Discussion of Canadian Health Care-Mostly Truth!

Comments on Canadian Health Plan as Part of Debate about Senator Hillary Clinton’s Health Care Proposals-Mostly Truth!

Summary of eRumor:

Prompted by Senator Hillary Clinton’s health care proposals, the writer of the eRumor says all is not well in Canada where a universal health care plan has been in effect for a long time.

The Truth:

This is a complex story and some of it, such as whether Senator Hillary Clinton’s health care proposals have merit, is a matter of political, social, and economic opinion.

We don’t have a name for the writer of this eRumor or whether it was really written from Canada or not, but we can look into some of the specific topics it raises.

First, health care polices and prices in Canada may differ from province to province.  The national government sends health care dollars to the provinces but the provincial and territorial governments each establish their own guidelines.

Some of the topics in the eRumor are personal and about people in the writer’s family and we can’t document those.  Other topics are commentary, but here are some of the issues raised:

Canadian health care is not free and is funded mostly by taxes-Truth!
Most Canadians pay an annual health care premium that averages several hundred dollars per month.  Low income families and those on assistance are exempted.  But the bulk of health care costs is paid for by taxes.  Whether the writer is really in a 55% tax bracket or not is not known.  The Canadian Federal Finance Department estimates, however, that Canadians pay an average of 35% to 40% in income taxes.

There are long waiting lists for treatment in Canada-Truth!
Even the most enthusiastic of Canadians admit that the health care system can be sluggish when it comes to getting treatment.  It’s technically illegal for doctors and hospitals to provide private care for anything that is covered by the government health care system, but there is a growing industry of private hospitals where people can pay for services that they would otherwise have to wait a long time to get.

Many Canadians do not have a family doctor-Truth!
Most Canadians do have a family doctor but if you don’t have one, finding one may be difficult.  There is a shortage of physicians in Canada and you must find a family doctor who is accepting new patients.  In 2004 the Canadian Medical Association estimated that about 14% of Canadians did not have a family physician.

You could wait many hours in an emergency room for treatment-Truth!
Almost anybody anywhere in the world has stories of long waits in emergency rooms–mostly because unless your problem is life-threatening you’ll not get the attention of those who are facing more serious problems.  But is is true that in Canada the lines at emergency rooms are legendarily long.

Immigrants get health care coverage in Canada-Truth!
According to the Canadian Government, immigrants are eligible for health care coverage under the Canada Health Act, although in some provinces there may be a 90-day waiting period.

Drug addicts get free needles but diabetics must pay for needles in Canada-Truth! & Fiction!
The Canadian government began needle exchange programs in several areas of Canada in the 1980’s.  The goal was to fight the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C by reducing the number of contaminated needles being used.  Medical supplies for diabetics, however, including needles are covered by the health plan.

Updated 10/8/07