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Feb-11-2010 00:51printcomments

Several Points Worth Reading About Healthcare in Canada

Prescription drug prices are completely outrageous--to the point that people have to juggle between rent, food, bills or the medication that they desperately need. I don’t understand why Americans are so afraid of socialized medicine.

You have to wonder if this is all it comes down to in America.
You have to wonder if this is all it comes down to in America.

(SALEM, Ore.) - I am a Canadian citizen living in Oregon as a legal resident alien. I moved to the states with my parents when I was eight years old. All of my family still lives in Canada and receives their medical treatment there.

I would like to share my first-hand experience with the Canadian and U.S. medical systems.

Now, my mother was a single parent of three children. When I was five I broke my arm. She took me to see our family doctor (who had been her doctor, delivered both my sisters and I, and cared for us as we grew) and had my arm set and casted. When I was seven I fell off of a two story balcony and gave myself a terrible concussion. My mother took me to the hospital where I was admitted and stayed THREE days just to be monitored to make sure that my brain was alright.

If we had been in the United States, both of these childhood accidents would have been financially and emotionally crippling for my mother (even if we had private insurance she would not have been able to afford the co-pays). Also, an American hospital probably would have checked me out after my fall, informed my mother I had a concussion and sent us on our way leaving her responsible to monitor me.

Statements have been made that the Canadian medical system is less advanced than the American medical system, but I would have to disagree. My Grandmother had two angioplasties performed in Canada and had a stent placed in her heart. All of these surgeries were incredibly successful. She never had any complications that caused her to return to the hospital and it did not cost her anything.

My grandfather as well has had several major surgeries in Canada that have been completely successful.

He has had both hips replaced, both knees replaced and recently spent almost four weeks in the hospital being treated for stomach issues. If he had been in the United States he most definitely would have been released from the hospital because of an inability to pay for his treatment. Unlike the United States, the Canadian medical system is designed to give patients the care that they need regardless of their ability to pay.

My experiences in the United States have been nothing less than nightmares! About two years ago I hemorrhaged and lost almost half of my blood. I nearly died. I was treated at the hospital to stop the bleeding and then sent home to follow up with my General Practitioner in a few days.

A month later I began to bleed heavily again and was taken to the hospital. When I arrived at the hospital (in a wheelchair and fainting from my blood loss) I was instructed to fill out some forms and wait for triage. When my boyfriend approached the woman at the counter and tried to explain my situation (that I was literally bleeding to death in the waiting room) she explained to him that I needed to wait for triage and that he must calm down or she would have to call security.

I accepted that I was going to die in the emergency room waiting room. Luckily, I did not die but this was a terrifying and humiliating experience for me. Again, I was treated and released the same day with instructions to visit my regular doctor for a check up in a few days. On top of it all I ended up with about $1500.00 worth of debt for my treatment after what my insurance covered (which I paid about $200.00 a month for).

I could go on and on with horror stories from myself, friends and family but I think I will get to my point. As someone who has experienced both sides of this issue, I would have to say that Canada’s healthcare system is by far superior to America’s.

American Doctors seem to have little compassion for their patients and just want to get you out the door as soon as possible.

Preventative and follow-up care is basically non-existent.

Prescription drug prices are completely outrageous--to the point that people have to juggle between rent, food, bills or the medication that they desperately need. I don’t understand why Americans are so afraid of socialized medicine, but I think anyone who is skeptical should take a trip to Canada and find out first hand what it is all about!

This article is a response to a article published the previous day: Oh Canada... Healthcare on a Level With Europe - Dexter Phoenix

And that article was a response to another article that you might want to check out: The Canadian Health Care Edge - Daniel Johnson

Amanda Leduc is Originally from B.C., Canada. She moved to the United States in 1992, and has always had a passion for writing, animals and the environment. Amanda has worked in customer service, Veterinary Clinics and for a local Animal Shelter. She hopes to use these skills as a writer and her passion for animals and the environment to spread the word about the pet over-population epidemic in our community and across the country. She also hopes to address environmental issues locally and nationally, especially the decline in native species due to habitat destruction and invasive species. Amanda is currently studying to complete an Associates of Applied Science degree in Veterinary Technology.

