I don't deserve better healthcare than you

When blogger Melissa moved to Canada in 2008, she identified as a conservative, Republican evangelical Christian. Part of that identity included a deep mistrust of Canada's universal healthcare system. Before the move, she was terrified that she was going to place that would limit her medical choices, tell her what to do with her body, and push abortions (paid for with her money) on any woman who was unsure of what to do about an unwanted pregnancy. She was afraid of losing her freedom. She was afraid of losing her religious liberty.

But that's not what she found in Canada.

Instead, Melissa slowly came to realize that the Canadian system was actually more family friendly than the American one. In Canada, there is significantly less demand for abortion. In Canada, she says, it's easier to be a stay at home parent, and it's easier to ensure the health of your children. She also found that abortion wasn't pushed (merely offered as one of many options) and that Catholic hospitals weren't forced to offer abortions if they didn't want to. Meanwhile, Canada does a better job than we do at balancing their national budget and has far, far, far less national debt.

I started to wonder why I had been so opposed to government mandated Universal Health care. Here in Canada ... People actually went in for routine check-ups and caught many of their illnesses early, before they were too advanced to treat. People were free to quit a job they hated, or even start their own business without fear of losing their medical coverage. In fact, the only real complaint I heard about the Universal Health Care from the Canadians themselves, was that sometimes there could be a wait time before a particular medical service could be provided. But even that didn’t seem to be that bad to me, in the States most people had to wait for medical care, or even be denied based on their coverage. ... The only people guaranteed immediate and full service in the USA, were those with the best (and most expensive) health coverage or wads of cash they could blow. In Canada, the wait times were usually short, and applied to everyone regardless of wealth ... Personally, I never experienced excessive wait times

This story is hitting particularly close to home for me, right now, as I have started to receive bills in the mail for medical costs incurred by my recent miscarriage. The anesthesia for my abortion, alone, ran more than $1500. I have high-deductible insurance (which brought the cost down to about $650) and a health savings account (which allowed me to cover the rest). I'm not in trouble. But I am very, very aware of how lucky and privileged I am in this.

If it weren't for the fact that I'm married to an engineer, I wouldn't have health insurance now. In fact, I probably wouldn't be writing for BoingBoing, because I would never have been able to take the risk of freelancing and leaving any job (no matter how poorly paid or odious) that offered me health insurance. And if I had had the misfortune to have a miscarriage at 7 weeks without the health coverage I have now, I would have incurred medical bills that could have put me in debt for years. Either that, or I would have had to make choices about my miscarriage that would have made the experience significantly worse on my physical health and mental well-being.

I've been successful in my career. But that's not enough. Whatever I've done as a "self-made" lady, I don't deserve to be able to make the right health choices for myself without fear of bankruptcy. Or, rather, I don't deserve it anymore than everyone deserves it. Healthcare without fear shouldn't be something you have to earn by being exceptional. Nothing I've done personally, makes me more special and deserving of being able to take care of my body. And that's the problem with the US health system. It takes basic necessities and treats them as privileges.

Read the rest of Melissa's post on healthcare in Canada

Image: Electronic Stethescope, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from taedc's photostream


  1. It’s amazing to see how strong the propaganda is. Sounds like it took this woman years to get deprogrammed.

    1. If you read her blog, it was part of a broader-scale change in her life, brought on by her husband coming to terms with (and coming out about) the fact that he was transgender. Powerful, moving story. And worth reading. 

      Her husband is her wife. Normally, I’d just say “she” here, since it represents Melissa’s wife’s identity. I’m using “he” and “husband” above because that’s what gets across the story of how both their lives changed. Not meaning to be disrespectful.

    2. Thats the problem with most USians I met. Everything in ‘Murica is “the best of the world” even their Freedoms. If something works different than in the US it must be worse, of lower quality or more un-free.

      Most often this attitude shows when there is a different approach to human and civil rights. Most countries in Europe (and Canada, NZ, AUS) have other priorities in this regard. E.g. freedom of speech (I’m referring to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights not the US Constitution) is treated not in the same way like in the US. There IS freedom of speech but because it’s regulated not in the same way like in the US Constitution it must be inferior in the eyes of most USians.
      Living my whole live in several countries of Europe I got the impression that the Human Right with the highest priority is the right to life. It’s probably a response to the atrocities of WW2. That this most important Human Right is regularly violated (e.g. death penalty) in the US is often conveniently ignored by USians berating others about their “superior freedoms”.

      The view that universal healthcare is a right not a privilege is a consequence of this priority. An individual is freer in his decisions (job, family etc.) when he doesn’t have to worry that his physical well being is adversely affected.

      1. The funny thing is, that free speech is heavily regulated by American society anyway.  Yes, the government has a hands off attitude and is expected to keep its hands off, but it’s the same with religion: Just because it’s not backed/regulated by the government, it doesn’t mean that it’s not there.

      2. I’ve had many experiences of people getting mad at me when I tell them I would prefer to retire to Austria or Bavaria where my partner’s family lives. People seem very skeptical or dismissive when I say I like public symphonies, public transportation, bike paths, art museums, bars where you can hang out and have a beer while your kids run around in the playground or just under foot and the generally higher quality of life that results from a better educational system. It really, really makes people mad. But there’s generally no counter argument, except from a few of my dimmer more doctrinaire students who’ve said “they’re not free there” or “but you can’t own a gun” or some similarly unthinking recitation of right-wing dogma.

        (Note: my partner and I have done the math, comparing my salary/taxes to that of my Austrian and German relatives. They pay about 30% more tax than I do, but the gap closes when you consider higher insurance costs and lower employer retirement &c contributions, not to mention the fact that doing just about anything interesting where I live requires an hour drive and a fat entry fee.)

  2. “…she was terrified that she was going to place that would limit her medical choices, tell her what to do with her body, and push abortions (paid for with her money) on any woman who was unsure of what to do about an unwanted pregnancy. She was afraid of losing her freedom. She was afraid of losing her religious liberty.”

    Welcome to the U.S. Had enough? Vote out the rw lunatics in Nov.

    1. Welcome to the U.S. Had enough? Vote out the rw lunatics in Nov.

      That’s not leaving too many candidates eligible for you vote now, does it ?

      1. My thinking exactly. From a outsider perspective, US politics is so far off to the right that even the US left is to the right of most of the world.

    2. Left wing, right wing, they all need to go.

      The government should be putting this country and its people first, not themselves and corporations.

      1. In order to do that, we need to rid of SuperPACS and bring back the Unions.  We are quickly becoming a Plutocracy or perhaps Oligarchy country.  As long as money is there, in front of their eyes, they will always take the money over the best interest of the country.

      1. Check Jill Stein with the Green Party:  
        http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/JJil  This is a great interview of her on C-SPAN.  And, no, she’s not with one of the dominant parties, but to me that’s part of the point.  The dominant parties have no accountability, partly because the 40% of voters who are independent and outnumber Republicans and Democrats, don’t vote for other parties.  When the dominant parties get scared that they can lose, they’ll change or they’ll lose.

  3. As a Canadian who lived in the USA, it boggles my mind how the Repugnicants have pulled the wool over the eyes of the poor and the middle class.

    I’ve lived in and experienced both systems. I’ve had diagnostics, regular visits, acute care and elective procedures.

    9 times out of 10? Canada’s system came out on top. Both in the level of care and the quality of it.

    The bullshit you read on Faux News about wait times is grossly exaggerated: I had a headache for a week, went into the ER, and was in a CT scan within 3 hours.

    In Canada, if it’s potentially life-threatening, it’s treated as such. No waiting for approval from your insurance company. You need it? You get it. 

    When America stops spending trillions of dollars fighting wars no one really wants, just to line the pockets of big business, maybe they’d be able to afford universal health care.

    Oh, and detractors? The high tax argument? It’s a myth. I saw it with my own pay cheques: when you added in what I had to pay in my share of premiums plus copayments – and my insurance was considered exceptional in America – so I was told by many – I was paying almost exactly the same as I was in Canada. The only difference? A critical illness wouldn’t have bankrupted me in Canada.

    America should be ashamed of itself.

    1. The high tax argument?

      I’m guessing Canada doesn’t have anything like our insurance model (aka scam)?  Personally that’s my beef with the whole idea of what keeps getting presented as universal healthcare.  Everyone keeps basing their model off the same overly complex system we use now and some how expects it to just work.  Instead they should restructure  the whole thing from the ground up when you don’t need half of the middle men you have today.

      1. Yeah as an Aussie was surprised at Maggie’s statement:

        And if I had had the misfortune to have a miscarriage at 7 weeks without the health coverage I have now, I would have incurred medical bills that could have put me in debt for years

        My wife had a similar procedure at a public hospital. The service was free for us but there is no way the full cost would have been that much money. A couple of thousand dollars maybe.

        edit: and to be honest I wouldn’t object to paying the couple of thousand dollars for that service. I know people who pay more than that to service their cars.

        1. And therein lies the rub: in most other systems, health isn’t run as a *business*. It’s run as a break-even. 

          Procedure costs aren’t insane like they are in the US because shareholders demand more and more ROI. 

          Sadly though – America is right fucked. They’ll never be able to dismantle the big corporations/HMO’s/insurance companies to truly rebuild the system. 

          It’s sad to see – but we really are living in the end of the next Roman Empire. 

          The whole house of cards in America is going to collapse (healthcare has been just one of the many legs of the disease), and it’s going to be *very* ugly.

