Now, as a rule, most Canadians who don't live in the United States don't
get involved in topics domestic to the US. Most American users return
the favor, if only because they have learned that Toronto isn't the
capital of Canada, and Prince Charles isn't the King of Canada, and got
tired of being laughed at.
But the topic of Canadian health care comes up frequently, and of
course, the far right likes to portray the system as a Marxist nightmare
in which children have to wait ten years to get a broken arm reset and
little old ladies have to have compulsory prostate exams before they are
allowed to vote.
What the people who spread that kind of manure to the American public
didn't realize is that some of their supporters would believe these
lurid tales, and cross post them to Canadian groups.
Presumably, they were enlisting Canadian aid. Hopefully, they would
start seeing posts from British Columbia or Nova Scotia or Neptune say,
“Oh, gawd, please help us, we're dying like flies up here.”
The problem is that a large majority of Canadians like the provincial
systems (there's actually a dozen different systems in Canada; ten
provincial systems that are generally very similar, a federal one for
the territories and reserves, and one for the military, and about 90% of
Canadians are in one of the provincial systems). So instead of
gratifying stories from desperate Canadians about how their children
might still be alive if they had only listened to Richard Nixon when
they had the chance, Usenet has been getting a lot of messages that say
things like, “Man, I'm glad I don't live down there. I know people who
won't even visit the US because they are afraid they might get hurt or
get sick and end up in an American hospital”.
Not only do most Canadians like their health system (and certainly,
Canadians bitch about the system, but griping is a national hobby in
Canada), but they regard the privatized model in the US with a mixture
of horror and contempt.
So instead of horror stories, Usenet users read of things like, “I was
in a headon collision in Vancouver. I spent a week in the ICU, and five
weeks on the surgical floor, recovering. Afterward, the hospital sent me
a bill for $16.35. I had made some long distance calls that weren't
covered. That was the only bill I saw, and I'm fully recovered now.”
One user, calling himself “Chom Noamski” wrote, “The biggest lie is that
Canada's single-payer universal healthcare is inferior. The right bases
its criticism on exceptions while ignoring honest apples-to-apples
statistical metrics. For example (cue fear response) 'you will die on a
wait list.' The right ignores the 18,000 Americans who die every year
because of NO INSURANCE (only people with money count when it comes to
comparative metrics). When population is compared against population,
versus insured against insured, far fewer people die from lack of access
in Canada.” Chom might actually be an American, judging from the
spelling of “inferior”.
Chom also cited an article from a newspaper in Calgary, which is perhaps
the most Conservative city in Canada by Naomi Lakritz of the Calgary
Herald, who wrote “Sheesh! To hear the extremist rhetoric floating
around south of the border, you'd think Canada's public health-care
system was the socialist demon incarnate, hatched directly from the
fevered imaginations of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels themselves. Cool
it, America. Your health-care system is nothing to write home about,
with some 46 million people sans insurance, with your managed care and
gatekeepers, your doctors wasting time filling out insurance forms, and
your insurance companies dreaming up ways to avoid paying out to people
who faithfully paid their premiums for years.” Alberta, the oil-rich
western province above Montana, so admires all things American that
there has been a small but persistent movement to leave Canada and join
the US. There's a tendency in the rest of Canada, as a result, to regard
Alberta as being somewhat like the Slim Pickens character in “Doctor
Strangelove” who rides the bomb down.
Another Canadian wrote: “The USA has a for-profit medical insurance
industry. Consequently, those who do not generate profits for the
industry are not insured, except in some cases by the government. If the
insurance was cheap and readily available, everybody would have it and
the insurers wouldn't make any money...People all over the world are
paying the price for the financial deregulation spurred on by the wingnuts in the US.
Somewhere along the line, banks and other financial institutions,
including insurance companies, seem to have forgotten that the money
they're playing with isn't theirs. It belongs to their customers.”
Another, called Archie, wrote: “I can go to a doctor in this country and
have something checked out if I'm worried about it. No problem. I can be
devastated with a crippling illness or injury but I don't have to worry
about losing my house and my savings. I don't have to prove anything at
all about pre-existing conditions because in Canada, profit doesn't
enter into it. It is socialism - we got it and you don't.
“You better hope you don't get the jaundice eye from the HMOs and you
better hope that you and yours remain healthy. Otherwise, you are a stat
- one of the 60% of bankruptcies in the USA related to health care.
