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Saturday, 17 June 2017

A Tale Of 2 Country's Health Care Systems







Right now American Republican weasels in the Senate are discussing among themselves how to get their new health care plan for America passed. Although 5 million more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump, Democrats are not allowed to participate in the discussions. Everything is happening behind closed doors in total secrecy.
 
On May 4th the Republican dominated congress managed to ram through their healthcare plan (American Health Care Act or AHCA) which includes a total repeal of the Affordable Healthcare Act, also known as Obamacare. The margin of victory was just 4 votes, 217-213. Every Democratic congressperson voted against the bill as did 20 Republicans. The bill now moves to the US Senate where Republicans have a slim majority over the Democrats.

The bill was passed in Congress without anyone knowing what the total costs are going to be. A previous version of the bill was scored by the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) and they predicted that 24 million Americans will lose their healthcare coverage in the next several years because of the bill.
Numerous groups in the US with a stake in healthcare voiced their disapproval of the Republicans plan. Almost all of these groups including the AARP with 37 million members have no particular political affiliation. The AARP is a group of seniors.
Other groups who opposed the Republican healthcare bill include the following.
-The American Medical Association which has a membership 220,000.
-The American Hospital Association which represents 5,000 organizations and 37,000 individuals.
-The American Nurses Association with millions of members.
-The American Academy of Pediatricians which represents 66,000 pediatricians.
-The American Cancer Society.
-The American Diabetes Association.
-The American Lung Association.
-The March of Dimes.
-The National MS Society.
-The National Organization for Rare Disorders.
 
Pushing Through Something Most Americans Don’t Want
Recent American polls show that Obamacare is not as unpopular as Republicans claim. 55% of Americans now like Obamacare.
Only 17% of Americans (almost all Republicans) like the Republican’s health care bill. The vast majority of Americans would like Obamacare to continue with adjustments made so that the plan works better.
A great number of the people who have benefitted from Obamacare are in fact Republicans.
What Is In The Republican Shit Sandwich Health Care Plan?
Basically the bill is an assault on the most vulnerable in the US including the elderly, people with low incomes, the handicapped, and those with pre-conditions.
The bill is testament that Republicans don’t think that their fellow citizens are worth much as human beings.
-Cuts to Medicaid amount to 839 billion dollars.
-The elimination of heath care subsidies amounts to 663 billion dollars.
-Individual states can now decide whether those with pre-conditions have any protection from drastic increases in their premiums.
-There will no longer be any fine for anyone who chooses not to have health care insurance. Younger people and others can just revert to turning up at emergency rooms in hospitals when they become sick and stick taxpayers with their bills.
-All taxes that helped fund Obamacare, including billions from the very wealthy, will no longer be applicable.
-Insurance companies will again be allowed to sell low value plans with very high deductibles and co-pays.
-It is estimated that at least 24 million Americans will no longer have health care insurance. It is expected that 25,000-50,000 Americans will die each year because they don’t have insurance coverage. Many more will declare bankruptcy after trying to pay their medical bills. Some will lose their homes.
-It will be legal for insurance companies to put lifetime caps on their customers. In theory, a baby born with defects would no longer be covered by insurance once the expenses go over the cap.
-In most cases women will pay more for health care insurance than men. Being pregnant will be perceived as a pre-condition.
-Funding for special education in schools for handicapped children will be cut dramatically.
-The wealthy and American corporations will receive over 600 billion dollars in tax breaks.
-Planned Parenthood which is visited by over 3 million Americans annually would no longer receive any federal funding.
-Medicaid expansion would be completely halted by 2020.
-There is little doubt that a number of hospitals in more rural areas will be forced to close if this bill is enacted.