        2. Jeillis, really.

          I had an infection that wouldn’t go away and I’m now almost $3k in debt. It came back twice (so 3 times total). I never even stayed the night. They just drained it, gave me antibiotics and percocet, and sent me home. Had I had insurance, I could have gotten it taken care of in one go with some minor surgery, but I didn’t, so all th ey could do was drain it. So it would keep coming back. Yay!

          I tried going to urgent care first (twice). Oh my god never again.

          1. How… how do you guys consider this an acceptable state of affairs? 

            I’m trying to understand it, but I can’t.

          2. @facebook-505502585:disqus The people in power have excellent insurance, and lots of money besides, and nobody they ever interact with in their lives doesn’t. 

            I’m sure they occasionally hear these stories, but they’re so out of touch they don’t realize that this is what most of the population faces – they must think it’s just trailer trash meth heads that have these issues with health care and debt.

            The entire issue is caused by money & power and a government that is either ridiculously out of touch with reality, or simply in the pocket of big money corporations (remember that health care itself is comprised of big money corporations, which is the biggest travesty in the US IMO).

          3. @penguinchris:disqus – Exactly.  Our annual income is 6 figures, and we have insurance.  We still had to take out a loan from our 401k when they discovered my thyroid cancer last year.  We are solidly middle-class, and one major illness (two surgeries and radiation therapy) wiped out our savings.

        3. Michael, part of the problem in the US the “listed” prices for procedures are sometimes/often 2×3 times higher than the actual cost your insurance will pay. Then insurance companies negotiate them down. So ironicly, if you pay with cash here, you pay way more than if you have insurance. Totally cruel and bizarre. 

          1. My experience has been different when paying cash. The cost of care is about 1/3 that would be charged to an insurance company. The reason – insurance companies have high overhead and manage to either markedly decrease payment for services or decline payment for services rendered. When insurance companies took over health care,  everyone, docs, hospitals et al, lost.

      2. One of the arguments against socialized medicine in America has been that it would require massive tax increases to pay for… and that Canadians pay a lot more tax then Americans do.

        While on paper, we *do* pay more in taxes, in reality when you add up the *true* household costs of American families, it’s almost a wash.

        Yes, Canadians do pay more taxes. But in doing so we’ve built a system where *everyone* gets medical care. Everyone.

        Americans really need to ask themselves why it is that every. single. country. in the G20 has some sort of socialized medicine and they don’t.

        Everyone else has it wrong?

        1. I think it’s even worse than you say. Because there’s no real free market in health care in the US, nor any real government regulation of rates, as well as a system that encourages over-testing and over-treatment, Americans spend far more on the health-care portion of their budget than do Canadians or other nationalities.

          The craziest part about all of this is that it doesn’t even make economic sense to not have socialized medicine. The failure to provide health care, along with a variety of other social services, leads to increased costs in all sorts of other ways, not the least of which include lost productivity and homelessness.

          So on top of the loss of health-care dollars to proft-taking administrators and lawyers, we wind up spending a lot of dollars on goods and services that would not even be needed if we had proper health-care in the US.

          Which brings us back to the whole “money as speech” issue. Fact is, a lot of people stand to lose their cash cow if we actually fix our health-care system, and ironically it’s mostly not those who actually provide health-care services (doctors, nurses, technicians, etc.) So many other people benefit from our lack of efficient, socialized health-care that it is difficult indeed to fix things now.

          1. The US does have a free market for health care, and internet provision, and many other things. That’s the problem. “Free” also means “free to scheme to remove your competitors”. Free for whom? The businesses are free to do what they want, and as Adam Smith said, no two businessmen ever had a meeting without scheming how to reduce competition and raise prices.

            And they have. QED.

          2. “The US does have a free market for health care”

            No, not really. Other than well-patient checkups and certain elective procedures, there’s not even real transparency on the cost side. And even for those, along with a wide variety of other medical services, consumers don’t have a truly effective way of comparing the quality and efficiency of providers.

            I’d certainly agree that the health-care industry is likely rife with a wide variety of anti-competitive practices. But that doesn’t in any way suggest that it’s a free market and in fact, I’d say that the lack of a transparent market has made it less likely/more difficult for regulators to even get those anti-competitive practices on the radar.

    2.  The high tax argument?
      Well, the US government is already spending more on health than the Canadian government…

    3. America should be ashamed of itself.

      I know I’m ashamed to live in a country that’s this backwards.  And, I’m proud of myself that I’ve educated myself despite the propaganda.

      I guess the only way things will change is if we send each and every conservative to Canada so they can experience it themselves.  Seems to be the only way many conservatives are capable of seeing the light and learning anything.

      And, yes, I’m fucking pissed, because these conservatives DRAG US ALL DOWN and I’ve lived through the horrific results of their ignorance, belligerence and obtuse nature that keeps our health care draconian and wasteful.

      I’m happy she finally saw the light, but very frustrated at all these people that just can’t seem to use things like education and empathy for others in the first place to find out what the fuck is going on.

        1. As an Australian that has little respect for either of Australia’s two major parties, believing them both conservative I’d like to point out that both the Democrats and Republicans are conservative parties. It’s simply a matter of more and less conservative.

          Thankfully Australia’s electoral system isn’t based on first past the post, and minor parties that are genuinely progressive actually have some sway here. In the US, at a Federal level at least, that simply can’t happen because of the broken voting system.

          1. Sadly you’re much more informed and insightful regarding US politics than 95% of the US population…

        2. I still blame that on the the RW of the political systems. They skewer anyone who wants to improve anything as a “european style socailist”. Which is apparently supposed to terrify us all

        3. Which non-conservatives offered universal healthcare

          You should educate yourself. This was H.R. 676 with 88 (non-conservative) cosponsors.

          Now please show me the republican “equivalency” of that? You can’t.

          It is both parties doing this to us.

          False equivalency doesn’t help the situation and shows ignorant, terrible ingratitude towards non-conservatives who are fighting for all of us. Both parties are certainly NOT “doing this to us” in equal portions by any stretch of the imagination.

          Also, did you watch the groundbreaking interview I linked to with one of the former heads of CIGNA spilling the beans?

          *crickets chirping*

          No, you didn’t. Because if you did, you would have seen conservatives of both parties being part of the problem, but not in both parties equally. And it sure as hell wasn’t progressives lining up to fuck over the American public.

          Here’s REALITY. The republican party is overwhelmingly against a single payer system for health care. On the other hand, it’s only bluedog democrats that are also against it.

          Once again, it’s conservatives. It’s bluedog democrats and nearly the entire republican party that’s the problem. So please don’t drag progressives into this. It’s not our fault.

          And, once you descend into lazy, nihilistic, false equivalency… it simply plays right into the hands of the corporatists that want us ALL to throw up our hands and give up. Fuck that. Please show respect and SUPPORT to those who are trying here against corporatist propaganda and a purposefully uneducated American public.

          1. The problem here is that you (a) think the Democrats are liberals and (b) that they’re our friends.
            They are milder less worse than Republicans. That’s *all* they have going for the,.

          2. The problem here is that you (a) think the Democrats are liberals

            Wha? Did you not read my last post?

            You obviously didn’t read and/or comprehend it. I suggest you re-read it. You’re practicing some serious intellectual laziness here.

          3. I don’t think Democrats are liberals. Don’t attribute *your* lack of understanding of what I’m saying to some problem on my part.
            You’re telling people to support Democrats. I’m pointing out that this is pointless. They aren’t our friends and they aren’t going to help the American people out of the problems with the current system, which keep them in power. They’re happy with things as they are, including the arranged antagonism with the Republicans over minor differences.

          4. You’re completely ignoring my points, including H.R. 676 I linked to and the Wendell Potter interview, etc., etc.. Like your other efforts, this is fruitless. We’ll just have to agree to disagree at this point.

          5. Cowicide, it is commendable that an ENTIRE 88 Democrats (out of how many) backed a bill that had no support of their party and no chance of going somewhere. *golf clap* We both know that their party won’t support this and that as long as they are focused on winning against Republicans, it is a dead duck. It is good to see a few have vestigial morals in there somewhere but even they know that their bill was for show, not for real.

          6. It is good to see a few have vestigial morals in there somewhere but even they know that their bill was for show, not for real.

            Al, they show were they stand so the American public can see it. What would you have them do? And, it’s very telling that you had never even heard of it before.

            I’m glad you’ve already admitted that you support a losing strategy. I agree, it is a losing strategy to fight for a quick takeover against a corporatist stronghold that has been strengthened and reinforced for many decades. That’s fantasy.

            What IS realistic, is voting OUT republicans and bluedog democrats and over the course of years and decades, we’ll see more doorways open. And, once again, all one has to do is actually LOOK at the voting records to see that this is true. I’ve linked to a great source for voting records, you can choose to continue to ignore the voting records and their ramifications if you’d like (including the very real republican attacks on voting itself).

            This isn’t a game. People are suffering and dying while you throw away your precious “protest vote”. Even with how horrible Obama has been, if you can’t see how he was better than McCain/Palin, then you are ignoring reality and living in false equivalency-land.

            There are people who now are covered under health insurance with pre-existing conditions that would NOT be otherwise and would be suffering and DYING. To you, maybe all this is just “politics” and just a game. To me, this is real life shit with real life suffering and it sure as hell isn’t going to get better by throwing out the baby with the bathwater because you don’t think life is fair enough for you.

            You may have given up, but the rest of us aren’t going down without a fight.

          7. “Please show respect and SUPPORT to those who are trying here against corporatist propaganda and a purposefully uneducated American public.”
            I do. I vote for actual socialist candidates.

