It seems there is a disconnect between Canadians' personal views and their idea of how well the health system works for society at large. Canadians tout the public health care model as a big part of our national identity, say their experiences are mostly positive -- but then worry the system is failing.
Ten, maybe 15 years ago, all you had to do was be a doctor and life was good. You had the fast car, the trophy wife, and you could prescribe recreational drugs to your friends. Now a doctor has to be a social media junkie, too? What's next? Putting photos of my colonoscopy on Instagram? I already take photos of my food before I eat it. Now I guess it's time to take pics of how it looks after I'm done.
Waiting is a defining characteristic of Canadian health care. Canadians wait, often interminably, for access to health care services. Canada's wait times are among the longest in the developed world. And, contrary to popular belief, Canada's terrible wait times are not the result of insufficient health care spending. In 2009 (the most recent year for which comparable statistics are available), Canada's health care system ranked as the developed world's most expensive universal-access system. The solution to Canada's waiting time woes is sensible health policy reform that would employ private competition in the delivery of universally accessible hospital and surgical services .
Every year, provincial health care systems across Canada dutifully reduce the volume of services they provide in preparation for the summer vacation season. This planned-for reduction has the inevitable effect of lengthening waiting times for Canadians over the summer months (and during Christmas holidays). The added twist this year is the slowdowns might be extended in a bid to reduce expenditures.
It has only been a couple weeks since the surgery, a double mastectomy, and my body is still in recovery mode. On some mornings, I can hear Nate playing downstairs with his dad and I feel my heart swell with happiness. "How lucky I am to be a part of this family," I think. On other mornings, on those when the pain is bad, I think how sad it is that I am in this bed and missing out on the cuteness that is surely happening downstairs. My chest is sore, but mostly it is numb. Watching Nate run and play and laugh reminds me that the surgery may have (temporarily) broken my body, but it certainly did not touch my heart, nor my capacity to feel love.
We would wager citizens of every country think health care could be improved. However, we would also bet a plane ticket to someone's favourite summer getaway that Canadians will find countries with universal health care, such as Australia, Japan, or favourite tourist destinations in Europe, have far better health care than we do. That's because their citizens and their governments have no hang-ups about the three boogeymen of upfront fees, "private" insurance, and private delivery. They are also nations with progressive, sensible health care practices that could help improve Canada's health care system.
I have been a cancer survivor for a little over five years. Throughout my journey, I have remained positive, sometimes scared, and at times frustrated. The base of it all, though, is my belief that I will thrive and live a healthy, full life. No matter how many rounds of chemo or radiation you have to endure, or follow-up surgeries you have to undergo, take heart.
Hip and knee replacements constitute a billion dollar industry. But why is it that we don't monitor the quality of our goods the same way the automotive industry does? Canada needs to adopt a series of measures to maintain records, and improve not only product quality, but customer satisfaction as well.