#Healthcare4All – Two different experiences

Blog post by #Healthcare4All team member Vik Binning

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There’s an upcoming court case in September that may potentially have a tremendous impact on something that we, as Canadians, hold near and dear to us. Essentially, the court case pits our current single-tier, public-focused healthcare system against a two-tiered, American-esque system (In case you’re wondering what I mean by two-tiered, it’s basically a healthcare system that allows for both public healthcare as well as private healthcare, for which you can pay higher out-of-pocket rates for possibly faster service). I know, I know, Americanesque isn’t a real word, but that’s not the point here! The point is that this court case is far too important for us as Canadians to not be aware of.

04 - canada-55981_150I was born in Canada, and I lived the first 9 years of my life here, until I moved to the United States, so it’s safe to say that I have a decent perspective on both healthcare systems. One moment in my childhood in the U.S. really struck a chord with me as far as understanding the implications of the American system. Soon after moving to the U.S. my dad was diagnosed with diabetes and as most people are probably aware, diabetes unfortunately is a pretty common medical condition. My dad’s employer at the time had a private health insurance provider and because of that my dad didn’t have to worry about receiving medical treatment in case of any complications related to his condition. That peace of mind, however, didn’t last very long…

My dad was temporarily laid off for about a month after recently moving to Atlanta and because of that, he had no option but to seek private healthcare in order to mitigate potential costs of treatment. I made a lot of phone-calls to different insurance companies, trying to figure out which one could provide the best rates, while providing the best coverage. What I learned during those phone calls has stuck with me to this day. In a two-tier system, money is more important than the health and well-being of the people. The first question that each representative would ask of me was if my dad had any preexisting conditions, and my answer was always the same: “Yes, diabetes.” With that, I’d receive a sugar-coated “no”.

Just in case you’re not sure, the way this private health insurance system operates is that you, as a subscriber to this insurance company, pay a monthly rate for your health insurance. If one day you become ill, the health insurance company will pay for a certain percentage of your medical treatment, typically after you pay an up-front deductible of some previously agreed upon amount. If you have a preexisting condition, to an insurance company, you’re a liability. The likelihood of the insurance company having to spend their money on medical care for you is increased and so it is in the best interest of insurance companies to only provide insurance to the healthiest people out there.

Fortunately for us, my dad found a job within a month and received health insurance through his employer, however, most Americans aren’t that fortunate. As a Canadian, I’ve never had to worry about preexisting conditions, or going into debt trying to pay medical bills. As a Canadian, I’ve been born into a wonderful country that treats healthcare as an inalienable right, rather than something that only the wealthy can afford. All that could change come September, let’s not let it…

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