 
The Deep Hatred For Obama And The Republican Party’s Distain For Americans Who Aren’t Wealthy
Most Americans are aware that there are flaws in Obamacare. Obamacare is based on the health care plan that former Massachusetts Republican governor Mitt Romney implemented more than a decade ago.
Most Republicans recognize Obama as a complete socialist even though he was far from being that. In Obama’s 8 years in office the rich got wealthier and wealthier, new jobs were added to the US economy each month for almost 7 years. In total, 14 million new jobs were created in Obama’s time in office. GM and the big banks were bailed out and are thriving today. The stock market soared. None of this sounds like a president hell bent on turning the US into a totally socialistic country.
There are a number of right wing Americans who were totally repulsed that a black man was sitting in the oval office. The leader of the Senate for 6 of Obama’s 8 years, Republican Mitch McConnell, made it totally clear that his party would never cooperate with Obama or the Democrats on anything whatsoever.
Obamacare was a compromise on Obama’s part. It wasn’t universal health care or user-pay. The health care insurance companies were still providing the insurance and the pharmaceutical companies could still charge whatever they wanted for their drugs.
Still the end result was that over 20 million more Americans had health care coverage who didn’t have it before.
Here’s brief list of some of the benefits Obamacare provided.
-Young adults could stay on their parent’s plan until the age of 26.
-Insurance companies could no longer impose lifetime caps on their customers.
-Insurance companies could no longer deny coverage to those with pre-conditions.
-Worthless plans with high deductibles and co-pays could no longer be sold by insurance companies.
-People with low incomes could receive government assistance in paying for an insurance plan.
-Women could not be charged more for health care insurance then men.
-It improved Medicare for seniors.
The general plan of the Republican Party is to totally destroy everything and anything that Obama was in favor of. It’s mostly older wealthy white men who get a hard on about this destruction.
After the bill barely squeaked through Congress, the Republicans in the house were absolutely giddy. They were all laughing and back slapping one another. Someone got the bright idea about chartering some busses so they could go over to the White House and share their victory with President Trump. One thing that was very evident at the photo-op was just how few women were seen standing with the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, and Trump.
 
