Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My Experience - First Hand With Canadian Healthcare

After waiting for a month to get in after she found a lump, my friend was diagnosed with breast cancer at 35. She then waited another 4 weeks to get it biopsied to see what stage. She then prayed for strength, hope, and the capability to get the U.S. for help. She continued to hope and pray, and wait to see physicians for chemo, and whatever else. She never made it to the U.S.

She died.

My uncle is married to a women a from B.C. He always said his ability to get healthcare for FAR CHEAPER in Canada was the draw as long as he was willing to wait a very long time to get into a doc. When his health started to fail, and he needed to be seen by a doctor that day or the day after, they left B.C. and came to the US where he knew he could be seen quickly, without question.

He is early 90s now. He said as much as he'd rather have lived out his days in Canada, he is living here because of his ability to see a doc quickly.

The others I know: a family in Alberta, friends in Toronto, other friends in upper Ottawa.

I think I do have first hand knowledge of the health care system in Canada and from I have heard, seen, and those whom I've met who were trained there:

Physicians in Canada are just as capable as those in U.S. It is the ability to see a physician when one wants that has been the difference.


K said...

I'm sorry it's so personal for you. I can see why you think it's appropriate to use Canada as an example of what you don't want America to become. The thing is, lamblasting Canada on your blog is bound to ruffle feathers. Not to mention that it's a sweeping generalization. That's the fastest way to lose an arguement and fail to make a point.

Who I am: I'm California-born and lived in Toronto for the last 10 years. I'm now in NYC.

I think that unless you've lived in Canada, it's really easy to look at all the bad anecdotes and think that is the reality.

There is wide-spread ignorance in America about how the Canadian system works. When people hear in NYC ask me if we still use dogsleds in Toronto, I'm not surprised.

Anyway I agree with what Elizabeth has said, if you are really sick you get priority.

These are my experiences in Toronto and in Windsor, ON:

Even if you do not have a family doctor, you can be seen in a walk-in clinic (and get specialist referrals) in 2 hours. Less if you are organized and go first thing in the morning.

If you go to the ER, wait times are longer for routine care because of triage. That's no different from the US.

Specialist referrals have never taken more than 2 weeks for me and I've seen ENTs, Dermatologists, Endocrinologists, Plastic Surgeons and Orthopaedic Surgeons. Guess who took the longest for me to see? The plastic surgeon, because it was for a non-emergent condition.

Then, some people, no matter what health system they are in, will not respond to treatment. This is really sad and really unfair.

Blaming a country, OTOH, for the outcome is kind of what scares me about American medicine. That's why I think there are so many lawsuits here.

These debates can get personal but we have the same goal: to get into medical school. When we get to the interview stage, if we're asked to comment on the system, we will be that much more aware of different perspectives. That can't be a bad thing.

A Doc 2 Be said...

I don't mind ruffling feathers its my opinion and my blog.

You don't want to see my point of view... and that is perfectly fine.

Problem I see with many people in Canada, is they are the first to say horrid things about the U.S. and then are the first ones to come here for health care.

Why is that?

K said...

Of course it's your blog. I honestly don't know why you seem so upset?

I agreed with everything you said in your post (I support reform but I don't support the bill either).

I just found the statement about the US "going the way of Canada" to be a bit harsh.

Nobody is bashing the US?

A Doc 2 Be said...


I'm not upset with you. I love discussion.

However, I hear off-line from more than just the commenters... specifically some Canadians who think their pot of gold to the north invested in oil and diamonds means the country does not have issues.

At the Olympics, my son and I were told, by Canadians, that he and I should be ashamed of America and that we aught to learn from Canadians.

On old live-in (evil described on here) is from Canada. I heard daily, if not hourly, on how much better Canada was than the U.S. which made me wonder why he bought a house here...

Not upset with you... just venting a bit.

Elizabeth said...

Wow I too am sorry it is so personal for you.. I am also sorry that you ran into some rude ignorant Canadians at the Olympics..

I have never said horrid things about the US, some of my best friends live in the US. I have never chosen to go to the US for medical care, nor has anyone I know. Guess we are not rich enough to afford care in the US. We can get the care we need here.
I can get an appointment with my Family Doc within 24 hrs and if it's an emergency the same day. I have never had a problem getting a specialits appointment.

For every horror story you have about the canadian system I am sure I can come up with one for the US but what's the point really.
For every horror story you have about the Canadian system I can come up with literally thousands of great stories. But what's the point... You have your mind made up.

I just feel sorry for the people in your country that have to use their life savings to try and save their childs life or fight with an insurance company for life saving surgery for their husband, wife, mother, father or child. We don't have to do that. Our system is not perfect but I never said it was.

Why does our health care system upset you so?

I am sorry you seem to be judging all Canadians by the actions of a few.

I really do not mean to offend you with my opnions of the health care system in my country.