          8. I vote for actual socialist candidates.

            You and two other people. Fantastic. That’s very commendable. In the meantime, the conservatives are further entrenching their stronghold which will never allow a third party to take hold. At least with progressive democrats, there’s SOME hope down the road and a small crack in the door. Meanwhile, conservatives are doing their very damned best to nail that door shut for generations to come. All one has to do is look at the voting records for concrete proof of this.

            I don’t love all democrats by any stretch, but I’m also seated in reality. And, the reality is very bleak if we continue to allow corporatists to capitalize on false equivalencies and protest votes.

            It’s truly noble of you to support progressive change, but there’s a realistic way to go about it. You’re marching into battle against the Roman Empire with a small band of soldiers whom arm themselves with rocks and sticks.

          9. Cowicide,

            Oh, I know I’m not going to win this fight but the Democrats KNOW that no matter what they do, as a party, they aren’t the other guys so people will just hold their nose and vote for them. Same goes with people pissed off about Gitmo, secret wiretaps, drone strikes on American citizens (or others) without trials. People can complain all they want but the Democrats know, at the end of the day, that those same people will all vote Democrat party line because, hey, it isn’t like those people will vote for Republicans. This gives the Democrats free reign to pursue whatever policies they want, including an overall shift to the right, because they feel that they have guaranteed votes.
            I refuse to participate in that any more. If you can’t change the system of the two big parties, continuing to support one of them even while hating them just reinforces their power.

          10. I refuse to participate in that any more. If you can’t change the system of the two big parties, continuing to support one of them even while hating them just reinforces their power.

            And will you be personally affected if right-wingers get into office and pass racist, sexist, homophobic legislation? It’s easy to gamble with other peoples’ rights if you’re in no personal danger of losing yours.

  4. Sorry to read about your miscarriage. Health Care here is f-d. I’m lucky enough to afford one of the snazzier plans. I moved from one state in the NE to another, and the same type of plan literally increased by just under 50%. While it was cheaper there, over th eyears, less and less was covered by the insurance company, the deductables went up and up, and now in my new state (really a return) the coverage seems just as restrictive (though with less deductables). I remember watching a documentary a few years ago by PBS about health care satisfaction n the world, and if I recall, we were pretty low on the list, with Taiwan being at the top.

    1. Please name the state where you were, and the one you temporarily moved to, for those of us moving back east to take a job.  Thanks.  

      1.  It’s not going to be that easy. Ok, so the two states are bitter sports rivals. Perhaps this sentence might give a bit of a clue as to which state I have spent more time in and where I am happy as hell to be back: “RED SOX SUCK!!!!!”.

  5. This is getting reposted all over the place, and is eliciting some interesting comments. One common thread in particular is worth highlighting: A number of people have suggested that this is too good a story to be true. It reads like a laundry list of counter-arguments to the standard set of conservative objections to socialized medicine. Her own history as a whole, too: She used to be a very hardcore Christian (Quiverfull is about as hardcore as it gets when it comes to reproductive issues). Her husband had realized he was transgender and undergone gender reassignment surgery at the same time she herself realized she was a lesbian. The whole thing sure is very convenient and fortunate. If it’s true, that is.

    Don’t misunderstand me: As a Canadian living in the US, I very much want this story to be true. But this wouldn’t be the first time that agents provocateur or simply attention-seeking liars put spun an enticing tale that hits all the right notes.

    Can this story be corroborated in any way?

    1. What I find the most unbelievable is the fact that someone admitted they were wrong on the internet. I’ve heard stories, but to see it happen in my lifetime is astonishing.

    2. Corroboration is easy. I have lived in canada for over 47 years and our story only seems like a fairy tale juxtaposed beside the nightmare that is the American health care system. (Pre-existing conditions, 500, 600, 700, 800 dollars a month for insurance! The young, aged and sick routinely denied coverage! Bullies picking on the weakest when they are the very ones I was taught we should protect)
      I pay nothing for health care (at the moment my income is too low) and receive excellent care all the time. I take it for granted that I always will. It seems like a human right. I have had X-rays recently and that took less than 1 hour at the fast track at St Pauls (Vancouver). I am now seeing a physiotherapist – free of course.
      Throughout my life I have had CT scans, MRI’s, Ultrasound, two minor procedures done and a couple of broken bones mended. As a child my asthma almost killed me so I spent a few months in an oxygen tent. All good,no extra fees, no worries.
      I have lost loved ones to cancer, AIDS, and two accidents but  I never seen anyone hit with any medical bills worth mentioning. 
      This has been my experience and when I ask other Canadians what they experience I get pretty much the same story. 
      In America the system says “Your money or your life”. Can’t you recognize a bully when you see one?
      Here in Canada the system seems to say “Nothing is more important than human life” Why should that seem strange?

      1. “Corroboration” — You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    3. I can’t corroborate her story, not knowing her, but so what? The details are only relevant in that they  show that the difference in the two systems is dramatic enough to convince the most hardcore of skeptics.

      What I can corroborate as a Canadian is that her description of the health care system is absolutely factual. A person in her situation would indeed have the experiences she did.

      “…counter-arguments to the standard set of conservative objections to socialized medicine”? Well, yeah. Isn’t it time people started to listen to these arguments? The best that US conservatives seem to be able to do is to call people liars.

      Please, Americans. Loving thy neighbour as thyself is still a Christian thing, is it not? If that doesn’t move you, how about paying  less money to live longer? You’re breaking my heart.

      1. Love thy neighbor as thyself. Period. No qualifiers, no exceptions. We’d all be better off if this was the only rule anyone knew to follow.

        1.  The current system appears to be unpinned by the biblical text, “Do unto others as much as you can get away with.”

          1. I’ve gone beyond self-hate into self-abuse… or maybe that’s a different problem entirely…

      2. So what? Simple. Consider how much damage to the cause of socialized healthcare her story would do if a couple of weeks or months down the road it turned out to be made up. The statistics have been around for a few decades and have failed to convince the opposition. Personal stories come at the argument from a different direction, one people can more easily relate to — and one that they’d view almost as a personal attack if the empathy the story stirred up proved to be unjustified.

    4. >Her husband had realized he was transgender and undergone gender reassignment surgery at the same time she herself realized she was a lesbian. The whole thing sure is very convenient and fortunate. If it’s true, that is.

      Yeah, that does sound like a bit much.

      1. Honestly, it doesn’t sound like a bit much to me. I’ve seen well corroborated stories of couples this has happened to before. The fact that it might happen to two kids who grew up in extremely fundamentalist religion … doesn’t shock me. I suppose she could be lying. But it doesn’t really seem that insane to me. 

        1. Maggie, not insane — just unlikely. Maybe this is just because my personal experience doesn’t include couples this has happened to. I’d very much like to be wrong in my doubts.

    5. If this was simply made up to try to convince conservatives, I would think they wouldn’t have included the transgender & lesbian parts because conservatives are going to stop reading at that point.

      1. I don’t think convincing conservatives was ever really in the cards. The story is far more likely to convince people who are on the fence or are slightly to the right of (US) moderate views, but are currently being convinced *by* conservatives. 

        There is also an incredible lack of understanding of the ACA in the general public. I recently had to calm a low-middle income acquaintance because all she knew was that she would have to buy insurance — and all the quotes she’s gotten from insurers thus far were roughly equal to 60% of her annual income. She knew nothing about the tax credit scheme, how much it would impact her, or whether it would at all!

        I feel that the government has really dropped the ball on explaining to the general populace (and especially to the Fox News-watching populace) what impact the legislation was going to have on their budgets. No wonder people are afraid of it.

    6. At least two other bloggers have corroborated that Melissa and her wife Haley are now living as a lesbian couple.



      Melissa and Haley, as well as other queer people who were raised in Christian patriarchy, have been guest blogging about their experiences here:


      People from Melissa and Haley’s conservative past have left comments on Melissa’s blog, some of them pretty ugly, verifying that the couple was once as conservative as Melissa claims, and that they presented as a heterosexual cisgender couple in the early years of their marriage.

      Is it so hard to believe that a young queer woman indoctrinated with the idea that marrying a man was her only righteous option would fall in love with a trans woman?

      If Melissa and Haley’s story is a hoax, it’s an extremely elaborate one. I don’t see what any party involved could possibly have to gain from it.

      If you want to read other stories of LGBTQ people who grew up in extremely conservative Christian environments, check out 
      http://bjunity.org/ , a website for LGBTQ alumni of Bob Jones University.

  6. You know what?  Fuck her for thinking she knew better than millions of individuals until she actually benefitted from the system.  Fuck her backwards.

    1. THIS!

      I get so F’n tired of the cons and zealots who only come to terms with reality when it actually impacts them directly. (AIDS/Reagan/Rock Hudson anyone?)

      And congrats to you for actually having the balls to say it flat out here. If you ran you’d get my vote. :)

    2. So, she should have moved to Canada, experienced the better health care, and then *not* changed her mind? That’s a superior outcome to you?

  7. I live in Japan and have had the same experience. We have 4 young kids and everything is free for them through age 6–not just medical and drugs, but also dental and optical. We can walk into the local clinics anytime–some are even open on Sundays and evenings–and see a doctor.

    This is a blessing since kid problems always seem to crop up after hours or on weekends. I can’t imagine what it would take in the US, but I’m sure it would be an odyssey of waiting rooms, insurance forms and absurd cost-benefit decisions which an insured person should never have to make, like “should we skip the doc and just hope it gets better?”

    Our out-of-pocket for 4 births has been virtually zero, including 2-4 weeks of hospital care due to various issues.