Clearly a number of Republicans hadn’t read the bill before it was presented. All they needed to know that is was going to kill Obamacare.
On the evening of the bill Trump got together with the Prime Minister of Australia. For some odd reason Trump took it upon himself to praise Australia’s health care system not seemingly being able to understand that that country has universal care funded mostly by their federal government through general taxes.
A Look At Some American Demographics
There are about 340 million people in the US. They have a constitution that claims they believe that “all men are created equal” which as a statement lacks any reality. When The Constitution was written around 1776 slavery was totally legal in the US.
46% of the world’s personal wealth is in the US but as a country it also has the biggest income disparity among its citizens. Money equals status, plain and simple. Politics are controlled at the local, state, and national level by corporations or wealthy people with special interests.
The average US household income is a bit over 50K per year. This figure is deceptive because it is an average based on every American household including those who are more affluent.
Around 50% of Americans live pay day to pay to pay day and have less than $1,000.00 in the bank. 51% of Americans make less than $30,000.00 a year. 46 million Americans live below the poverty line.
60% of American workers get their health care insurance through their employer. The average cost for health care insurance for a family of 4 in the US is about $12,000.00 annually. Clearly, the majority of Americans can’t afford to pay these costs out of their own pockets.
Over 70 million Americans are enrolled in Medicaid and over 50 million are enrolled in Medicare.
Medicare is funded from 3 sources: general tax revenues 41%, payroll deductions 38%, and beneficiary premiums 13%. Payroll deductions are split evenly between the employer and employee. They each pay 1.45% of the pay check total.
Healthcare spending through private insurance and entitlement programs amounts to close to 16% of the US’s economy.
It is estimated that 1 in 2 Americans has a “precondition” when it comes to health care. Heredity and aging are two of the more significant factors. 1 in 3 Americans can expect to have some form of cancer in their lifetimes.
A Brief History of Universal Healthcare
Countries in blue have universal health care.
Providing health care coverage for an entire country is and was a major task. Every industrialized country in the world, other than the US, decided that their  governments would be the main suppliers of health care. The reasons for this were pretty simple. As a not for profit entity costs could be kept down. Additionally every citizen would have the same access to health care with the ability to pay not being a consideration.
A number of countries started off with small steps in the early part of the 20th century. In 1911 in the UK about 1/3 of British wage earners were covered by The National Insurance Act. The Russian Empire established a similar system in 1912. Japan introduced an employee health insurance law in 1927. By the 1930s most European countries were experimenting with universal health care. Between 1939 and 1941 New Zealand implemented universal health care in small steps. Australia followed suit a few years later.
After WW2 European countries in particular started embracing universal health care, The UK in 1948, Sweden in 1955, Norway in 1956, Iceland in 1956, Demark in 1961, and Finland in 1964.
Implementation of universal was gradual in countries like France, Germany, and Canada. It wasn’t until 1972 that all Canadians were covered. One of the last countries to change to universal health care was Israel in 1995.
Today the US is the only major country in the world that doesn’t guarantee its citizens the right to health care.
The general definition of “universal health care” is that health care coverage is provided to each citizen on an equal basis and it is paid for by taxes. Usually coverage includes pretty well everything most people would see a doctor for including life threatening illnesses. It also prevents people from having to use up their life savings trying to pay their medical bills.
Some countries include eye and dental care in their universal health care while other countries don’t.
Most countries with universal health care also allow private insurers to sell “extended benefits” which often includes things like prescription medications, vision care and prescription eyewear, dental procedures, visits to specialists and therapists, emergency medical travel coverage, and semi-private or private hospital room stays.
Some countries with universal health care allow private clinics to operate and perform surgeries but the patients have to pay for the procedures themselves generally. It is an expensive way of getting immediate treatment but it eases the pressure a bit on government run clinics.
Why Does The US Have Private Insurance Run Health Care When Every Other 1st World Country Has Universal Health Care?
It’s complicated. The 3 main reasons universal healthcare never became part of the American fabric are that most doctors were against it, Corporate America saw it as an enormous threat to profits, and the Republican Party historically has never been in favor of any kind of entitlement program that would provide benefits to most Americans.
Doctors
Being a physician in the US is the highest paid occupation in the country. The medium base salary per year is $180,000.00. Becoming a doctor is an expensive proposition both in time and education costs. 8 years of college are followed by several years of interning.
One just has to look at old movies to understand that doctors have always been one of the pillars of every American community. Most often they were among the wealthiest people in town. Up until the late 1950s most family physicians (general practitioners) made house calls with their little black bags. Patients got personalized care but travel time reduced profitability for the doctors. It became quite evident that it was far more efficient in managing doctors’ time for the patient to come to the doctor instead of the other way around.
There are several reasons that most American doctors and the organization that represents them, the AMA (American Medical Association), have never wanted to see Universal healthcare implemented. They didn’t want the government interfering in how they made their living for starters. They also were in fear of a government run healthcare system paying them less for their services.
Most people have a natural tendency to trust doctors. Doctors know things that many of us don’t, things that could affect our quality of life. These assets don’t necessarily translate to mean that they are smarter than other people about all other things. They are just as capable as the rest of us in having screwed up lives.
Yes there are doctors who aren’t in it for the money but they are rare. Not many wake up in the middle of the night feeling guilty about overcharging for their services.
FDR wanted to introduce universal healthcare to the US during the Great Depression. The AMA convinced him that he was taking too big of a bite out of the US’s way of doing things and FDR decided to settle on all the other progressive programs he was introducing.
After WW2, President Harry Truman tried to reintroduce the US to universal healthcare. The AMA killed Truman’s attempt by spending the most money up until that time lobbying against it.
In 1993 Hillary and Bill Clinton made an attempt to reform healthcare in the US. It wasn’t universal healthcare. The term “universal healthcare” can be blurred at times. People in other countries, other than the US, recognize universal healthcare as federal government run healthcare. In the US universal healthcare sometimes means that every citizen has access to healthcare insurance which is like having access to buy a car. It doesn’t mean much when you can’t afford to buy the car.
