What if You Can’t Afford Private Care?
Around January 2008, senior Christina Woodkey of Vancouver found that the pain in her legs was severe enough to prevent her from doing the things she likes to do, such as ski. The leg pain wasn’t life-threatening, but it made her day-to-day life uncomfortable and challenging. Her doctor told her she’d have to see a hip specialist, and that would take about a year.
One year later, the hip specialist told her she would have to see a back specialist. How long would seeing a back specialist take? Another nine months. She asked when she might expect to get the surgery she needed to solve the problem of the debilitating pain. The answer: about a year and a half.
Woodkey, who is 72 years old, didn’t want to wait for another year and a half filled with pain, so she drove from Vancouver to Montana and spent $50,000 to have surgery in two days. (Source: LA Times)
Throughout Canada, private health care clinics are springing up because not all Canadians are willing to wait for medical services — and some can afford not to wait. In British Columbia alone, there are over 70 private health care providers who can take care of simple procedures in a week. In public clinics, those same procedures would take months.
But what about those who can’t afford private care?
Leslie Dickout of the British Columbia Health Coalition thinks that the rise of private care will just make waiting times even worse. It will lead, she fears, to “a public system that is decimated”, in which only the poorest and sickest Canadians will seek publicly-run medical care.
While the debate over private care continues in Canada, another kind of debate rages amongst our neighbours to the south: Americans, whose health care system is amongst the most expensive, but fastest, in the developed world, are arguing over whether or not they should add more publicly funded health care options. Given that in Vancouver Island alone, the Health Authority has decided to cut MRIs by 20% this year, some Canadians might find the American system quite attractive… that’s until they realize that 45 million American men, women, and children live cannot afford health care, and facing bankruptcy over a medical condition is not an unusual scenario at all.
On second thought, perhaps waiting is better than the alternative we see in America.