Friday, October 12, 2007

Universal Health Care

An election has just finished here in Ontario, and I keep thinking about our 'universal' health care and somewhat comparing to what our 'neighbours to the south' have. In Ontario it would be political suicide for any politician to suggest a two-tiered system, yet more and more health care procedures are becoming less 'medically necessary' and thus dropped off the formulary for funding.

Costs for universal health care are skyrocketing due to the ability to keep people alive longer, labour demands, increasing technology, and an aging population. With all this, the question of supplementary private healthcare has emerged as possibly being the solution to reduce the waiting times for surgeries and cancer treatment. In addition, with salaries being higher in the United States, it is not uncommon for Canadian-trained physicians and nurses to head to the US to get a better salary. This means less health care workers staying here in Canada, where they are also desperately needed, yet paid less.

I was recently in the USA and I met people who were working in the local mall. Being the health conscious person I am, I kept wondering to myself if they would have insurance through their jobs. In my experience, working retail doesn't give you a huge paycheck. What kind of healthcare insurance could a low-income worker expect to get? It seemed very odd to me that the person who I was talking to at the clothing shop wouldn't be able to go to a family physician without worrying about the cost. They aren't different then myself, yet I have no worries about paying for my last physical. I didn't know this, but I just looked it up and according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 43.6 million people in the United States, or 14.8% of the population, had no health insurance. Those people then delaying primary and preventative care, and then head to the emergency department when things get really bad, ultimately costing them more money, and taxpayer money as well. Compared to other countries, the US spends the most on health care, yet they still are unable to provide it to all their citizens.

I strongly believe that universal heath care is the way to go. As a future nurse, already I see people who would never be able to afford health care (or have jobs where they wouldn't receive private insurance) be able to get quality care because they need it. I think my ultimate fear as an upcoming nurse would be wanting to help someone but having them head home without my help because they couldn't afford it. Although universal health care does have its flaws, I don't think it should be up to your wallet size.

I have heard that the "greatest country is not the country who has the most stuff, or is the most rich. The greatest country is the one who takes the greatest care of their poor". That hits home and makes me think.

I would love to hear opinions of those who are against universal health care, and why.

1 comment:

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