Corporate America and Healthcare
Up until the 1950s most Americans paid for medical expenses out of their pockets. In the late 1920s a few privately owned hospitals offered pre-paid programs. Patients who bought these plans could only use the hospital offering the plans. By the 1930s this type of healthcare had morphed into a corporation called Blue Cross.
During WW2 some American defense contractors, including Kaiser (inventors of the Jeep), began offering health insurance to their employees as a way of keeping workers with their companies.
In 1946 The National Mental Health Act was passed under President Harry Truman. In 1951 the IRS declared that group premiums paid by an employer were tax deductible expenses. It opened the door for 3rd party insurance companies to become the primary providers of access to healthcare in the US.
The average American doesn’t read the financial pages in newspapers nor do they pay much attention to corporate mergers. For the past 60 years Healthcare insurance companies have been buying one another out. The end result is that today 5 big healthcare insurers and their subsidiaries control the vast majority of the US healthcare insurance marketplace.
#1 Wellpoint has 70 million customers. 1 out of 9 Americans gets their healthcare insurance through Wellpoint.
#2 United Healthcare also has close to 70 million customers.
#3 Aetna has 40 million customers.
#4 Cigna has 12 million customers.
#5 Humana has 11 million customers.
Slightly over 200 million Americans get their healthcare insurance through the big 5. Altogether about 215 million Americans are on private insurance programs. What these numbers mean is that only about 15 million people buy their healthcare insurance from corporations other than the big 5.
Healthcare insurance companies in the US have anti-trust exemption. The only other business entity to have this status is professional baseball. When 5 companies own over 80% of a marketplace it is no longer a free market.
-About 62 million Americans get their healthcare through Medicare.
-About 52 million Americans get their healthcare through Medicaid.
-About 15 million Americans get their healthcare through military programs.
It is estimated that at least 20 million Americans have no healthcare insurance coverage at all. Before Obamacare, that number was closer to 40 million Americans.
The Republican Party and Socialism
The Republican Party as a group does not hide their bias towards Corporate America. They firmly believe that big business is always the solution for a better America.
For over 40 years between just after WW2 until “Glasnost” in the late 1980s Communism was thought to be the biggest threat to America. It had spread through Eastern Europe with a number of countries being taken over by the Soviet Union. The “Domino Theory” and the Viet Nam War was fought under the pretense of Communism spreading across South East Asia.
Republican and some Democratic politicians often tied Communism to Socialism as all Communist countries had socialistic programs. Many Americans became convinced that socialism and Communism were one in the same.
Written by a woman who received US government assistance in her final years.
A number of Americans were not capable of understanding that entities like the police and fire departments and the armed services were all socialistic entities.
Part of the Republican mantra has always been that the government should have as little participation in citizen’s lives as possible. This of course was just pure crap. Republicans have always been more than willing to extract as much profit as they can out of the state and federal governments, often to the detriment of the average taxpayer.
Ronald Reagan wasn’t the first Republican to encourage Americans to have a distain for government, particularly the federal government, but he probably more than anyone else, made it fashionable in right wing circles.
For all the Republican talk over the years about people pulling themselves up by the bootstraps to succeed on their own, it is kind of interesting that career Republican politicians like Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, and Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, haven’t spent 5 years between them working in the private sector.
Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, all socialistic programs, have had a profound effect on millions and millions of American’s lives. This includes millions of Republicans. It isn’t arguable. It is fact.
State Rights
Something that Republicans commonly talk about is “State Rights”. It’s mostly propaganda. The Republican premise is that each US state should know what is best for their constituents. First of all, if all Americans are of equal value, then laws in general should be the same in every state.  Criminal penalties should be the same, speed limits should be the same, etc., etc. About a month ago a guy in Louisiana was sent away for 18 years for having 18 joints in his possession. This wouldn’t have happened in Oregon or New York.
“State Rights” are just a form of divide and conquer. 19 US states, all run by Republicans, refused to take part in Medicaid expansion through Obamacare. The effectiveness of Obamacare was undermined from the outset.
Many Republican politicians have been on record as stating that it is unfair for people who are doing well financially to have to subsidize those that aren’t.
The 10 poorest states in America are Mississippi #50, West Virginia #49 (coal mining country), Arkansas #48, Kentucky #47, Alabama #46, Tennessee #45, Louisiana #44, New Mexico #43, South Carolina #42, and Oklahoma #41. Each one of these states is run by Republicans who have no problem receiving subsidies that come from taxpayer’s dollars from other more successful states.
The biggest Republican state in America is Texas. Over 5 million Texans have no health care coverage at all.
The Myth That Medicare and Medicaid are Entirely Socialistic Entitlement Programs
By the way Republicans describe things one might think that entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid are “Commie” plots to suck up taxpayer’s dollars.
Medicare and Medicaid provide countless opportunities for capitalism and privately owned businesses to get their slices of the pie. The following is just a partial list of goods and services Medicare and Medicaid purchase from the private sector……
Hospital beds, ambulances and other vehicles, TVs, linen, cleaning products, food products, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, office products, kitchen appliances, pots and pans, dishes and cutlery, office furniture, etc., etc.
They employ nurses, doctors, specialists, lab technicians, maintenance people, security, electrical and mechanical contractors, ambulance drivers, cleaning people, accounting people, supervisory staff, orderlies, elevator repair people, and on and on. Most belong to unions and most make pretty decent livings and pay a fair amount of taxes.
The Republican Myth That the US Federal Government Screws Everything Up
Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and a wide range of other entitlement programs have benefitted American citizens for decades now but there are other things that were researched, invented, and funded by the federal government that have given many opportunities to those in the private sector.
Decades ago the US federal government built a number of dams that still today provide electricity to millions of Americans. President Eisenhower used federal funds to build the Interstate Highway System.
America won the “space race” and put a man on the moon in 1969. Between NASA, the US Defense Department, and other federal agencies, science and research using government funds helped create a vast number of inventions that have had a profound impact on the US’s economy. Microchips, the internet, bar codes, smart phones, touch screen technology, ballistic missiles, GPS, vaccines, weather apps, Velcro, and even baby formulas are just some of the advances that came about through federally funded sciences.

