February 05, 2005

Politics: Fascist Canada at its Best!

My Goodness, isn't Canada important! At least, some of the more right-wing American pundits think so.

First, there was the silliness with Tucker Carlson.
Then came the silliness of Anne Coulter.
Now here's (knew this was coming) Bill O'Reilly.

We've seen several little blurbs about his opinions on Canada, of course. But (not being a big fan of irrational diatribes) I've not seen this little bit until this paper was published about the number of personal bankruptcies that have happened in the United States because of illness. Check the video link "Dr.Steffie Woolhandler on O'Reilly(Fox News) ".

Apparently, Canada is devolving into a "fascist state" that doesn't know how to run a health care system. Be patient with the clip: Dr. Woolhandler is actually an intelligent commentator, despite Mr. O'Reillys best efforts.

So I got to thinking about my personal experience with the apparently massively flawed health care system (Canadas) run by a fascist state (that's us) and doing a little comparison shopping.

Flipping around the net, it was pretty rare to find institutes that were willing to list their costs for anything other than cosmetic surgery. (I have to know: would you trust anyone who called themselves professionals, but couldn't spell "work"?) I did come across this at the American College of Surgeons:
"In addition to surgeons' fees and the costs of hospitalization, you should also expect to be billed separately for the professional services of other individuals involved in your care, such as the assisting surgeon, anesthesiologist, and medical consultants."

So I can understand the lack of solid numbers: too many variables, and of course you don't want to give the expectation of one cost only to have that price outdated by the time the customer/patient reaches the surgery room. There is one place in Bangkok, but not really what I'm looking for. Thene there's the potential bidding wars that could break out on-line. Personally, I don't trust the low bidder to work on my house, never mind my body.

Here's the closest I've some to a list for heart valve surgery performed in the US and does NOT include surgeon fees or "additional charges", like using equipment or surgeon assistants. There's a bit about eye surgery in British Columbia for those insured and those not, but all told it was a lot of looking for not much reward.

Then I sobered up and did the obvious: let someone else do the looking for me. Ray Romanow, former Premier of Saskachewan, already did a massive report on health care in Canada, and the CBC did a report of that. Voila! Unfortunately, all that is covered there is non-critical surgery and the comparative cost is US-India, and I'm interested in Canadian costs for all sorts of medical work.

Then: salvation! It occured to me that I had, in fact, broken my wrist a short while ago, and while I was in the hospital, I noticed a sign on one wall with some of the non-Canadian (tourist) costs. These apparently only cover the use of the hospital, not the staffing costs:

Operating room, visit: $2000
Day care surgery: $1200
Renal dialysis: $1200
Emergency /Admissions visit: $100
Emergency /Admissions visit w/physician: $200
Acute care ward: $2500/day
Maternity ward: $2500/day
ICU or CCU: $4300/day
Birth: $1000/day base cost,
Natural: +$1000
Caesarean: +$2000
Special care nursury: +$4300
Cat scan: $650
Xray: Variable ($63 when I went)

With my broken wrist, I waited two days to see if it was a sprain before going to the hospital. I've been to the hospital four times; had four sets of Xrays taken; got a cast put on; and seen a orthopedic surgeon three times. Here's the breakdown (after calling the specialist for his prices):

Three visits: $300
One with doctor: $200
Cast: $15 (the doctor wouldn't let me get a cheap one)
Four Xrays: $252
Visit to orthopedic: $225
Two follow-ups: $150
Total: $1142

Not bad, all told. But I don't now, and I didn't then, have a thousand bucks. So I may not have gone, which could be VERY bad with a broken scaphoid. I could well have had the bone die on me, then be forced into either a lifetime of pain or surgery, which would start at $2000 for the room and go up from there. Then there's the waiting lists for non-critical surgery, so who knows when I'd go in for it.

The moral? Without having the health coverage I do, I may not have caught this break in time. And if I hadn't, my quality of life would have plummeted, affecting me for the rest of my life. And that doesn't seem terribly cost-effective to me.


posted by Thursday at 11:23 pm


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