Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sicko and the American Healthcare

I remember once I was in southern Georgia, US, on my way to Orlando, Florida. We stopped at this little town where a buddy of mine worked, to rest for the night. He took us for dinner at this small family restaurant, along with a few co-workers of his. During dinner, the conversation shifted to voting.

"So you guys are all voting this year?" I casually asked his colleagues.

"Oh yes," one tall woman replied, "but we haven't gotten our vote card yet."

"Vote card?" I asked.

"Oh yes," she replied, "our company gives us cards with the candidates positions and who they recommended to vote for, and we do accordingly."

My jaw was like an :-0 in shock. And it is because of people like her (and she was not an aberration I found - many in the south of USA are truly politically ignorant hicks who never step out of their own towns and have no knowledge - nor interest - in what is going on at home and abroad), people who never think, yet they vote, that I despair of films like Sicko ever having any impact in the US.

Sicko was not a bad movie (though I maintain Moore's Bowling for Columbine was his best). It did paint a rosier picture of Canadian health care than what is the truth, but despite all the purported problems of our health care, I would not change it at all for an American-style user-pay-as-you-go health care. It is baffling that the richest, most powerful nation in the world cannot afford to provide adequate health care for more than half of its citizens.

It's also surprising how environment is suddenly the top issue amongst all the supposedly educated elite and the secular thinkers of the American political establishment. Yes, Gore my man, kudos to you for raising the profile of an issue you did nothing major about for eight years as the vice-president, but this Live Earth thing wasted more energy than the Canadian army in a single day in Afghanistan! Yes, I know the intent was to raise awareness, but everyone already knows about the environment! It is easy to latch on to the environment as something to do, because other than petitioning the government to sign the faulty Kyoto agreement you don't really have to do much.

While watching Sicko, there are many times I was glad that man, I am Canadian. However, one nagging thought did keep interrupting me - wait times. There are times when I had been down with something, or had a broken bone wherever, and had to wait a week or two before seeing a specialist. In those one or two weeks, pain killers would have to do. At those times, I sometimes wish I could have the option of paying and seeing the specialist early.

However, problems with our system are limited (and caused by) how we run our system, not with the system itself. For no other reason do many Buffalo citizens still try and somehow manage to obtain an Ontario Health card.


Anonymous said...

They wouldn't wait to set a broken bone. If you go into emergency, things are dealt with as necessary. My dad broke his arm and being not well and elderly - they set it and kept him overnight.

The wait times problem is with respect to elective surgery and mostly caused by a shortage of doctors.

I remember Bill Clinton say that even though the Canadian Health Care is having some problems we should make sure we keep the system we have.

Manuel said...

I have traveled to the US every year since birth for one reason or another, and each time have found people similar to how you described for the not leaving your house no original idea or thought in their head, but at the same time you will find that anywhere, it's almost disgusting how many in Canada are the same way, so I can only assume it's the same for every country, afterall Ignorance is bliss.

mezba said...

Anon: wait times are the only major crunch issue that affects health care in Canada. I think the main reason is shortage of doctors and equipment (money). I think the government should have a program that speeds recognition of credentials of foreign doctors (now immigrants) should they choose to work in less populated areas under supervision of a Canadian doctor.

Manuel: I think it's more pronounced south in the USA.

Canadian Tar Heel said...


...many in the south of USA are truly politically ignorant hicks who never step out of their own towns and have no knowledge - nor interest - in what is going on at home and abroad...

Euf. Why do people feel justified in making such assertions based on a visit to GA, USA?

It would seem ironic that Canadian stereotypes of Americans prove just as parochial as so-called American ambivalence.

-- Canadian TAR HEEL

mezba said...

CTH: it's not just one visit, I have been there many times, all over the South. GA, Texas, Alabama, Carolinas, Oklahoma, Kansas, ...