 
David Letterman about to bounce onto Velcro wall.
A Look At Canada’s Healthcare System
Early History
Canada has a population of about 36 million people. Every one of its citizens has basic healthcare coverage. In Canada healthcare is considered to be a right, not just a privilege.
In the middle of the Canadian prairies there is a province called Saskatchewan that is known for its wheat production. In 1944 a young Baptist minister named Tommy Douglas was elected premier of the province. Douglas was a member of the CCF Party which years later morphed into the NDP (New Democratic Party). The NDP has always been a progressive left wing political group. It’s interesting that as a Canadian Baptist minister, Douglas was totally to the left when most American Baptists are mostly to the far right.


Tommy Douglas
Douglas’s party won 5 provincial elections between 1944 and 1962. Over those years his party introduced the first publicly owned auto insurance service, the unionization of public service employees, the first program in North America to offer free hospital care to all of its citizens, and created a number of crown corporations (provincially owned companies).
Tommy Douglas’s #1 concern was the creation of Medicare. When he first tried to introduce it, most of the province’s doctors went on strike. It wasn’t just the Saskatchewan medical establishment that went after Douglas, it was also the Canadian and American medical establishments too.
In 1962 Douglas became the national leader of the NDP in Canada. His successor in Saskatchewan, Premier Woodrow Lloyd, launched universal healthcare in the province in 1962. In 1958 another Saskatchewan politician, a Conservative named John Diefenbaker, who was Canada’s Prime Minister at the time, promised to contribute 50% of the costs to any province that came up with their own provincial medical plan.
In all of Canada’s history, from confederation in 1867 on, only two parties have run the country, the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives who later became the Conservatives. After the Saskatchewan “experiment” proved to be successful, a Liberal federal government led by Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson and supported by the NDP Party, introduced The Medical Care Act in 1966 allowing each province to set up their own universal healthcare system. In 1984 the Liberals passed The Canada Health Act which prohibited user fees and extra billing by doctors.
 
Tommy Douglas never became Prime Minister of Canada and his NDP Party has never run Canada’s government.

In 2004, 18 years after his death, in a national TV contest, Tommy Douglas was voted Canada’s “greatest Canadian” of all time.

Doctors don't do too badly with socialism in Canada.

How Canada’s Universal Healthcare Is Financed
Health care in Canada is funded at both the federal and provincial levels. The financing of health care is provided via taxation both from personal and corporate income taxes. Additional funds from other sources like sales taxes and lottery proceeds are also used by some provinces.
Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario also charge health premiums to supplement health funding, but such premiums are not required for health coverage as per The Canada Health Act.
Typical premiums in the past in the provinces that have them are about $100.00 per month for an individual and about $250.00 per month for a family of 4.
What Kind Of Coverage Do Canadians Get With Universal Health Care?
Prescription drugs, dental care, and vision care are not covered. Many Canadian companies and governments offer extended medical benefits through companies like Canadian Blue Cross.
Apart from extended benefits Canadians have zero contact with insurers. They also have zero contact with any form of government when it comes to health care coverage.
Every Canadian is issued a health care card. In the province of British Columbia a health care card can be combined with a driver’s license.
Universal health care in Canada does not have user fees like deductibles or co-pays. Coverage is also portable. If one quits their job or is fired they don’t lose coverage. Canadians are free to move around the country and receive the same coverage no matter which province they decide to move to, Canadians can walk into a clinic or hospital anywhere in the country and not pay a dime.
Canada is no different than other countries in that the older people get, by and large, the more medical problems they are likely to have. It’s a great expense no matter what form of health care is being implemented, insurance run health care or universal health care.
Any Canadian who finds themselves with a life threatening illness like cancer immediately goes to the front of the line and gets immediate attention. Other medical procedures can take some time to be taken care of.
Getting an MRI or Cat scan can take 2 weeks to 90 days. The medium wait time for elective or non-urgent surgery is 4 weeks. A 2016 study showed that 30% of Canadian patients had to wait 4 weeks to see a specialist.
Wait times can be an inconvenience, particularly for those that need to go back to work. Attempts are being made to streamline the system. A lot of tests that doctors used to do are now performed by labs.
In most cases Canadians can get in and see a a doctor within days and they can also get immediate attention at a local hospital or by going to a walk-in clinic.
One of biggest benefits of Canada’s universal health care is peace of mind. Canadians don’t go bankrupt trying to pay medical bills. They know that if they are facing a drastic medical problem that they will be taken care of immediately.
Canada also has privately run medical clinics like Cambie Surgery in Vancouver. They are quite willing to charge high fees for things like hip and knee replacements. The costs are strictly out of pocket for those that decide to use their services, usually people who are very well off.
Prescription Drugs In Canada and the US
 