    I had arthroscopic knee surgery in the US and even with insurance my out-of-pocket for the entire process from office visits, MRI, outpatient surgery and PT was over $10,000.

    I had the exact same procedure done on the other knee in Japan and my portion was about $110. That included three nights in the hospital with meals and a month of PT.

    National health insurance premiums are deducted from my salary like any other income tax. The amount I pay for a family of 6 is on the low end of what private medical insurance would cost in the US. Even with this, my total income tax hit is only about 28%. I’d have a similar tax bracket in the US, but it would not include any medical insurance at all. I’d have to go out and buy it–with after-tax dollars. And then the huge deductibles, co-pays and odd, insurance-driven care decisions and treatments.

    And then I’d have to buy dental insurance. And optical.

    What really rings the bell for me in the post, above, is the part about it being easy to start a business, quit your job, be a single parent, etc., without worrying about lack of insurance coverage and expensive medical care. That really is an amazing point, which I’d never thought of before.

    1. Yeah, the situation in Japan is better than in the US but if you’re looking for a model to copy, pick a European country with good healthcare (maybe not the UK…); most European systems are above and beyond what the Japanese national health insurance offers (e.g. the typical Japanese deductibles for hospital visits — 30% — and drug costs — a profit center for tiny doctor’s offices/pharmacies that call themselves “hospitals”, ever wonder why they insist on prescribing so many colorful pills? — are virtually unknown in Western Europe).

      In Japan, going to the dentist on national insurance involves calling a dozen of them to find out if they take it at all and if so, if they’d accept it for your specific ailment. There’s a reason a huge part of the Japanese population has additional private insurance.

      Edit: also, it seems that NHI doesn’t cover self-inflicted injuries (including suicide attempts) or injuries resulting from being drunk and/or acting like a fool. At least in theory. Screw that, this more or less stone age level.

      1. Wow, I didn’t know that about Europe, but what you say about Japan is true. Until you find or hear about a “good” doctor or dentist, you can find yourself with a snap diagnosis and a bagful of pills, or 6 separate visits to the dental chair to get a simple filling done…although the filling is a kind of fitted and bonded insert instead of amalgam. In the US as well you need to find a “good” place, but it’s worse here and for the reasons you described.

        In addition, while I love being in Japan for routine and medium-complex stuff–especially having young kids with all the viruses, wrist x-rays, stitches and fillings–I would prefer to be in the US for anything serious like a cancer or major surgery. The equipment, drugs and processes are more advanced, the system is open to patient advocacy and full information is available for the asking.

        A side point, but most doctors in Japan don’t seem to be as rich as doctors in the US. They can get more money from the national healthcare system if they own a clinic, have you come back several times and prescribe a lot of drugs.

        I sometimes wonder how the US system could become more like Europe or Japan unless doctors accept significant pay cuts. I just don’t see how that can happen.

        There’s also the powerful trial lawyer lobby, which thrives on the huge med/mal recoveries, and would not like to see tort reform or less money cycling through the healthcare/insurance system. As bad as that seems, there are plenty of examples in Japan which clearly show the system and actors have never been properly spanked by lawyers and malpractice suits. Companies, groups and associations remain very opaque here. The cultural baseline is to politely defer to authority without question and there are plenty of secrets.

  8. What does it mean for there to be “significantly less demand for abortion” in Canada vs. in America?

    In Canada in 2008 there were 95,876 reported induced abortions [1] and 377,886 reported live births [2]. So about 20% of reports of induced abortions or live births were reports of induced abortions.

    In the U.S. in 2008 there were 825,564 reported induced abortions [3] and 4,248,000 reported live births [4]. So about 16% of reports of induced abortions or live births were reports of induced abortions. 

    *However*, there are competing data; the Alan Guttmacher Institute estimates that there were 1,210,000 induced abortions in 2008 [5]. Using those competing data, about 22% of reports of induced abortions or live births were reports of induced abortions. 

    This metric is not great because it excludes miscarriage, sometimes called “spontaneous abortion”. Despite its weakness, the AGI does use this metric in their report; they say “Twenty two percent of all pregnancies (excluding miscarriage) end in abortion.” 

    I would prefer to use a metric like “percentage of pregnancies that end in induced abortion”, but don’t see good data around that metric.

    In the absence of better data … is the claim that Canada’s 20% is significantly lower than the U.S.’s official 16% or somewhat less official 22%? I could buy this claim — that 20% is lower than 22% — but I’m not sure that those are the right numbers to compare. Or is the claim that demand for abortion should be measured by something other than the number of pregnancies which end in abortion?

    [1] http://www.cihi.ca/CIHI-ext-portal/pdf/internet/TA_08_ALLDATATABLES20101124_EN
    [2] http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/84f0210x/2008000/aftertoc-aprestdm1-eng.htm
    [3] http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss6015a1.htm?s_cid=ss6015a1_w
    [4] http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0078.pdf
    [5] http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html

    1. I’m not great at statistics, so would you mind explaining why the abortion rate in comparison to births is significant, rather than in relation to population? I ask because it seems as though having better access to health care would include better access to contraception, and that would contribute to fewer unplanned pregnancies and therefore fewer abortions. However, if there is something particularly important about the number of abortions in relation to births, I’d be curious to know. 

      1. I guess because, if the birth rate was 0%, it wouldn’t mean much to say that the rate of abortion was 0%. But, to your point, a 1-dimensional number doesn’t get at the entire issue.

        1. No, of course not. But it seems limiting to consider abortion only in relation to live births rather than to the number of women in the population. Of course, we can do both. The Guttmacher fact sheet (linked to above) says that 22% of American pregnancies end in abortion, and that  for every 1000 women between the ages of 15 and 44, 19.6 women had an abortion in 2008. I would like to know the percentage of women in Canada who seek abortions, as that would have some relevance to the idea that fewer women (per capita)  in Canada seek abortions. As far as I could find, that statistic wasn’t provided by the data sheets Michael referred to. 

          The Guttmacher fact sheet also informed me that “Nearly half of pregnancies among American women were unintended.” I knew it was a high percentage, but that figure took me by surprise.

        2. I guess because, if the birth rate was 0%, it wouldn’t mean much to say that the rate of abortion was 0%.

          If the birthrate were 0% it would be highly notable. But the point is that both the birth rate and the therapeutic abortion rate are affected by health care options. Having a low abortion to live birth ratio is not a benefit if you also have a high number of unwanted births.

          1. Of course you are quite correct: the proper metric is _the proportion of lives births that are unwanted_. Abortion is easily accessible, free, and relatively unstigmatized in Canada, so it shouldn’t be surprising if the abortion rate is higher than in the US (where I assume abortion is not free and where it seems to be highly stigmatized). One reasonable (not perfect) proxy for measuring unwanted birth rate is the young teen birth rate, since in general most people agree that young teen birth is not a good idea in the modern world. You can compare young teen birth rates in the US and Canada here:   
            Predictably, the young teen birth rate is much lower in Canada (looks to be about half among 15-19 year olds), presumably in large part because of easier access to abortion.

  9. What was the magic that helped Melissa see the light? Do we have to get all conservatives to move to Canada before they’ll think through their ridiculous, harmful positions on healthcare? It shouldn’t be this hard to figure out. I hesitate to diagnose a lack of empathy in Melissa (or in conservatives generally) prior to her breakthru, but what else explains it?

    1.  According to the comments above, her husband was transgender and finally came out about it, and she discovered her own lesbianism. Go figure.

    2. “Do we have to get all conservatives to move to Canada before they’ll think through their ridiculous, harmful positions on healthcare? ”

      Time to start building that wall?

      1. Time to start building that wall?

        Loudspeakers on poles blasting Celine Dion would do the trick.

        1. Canada has apologized to the international community for both Celine Dion and Bryan Adams on many occasions. I thought we were past it.

        2. Given that they welcomed her with open arms and gave her a daily performance schedule in Vegas, I suspect the tactic will not  have the desired effect.

  10. Regarding the title of this post: there are quite a few Americans who actually think that those who can pay for insurance deserve better health care than poor people (or those who cannot afford insurance for one reason or another). Because, you know, they work harder and make better choices than poor folks. And that’s a big part of the problem. 

    1. “Deserving” – yeah, not so good.

      On the other hand, if someone has more money, do you see morally wrong with them seeking out – and paying for – higher quality health care?

      From what I understand about Canadian Health Law, it’s illegal to “pay more so you can get more.” (Can anyone confirm this?)

      1. False.  You can GET private insurance in Canada, pay more, and reap the benefits of that, but only the wealthy really bother with that sort of thing.

        1.  Ditto in Australia, although there is an income tax surcharge on the wealthy who choose not to have private health insurance (here it’s an individual thing; not a workplace thing).  For a lot of people the tax costs would be higher than private insurance so they opt for private insurance. 

          1. Correct me if I’m wrong but you don’t have to be that wealthy to trigger the tax incentive to go with private insurance. It kicks in for most middle class wage earners. I also recall it to be a fairly recent phenomena, part of John Howard’s ideological move of Australia to the political right. (I lived in Australia for most of 1998-2009. I stayed with the public system despite the tax incentive to do otherwise. )

    2. Money begets money. 
      Being born into a wealthy family just means you’ll have opportunities and doors opened for you that a poor person won’t.

      Hard work many times has exactly zero to do with it. Better choices often has nothing to do with it. Some of the hardest people I’ve ever met in my life were the dirt poor, working their fingers to the bone 7 days a week to provide for their families.

      Yep, those Americans are right: those fools don’t deserve it.

      1. “Remember that you are an Englishman, and have consequently won first prize in the lottery of life.”

