The Curse Of American Healthcare

WE WOULD NOT EXPECT ANYONE ELSE TO COVER OUR COSTS.

Yesterday, Anne and I noticed how Stryker, our fabulous German Shepherd and love of our life was from time to time breathing “funny”, almost as if he was being chocked.

We kept our eyes on him and saw no deterioration, but were worried nonetheless. His night’s sleep was perfect, without any abnormal breathing. But, by this morning (Wednesday June 22, 2011) his breathing was once again somewhat obstructed.

So, not wanting to take any chances with Stryker’s health and welfare, we called our local vet first thing, and because we are extremely good clients, with horses, cats and the dog, and that the vet knows that we don’t skimp on care for our animals, they agreed to see Stryker within 10-minutes.

The diagnosis had us quite concerned, since the problem could have been one of several serious issues including pulmonary obstruction within his nasal canal, or bloat, since his stomach was quite distended to the touch of the vet.

To find out what was wrong, Stryker needed to be anesthetized and undergo a series of X-Rays and scoping. All of which were done within 15 minutes of the preliminary exam.

THE GOOD NEWS is that Stryker somehow picked-up an infection that became low-level pneumonia, possibly from swimming in some of our ponds, or by sniffing “stuff” left on our trails from wild animals.

Within two hours after dropping Stryker off at the veterinary clinic, he’s back home. And the MOST important thing to us . . . is that Stryker will be fine after a week or so of antibiotics and some rest.

THE REASON FOR THIS STORY:

When we knew that Stryker wasn’t right, we didn’t call a bunch of friends and family to get their opinion. We didn’t stop people on the street to see what they thought. WE TOOK ACTION and brought Stryker to PROFESSIONALS who we TRUSTED.

We also didn’t call on strangers to help us pay for the care of Stryker. Had we been unable to pay the bill, we would have sold something we owned. Or we would have given the vet something of value in trade. Or we might have gone to a friend or family.

BUT WE WOULD NOT EXPECT ANYONE ELSE TO COVER OUR COSTS.

We don’t yet have a clue as to what all of this is going to cost us, since we keep a current running account with this vet and we don’t bother asking in advance, since whatever they say, is irrelevant to our decision to proceed.

But, whatever the cost will be, it will be a FRACTION of what it would cost to perform the same procedure on a person, especially in the USA. And in Canada or the USA, we couldn’t HOPE to get such timely treatment.

AND THAT’S THE RUB!

I called up Blue Cross in Florida last week just to see what the cost would be for healthcare for me. I told them that I was a Type I Diabetic, which I am not. I’m a Type II Diabetic.

What they told me . . . was that for any amount of money or deductions, I would NOT be able to get any type of healthcare insurance in Florida.

I called Maryland and gave them the same information, where they would take me as a client as long as I would agree to a $5600 deduction (my wife and I each) and a $2 Million life cap for only FOURTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS PER YEAR!

I saw our family doctor yesterday as part of a regular visit to keep tabs on my Diabetes. He went over the charts with Anne and myself. He checked the results of a blood test that included testing for Cholesterol, and he took my blood pressure.

After all was done, we chatted for a few minutes about what I should be doing, and what the longer-term prognosis was. In general, it was all good news. And then I had to pay.

This family doctor has been caring for Anne and myself for over 30 years, and he’s GREAT. But he lives in the Province of Quebec, which isn’t recognized for Healthcare transfers from the Province of Ontario where Anne and I live.

So, we pay him cash for what he would receive from Quebec through Quebec Medicare. He gives us an Ontario form detailing what he did, which we then submit to OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Program), which then sends us back a check for what we paid.

It might sound somewhat complicated. But it is not, since Quebec is the ONLY Province in Canada (1 out of 10 and three Territories) that does not have a National Healthcare Reciprocity Treaty with the rest of the country. Otherwise Canadians never see the costs, since the Doctors are paid directly by the Province.

But, because we have to pay our Quebec Doctor, we get the chance to see how much the doctors earn per visit.

MY BILL FOR THIS VISIT WAS $20 AND $0.20.

On average, the doctor gets paid somewhat more than $20 per visit. But let’s say it is just $20, and he can easily see as many as 6 patients per hour. So, in an 8-hour day, his earnings would be as much and possibly more than $960 per day, or $4800 per week.

