June Girard: What we can learn from Canada, the Brits
Published: Monday, August 1, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, July 25, 2011 at 11:12 p.m.
In Scarborough, Ontario, physicians have opened a free health care clinic for immigrants; those people who do not qualify as citizens to receive Canadian national health insurance coverage.
These doctors are giving their time pro bono. It is nice to know that compassion and altruism are not dead in Canada.
In Canada a taxpayer funded public health insurance system covers all medical and psychiatric care, in or out of the hospital.
The Asian nation of Taiwan undertook a comprehensive study of all national health care systems and decided to follow the Canadian model.
South Korea made the same decision in 1965; that year the U.S. Congress decided to guarantee health care for any American over 65, known as Medicare. It is the same public/private provision of health care as the Canadian system.
The last Congress of the United States passed a national health care bill that has been called ObamaCare. It is not what President Obama wanted and it is not his act.
The president does not have the power to pass legislation (pay attention Michele Bachmann). The president only has the power to sign or veto legislation that Congress has passed.
Instead of increased taxes, like the British and Canadian plans, the health reform bill that Congress passed mandates that Americans join in the plan. The 6th Circuit Court has found that mandate constitutional under the Commerce Clause. It will most likely be appealed to the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile the Health Reform Act is law and no President can repeal it.
In the U.S. approximately 40 million people are too young for Medicare or too well off for Medicaid. For these people health care is an out-of-pocket cost that they can’t afford.
For those of you who complain that you would have to wait for an appointment if the U.S. adopted the Canadian system, consider how long you now wait if it is not an emergency. I recently had to wait two months to see my eye doctor.
Two men, one a conservative and one a liberal — Lord Beveridge, an aristocratic social reformer and Nye Bevan, a union agitator turned politician — were brought together during the 20th century with the conviction that a modern state must provide medical care to everybody, sick or well, young or old, rich or poor.
The British national health system evolved and is dedicated to the proposition that nobody should ever have to pay a medical bill. There is no fee whether you have a cold or receive a quadruple bypass from the nation’s top cardiac surgeon.
Speaking of British doctors, they generally graduate from medical school with little or no debt to pay off, partly because tuition fees are very low and partly because many local governments pay the tuition for medical students from their community.
The Brits do pay for medical care of course. They pay through a network of taxes that would make us cringe, but only if we do not understand that those taxes replace what we pay for insurance premiums and co-pays.
You can figure out how much you pay for health insurance per month and how much you spend in taxes now opposed to how much you would pay if for instance the sales taxes across the country were increased to 15 or 20 percent. I suggest you might find you would be saving money and at the same time you would know that those who are less fortunate will be cared for from wellness care to hospital care.
June Girard lives in Gainesville.
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