You can write to Amanda through our newsroom email address,

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ken ramey February 11, 2010 8:33 pm (Pacific time)

Healthcare properly defined is the difference between the cost of champagne and beer. Money goes where the best care is AVAILABLE; BUT
the vast majority cannot.  To argue apples and oranges misses the point. The majority of people need help and ought to have it available here in the U. S.

Dexter February 11, 2010 10:17 pm (Pacific time)
and the grand daddy of them all......"Cancer Research UK’s work is helping people to beat cancer. Our scientific research into new treatments has, over the years, contributed to 19 of the top 20 cancer drugs used to treat people worldwide..U.K Cancer research."
Here is the link to that comment:
We are also the world leader in pushing for trial and newly developed Cancer fighting drugs, with out waiting around for the likes of the FDA to make there mind up on how to capitalize profitably on the new drugs, while Scientist are painstakingly trying to push there treatments out to the public that need it quickly and urgently!.

Amanda Leduc February 11, 2010 10:15 pm (Pacific time)

I just want to clarify that I was NOT referring to cancer treatment in America vs. Canada. I was referring to the availability, cost, and quality of basic medical care and prescription drugs for the average person in each country. It is easy to divert the problem by referring to cancer statistics but it doesn't change the fact that in the US most people are having to choose between their livelihood or their health! Is there a difference? How do you make that choice? That is my point and that is what I think American's need to stay focused on.

Dexter February 11, 2010 9:13 pm (Pacific time)"> (um..where was America in discovering this break through?, also check out other cancers that we are now on the way of curing)

This is just quick random finds with out looking too deep to prove a point. Enjoy.

Mike Layton February 11, 2010 6:17 pm (Pacific time)

Amanda thanks for sharing your stories. I also have had some difficult times with attaining good healthcare, and pursued a lawsuit in situation around 10 years ago. I had an out of court settlement, but frankly I still feel even today that I got the shaft. I'm sure many of us know numerous anecdotal stories, good and bad. What I referenced in a below post were two links, the first one had numerous easy to read graphs that seemed clear. In regards to the other linked-source, I have no idea what is far right or far left. Hopefully the below narrative and links provide some more interesting data. The same stats are reflected in many different sourced reports I have come across. I would be interested if anyone has conflicting data? "American women have a 63 percent chance of living at least five years after a cancer diagnosis, compared to 56 percent for European women. American men have a five-year survival rate of 66 percent — compared to only 47 percent for European men. Among European countries, only Sweden has an overall survival rate for men of more than 60 percent (American men 66%). Early diagnosis is important, but survival also depends on getting effective treatment quickly. However, long waits for treatment are common for access to care in countries with universal health insurance, according to a report in Health Affairs. Another reason for the higher cancer survival rates in the United States is that Americans can get new, effective drugs long before they are available in most other countries. A report in the Annals of Oncology by two Swedish scientists found. Comparing Canada to America: For women, the average survival rate for all cancers is 61 percent in the United States, compared to 58 percent in Canada. For men, the average survival rate for all cancers is 57 percent in the United States, compared to 53 percent in Canada."

Amanda Leduc February 11, 2010 4:48 pm (Pacific time)

To Mike, yes I have had health insurance in the United States. I have had Kaiser Permanente which I completely detest. While we had this insurance my sister broke her elbow. When she went to the doctor they told her it was sprained, gave her a sling and sent her home. When she was still having issues with her elbow six months later she went to the ER and they x-rayed her arm. Turns out she had broken her elbow. When my mother researched why Kaiser had not diagnosed this she found out from ex-Kaiser nurses that they have a quota for each diagnosis and have to stay below it so they pass off more extreme diagnosis as something less severe (now this was about ten years ago so things may have changed). I also have had United Insurance which I paid for every two weeks out of my pay check. I was happy with the fact that I could choose my own doctor but I could not afford the co-pays for hospital visits or prescriptions. I am curious where you get your figures that "Pretty obvious Canadians and people from all over the world come here at a significantly higher ratio". You seem to have the bull headed ignorant attitude that the rest of world despises about Americans! Daniel, thank you for jumping in here on these comments as I do not live in Canada right now and don't have a clue where the Prime Minister receives his health care! Thank you for all of your warm welcomes and I am greatful that this issue is coming out in the public eye. I am not saying American's need to adopt Canada's health care system but something had obviously got to change. It is pretty pathetic that in the "Most developed and successful country in the world" the majority of people cannot afford medical care or prescription drugs! Also, you must have gotten your duel citizenship through Canada because the United States does not offer duel citizenship anymore.

