Alberta Health


The Emperor's new clothes

Image by Al_HikesAZ via Flickr

Why? Because they don’t like the truth either.

Especially when it challenges their assumptions, illusions, delusions or the outdated and/or unsustainable fantasy lands they prefer over reality.

Take health care for example.

No, really, health care.

Among the many things I am envied for now that I am a “Canadian” is the fact that we have a quasi-universal system whereas my nearest, dearest and somewhat acquainted with in the U.S. are at the mercy of a hodge-podge of plans and coverage that rest largely on one’s ability to have a really good job or be old enough to have finally grabbed the golden Medicare ring.

But it’s not for all its universality and it’s not equitable really because each province is free to fund or not a long list of health care perks to which they can attach user fees – though they tend to be ridiculously modest in light of what the average American pays per month for similar coverage.

The system is also insanely expensive. According to recent numbers if Canadian Medicare was a business, it would be among the largest corporations in the world.  Based on 2009 revenues, it earned$183.1 billion which would earn it the number three spot on Fortune 500’s list between Exxon Mobil and Chevron. It would also be the talk of Wall Street for its poor business practices, and the fact that despite raking in revenue, it’s expenses still manage to eat up most of its “profits”. If it were a business, no investor in his/her right mind would touch it.

Canadians are used to hearing that their much-loved system is in deep do-do. So used to it that their defense mechanisms are well-honed and anyone who dares to point out the Emperor Healthcare is wearing a hospital gown with a decidedly exposed rear end is likely to be shamed at best or called out as Republican in Maple-leaf clothing.

I wrote a post for Care2 the other day – at the urging of my editor – citing a very well-known (if you bother to read the news) fact about how the current conservative government is quietly hanging their share of Medicare funding out on the line in hopes, it seems, that no one will notice what they are doing until it’s too late.

Judging from the roasting I personally received from the Canadian commenters, it would appear that the Harper government‘s stealth abandonment of its obligations is going well. NO ONE believed me. And this in spite of the fact that I linked to the article – chock full of facts – that showed I was correct.

The post I wrote focused mainly on the funding issues and the fact that Canada’s much-cherished system has some issues. Some of them big. And some of them getting bigger.

What did everyone zero in on?

Well, that I am an American. More than a few of the comments seemed to think I was living in the States and writing fiction about Canada’s health care for the Tea Party.

They also didn’t like that I wasn’t enamoured of my health care and called my personal experiences (and I didn’t even share the horrific ones) out as lies. Bald-faced and in the service of Rush Limbaugh.

Shudder.

Which bring me back to this posts title.

People are idiots. And they are rude and they can’t read very well. But mostly, they don’t want to hear truth unless it is their version of it.

The truth is that Canadian healthcare is okay when compared to the nothing  that exists in the States. But there are countries in the world – more than a handful really – that have much, much better, cheaper and more user-friendly systems.

Canadians spend a lot of money for rather average care and for service that would probably get a person fired if they worked at McDonald’s.

I hesitated to share my own experiences because I am met with enough stern looks from people I actually know when I do. It’s always “you should be more grateful”, but why? Just because illness doesn’t have the same capacity to destroy my life as it did down south (though it’s not venom free), I don’t understand being grateful for a system that knows it can be better and refuses because it would be more work than resting on its big fat superior smugness.

And here’s the thing that really eats at me, Canadians are just as complacent as those in the U.S. who have insurance are because they don’t want to be inconvenienced by reform that would make the system better for those forced to deal with it the most (elderly and chronically ill) and those who aren’t lucky enough to have supplemental insurance through an employer. Because they exist like the Ignorance and Want under Christmas Present’s velvety petticoats but they don’t show Canada in the rosy coloured glow that allows folks here to look down their noses at America.

Lefties? Righties? I am beginning to think the world would be better off without either group. Perhaps those of us in the middle could work on getting something real accomplished if they weren’t mucking things up with their hysteria.


 

Shadow, canola, and sky

Image by Chris & Lara Pawluk via Flickr

 

The fields surrounding the hamlet we live in are hard to see these days. Dust kicked up by the harvest as combines the size of houses roam with manic purpose, desperate to finish a harvest thwarted by a wetter than usual autumn that followed on the heels of a soggy summer.

Being allergic to the produce is only half my problem. I am reactive to dirty air in general as my lungs take issue with being required to perform the simple filtering task for which they were designed in the first place.  Gritty air plus allergens means my lungs burn even as the muscles of my chest, upper back and side knot in anticipation of the histamine onslaught.

Yesterday, it felt like my bottom ribs were riddled with cracks like an antique glaze on ceramic. Today is a tad better as there seem to be fewer farmers dusting the breeze.

The worst thing about my asthma, aside from having it at all, is the confinement. Even the windows hold me in as I strive to keep the particle saturation to a minimum indoors.

I saw the Doctor again today to follow-up on my lung function test – which they didn’t have – but she and I agree that it is my allergies that are ground-zero. Asthma is merely a by-product. Identify and control the allergies and the asthma will be subdued as a side-effect.

Allergy testing won’t commence until just before Christmas. That’s the first available appointment.

In the meantime, I am – uncharacteristically and well aware of the irony – hoping for a good rain.


Medieval dentist removing tooth

Image via Wikipedia

It’s becoming a Dickensian serial novel with today’s installment to detail, among other things, the fact that my back molar is freakishly designed with “extra” nerve roots. Or whatever the dental terms for the root canals are.

The appointment was at nine, and so confident was I of getting in and out in the allotted hour and a half that I had a list of errands I planned to run before heading back home to meet up with a yoga friend I’m working with this fall.

But it was for naught.

Three hours I sat, or rather reclined, in the dentist’s chair with my mouth open most of the time to prevent the sharp pokey thing (another technical dental term) from stabbing my exposed tooth innards (today’s episode will swim in medical labels, so bear with me).

On a positive note, I am no longer a walking pus factory. The infection, between draining and a short eternity on antibiotics, is “cured”. Which is  no small thing, as I can recall only a handful of times in my entire life that I have felt that ill.

On the other hand, I have concrete proof that I am some sort of mutant. Well, okay, more proof.

I knew that I had just three wisdom teeth. Humanity is slowly giving rise to beings who lack all the quaint reminders of our early evolution – like wisdom teeth and the appendix. Eventually, in theory, humans will stop being born with these useless things at all.

In her excavations, the dentist discovered that my molar has four root canals instead of the normal three and that the fourth one is in the wrong place.

My friend was surprised to find me upright, having lunch (no great feat as it was soup) and eager to visit. The impression I get of root canals from others leads me to wonder why the Bush administration didn’t employ their widespread use at Gitmo.

While it was uncomfortable, and there were ouchy moments (forgive me for getting technical again), I haven’t been incapacitated with pain and really wasn’t dreading today’s appointment.

The key to good root canal is a dentist who isn’t stingy with Novocaine but is also not ham-fisted in the application. When ears and eyeballs go numb, the dentist clearly graduated in the bottom half of his/her class. Since that is not the norm, but certainly worth scouring a person’s portion of the earth for in my opinion, I have to wonder what happens to those who graduate dental college with honors. Alien abduction?

Unless lamenting the time suck and the fact that my only distraction was television count as horrors for anyone else, I have fared quite well.

No one should really be forced to watch The View.

But, barring anything unforeseen – and isn’t everything really? – I won’t have to go back until the beginning of October when the only awful thing that awaits is fitting for a crown.

So, it was not the best or the worst of times comparatively speaking though I hope to live a long time without revisiting anything of its like again.