        I feel so lucky to have been born in to one of the ex-Colonial Powers, where I get to enjoy the trickle-down wealth and economic security born of our past. I can see why such places are a popular destination for the denizens of less affluent parts of the world.

        In my home city, our academic grades are receiving a boost due to recent immigration from Somalia. These kids have a world of opportunity opened to them and are seizing it with both hands. They are taking over from the previous wave of eduction hungry, ambitious young people from the Sub-continent.

  11. As I’ve tried to educate myself on this subject, I’ve read a lot of comments from Canadians who are very happy with their health care system. I’ve also read many, many frustrated comments (e.g., “My wife had to wait 34 long months for a painful hernia repair (after her stomach had perforated).” I don’t think anecdotes bring clarity to the debate.

    It is clear, though, that wait times are, as a whole, a significant challenge in Canada.

    1. You’re right, individual anecdotes don’t support a claim one way or the other.

      However, there is ample objective evidence that in the US, we pay more and get less than in any practically other developed nation, Canada included.

      One need only look at what we eventually got in the name of “universal health care”: legislation that primarily served the interested of the medical industry, rather than their patients.

      1. Right. So, how do we break free from that? By giving government more power over health care? (I don’t pretend to have answers.)

        1. Break free from what? The choke-hold that the wealthy minority has on our government?

          No…I wouldn’t say that giving government more power over health care is a way to solve that particular problem. But that doesn’t mean that government shouldn’t have a role in providing health care to US citizens. It just means that until we address other serious problems in our government, we still won’t get the kind of socialized health care we really need.

          That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. It just means we shouldn’t be satisfied with the half-way solution and should work hard to keep improving things.

          How to address that choke-hold is a whole other debate. But…

          In my opinion, one of the most useful steps we could take to fix the broader issue of our political system would be to change the electoral process so that every race is decided using an instant-run-off process. That one thing alone would go a long way toward breaking the two-party-deadlock that we suffer from.

          Of course, the Citizens United decision has done a lot of harm as well. As important as I believe the 1st Amendment is, the interpretation of “free speech” in a way that allows unfettered access by wealth to the political process is completely contrary to a fair system. How to fix that? I don’t know, but we have to figure it out.

          Lawrence Lessig has proposed some modest changes that he believes would help address these issues. I’m not 100% sure he’s correct, but at this point I’m willing to try just about anything that reduces the influence that raw wealth has on our political system.

    2. It is clear, though, that wait times are, as a whole, a significant challenge in Canada.

      Do you have data to cite on that? I assume you do, if you’re going to say “it’s clear” and “significant”. 

      And, in all honestly, I’d love to actually see data on it. All I’ve ever heard are dueling anecdotes. 

        1.  Fraser INstitute and evidence that does not support their position are like oil and water.  I use the world oil advisedly.

    3. We have wait times in the US too, but we don’t call it that. It’s “all the specialists in our network are very booked up” followed by “no you can’t have a referral outside our network.”  But noooo, that’s not a waiting list. Except it is.

    4. Canadians don’t realize how good they have it until they are forced to use the American system. No one there could fathom what medical bankruptcy is or being denied treatment by their insurance provider or paying higher premiums or being denied coverage simply for having been sick once.

      In Canada, you get sick, you go to hospital, they treat you, you go home. And then you complain about how high the taxes are. But that’s all there is to it.

    5. It is clear, though, that wait times are, as a whole, a significant challenge in Canada.

      Of course, if you can’t afford the treatment at all, the wait time is until you die.

  12. I live in North Italy. We have huge problems here, but at least health care is free for everyone: rich, poor, italian, foreign. Maybe is expensive. Maybe health is priceless.

      1. It’s freer than it is here in the US, where we are all paying for it anyway, just in a way that’s extremely inefficient and mostly going into the pockets of the ultra-rich.

        1.  That’s a good point: with public healthcare the cost (in taxes) goes directly into provision (my salary, for example: thanks!). With private, there’s the profit incentive driving corporate decisions and the mandatory skim of wads of cash to pay for that yacht. 

          NHS execs are paid handsomely, for sure, but there’s not the one-way cash pump fattening the 1% hogs.  So to speak.

      2. Yes, really free.

        To understand the concept, you should think of “free” as in “free speech,” not as in “free beer”

  13. My father is alive because he always worked for a large company and therefore had top-of-the-line health insurance coverage.  Because of that coverage, he was able to get regular check-ups and screenings, which caught one of the deadlier cancers early enough that he was able to overcome it with one simple operation (also paid for by the insurance).

    If he had worked for small, entrepreneurial companies the way I always have, he’d be dead by now.

    It really is that simple.

    1. Wonderful point, this absolutely strangles the incentive for anyone not already well-off to even think of starting a business, simultaneously retarding the economy and stifling mobility.

      This is extremely depressing to think about.

      1.  I moved to the US, from the UK, to be in my dream job. I am really, really, REALLY happy in my work. Small business, wonderful people, wonderful culture. This is the life I’ve always wanted.

        At the same time as getting the job of my dreams,  I married the woman of my dreams.

        I have no health care for her, and she needs it. Not desperately, but enough so that I am concerned. So I’m looking for a cube farm job.

        In the UK or Canada, I wouldn’t have needed to make this choice.

        1. Be careful no one can link your moniker to your real life identity; your wife will 100% be denied coverage in the USA for a “pre-existing condition” if your cube farm insurance company decides to do some research or investigation in order to not pay out.

          America! Fuck yeah!

          1.  My experience with group insurance plans has been that if you’ve had “credible coverage” for the previous year or so, pre-existing conditions are non-issues.  If you’ve had gaps in insurance coverage, then there’s a waiting period.  If you’re after an individual plan (ex: not through your cube farm employer) then you’re SOL until the rest of Obamacare kicks in.

            But, yes, health care in America is designed to discourage preventative care and to discourage documenting health problems.

  14. Thanks, Maggie. I recently had to spend several days at HCMC here in Minneapolis (which I find to be more progressive than many places I have lived in the US) to resolve problems related to an achilles tendon repair that was done at the same hospital. When the repair occurred, I was unemployed and the hospital wrote off the surgery. I thought I was a lucky one. That is until I got out of the cast and was repeatedly told that a non-healing suture site would resolve itself. Well, 8 months later, I find myself with $30,000 in bills related to removal of a suture that was 4″ long and that had a knot the size of a pencil eraser. Despite the fact that the county had covered the original procedure 100%, they are saying that I must pay for the two hospital stays that were a direct result of the original procedure. My annual salary has just been spent for 5 days in the hospital. To top it off, I can’t get a lawyer to take my malpractice case because there is no margin in for them. Go America!

  15. If it weren’t for the fact that I’m married to an engineer, I wouldn’t have health insurance now.

    So since you married an engineer he was able to build you good insurance?

    I get what you are saying, but it seems odd to specify your husband’s job or position instead of simply saying, “thanks to the excellent insurance provided through the company my husband works for”, or something similar.

    I mean I’m on my wife’s plan because she works in the financial sector, not cause it was better and cheaper than anything I’ve had the option of joining.

    1.  I think for most of the audience it logically follows, he’s an engineer, works at a high-paying job for a company that takes care if it’s employees

      1. Oh I logically understand exactly what she is saying and implying, but I find it very ironic to see such things on BB.

        It’s like when someone say, “Well I married a doctor.”  That somehow automatically implies they have money and are very well off.  Not withstanding the fact said doctor could be working at the free clinic or spending half the year in a third world country giving their time and energy to help people who have little to no access to medical care.

    2. I’m not really sure what your complaint is here. I just meant to clarify that my husband works in an industry that generally offers health insurance to employees. Which is also an example of luck, since I wasn’t actively seeking out people to date who were likely to have health insurance coverage after college graduation. 

  16. I’ve posted this chart of national health care costs per capita versus life expectancy in bb threads before, but it’s pretty telling.  Canada’s not on it, but based on data from wikipedia and the CIA Factbook it would sit halfway between Norway and Italy.

    1. I love the fact that you think that anyone would have the slightest clue which flags belonged to Italy or Norway. I only know the Italian flag because of spumoni.

      1. Surprisingly, most people outside of America WOULD recognize most of those flags.

        While we were all learning about the whole world, American kids were too busy memorizing the names and order of every President and all 50 state capitals.

        But education is a whole other kettle of fish…

        1. Yes, well it makes sense for Europeans to know European flags, what with being fairly close and in an economic and political union.  Do you know how far we are from the nearest country that isn’t Canada or Mexico?  Or Cuba.

          If you can identify flags from African countries, that might be a valid comparison since it’s another continent.

          1. Well, being that I am Canadian, why is it that I could identify almost all of the flags there?

            And shall I list all the countries that are “close” to the US that aren’t “Canada or Mexico… [o]r Cuba”?

            St. Pierre and Miquelon.
            Trinidad and Tabago.
            British Virgin Islands.
            The Bahamas.
            Cayman Islands.
            Dominican Republic.

            And that’s just off the top of my head; I’m sure there are at least a dozen I missed.

            So again I ask: why is it that I (and many many other Canucks) can identify so many other nations and you can’t?

          2. Heavens, no. That’s like asking someone in the UK to identify the flag of Andorra.

          3. I am when it comes to making ‘murcans look like the bumpkin cousins they are. ;)

          4. The US is quite close to Russia too. Apparently one can see it from the kitchen window, or sumfink.

          5. The flags of the world a like a Road Map of people we in Britain have pissed off. I’m sure America has racked up a fine collection of its own by now.

