. Subsidized plans like welfare and medicaid could have a huge drop off of quality of care and rationing. While the private health insurance market will dictate that you get immediate treatment and the quality of that care is the best.
Only time will tell.