If our doctor decides to take a month off during the year (2 two week holidays), his gross annual income would be at a minimum $230,400, of which he has to pay rent, light, heat, electricity, phones, staff (two people) and administration fees. BUT HE DOESN’T PAY OUTLANDISH LIABILITY INSURANCE, since it is almost impossible to sue a Canadian doctor expecting to win much of anything.

But, he’s not alone, and shares all of the costs with several other doctors.

But, as I wrote in the preceding paragraphs, $20 per visit is the MINIMUM he receives. So, after all is said and done, at the end of the day, our family Doctor will earn well more than $200,000 per year before taxes, of which I don’t begrudge him one penny.

Our Doctor is just one of TENS of THOUSANDS of Doctors in Canada who are paid this amount of money and MORE by the State (Province). WHY?

For $20 dollars, or even $100 per visit, why is the State paying for any of it, since we are talking about BILLIONS of collective dollars?

If Anne and I can find the money to care for Stryker by facing-up to our own responsibilities, which I GUARANTEE is going to cost a hell of a lot more than $20, why can’t the average person do the same for themselves and theirs in their own care?

When I need some very minor surgery done on my ear to clear dead skin cells from my eardrum every six months or so, I go to Potsdam NY and pay $100 to a fabulous ENT surgeon, and generally have the procedure done within 24 to 48 hours of calling for an appointment, instead of waiting up to 3 months to have it done in Canada because in Canada it is supposedly FREE.

In spite of stuff like this though, Canada has a FABULOUS Healthcare system that needs to be tweaked. But the USA is another story.

As an outsider looking-in from the NORTH side of the US/Canada Border, EVERYTHING about the American healthcare system STINKS.

The system BEFORE Obamacare . . . was an ABSOLUTE insult to the average Middle Income Group of American people, short of being a disaster.

But, what Obamacare has done, was to take a very bad system, and has made it UNBELIEVABLY worse. How bad Obamacare is, is a tribute to how MUCH a committee of AMATEURS could screw-up anything.

To take from bad to worse isn’t uncommon for bureaucrats. But, to take from WORST to BEYOND, is by my definition in the MOST negative way a real TRIUMPH.

If the USA really wants to see how good Healthcare can be, America’s politicians should look at the Canadian Model excepting how the Provinces pay for low cost personal care, and how the government embraces acute life-threatening care where there is no cost, no delays MOST of the time, and no limits to the amount and cost of care people really need.

In Canada, there are no healthcare caps (ceilings), no precondition restrictions, and as much access to the best in medicine and “competing” doctors the patient believes he or she needs.

When Michael Douglas needed his Neck and Throat Cancer Surgery, he came to Montreal (Montreal Jewish General Hospital) to have it done. I have to assume that Michael Douglas could have afforded to have had the surgery done anywhere in the world, and by any Doctor.

But, he chose Montreal and Montreal surgeons.

I don’t know what the surgery cost Michael Douglas, since he would have had to pay as a non-Canadian. But, his surgeons were my SAME surgeons when I needed surgery for Parotid Gland Cancer some 18 years ago, and except for a private room at $89/night and a private Cat-Scan for $280, the cost to me for the entire treatment from A-Z was ZERO.

AND I ASSURE YOU THAT I DIDN’T GET ANY LESS CARE THAN DID MICHAEL DOUGLAS.

What I think . . . is that between the lawyers, the doctors, the hospitals and the drug manufacturing companies, all given license to do whatever they want by the politicians, American Healthcare is a dead-duck until the politicians get real, and do what really has to be done to fix a program that is so broken, that nothing short of euthanasia for it will make a difference.

AND THEN START OVER.

Sort of makes you think doesn’t it?

There is no Audio Editorial associated with this Commentary.

Best Regards . . . Howard Galganov

1 Comment

  • We can only vote and hope that those others who do, are thinking, informed, honest votes.
    Hope you looked at Dahlonega and panned for gold, in case you never did so up in the Timmins area, plus bought a bunch of apples and cider in the Ellijay area.
    Have a great and safe trip on the way toTexas..

    John F. Morgan, Dalton, GA USA

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