Friday, July 20, 2012

How I Lost My Fear of Universal Health Care

How I Lost My Fear of Universal Health Care

When I moved to Canada in 2008, I was a die-hard conservative Republican. So when I found out that we were going to be covered by Canada's Universal Health Care, I was somewhat disgusted. This meant we couldn't choose our own health coverage, or even opt out if we wanted too. It also meant that abortion was covered by our taxes, something I had always believed was horrible. I believed based on my politics that government mandated health care was a violation of my freedom.

When I got pregnant shortly after moving, I was apprehensive. Would I even be able to have a home birth like I had experienced with my first 2 babies? Universal Health Care meant less choice right? So I would be forced to do whatever the medical system dictated regardless of my feelings, because of the government mandate. I even talked some of having my baby across the border in the US, where I could pay out of pocket for whatever birth I wanted. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that midwives were not only covered by the Universal health care, they were encouraged! Even for hospital births. In Canada, midwives and doctors were both respected, and often worked together.

I went to my first midwife appointment and sat in the waiting room looking at the wall of informational pamphlets. I never went to the doctor growing up, we didn't have health insurance, and my parents preferred a conservative naturopathic doctor anyways. And the doctor I had used for my first 2 births was also a conservative Christian. So I had never seen information on birth control and STDs. One of the pamphlets read "Pregnant Unexpectedly?" so I picked it up, wondering what it would say. The pamphlet talked about adoption, parenthood, or abortion. It went through the basics of what each option would entail and ended by saying that these choices were up to you. I was horrified that they included abortion on the list of options, and the fact that the pamphlet was so balanced instead of "pro-life."

For more of the story go HERE


  1. Interesting, but not surprising.

    I'm assuming this is legit.

  2. Well, I agree this article sounds a bit like a public relations feature. But in fact most of what she says about healthcare in Canada applies here in Australia. OK, so doctor's visits aren't 'free' for everyone. If you're working and are above the poverty line, you do have to pay a small 'gap' fee (about $17 per visit at most GPs). But all poor people and everyone receiving an Age Pension or other type of Social Security pay nothing, at whatever doctor you choose to use. For specialist services above the basic, you can opt to 'go private' or wait your turn at one of the government hospital clinics where specialists are available - though there's a considerable waiting period at times. But even if you go private, you'll be subsidised for a good percentage of all out-of-hospital costs. At my husband's annual Pacemaker check-up, for example, we paid $180, but Medicare refunded $120 of that. All prescriptions are subsidised so each scrip has the same cost: as Age Pensioners we pay $5.30 per scrip, but after the family has paid out $290 in scrips in any calendar year, we get all remaining scrips free for the rest of that year. The same applies to people who have jobs and a better income - but their Safety Net is higher. And we have both private and public hospitals - sometimes hospitals have both types of wards on offer. Private insurance is available for private hospital cover. We pay about $700 per quarter for family coverage, which gives pretty much 100% of all costs while in hospital and accommodation in a private room, if one's available. My husband's open-heart surgery with post-surgical complications requiring a long period in ICU and months of hospital and rehab resulted in $250,000 of bills, all paid by our insurance company. And there are no lifetime limits on that insurance. If there's a down side (in your eyes), it would be that all pensions (e.g. Social Security) are means tested. So anyone with a reasonable private retirement plan doesn't get ANY Social Security payments from the Government. So I guess we save money on Social Security, and spend it instead on a rational universal health scheme with private options. Thank god I live in Australia, for this and many other reasons.

  3. RB, it does read like a promo for universal health care.
    Chartreuse, thanks for the detailed description of Australian health care. Different in detail but the same in principle.


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