What’s health care really like in Canada?

This guest post is provided to you by Johnna Cornett, an Our Thoughts reader living in California. If you’d like to be a guest poster on Our Thoughts, email us at ourthoughts@gmail.com.

They’re talking about the Canadian health care system all day long on the radio down here in the United States.

frex: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=111084018

I’m hearing great anecdotes, like that one reason Canada works is that it has fewer people than California, and that someone couldn’t get health insurance in California because her injuries treated for free in Canada (hit by a car while she was on her bicycle) were considered a pre-existing condition in the States.

And I find, I’m really no closer to understanding what the Canadian health care system is really like. On one hand, I’m hearing a lot of stories about waiting four months to see a primary care physician, and long waits to have one’s cancer treated, hospital beds in halls, or 19th-century style 20 beds to a room. On the other hand, I’m hearing about the peace of mind of being able to see a doctor whether you’ve changed jobs, to get health care whether or not you have a pre-existing condition. I’m hearing it’s easier to start a business if healthcare is not one of the overheads.

I had a baby when my husband was between jobs. We lost our COBRA coverage though a paperwork error, and then I couldn’t be insured because I was pregnant. Pretty big consequence for paperwork. So I’ve had a baby on a cash basis, knowing I had no way to cover the expenses if my child was born with any complications. I don’t think I really got what it was like to be uninsured until it happened to me. I don’t think I understood the difficulty of getting insurance once you’re in that class of uninsured. And I thought the health insurance paperwork was bad enough when I was family-of-an-employee.

So, you LDS Canadian insiders, what is it really like getting health care in Canada?

Do you have to be clever at navigating bureaucracy to get care? To see a doctor you respect? It’s not atypical here to have to fight the paperwork fight when your insurance decides something wasn’t covered. What’s the analogy there?

And does the Canadian system have challenges when you’re LDS?

Do they give you a hard time about having lots of children? (Actually, that’s happened to me in California.) Do you worry about resources going to abortions? Is care being withheld from the elderly?

Choices and Consequences

My mind has been somewhat taken up with the news of the deaths of these poor baby girls in Saskatchewan, left to freeze and die in the cold snow, in -50 degree weather, this week. My heart breaks for them, for their loved ones, including the young father who left them (and again we don’t know all the details) because in spite of the mistakes he made, in taking them out without proper clothes, and leaving them, because he wasn’t aware of all he was doing, he is suffering for the choices he made. It looks as though something precipitated this, which caused a string of ill advised choices, fueled by alcohol and stress. I am not judging either, but just feeling pain for this family and these poor babies.The comfort is that I know Heavenly Father sent his angels to hold these innocents, to bring them home and maybe maybe to take away the suffering from the cold. Maybe the cold didn’t cause them too much physical anguish? I don’t know much of what freezing to death is like, and I don’t want to find out that they suffered excruciating pain, so young as they are. Children, especially the smallest ones need and are to be protected. So many children for many different reasons are not, and I know this hurts the Lord, I don’t question why He doesn’t always interfere, because He is wiser than I am.

What I feel, as a mother (and even just as a human being) is this urgency, to protect and save the suffering babies. Right now, this is the current one in my mind, these little girls who had little protection from the elements.

I am not thinking (as I know some are) that it is just more evidence of problems on the reserves. No, it is a human problem. The choices made by the father he will regret for the rest of his life. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain and sorrow he is experiencing, and their mother as well, that because of a fight, she was not there to watch over and keep her girls safe. The tragedy just transcends all blame at that end.

I do think there is some responsibility for a government that does not regulate the sale of alcohol better. Yes, this father (and so many other alcoholics) made his own choice to purchase and consume alcohol, but evidence shows that First Nations people are genetically more prevalent to substance addiction. The government makes too much money, though to not control the purchase of alcohol or the accessibility of it, better. Do they think of the victims of alcoholism? The innocents, who because of this freedom to drink yourself into a stupor, suffer, and sometimes pay, as in this case, with their lives.

See, children have a right to be protected, to be cared for. They cannot care for themselves. If a puppy or a kitten had been left out there, that animal may have had a better chance of survival. But if an adult is at risk, then how much more are a 3 year old and a baby barely over the age of a year unable to look after themselves? Especially in the debilitating cold.

But the government does not want to lose the revenue they gain through the suffering of others. Our governments (provincial and federal) who are supposed to do their best for the citizens make poor decisions that affect the lives and well being of those who do not choose to even participate in that. These little girls were not a part of the decision their father made to drink, nor a part of the decision to sell the alcohol, to create easy access to it’s sale, to make it in the first place. Adults, people who are supposed to have the intelligence to make responsible choices designed to promote the well being and safety of those they have stewardship over, were the ones who made the decision that resulted in the suffering and death of two little girls.

All I know is that a loving Saviour held them in His arms, this I know, brought them home and ended their suffering and kept them safe and I am sure, wept tears because of His great love, not only for them, but for all involved.