          6. JonS, no, but you _can_ see Russia from Alaska. Which is all she said, nothing more. I’m all for making fun of clueless politicians and she should be exposed for what she is but making stuff up just provides an angle for others to attack your (legitimate) criticism.

          7. To you Defenders of Ignorance upthread, flawed analogy is flawed. I’d be surprised if I met somebody in a developed country who doesn’t recognize the flags of most American countries. Seriously, it ain’t rocket science but standard school geography stuff.

          8. “Do you know how far we are from the nearest country that isn’t Canada or Mexico?  Or Cuba.”

            Or as Bismark put it, Fortress America.

          9. @euansmith:disqus Yep, it is like watching the old saying about the abused turning abuser, but on a international level.

      2. Oh, and by the way, working from the top, off the top of my head:

        (my apologies if I didn’t get the IOC letter codes perfect)
        You never watched the Olympics as a kid, eh?

        1. I could give you a cursory current political analysis of more than half the countries in the world off the top of my head. Memorizing flags, not so much.

    2.  The US: worst healthcare money can buy.

      Seriously. America? WTF? You have the *worst* healthcare system in the world. How’d you manage that?

    3. Hey, we may have a shorter life expectancy than 3/4 of the countries you’ve listed, but at least we pay around twice as much.

      Wait a minute….

    4. Data is good. What to make of this?

      The US is only 4 years away from the top spot – Japan. Can quality of health care explain that? Maybe. But then again, the US has TEN TIMES the obesity rate of Japan. What would the US life expectancy look like if you normalized to Japan’s obesity rate? The studies I’ve seen show moderate obesity takes 3 years off your life.

      But what of the cost? I recently read in the book “Hardwiring Flow” that “One-quarter of Medicare beneficiaries have five or more chronic conditions, see an average of 13 physicians per year, and fill 50(!) prescriptions per year.”

      It very well could be that the US is providing TOO MUCH health care, which is driving up the costs.

      My biggest concern with healthcare “reform” comes down to a simple question: “How can we trust the politicians who got us into this mess with even MORE control and MORE power over our healthcare system?”

      1. Wow, you are stubborn and persistent.  Yeah, the problem is “too much healthcare.”  Tell that to people who can’t afford a simple check up or trip to the dentist.  

        1. I’m sorry. I must have missed that you have everything figured out already. How do YOU explain the much higher expenditure.

          1. I don’t have everything figured out, but I think it’s funny to watch you keeping searching to find (thinly veiled) ways to try to defend private health in the face of obvious evidence to the superiority of nationalized systems. If only the conditions were right, correct?

      2. Life expectancy is just one measure of national health outcomes and I’m sure there are plenty of others (Insert “I Am Not An Epidemiologist, But…” reference here) that might be useful.  You’re absolutely right that life expectancy will be influenced as much by behaviour and other factors (genetics?) as it will by quality of health care. 

        You might be on to something there about when and how much care is provided.  There’s some interesting data here: http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/23/4/176.full
        …that shows how much of total expenditure is, unsurprisingly, spent in the 65+ age group.  As that cohort grows (and it is) you’d expect expenditure to go up, so in some ways increased life expectancy might actually be contributing to the problem.  My bet is that the majority of those Medicare beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions and prescriptions are probably 65+.

        I don’t understand the US health system enough to comment on any particular reforms but plenty of countries seem to get good outcomes out of state-wide insurance schemes and/or universal coverage without much hand-wringing.  I don’t know if your politicians can be trusted any more than ours, but hey, in democracies we all get the politicians we deserve. 

  17. I love Canada. I had tonsil stones, no problem, just walked into the doctor to tell me i wasn’t having cancerous growths in the back of my throat. The paranoia was killing me alone. 15 minutes, in out and peace of mind. America, please do your best in Voting for health care when you can. We made a Canadian Hero out of Tommy Douglas, the least you could do is make one out of somebody as important for you.

      1. I had to google “tonsil stones” and wikipedia rewarded me with:  ” …while only 6% of subjects with normal halitometry values (normal breath)…”

        Halitometry values! 

        The world really is a wonderful place.

        1.  Halitometry Values; apparently the worst end of the scale refers to how badly she stank in Catwoman.

    1. “We made a Canadian Hero out of Tommy Douglas” – I hope, maybe, that Obama might become such a hero to the Americans…

    2.  Thank you so much for mentioning tonsil stones! I have had this for years and was never able to find out what it was. So good to know I’m not a complete freak!

  18. I am 48 and live in Toronto and Canadian Healthcare is all I’ve ever known.  However, I was born before the Ontario Hospital Insurance Plan was implemented and as a result my Dad had to borrow over $1000 to cover the cost of my delivery. To make matters worse, he had only been married for 9 months (to the day) when I was born and his medical insurance through his employer refused to cover the costs of a baby born less than 10 months after the wedding. Things have sure changed since then…

    That said, Canadian healthcare varies somewhat from province to province since that is the level of government that administers it. In Ontario, it is set up as an employment tax and is carried by the employer, IIRC the tax is rated as 1.5% of income. Those who are self-employed are required to remit directly, as they also do with employment insurance and Canada Pension Plan contributions. Drug plans, etc, also vary.

    In Ontario it is illegal for doctors ito charge above the set fee structure for services. But if a rich Canadian needs better health care than what they can get domestically, there is nothing currently stopping them  from going outside of the province to get it.

    As a result of this some local hospitals are starting to see a new problem: people that choose to jump the queue and get a quicker knee or hip replacement in a clinic in India, suddenly show up looking for post-op care when an infection presents. Services in this case are currently being billed back to the patient as the hospital deems itself not responsible.

  19. I lean pretty libertarian.  My primary problem with the idea of U.S. nationalized healthcare is that it appears to exceed the power that the framers of the Constitution had in mind.

    If some or all of the 50 states want to enter a compact regarding socialized healthcare (like what Mass. has), that might actually be okay with me.

    But I believe the federal government has grown into a beast it was never meant to be.  I don’t not want it growing further.

    1. My primary problem with the idea of U.S. nationalized healthcare is that it appears to exceed the power that the framers of the Constitution had in mind.

      Who cares? The Constitution is not The Word Of God. It’s a document that was written before modern medicine, railroads, cars, planes, telephones, electric power and 90% of what makes up our lives today. Rules that worked when it took three weeks to get a message from one part of the country to another are meaningless today. We need to stop treating it as an object of religious veneration.

      1.  Wait.  I know this one.  The punchline^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hanswer is L. Ron Hubbard.  Right?

      2. The framers also said that the Constitution was to be a living document so as to deal with all of the things they couldn’t envision at the time they wrote it. So I agree, who cares what they had in mind in the 1780s — if the Constitution restricts the government’s ability to supply decent healthcare for everybody, change it!

      3. Right after misapprehensions about universal health care, the American veneration of the Constitution as an apparently literally -sacred- document might be what puzzles this Canadian most about your people.

      4. I agree. I mean, look what happened when one Jim Kirk happened upon a settlement of aboriginal Tea Partiers:

    2. The framers of the Constitution also believed owning negros was a-ok.

      It’s time to join the rest of the world and fix your insanely broken system.
      Either that, or you’re going to take the rest of us down with you because of your stubborness.

      1. As long as you’re willing to list what “agreements” in the constitution you’re willing to throw out.

        I’m assuming you want SOMETHING that keeps the government in check?

    3. So, you mean that you want to keep faithful to dogma even if it makes people ill, miserable, bankrupt and kills them because hey, that’s not OK with your politics. 

    4. My primary problem with the idea of U.S. nationalized healthcare is that it appears to exceed the power that the framers of the Constitution had in mind.

      Just so are all clear, the Constitution serves us, not the other way around.

  20. I live in Waterloo, Ontario. Staggeringly, there are no family doctors accepting new patients in this town of roughly 300,000. It has been this way for 8 years at least.

    The only option is the walk in clinic, which is like stepping several decades back in time to a second world country. On the rare occasions that I’ve been in sufficient distress to warrant a visit, I half expected to find pigs and chickens roaming the halls. It’s always packed, it’s usually a hour’s wait or more to be seen, and typically you’re dismissed with only a cursory inspection. When I presented once with an obvious case of strep throat, I was told, “Oh, it’s probably just a virus” and sent home without a prescription. I ended up in emergency the next day (another 2+ hour wait) having developed a peritonsillar abscess. It took 6 months to schedule a tonsillectomy, during which time I enjoyed several recurrences of the infection.

    You get more care and attention and feel less ripped-off and used at any for-profit Tim Horton’s, where a decent meal will only cost you $5 and 5 minutes – and if you ever have a poor customer experience you can walk a block in any direction and try again at a different location. Apologists for the status-quo will here recite a litany of the vast differences between high school students making sandwiches and elite MDs heroically safeguarding human life, but this entirely misses the point that *any* service can be scaled to meet demand, *if allowed*.

    Consider how cheap and available cell phones have become in, what, 15 years? Consider how the quality and variety of foods at your local grocery have exploded in the same time frame. Consider how motor vehicles have improved in comfort, safety, and efficiency. Need it be mentioned that the internet we know today barely existed 15 years ago? Has health care seen any comparable improvement in twice that time, or has it if anything moved backward?

    What’s amazing is that nobody on either side of the border seems to have the imagination to wonder why health care can’t be as cheap, available, immediate, and satisfying as a visit to Tim Horton’s, or Best Buy, or Sobey’s – or for that matter, a typical Mexican clinic, where a mere $30 will see a wounded hand stitched up in 10 minutes.