“Your system is cruel and barbaric. Good luck. You need it.”
An American had the misfortune to suddenly develop a life threatening
situation, but fortunate enough to do so while visiting in Canada. Ian
Welsh wrote, “A Personal Perspective on Canadian Healthcare
“I should add that I have firsthand experience with how the Canadian
system prioritizes treatment. In 1993, at the age of 25, I became very
ill with ulcerative colitis. I was hospitalized, and put on very
expensive drugs. About a week after being hospitalized, the nurse
watching me called in my doctors on a Sunday because I was deteriorating
so fast—pain killers were no longer having any effect (i.e., high doses
of morphine were not working), I wouldn’t let anyone touch me, and I was
becoming delirious. At about midnight, they wheeled me into the
operating chamber and took out my large intestine. While they were
digging around, they found out I had appendicitis, and they took that
out too. It would have burst within 2 days, and in my weakened state, it
would have killed me.
“Unfortunately, one of the treatments for ulcerative colitis involves
immune suppressing drugs. My immune system basically shut down, my liver
almost shut down, and I spent almost another 3 months in the hospital,
riddled with extremely painful and crippling infections and other
problems. At one point I was on 9 drugs; one of them was an antibiotic
so expensive that only a single doctor in the hospital could approve it.
My gastroenterologist called the treatment the equivalent of “pouring
gold dust into your veins.” I wasted away, my weight dropping below 90
lbs. I often joke that I was old young: I’ve used a walker, crutches and
“The Universal Healthcare Bottom Line : The ultimate point of my story
is simple: I got the care I needed, when I needed it, and I never paid a
single red cent.”
As far as I know, nobody solicited such posts. It's just that dumb right
wingers decided to rope in the Canadian groups, and belatedly discovered
that Canadians didn't like being lied about, and they were tired of
watching Americans being lied to.
It has been noted that the insurance companies, in preliminary
negotiations with the Obama administration, said they were willing to
cut their profits by $80 billion. The servile corporate media paid no
attention to this and few asked what sort of profits they hoped to
protect by throwing away $80 billion a year, and why we were giving them
this $80 billion a year in the first place.
The right wing, which consists, as David Sirota memorably noted, of the
richest 1% in American, and anyone they can either buy or fool, has been
in overdrive all week trying to lie, confuse, and change the subject.
Some idiot Congressman came up with an utterly phony flowchart that
looked like the design for a nuclear reactor, and right wing media have
been trying to present that utterly imaginary chart as the description
of the as-yet non-existent “Obama plan”.
In fact, they've having a field day with “The Obama Plan” since there is
no such thing, and so they can make any claim they want about it.
They've tried claiming that it would outlaw all private health insurance
(Investor's Business Daily blew what little remained of its journalistic
credibility with that howler) and of course, there's the endless scare
stories about waiting lists and forced euthanasia and not being able to
get a choice of doctors. And of course, the “Bobs” have shown up with
their messages of fear, pretending to be concerned grass-roots citizens.
They're easy to spot, because the language, born of corporate committee
speak, is so stilted, and they cling so stubbornly to the message, and
Of course, given that there IS no plan yet, it's anyone's guess whether
the Obama administration will have something that might actually be of
use, or a complete disaster. Anything that doesn't include a viable
public option will almost certainly be a disaster.
But it won't be a disaster for the Obama administration, unless you
count the fact that they tried to compromise with the far right and got
screwed, the way Clinton was. It will be a disaster for all the rest of us.
The status quo means a doubling of health care costs in the next decade,
millions more personal bankruptcies and ever more corporate control over
what health care people are allowed, and a continuing degradation of
American society and its economy.
Jon Perr, over at Crooks & Liars, described the Republican alternative
on health care (the status quo) this way:
“Here, then, is the *Republican 10-Point Plan for Health Care*:
50 Million Uninsured in America
Another 25 Million Underinsured
Employer-Based Coverage Plummets Below 60%
Employer Health Costs to Jump by 9% in 2010
One in Five Americans Forced to Postpone Care
62% of U.S. Bankruptcies Involve Medical Bills
Current Health Care Costs Already Fueling Job Losses
94% of Health Insurance Markets in U.S Now "Highly Concentrated"
Dramatic Decline in Emergency Room Capacity
Perpetuating Red State Health Care Failure “
Anything that doesn't radically change that status quo is doomed to
failure, and will endanger millions of people in America.