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A government program designed to cover all residents of a political region.

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You Don't Need Your Friends to Hold Benefits for You When You Benefit from Universal Health Care

  • Aug 8, 2009
  • by
Last night we had dinner with our daughter Elin and her partner Emmanuel: she's just back from teaching at a week-long shindig in Chicago for viola da gamba players.  One of the stories she told concerned a fellow gambist from Canada who was recently diagnosed with a leukemia-like disease and who underwent some cutting-edge treatment this spring in Ontario. 

He was diagnosed and treated in his home city in a timely fashion and is doing well, it seems.  But before his treament began, musician-friends in the US called him up and proposed doing a benefit concert for him to help defray his medical costs.  It was a very nice gesture, and he thanked them warmly before explaining that it wouldn't be necessaray because he would have no-out-of-pocket medical expenses since he was covered by Ontario's version of Canada's universal health care.

The treament he got was top of the line, without a doubt. While being treated he meet another Ontarian who had a similar diagnosis but who  decided to get a second opinion.  That man paid his way to the Mayo Clinic for evaluation, only to be told that they would propose the same course of treatment which would run more than $1 million.  The clinic's advice: go home, and get yourself taken care of there, where you won't go bankrupt with medical bills.

Universal health care is not free: Canadians pay for it through their taxes.  But taxes are, as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said nearly a century ago, "what we pay for civilized society."    The current campaign of disinformation in the US is a scandal: the babblings of that other Holmes, Shona, are a case in point.  If you want some facts, not bluster, read André Picard's analysis in The Globe and Mail.

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September 11, 2009
May I suggest, Ukedude, that you read the Nicolas Kristof column I mentioned in the earlier comment: thttp://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/03/opinion/03kristof.html?_r=1 Called "Health Care That Works," the piece points out that the two areas of the US health care system which get good marks for user satisfication, health outcomes and cost-effectiveness are those run by government: Mediciare and the Veterans' Administration program.

Other good reading about the need for cost and quality control: Atule Ganwande's The Cost Conundrum in The New Yorker:http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/06/01/090601fa_fact_gawande As the various ways you can have government involvement in health care, check out this piece about the Dutch and French systems: http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/arti...s_get_healthcare_right/