    Under the Aegis of health care, the fundamental right to body and property finds diverse expression: the right to study and teach medicine; to research, innovate, and practice in the field; to produce, distribute, and purchase care, be it medication, devices, or procedures; to insure and be insured (or not); and not least, to consume care in the manner of one’s choosing. How tragic then that on *every count*, we see the precious right to health surrendered to – usurped by – violent state privilege.

    Both the US and Canadian systems are utterly broken (albeit in different ways). They are *both* state controlled cartels. They are both frozen in time. They each lack the incentive to scale ahead of demand or otherwise innovate. Only in restoring market freedom to all these facets (something *neither* country seems remotely willing to consider) will the ideal of universal health be realized at last. Until then, consider visiting Mexico. Its grass is far greener than the US or Canada.

    1. Understandable that you have issues with a system that you’ve had bad experiences with, but you could have had the exact same experience in the US, only with the additional difficulty of having to pay out of pocket for the services you did receive.

      1. Yeah, I have had the problem of trying to find a specialist in a similarly-sized city only to discover that every one that accepted my insurance was not accepting new patients.

      2. Sure, and like others here I could recount a lifetime of “glass half full” experiences too – a couple broken bones fixed in my case, a few more serious operations in the case of friends and loved ones, etc. But this is classic broken window fallacy, and that’s the REAL issue afflicting both countries. We could live in a world of the $4500 sandwich combo too, if fast food were politicized to the same outrageous extent that medicine is from every angle. What we need is the Henry Ford model of medicine – but that approach is tragically illegal. So we take exorbitant monopoly prices as a given, and quibble foolishly over who pays.

    2.  I suspect that the good healthcare experiences you have had in Mexico have to do with the relative cost of living. Your money buys higher grade services than in your own country. This is why medical tourists go to India for their heart operations since you can get the same procedure for a tiny fraction of the cost.

      1. Yes, but it demonstrates the point that it is *possible* to deliver basic care at extremely low prices, if rent seeking can be taken out of the picture. It is not unreasonable to expect a 100% copay of a few tens of dollars for simple procedures like stitching a wounded hand. In demanding that this be provided at zero cost, we instead let moral hazard into the room, and are all made worse off by it.

    3.  I had a crappy experience with the Ontario healthy system specifically, just at the end of the Harris era.  Conservatives tend to be really bad at government for some reason, and Harris was a prime example of smiling tax cutting incompetence.

      I had a condition that required me to have surgery on my throat 5 times while finishing the last year of my undergrad in BC.  No problem – surgery within 2 weeks of deciding it was needed, all 5 times.

      Then we moved to Ontario for grad school.  I knew within about a month I had to go in again.  It took 5 months to get to a specialist – who turned out to be the wrong one.  Another 3 months to see the right one, and then a further 3.5 months to get the surgery.  All the while I had no voice – literally and figuratively.

      It took so long to happen that the one round of surgery was not enough, and I had to do it again almost immediately.  Meanwhile, we moved back to BC.  I went to see my old doctor, he hooked me up with a specialist that was across the hall, and I had my last round of surgery within 12 days of arriving in the province.  That was ten years ago, and we have had a right wing government in power here for all of that time, so they may have managed to degrade the system a bit since.

      A big difference exists between provinces as to the quality of their health care.  Where they are similar is in the fact that all of this happened while I was in university.  Had this happened in a private health care system I would have had to leave school and would probably still be paying it off with my dead-end job.  For that matter, I am 40, with 2 kids, and am in the process of leaving my job to work with a new startup – something that would not happen if I had to worry about health care for the family. 

      For the most part, it seems to depend on how many of the past 25 years they have had Conservative governments.  The same applies to the size of their debt, for some reason.  I suspect it is because when ideology conflicts with reality and evidence, ideology wins for them.

    4.  I’ve heard similar horror stories of trying to find a GP in San Francisco (roughly 2.5x the population of Waterloo).  I know I would have had to wait about six months to find a GP at UCSF.  In the end I said fuck it and currently patronize a practice that does not take insurance .

      So far it’s been a worthwhile gamble.  Appointments during business hours are easy to make, they are available 24×7, and they even make house calls.  Over the three or so years I’ve been without insurance I’ve spent the equivalent of less than four months (more like two months at today’s rates) of health insurance premiums.  And I really like two of the three doctors I’ve seen at that practice.

      Make no mistake.  We ration care tightly in the United States.  One of the hospital chains (Sutter, I think) used to run ads touting the fact that their emergency room had a wait time of less than thirty minutes.

    5. Here is the thing, though: You don’t like the Canadian system? Well, there is the French system, the Swiss system, the German system, the UK system…

      The world is *full* of counterexamples to the US system. Yet, the US seems utterly incapable of learning from *any* of them.

    6. “State control” “free market”

      Gee, it’s almost as if you have an ideological agenda…

    7. When I was living in Finland, I was unfortunate enough to sever the tendon in my right thumb. The surgeon fixed it up nicely. All for the equivalent of $80.

      Follow-up was a mess though. I saw a different doctor every time, who took about 30 seconds to read my chart to try and figure out what I was there for (and what they were supposed to do).

      The system seemed really disjointed.

      Personally, I don’t think we’re going to get out the US healthcare mess until we treat health insurance like actual INSURANCE. And not like a membership card that will get any health service we want for a $20 co-pay.

  21. The glut of gushingly positive comments surprised me, until I posted a less-rosy account of my own experience as a Canadian forced to endure this broken system, and found it promptly deleted. I’ll give Boing Boing the benefit of the doubt and presume it was culled for its length, and not ideologically censored.

    Suffice it to say that in 8 years I have not been able to get a family doctor in a city of 300,000 people, have suffered a life-threatening misdiagnosis of a serious strep infection at the hands of incompetent and disinterested walk-in clinic physicians, and had to wait 6 months for a tonsillectomy. This system may beat the US in some respects, but it is hardly deserving of praise.

      1. I am glad to see it made it through. My faith in internet openness is restored! Fingers crossed for the day when I can say the same about health care.

  22. I would like to add a counter point. First, I am Canadian. Second, I am a economist who studies health care costs (but not exclusively). Third, I am a leukemia survivor and watched my mother die of cancer in Canada right after I  beat incredible odds and survived in the United States. I think I can bring both an anecdotal and big picture perspective to the issue. I am in a favor of a public option, but that’s not the same as either a single payor system (as in Canada) or government provided health care (as in the UK). 

    One thing that I have come to realize in my time in the States, is that this country takes on a huge burden. Yes, Canada is a wonderful pluralistic county. However, a very, very large share of the worlds medical innovation happens in the United States. Are prices for drugs lower in Canada and the rest of the world? Yes. Where were the drugs that treat HIV, the Vaccine for HPV, and countless other medical treatments developed? The United States. Mayo, Johns Hopkins, UCSF, Harvard, MD Anderson, City of Hope, Saint Jude’s, Sloan Kettering. They ALL treat anyone with Medicaid (insurance for the poor) or Medicare (insurance for the disabled or elderly).  In fact, most Americans (and people in the developed world) will need their most serious coverage when they are older and they will be covered.  But these hospitals and countless others across the country, don’t just treat, they teach and they research. I received a bone marrow (well really a stem-cell) transplant to cure me of my Leukemia. The overwhelming majority of the innovation required for this treatment occurred in the United States.  A question to ask is why do the best researchers from around the world move to the US? Is the system broken yes. Are we moving in the right direction? Yes, I really think so. I think Obama’s plan (while not perfect) will ultimately correct the greatest injustice in the US system which is the uninsured. 

    Also, the issue of parental leave is separate from the question of health care. 

    Now for the anecdotal/experientially part. In Canada, there really isn’t any sense of competition. If you have cancer, you have the choice of two or three hospitals in Toronto and really only two networks. A private room costs $200-$300 a night. The physical structure of Princess Margaret (the very best Cancer hospital in Ontario if not Canada) is dreary and cramped. The hospital where I spend more than 120 days over a year, was a calm, clean space. I know these seems trivial, but what you are facing death and fear, these things make a big difference. My mother’s doctors were indifferent. They clearly gave up on her and constantly brought up palliative care for months, even as she begged them to drop it. My doctors email me on weekends to ask how I feel. My nurses were consumate professions. In my mother’s ward, all the signs were admonishments for patients taped to the wall and signs telling people to respect their nurses. 

    I think this is the big difference between competition and more or less a monopoly provider. When you compete for patients, you think about their needs. It changes the culture from organization focused on itself (Canada) to one focused on patients. Now, clearly it is not cut and dry, and there are problems with a market system. However, when we complain about the cost of the American system, I would like us to keep in mind two things. 
    1) The importance of American innovation on welfare and justice on a global scale.
    2) The importance of world leading care when you most need it. When your life is on the line and every bit of hope and comfort is priceless. 

    1. Keep in mind, there are pretty draconian restrictions on private health care in Canada that don’t exist in the UK system… and there are shitty doctors and nurses in the US.

      When I passed a 1/2″ kidney stone a few years ago I had insurance through Anthem Blue Cross. Despite the pain, it’s not really a life threatening emergency so I headed to the nearest urgent care clinic (UCSF). Neither my uro nor his NP worked Mondays, or I would have consulted with them (well, okay, maybe… as being UCSF faculty means being part of an incredibly expensive, impersonal bureaucracy). Okay. First step, prove you have insurance or put down a $200 deposit. Next step, wait four hours. Yes we have access to your records, yes we believe you, yes we have an NP that can write an Rx for narcotics but we use her only to explain test results to patients, yes will give you narcotics… in four hours. Yes, you can go across the street to the ER and wait for an even longer period of time. Dunno about you, but for me that was about an 8-9 out of 10 as far as pain goes. According to my uro’s NP, with stones that big typical protocol is admittance to the hospital and IV morphine. Too bad none of them work or answer messages on a Monday. What did I do? Called up a travel doc / private urgent care clinic near Union Square. Forty-five minutes later I had an appointment, $180 later I had completed an office visit, been tested for a UTI and offered whatever narcotics I wanted.