Dexter February 11, 2010 3:03 pm (Pacific time)

The telegraph is a conservative paper. They have always attacked figures and comments from The labour party (the party that’s in power now in England). Even though I am more conservative myself as well, and I absolutely detest the Labour party (communists in suits as I call them). That political party has nothing to do with the conservative party in the states, nor has the same values or behavior as the American conservatives.

The conservative party is mostly of a blue blood back private schools, middle to upper class, well educated people, supporting the old values of Great Britain (think of it as a very patriotic political party). These people can afford Private health care. so of course a paper that supports those types of people will attack anything thats negative towards conservative values. At least we do not have the same issue about cancer research like you do while waiting for your FDA to make up there mind in to releasing a new life saving drug. This is another reason why people got to Europe... so they can try these new possibly life saving drugs, especially when they have exhausted every other option, and you have noting else to loose. If you do your research better on English medical journals, it actually says we have found better ways in combating Cancer, with a REAL cure and the end of it...not just prolonging it.

Also the reason we have lines of people (as you put it) waiting is because we are having to deal with people all over the world in are hospitals. I would love to see how you cope, if half of Europe and central America decided to stand out on your hospital front doors, looking to get medical assistance?!!!.

Mike Layton February 11, 2010 1:47 pm (Pacific time)

Data shows that cancer patients live longer in the United States than anywhere else on the globe. Please see graphs/charts showing different cancer survival rates of different countries,and different types of cancers. Also references Canada:
"Cancer survival rates in Britain are among the lowest in Europe, according to the most comprehensive analysis of the issue yet produced...  England is on a par with Poland despite the NHS spending "three times more" on health care. Survival rates are based on the number of patients who are alive five years after diagnosis and researchers found that, for women, England was the fifth worst in a league of 22 countries. Scotland came bottom... [Cancer experts blamed late diagnosis and long waiting lists.]"

Editor: Well Mike, you're working from the equivilant of FOX News in England.  The Telegraph is as right wing as you are going to find, probably a whole lot of influence from the good old USA.  Want to talk about cancer for a minute?  Let's start with MCAS El Toro and Camp Lejeune, N.C.  My brother and sister Marines are dropping dead all over from cancer contracted from the contaminated water at these bases.  Now El Toro's gift flows directly under Irvine City Hall.  Based on what we know, you are working from pure propaganda.  This link Wikipedia: List of countries by life expectancy showing where the USA comes in 38th place overall, behind places like South Korea, Luxembourg, UAE, Finland, Germany, the UK, Norway, Singapore, Canada... getting the idea yet? That kind of defeats your overall point by itself.  I do not believe that there is a shred of truth to your point, even if some highly paid agency says it is.  We have published three writers in the last 24 hours saying that healthcare in the UK and Canada is far better, they are the ones who know.     

Anonymous February 11, 2010 12:44 pm (Pacific time)

Anonymous "Canadian PM is coming to America for his surgery" read about his back ground and the connections he has in the states. Also research his medical and insurance he has. There is obviously a very good reason why his insurance has sent him to America, and i am sure its nothing to do with that lame comment!!!. If I was making his kind of money I would end up paying private as well... for some nice private hospital in a middle of a desert island drinking long island ice teas, and basking in the sun, while getting checked up by medical trained hooter girls with the snap of my fingers. It's nice when you can afford it.

Anonymous February 11, 2010 12:37 pm (Pacific time)

Mike Layton. What planet do you come from?..."Pretty obvious Canadians and people from all over the world come here at a significantly higher ratio. Ergo, we have the most advanced medical services in the world. People want the best available medical options for themselves and their loved ones." Talk to some real people who are NOT all americans, and read my piece on this subject, I think that comment is seriously going to get burnt!

Anonymous February 11, 2010 10:37 am (Pacific time)

One month supply of atorvastatin in the US is $30 copay with insurance or something over $100 without insurance. In Argentia the same drug for a month supply is $19 cash on the barrelhead.

Anonymous February 11, 2010 9:59 am (Pacific time)

What a lie. Then please tell me why the Canadian PM is coming to America for his surgery? Well, because it is a fact that America has one of the best health care there is. It's not perfect but it works just fine. Stop the lie about the health care, start telling the truth.

