They gave us a warm Canadian greeting and showed us to our cozy basement quarters equipped with all that we needed for our brief stay. They were very accommodating and we soon learned the gentleman formerly worked as an itinerant pastor traveling around the world, including Minnesota (where we live).
The couple was now engaged in a Canadian ministry that helped send bibles/support ministries throughout third world countries from the support of various thrift stores set-up across Canada.
Before we headed home later that week, we had breakfast with them and we got to hear more about their story – including life in Canada.
The subject turned to healthcare and they mentioned how grateful they were to have universal healthcare.
“We can't believe how in the U.S. someone can go broke through a medical crisis,” the man said. “We're happy we don't have to worry about that here.”
In Canada, residents opt for universal care and (supplemental) private plans through their company. According to a tweet exchange I recently had with a reporter, 2/3 of Canadians are covered this way.
The conversation with this couple surprised me a bit. We'd heard mixed views on healthcare in Canada. Many expressed displeasure with the wait times to get care – especially in an emergency. While others complained about the higher taxes.
Since the couple had a more conservative bent, I'd thought they'd be more anti-universal healthcare.
But they weren't.
How my thoughts have changed on healthcare for all
Since I had this exchange and read other commentary, my thinking has changed a bit on providing healthcare for all. It also brought to mind a story of an older, wheelchair-bound, homeless man I'd sometimes give rides to when I was living downtown.
After experiencing some heart problems, he went to a hospital to get checked out. He stayed there for a day or so, but then was kicked out (because he had no coverage). While not fully healed, I was a bit taken aback this could happen.
Now, I don't know the circumstances of this man or if he ever applied for low-income health coverage (which is available in MN). But, I know this is not a right for all in other states, like Arizona.
I also understand the hospitals and health providers need to make money. And, sometimes, I think this priority may trump providing the best care for an individual.
I certainly don't pretend to know all about the complicated intricacies of healthcare. Because it is complex and there are many variables. But, I've always been puzzled we haven't come to a working solution to the problem in all these years.
In the early life of the Mayo Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota, it innovated the idea of offering free medical care to those in need. They did this by charging wealthier (or people who could afford care) more to help pay for those less fortunate. It was a simple idea that worked for years. The Mayo still offers assistance to those in need, today.
While I don't think a person without coverage today can arrive at a hospital—near death—and not receive treatment, I wonder if we could do better to provide care – better preventative care for all who need it.
Higher deductibles and paying out of pocket cause many to skip seeing the doctor when they may need to because they have other spending “priorities”. Thus neglecting a problem health issue that may have been nipped in the bud if they had coverage. Or, where “cost” wasn't a factor.
And since we have the latest advancements in medical care, why can’t this be a right for all. Especially to those in need?
What are your thoughts?
I'm interested to hear what you think about this topic – if you care to weigh in? What's been your experience with healthcare costs, healthcare in general, etc.?