      Oh, BTW, you wanna know how long the waitlist is for a non-emergency ultrasound at UCSF? 3-4 months. Wanna know how much my uro office visits cost me *after* insurance (Anthem Blue Cross Premier PPO – $25 copay)? You’d probably be off by a few zeros.

      For the record both UCSF and SF General are leaders in providing HIV/AIDS treatment, and both are (supposedly) public (state and city respectively) hospitals. Wanna know what competition does locally? Read up on the sham Sutter health is trying to pull with the existing (and beloved) St. Lukes hospital and Sutter’s proposed new campus. Want the cliffs? Competition means that companies like Sutter compete for the exotic, profitable patients who need/want specialists. It’s no mistake that Sutter is trying desperately to close St. Luke’s (which serves a portion of San Francisco with poor access to hospitals) and open a new fancy campus in closer proximity to wealthier neighborhoods (neighborhoods that already have much better access to health care).

      And that is my biggest problem with Obamacare. It doesn’t encourage, it *MANDATES* you buy into an inherently broken system of private insurance.

      I’ve turned down health insurance at my current employer. Why? Well they offer to pay up to $300/mo in premiums. Do you know what $300/mo buys in San Francisco? It buys a high deductible health plan. HDHP generally refers to insurance plans with a $1,200/yr or greater deductible. In my case the best I could do for $300/mo is a plan with a $2,500/yr deductible (and a separate $250/mo deductible for some prescription drugs). This is Anthem’s “Solutions” plan. Going with Anthem’s “Solutions 5000” plan with a $5,000/yr (HAHA) deductible would allow me to have enough left over for rudimentary vision and dental care. Yuck. But at least I don’t work for a company (like Walmart or McDonald’s) that’s received Obama waivers to allow for even shittier health insurance plans.

      Yeah, okay, the in-network coverage is better… but still… yuck. My current GP (whom I’m quite fond of) does not take insurance at all. I make appointments typically 4-24 hours in advance. Routine office visits top out at under $100. $600 got me stitches installed, removed a few days later, and a decent checkup.

      Let’s say I went with one of those high deductible health plans. That office visit to my GP? Still $100 (best case $50). Sure, I could seek out an in-network GP. Maybe find one with a wait list of under 6 months (that was the wait for a UCSF GP). But perhaps you could understand why such a system with its ludicrous wait list would serve to discourage me from even seeking out a GP in the first place. Those stitches? Still under the deductible (if not, they’d be $300 instead). Sure, I could have gone to the ER. But doesn’t that seem like a needlessly expensive solution? But, hey, if the insurance company wants the more expensive solution.

      Private health insurance is simply a broken system in the United States. Obamacare doesn’t fix that. In fact, from best I can tell Obama tightened the restrictions on HSAs (eliminating coverage for over the counter meds). Tell me again why we should pay income tax on funds used for health care? Yeah….

      1.  Question: they offered to pay up to $300/month for premiums.  You declined it.  Did they give YOU that $300/month, or did they shove it in their pocket and flip you off?

        1.  There’s talk of putting the $300/month into my paycheck.  They are a tiny company which puts them at a disadvantage, but it’s still run by otherwise very decent human beings.

          That $300/mo would be taxed, however.  My initial thought was to get a high deductible “HSA” plan (a previous employer offered this setup) and just deposit the remainder of the $300 (assuming I’d eschew vision and dental coverage) into an HSA.  The cheapest HSA ($3,500/yr deductible) plan runs about $250/mo.

          Obamacare is not making it cheaper or easier for me to find access to non-emergency or preventative health care.

          1.  yeah, the republicans really managed to mangle obamacare so badly that isn’t able to deliver as promised, and now they are all gloating about the mess they caused.  what a disservice to the american people in service of the big corporate interests.  if it could have been implemented as planed it would have been a lot more effective.  A shame really. 

    2. Though American Corporations research and produce most of the world’s drugs, don’t they also charge the world for the use of those drugs?

    3. Profit-driven medical research leads to the production of drugs that will be the most profitable, not the ones that will save the most lives, and gives rise to marketing-driven interference in what should be scientific studies. See http://hcrenewal.blogspot.com/2012/06/more-marketing-than-science-anonymous.html

        1. Children are generally given grossly inadequate pain control.  This is a positive step. 

  23. The thing I really don’t understand is the supposed higher cost we would pay in taxes for u.h.c. My employer pays (out of my wage package) a set amount each month for my insurance; so, it switches from a payment to a private entity to a tax. Big deal. The money was already going into funding my health care, at least with u.h.c., maybe the game of “deny payment until we get a screaming, irate policy holder on the phone” would end. I’d be willing to take a chance on that.

  24. Like others, I am completely mystified by Americans’ fears of nationalized health care. I have survived multiple serious illnesses, I know my way around doctors and hospitals in the US pretty well, and I would even say my experiences there were almost universally positive. But these days I live in Belgium and I will tell you this: I absolutely, positively will take the Belgian system over the American one any day. It is efficient, inexpensive, and thorough. Wait times to see a family doctor are nearly zero in my experience, and I have never had to wait more than 5 days to see a specialist. Sure, there’s no nurse to weigh you and take your blood pressure — the doctor does that herself — and the waiting rooms don’t have nicely carpeted floors and dramatically lit artwork on the walls, but when I just want to know whether my left foot is about to fall off I don’t really care about any of that, do I?

    On the other hand, I have known enough people who have had bad experiences with health care in Canada that I was surprised to see only one negative comment here. I know at least one person whose experience in Canada turned her against nationalized health care — I’m pretty sure she even votes Republican these days….

    1. I have a friend who lives literally within sight of the place where Dick Cheney had his heart transplant.  Bet he totally believes in federally-paid health care, because without it, he’d still have his old heart, which had enough plastic stents in it to make a Star Wars LEGO set.

  25. The best fun in the US is having supposedly-covered procedures denied for reimbursement months or even YEARS after you (a) underwent the procedure and (b) thought your long-ago employer’s coverage had actually COVERED said procedure!  And then you try to reach your former employer or their old insurer, to find they’ve both vanished!

    Right after this, ride that ride at Six Flags where they shove red-hot pokers up your nose.

    1. I got my daughter the Gardasil vaccine, and a DTP booster because the schools require another one.  I knew DTP was covered, but I wasn’t sure about the Gardasil so I called.  100% covered, they told me.

      I’ve been getting bills from the doctor for a year now.  The insurance keeps swearing they’ll pay it and then denying the claim.

  26. All I know is that because I live in Canada, I don’t live in fear. Of trying to decide which symptom is safe to ignore. Of wondering if I’ll have to declare bankruptcy in order to receive care otherwise denied. Of ever having to think twice about calling for an appointment.

    Yes, there is a shortage of GPs, there can be long wait times. But no one will ever tell me that I’m not worth the care I’ll (eventually) receive.

  27. We have what we have because of price fixing and supply-induced consumption. In the US, when hospitals build out more beds and hire more surgeons, those beds and surgical suites will be filled, dammit, overflowing. And then build more. Which drives prices ever higher. We also have a payment system that promotes competition and price fixing, cartel- like behaviors. If insurance or Medicare will only pay out 60 cents on the dollar for what is billed, then hospitals will inflate their billing. And it will drive costs ever higher, and out of sync with other providers around the country. You’ll find the same surgeries with totally different costs, adjusted for regional variation in cost of living, etc. that’s all because of price fixing, oversupply and competition in an industry where those market forces exist as the prime movers. Rather than the well being of the patients.

  28. What I find interesting is that the country with some of the most expensive health care also has a large amount of people who bring disease on themselves.  People don’t exercise, eat poorly, and incur huge health costs on themselves.  Going out an getting a bike (even an expensive one) and riding it a few times a week could save you tens of  thousands of dollars in health care costs. In the states, not only does exercising and eating well bode well for your personal health, it is also a good idea for your financial health.  You’d think with the possibility of medical bills bankrupting you that people would be much more likely to be as healthy as possible, but it seems the exact opposite to be true.

    1. Thank you for that. That’s one hell of a story, and I hope it receives as wide an exposure as the OP. (being on an NY Times blog is a good start)

  29. I’ve had the same experience.  When I moved from the US to Canada, I was shocked at how amazing the healthcare was compared to what i was getting even on my super duper expensive insurance in the states.

    Not to mention the general higher quality of life due to tax dollars actually going towards things that matter.  health care, check…child tax credits towards school, check….child tax credits towards art and sport programs, check…childcare, check…nicest parks i’ve seen anywhere, check…public recreational facilities including gym and pool, check…retirement benefits covered, check…heck even the police are friendly and genuinely seem there to help, which was a huge shock coming from the states.

    The thing that makes me sad is that the US could have this just as easily, if it weren’t for the greedy corporations pulling the wool over the conservatives eyes.

    And taxes here aren’t higher then in the states, they are lower, unless you are making a lot.  The lower income people actually paying less, some of them are even getting money…*gasp*.  No one here complains about the taxes because they get so much in return for their dollar.  amazing really.

  30. Christ clearly states in the bible that you have to help those that are less fortunate that yourself. Being a Christian means being in favor of universal healthcare.

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