The Canadian PM is in Vancouver for the opening of the Olympics. Given your towering ignorance about anything outside your borders, you must be an American. DJ

Hank Ruark February 11, 2010 9:59 am (Pacific time)

Nothing in journalism at any level ever out-does direct and very personal experience told in straightforward style. Amanda's report is excellent example. A very warm and appreciative welcome to our newest writer !

Vic February 11, 2010 7:36 am (Pacific time)

In the little (9,000 pop) town in Mexico that we live in, there is one hospital and several Salud clinics. A hospital visit for ANY reason is 150 pesos...about $12 US. For those who have no money, the Salud Clinics are free. Prescriptions are a fraction of US prices, and when you go to a clinic, you get in that day.

Mike Layton February 11, 2010 7:30 am (Pacific time)

Amanda have you ever had medical insurance here in the states? If so, why do you think you have had such a bad experience? If you had none, then why not? Have you seen polls on patient satisfactions? The vast super majority of us here are satisfied with our medical care. I know several Canadians who live here and travel back and forth but use American medical services because they have insurance here, even though they can get similar treatments in Canada. Is it because our medical services here are better? Are they easier to get? Maybe it's because they can receive treatment procedures here on a more timely basis? Of course there can be a wide range of getting medical services depending on your location at time of needing medical services. For example getting emergency room treatment at an urban county hospital may be a longer process in a less populated area. One way of evaluating the medical treatments between the two countries is to look at the patient cross-over. For example how many financially capable people here go to Canada for medical services and how many of similar socio-economic status from Canada (and other countries) come here? Pretty obvious Canadians and people from all over the world come here at a significantly higher ratio. Ergo, we have the most advanced medical services in the world. People want the best available medical options for themselves and their loved ones.

Proud Mommy February 11, 2010 2:39 am (Pacific time)

I'm American, my husband is Canadian. His family is all still in Canada. A relative up there has a daughter around 4 or 5 with some sort of mental retardation. Because of socialized healthcare, they have been on a waiting list for years to just get an mri for her. They, in the past few months, were finally able to get one to try to get a diagnosis of what may be wrong with her. They had to travel halfway across Canada to get it. I had an mri here to get a diagnosis for migraines, and I thought it was awful that I had to wait almost a week for my private insurance to approve it, boy was I wrong! After hearing about this poor little girl possibly becoming untreatable because of the length of time to find a diagnosis, and the strain her parents have to endure having a sick child with no explaination. If her diagnosis came sooner, she may have been able to recieve treatment or therapy appropriate for the condition, versus a non-stop trial and error. I can see how a broken arm can easily be treated be any doctor or hospital, but what about something that's not so clean-cut? Do they not matter because they weren't born healthy? Because it takes more than a quick glance to figure out? You now have an opposing view from someone that does have experience from both sides of the healthcare.

There's something missing in your story. It just doesn't ring true as you present it. In Oct 2007 I had a minor stroke and was taken by ambulance to Foothills Hosp here in Calgary about 10 pm. I had an MRI first thing in the morning (within eight hours of admission) and a follow-up MRI three days later. MRIs are available in every major city in Canada. Depending on where his relations live, they might have had to travel "halfway across" a province. Without more specific information, your story falls in the Ripley's category, which I think is what you intended. (Daniel Johnson)

Jerry West February 11, 2010 2:16 am (Pacific time)

I am a dual citizen who has experience in both health care systems. For the average person the Canadian one is far better. We choose our own doctors, and almost all expenses except elective stuff and drugs outside of the hospital are covered. In BC a family of three or more pays a maximum of $114 per month for public insurance, and taxes in my experience are not that much higher, particularly if one considers the huge savings in insurance premiums. Check out the BC Medical Services Plan

Daniel Johnson February 11, 2010 1:34 am (Pacific time)

Welcome, Amanda!

I would like to see a story from the other side--from an American who can testify from personal experience how superior the American health care system is. I'm not holding my breath.

Dexter February 11, 2010 1:22 am (Pacific time)

I think Amanda is in a perfect position to justify her story on here. Being from Canada but living in the States, puts her in a better position in explaining and comparing situations that we are experiencing between America and Canada. It is always great to hear how other countries cope, even more so when you have people like Amanda that has had first hand experience in this whole dilemma that we are talking about now. I am looking forward to hearing more from Amanda.

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