Prescription drug prices in Canada are controlled by the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board to an extent but Canada has the second highest prices for name brand medications in the world. About 10% of Canadians have trouble paying their prescription drug costs.
Compared to Canada, US drug prices are totally abusive. Many Americans, particularly older ones, purchase their prescription drugs on-line from Canadian vendors.
In the US pharmaceutical companies can set prices as they please. A prime example of Americans being abused is a product called EpiPen. An EpiPen injects a dose of epinephrine, otherwise known as adrenaline, to treat extreme allergic reactions. The product has been marketed since the 1970s.
Since 2007 the price of a two-pack of EpiPen in the US has gone from $94.00 to $609.00, an increase in cost of 500%. In Canada the same product is sold for 65% less. The CEO of EpiPen is the daughter of Democratic West Virginia senator Joe Manchin.
Comparing US Health Care and Canadian Health Care
# 1…..Insurance Slavery
In a lot of cases in the US, health care through an insurance corporation can lock an employee to an employer. It can stop them from quitting their jobs, starting their own businesses, or moving to a part of the US with a better economy.
Once a person leaves a company that is providing them with health care insurance they are on their own. They no longer have the purchasing power that large businesses do. Often the biggest concern is losing coverage for a family member with a pre-condition.
In Canada every citizen is always covered whether they are employed or not. They can move to the other side of the country if they want and receive the same uninterrupted benefits.
#2 Who Does The Health Care User Answer To?
In the US the insurer dictates what and what not is covered. Should a person find that they are in need of extensive medical care they may find that their plan does not cover certain things. With co-pays and deductibles it is very difficult to determine what the final out of pocket costs are going to be until the bills come in.
In Canada there are no co-pays or deductibles for starters. Canadians don’t have to answer to insurance companies or any form of government when visiting a doctor or clinic or having an operation. There are no bills coming in the mail.
#3 Bankruptsies
The #1 reason for personal bankruptcies in the US is not being able to pay medical bills. These kind of bankruptcies are almost unheard of in Canada.
#4 Costs
In the US the cost of a major operation can vary dramatically. In some states procedures can cost 3 or 4 times more than other states. Sometimes there are drastic differences in prices in hospitals just a few miles apart.
-The drug Harvoni cures hepatitis C. It costs $10,000 more in the US than anywhere else in the world.
-The cancer drug Avastin costs 9 times more than the same drug in the UK.
-An MRI in the US costs twice as much as Switzerland.
-A day in the hospital in the US cost $5220.00. In Spain it costs $420.00.
-An appendix operation in Australia cost $12,000.00 less than in the US.
I could go on and on with the cost comparisons.
The US has the highest cost of healthcare per individual in the world.
In the US insurance premiums are adjusted every year. Americans can’t lock themselves in at a set price for several years. Premium prices from the insurers increase every year and the only time in decades that that has slowed down was with Obamacare.

 
Canadians, on the other hand, don’t have yearly price increases for their health care.
Waiting Lines
Canadian citizens do have to wait at times for some medical procedures. Many Americans have to wait too. Once the patient has seen a doctor and it is decided that they need an operation it still has to be approved by an insurance company which can often take some time to be approved.
Health Care Outcomes
Canada is ranked 30th in the world and the US is ranked 37th when it comes to health care system performance. The overall health of Canadians has them ranked at 35th. Americans are ranked 72nd.
Life expectancy in Canada is 2-1/2 years longer than the US.
The US has a much higher infant mortality rate than Canada.
The US has significantly higher rates of obesity than Canada does.
The suicide rate in the US is much higher than in Canada.
US Heath Care Insurance Corporation’s Bullshit About Canadian Health Care
American health care insurance lobbyists commonly use 2 arguments to refute the effectiveness of universal health care in Canada. They make Canada’s waiting times sound like people are lined up around the block. And then there is the classic “If Canada’s health care system is so good, why do so many Canadians come to the US for medical procedures?”
The truth is that only a fraction of 1% of Canadians use America’s health care system in any given year. Most are tourists who have become ill while travelling in the US. Sometimes very wealthy Canadians will go to specialized clinics in the US to get the absolute best treatments. Former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien was operated on at the Mayo Clinic.
Another argument used against Canadian health care is that we are taxed to death. Close to 2 million Canadian travel to the tropics, including Mexico, every winter. Apparently they didn’t get the memo about their high taxes.
Some Final Notes
Canada, like every other country on the planet, definitely has some health care challenges in the coming years.
It may not be the nicest thing to say but a large number of Americans are pretty gullible and stubborn. Many of them are easily distracted by religious dogma and corporate and political propaganda.
Many can’t get their heads around the fact that the US has lost 3 major wars in the last 60 years. Many never gave it a 2nd thought that almost all the 9/11 terrorists came from Saudi Arabia. Many haven’t figured out that is mostly poorer Americans who go off to fight in foreign wars.
Close to 63 million Americans voted for Donald Trump and the Republican Party in the last election. Other than possibly the unfunded Medicaid Part D that was introduced by George W. Bush, the Republican Party hasn’t done anything to improve middle class or poor American’s lives in the past 50 years. 
Understanding the benefits of universal health care verses American insurance companies providing health care should be a no brainer but it often isn’t.

