Our medical system isn’t socialist but it is pretty good
Trump —THE WAY I SEE IT recently denounced Clinton for praising Canada’s “socialist” healthcare system.
In his trademark fear-mongering style, Trump implied it would be terrible for the U.S. to have a similar system because anything that looks or smells like socialism is scary bad.
If you’re a socialist, you’re against capitalism and making and keeping a profit for your own benefit.
Socialists don’t believe in private property, and socialist governments own and control the production of goods and services, doling them out for the collective good.
So does all that add up to Canada really having a socialist healthcare system?
The Canada Health Act does decree that all citizens and permanent residents across the country must get free, universal access to essential doctor and hospital services.
The system is publicly funded/quasi single-payer, since the bill is footed by provinces and the federal government, with each province and territory overseeing its own system and setting its own rules.
But it’s also privately funded since it doesn’t cover prescriptions, dental, eye care and some other costs, so the majority of Canadians have private insurance, too. Meanwhile, medical services are provided by private doctors who don’t work for the government, but are self employed. These independent contractor doctors hire and pay their own staff and can set up shop wherever they want.
Doctors then bill the government for the services they provide, while patients are free to choose whichever doctor they want. A Canadian can go to a different doctor every day of the week if they want, and it won’t cost a cent (ask a Canadian what their copay is and they’ll give you a blank stare because there are none.) So, if we’re going with the definition of a socialist medical system - government hires and employes doctors, tells them where and what they can practice and tells patients who they can see - Canada’s doesn’t fit the bill.
During the second presidential debate Trump said the Canadian system was “slow” and “catastrophic,” claiming thousands of Canadians head south on a regular basis for better healthcare. Hmmm, that’s funny, because most people I know are terrified of getting hurt or becoming ill while in the States and having to pay insanely inflated medical costs.
As an American living in Canada, I am very grateful for our medical system. I was able to take up to a year off, much with pay, after having each of my three kids. My friends in the States often got less than four weeks maternity leave, much of it unpaid.
Any time one of my kids had a bad cough, pulled on their ear while running a fever, had a suspicious rash, or took a nasty fall playing sports, I didn’t think twice about heading to our pediatrician. My kids had annual checkups and received all their vaccinations. They had annual eye exams at no cost until they were 18. And when I had to have ACL reconstruction surgery earlier this year, I was first put through a battery of quick and thorough pre-op testing. The surgery went very well and I received excellent care. A week after surgery, I started physiotherapy twice a week. There was a question about a family history of heart disease and I was booked right away for a cardio stress test (which revealed good health and excellent cardio capacity, thank you very much.)
I am also fortunate to have had the same compassionate, proactive, extremely involved family doctor for the past 25 years.
And all at no cost.
Read that again.
Our system isn’t perfect, but its certainly not socialist, and it’s a lot better than the care to which many of my family and friends in the U.S. can’t afford access. KRISTINA EDSON
Canada’s healthcare system has taken some hits during the U.S. presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.