And having had first hand experience in both the US system (shepherding elderly parents through the maze) and the Canadian one (breast and prostate cancer in the family, childhood diseases, births, compacted earwax, corns, allergies etc.) the Canadian single payer system (where you choose your own doctor BTW) wins hand's down.
September 11, 2009
Just a thought here. Do you REALLY want our government controlling our health care, given the 100% failure rate for them with medicare or welfare or social security or so many other programs that our government has mucked up? Reform our medical insurance? Definitely!!! Let the government control it? It would be broke in 10 years
September 03, 2009
Anyone interested in this issue should check out Nicolas Kristof's column in The Newe York Times today (September 3) at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/03/opinion/03kristof.html?_r=1 Called "Health Care That Works," the piece points out that the two areas of the US health care system which get good marks for user satisfication, health outcomes and cost-effectiveness are those run by government: Mediciare and the Veterans' Administration program.
August 10, 2009
Yes, but we're not talking about Soviet-style no-choice health care. Wer'e talking using taxes to pay for health care for everyone. There is room for a widie variety of health care organizations in the system, and for a large element of personal choice. What is removed is the hard fact that if you don't have insurance in the US, you don't have health care. I am sorry to hear about your own personal problems, but it's important to remember that mistakes get made in the US too, as witness the high rates of malpractice cases.
August 20, 2009
I almost have to laugh whenever they talk about "death panels". We already have something very similar to them that isn't limited to the elderly--it's called insurance companies. They make life AND death decisions every day based solely on how it affects their profits.
August 10, 2009
I am so divided on this issue I don't know what to think anymore :P I've heard a lot of good and bad on Universal Health Care. I have spent 11 years in a country that had that type of Health Care (USSR).  While my parents paid nothing for literally years that I spent in the hospital - it was also the same system that got me in the hospital in the first place when I had adverse side effects from required immunizations. It was also there that my appendix was taken out 'by accident', i.e. it wasn't the right organ they were concerned about. I can laugh about it now, but it wasn't fun! You might enjoy reading the review on Rationing Healthcare article by Peter Singer. I think that if Universal Health Care is to work in any way, it has to leave room for personal choice, which wasn't the case in USSR - and I became a victim of that.
August 20, 2009
That happens here as well. In Tampa a man had the wrong leg removed. Of course they still had to go back and remove the proper leg afterwards!
August 20, 2009
Oh boy! I haven't had any issues like that here. Except for surprise medical bills, those aren't fun either ;)
August 27, 2009
On the bright side, here we're just talking about an option.
More Universal Health Care reviews
review by . September 11, 2009
Conceptually, I'm in favor in providing health care to everyone, however I'm also concerned about the costs associated with such a universal benefit.  As part of the cost benefit analysis i started thinking about some new social pressure it could create.  Here's what i mean.        We know that living a certain way creates a higher likelyhood that you will be healthy.  For example, if you don't smoke and aren't obese the odds are that you will live longer/healthier …
review by . July 17, 2009
Health Care !
With all due respect Sir,  I firmly believe that this time the American people should hold your feet to the fire.  During your campaign for President you made a number of promises to us.  First and foremost your promised transparency.  The days of backroom deals would be over.  Bills would be posted on the White House website for at least five days so that the general public would have an opportunity scrutinize them.  There would be no earmarks.  Your …
review by . January 23, 2010
Universal Health Care Debate in this country...
One of the biggest concerns in this country to date is the health care reform and universal health care.  Why do countries like Canada, England and Sweden have it AND why do we have millons of Americans who are uninsured and underinsured?  These people make such difficult choices as whether to go to a doctor and pay for medicine when sick or buy food, pay utilities, etc.   In a country as wealthy and powerful as ours,  this should have to be an issue at hand.   …
review by . July 17, 2009
 I am a 65 yr old anesthesiologist/physician-a medical doctor on Medicare and this subject of health care is so complex. Do we have the finest medical care in the world? Not by outcome measurement. Do we have the fattest, laziest, sickest population in the world? Do we spend too much on end-of-life care (money down the drain)? Do we spend too much for insurance company profit? Does everybody want the finest care, the finest physicians, no waiting, nurses on call and somebody else to pay for …
review by . October 16, 2009
I don't know why people are against a single payer health care.  This country needs some form of basic health care coverage for it's population.  The argument I always hear is taxes.  You have these plants in some of these town hall meeting jumping up and down about saying "We pay enough taxes, we don't want to go in debt."  Where were these same people when we threw away billions upon billions of dollars at Bush Jr.s War in Iraq?  Do they care that we have spent …
Quick Tip by . August 22, 2009
Here's some common sense: http://www.theonion.com/content/news/congress_deadlocked_over_how_to?
Quick Tip by . August 20, 2009
Nooooo! Don't do it! Taxes will increase to make up the ever increasing deficit. DEBT KILLS
Quick Tip by . August 20, 2009
A much worthier place to spend money than dumping trillions into black hole, incompetent banks, but sadly, I doubt the gov can pull it off
Quick Tip by . August 20, 2009
IMHO, universal health care is a right, like free speech and public education. I would like to see universal, affordable health care.
Quick Tip by . August 20, 2009
Its gonna be a huge waste of money, but its better than the way they'll eventually blow our tax dollars. Lesser of 2 evils.
About the reviewer

Ranked #91
Mary Soderstrom is a Montreal-based writer of fiction and non-fiction. Her new collection of short stories, Desire Lines: Stories of Love and Geography, will be published by Oberon Press in November, … more
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Universal health care is health care coverage for all eligible residents of a political region and often covers medical, dental and mental health care. These programs vary in their structure and funding mechanisms. Typically, most costs are met via a single-payer health care system or national health insurance, or else by compulsory regulated pluralist insurance (public, private or mutual) meeting certain regulated standards. Universal health care is implemented in all but one of the wealthy, industrialized countries, with the exception being the United States. It is also provided in many developing countries and is the trend worldwide.

Universal health care is a broad concept that has been implemented in several ways. The common denominator for all such programs is some form of government action aimed at extending access to health care as widely as possible and setting minimum standards. Most implement universal health care through legislation, regulation and taxation. Legislation and regulation direct what care must be provided, to whom, and on what basis. Usually some costs are borne by the patient at the time of consumption but the bulk of costs come from a combination of compulsory insurance and tax revenues. Some programs are paid for entirely out of tax revenues. In some cases, government involvement also includes directly managing the health care system, but many countries use mixed public-private systems to deliver universal health care

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