At this point in time it is hard to see any light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to health care costs in the US.
There is, however, one possibility. California is talking about having their own state run universal health care plan. With a population of over 40 million people they have enough people to make it work. Perhaps as Saskatchewan in Canada was the Petri dish for universal health care over 60 years ago, California may be the testing ground in the US?


 

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Facebook and Nostalgia Aren't Always A Good Mix


 

I can’t recall when I first joined Facebook. It was probably about 6 or 7 years ago. At the time my daughter suggested that it might not be my thing and that this type of communication was more viable for younger people who had to be in on the latest gossip.

I quickly discovered that retirees like me who had Facebook pages either had a running patter with a wide variety of friends or they rarely offered any comments on anything whatsoever.

I found reconnecting with someone I knew years ago interesting to a point but those conversations were almost always via e-mail and not through Facebook. Swapping old stories only had a certain shelf life in most cases.

I don’t have the kind of personality that I want to be everyone’s friend. I can’t remember ever “friending” anyone on Facebook. I ignored most friend requests, particularly people I wasn’t familiar with. I got rid of, if that’s the right term, people who were overtly religious or right wing politically. Why would I want to put up with their strong opinions when I totally disagreed with them?

At this point you might be asking yourself why I even bother with Facebook at all? My answer to that is that I like a number of the feeds I get like The Alternet, Huffpost, I Love Vancouver Island, and the Vancouver Canucks. Every now and then I find something interesting that one of my Facebook friends has commented on.

I’m a curious kind of person. I tend to delve into something if I find it interesting. I want to know more. The internet provides that.

On the other hand I get bored with repetition and inane comments like “I never went there.” on Facebook.

So….I’m going to cut to the chase here….

As a person who is about to turn 70 in the next few weeks, I’m as interested in nostalgia as much as the next guy. I’ve written quite a few stories about growing up in Montreal and other places I spent time at years ago. I’ve always tried to be as factual as possible.

A few years ago I discovered a Montreal nostalgia Facebook page called Montreal Memories. At first I found it interesting but after a while it felt like topics were being recycled and recycled and it became boring.

One day a gal from Montreal wrote that she had bought a 1920 Montreal phone book at a used book sale. My grandfather immigrated to Canada around the year 1900 from the UK and I was curious if his name was in the phone book. I went back and forth with the book finder a few times and she told me that my grandfather’s name was indeed in the phone book. It was pretty neat to find that out.

The next thing I knew our conversation was erased from Montreal Memories. I was really pissed. It was an innocent conversation that wouldn’t offend anyone. Why would someone erase it?

If this was the way they ran things I didn’t want to be a member. There was no explanation as to what rule or rules I had broken.

After I quit I did some research on Montreal Memories. The site founder, Barry Zbar, apparently is a retired accountant who has lived in Toronto for the past 30 years. I don’t think I’ve ever met an accountant who wasn’t a bit anal including one I used for years.

It didn’t take me long to discover a number of other people who were once Montreal Memories members that weren’t exactly thrilled with Mr. Zbar’s treatment of them.

I decided to just move on. If I wanted to scroll though old pictures of Montreal every once in a while I could do so without being a member on a number of other Montreal nostalgia Facebook pages like Montreal Then and Now. Montreal Memories wasn’t the only game in town.

A few months ago I started to get feeds from Montreal Memories on my Facebook page. I wasn’t sure why? To be honest all those Montreal Facebook nostalgia sites sounded the same to me. It turned out someone had “sponsored” me without asking if I was interested. It was an honest mistake on his part.

What the hell I thought. I’ll play this out for a while.  Maybe add to the conversations a bit? I started noticing lists of rules and warnings that Mr. Zbar placed frequently on his site. He seemed to have a distain for other Facebook pages like his. It started to sound like his version of remembering Montreal’s past is the only real version. Not so.

The vast majority of Montreal Memories members are older people, mostly over 60 years of age it seems. I get it that most of these people don’t like people fighting over politics or religion on Facebook. That’s quite understandable.

Everything about Montreal back in the day wasn’t always good times for everyone every day. Things were certainly simpler but as kids what did we really know about the world? Fantasy and reality are 2 different things. The real reality is that most of us moved away from Montreal. Personally I didn’t move away because of any French issues. I wanted to travel and once I discovered BC I didn’t want to live anywhere else.

To be honest I think some people who grew up in Montreal are living in a kind of blurred Peter Pan world. Surely the 50s and 60s couldn’t have been the only interesting years in their lives? I for one don’t want to spend my final days on this planet being reminded about where I grew up on a daily basis. It is nice to reminisce once in a while but I don’t see any benefit of being totally fixated on the past

This is the point in my story where it might get touchy but I’m going to take a stab at it anyway. According to Mr. Zbar’s rules, religion or politics are not to be discussed on Montreal Memories. There seems to be an exception if it involves Israel or being Jewish. There is something a little messed up about this. I don’t see other people on Montreal Memories identifying their religious backgrounds.

Here are a few other comments about some of the stuff I have read and seen on Montreal Memories over the past while.

-An article with death statistics about Viet Nam. Isn’t what happened there and in the US and Canada a divisive political issue?

-An article about how easy kids have it today compared to 50 years ago. At one point the story condones caning kids as way of disciplining them when they were out of order. Weird shit!

-Photos of The Rifleman TV series from the 1950s. To me old TV programs weren’t always great. A lot of them were absolutely terrible. The Rifleman lived on a ranch outside of a small town in the old west with his son Mark. He wasn’t a law officer. Still Chuck Connors managed to kill well over a hundred men with his rifle in the series run. Weird shit! “Hey Dad, are you going to be killing someone tomorrow?” “Good night son.”

-Another article on smoked meat. Really? Montreal has smoked meat? Who knew?

-A photo of some armed Israelis in front of a wall for Israel’s National Memorial Day. Isn’t this a political statement? There are many Canadians who don’t agree with some of Israel’s policies including building settlements on “occupied” land. The chances of having this viewpoint being expressed on Montreal Memories? Zero!

-When you post a photo of BBQ chicken and say Chalet BBQ is still the best....that's called ADVERTISING.

I’m way too old to be going out of my way and picking fights. There are only a few things that get me riled up. I get it that we all don’t think the same.

So….every once in a while I would comment on something I saw on Montreal Memories. I was mindful of coming across as a know it all and totally stayed away from correcting people when they were misinformed.

A few weeks ago I got a friend request on Facebook from a guy named Irving Silverman. I believe he is one of the Montreal Memories administrators. Why he wanted to friend me was a bit of mystery. Maybe he liked some comments I had made?

I decided to accept Mr. Silverman’s request. A week later I sent him a short note about how I have a blog (this one) and that I have written a number of stories about growing up in Montreal in the 50s and 60s.

Mr. Silverman later replied that he had looked at my blog, noticed some Trump bashing stories, and that he didn’t have time to read a whole blog to find a few things about Montreal.

I wrote Mr. Silverman back that I had no apologies for my Trump bashing and that he could easily find my Montreal stories by scrolling through the story titles.

He wrote back that he didn’t have a lot of patience for sifting through stuff but noticed some stories on Montreal trivia and hockey. He sounded a bit dismissive. I wondered why I had bothered to offer a connection to my Montreal stories to him and decided to “unfriend” him. I’m not about chasing readers or being “friends” with people I don’t care for.

Here’s the deal. I’ve written about 35 different stories that relate to growing up in Montreal. By far the most popular story is one I wrote 5 years ago about the Montreal community of NDG. Over 7,000 people have read the story so far and I’m still getting 150 new reads each month. There are 65 comments on the story.

Altogether over 96,000 people have read my stories since I started the blog. These days I kind of write when I want to without any deadlines.

Back to Montreal Memories. A few days ago I posted a paragraph on Montreal Memories about some 1960s rock bands in Montreal. I thought that what I wrote had some interesting details that others might not know about.

There was nothing offensive in any way in what I wrote. Within a few minutes of posting I was getting “likes”. Within an hour there was 12 “likes”. Pretty good I thought, I was entertaining some folks.

I checked back again about 15 minutes later. My little story had been removed. What kind of prick would do that I thought? And why?

So….if the Montreal Memories administrators are reading this, here are a few of my thoughts on the matter.

TWICE now I have had stuff I’ve written deleted from Montreal Memories. Those 2 entries and any comments I’ve made on your site have never been rude, insulting, or negative.

The only conclusion I can make is that you enjoy the power you have to decide on your site what is and what isn’t acceptable even when nothing objectionable has been written. Power sometimes goes to people’s heads. Your list of rules is often contradicted by what you let be posted.

It’s just a damned Facebook page! You may have convinced many that you are about fairness and reason but to me you just come across as bullies. You don’t own Montreal’s history and stories!

You can….kiss my ass!

It is safe to say I won't be buying an overpriced Montreal Memories mug for $20.95 that the administrator is selling.