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October 9, 2009

Canada Health Care - Part 3

In late September, 2009 I asked my newsletter subscribers that live in Canada to write to me with their positive and negative stories about the Canadian health-care system. Diana Craig wrote the following unedited letter:

Hi Tim,

I'm a proud 16th generation Canadian living in the Vancouver area of British Columbia. My retired Dad had quadruple bypass surgery on Christmas Eve in Vancouver, and we were extremely pleased with the response from the health care system. In total my Dad spent 3 weeks waiting for the surgery (in the hospital). He's 75 and has type 2 diabetes (which is very well controlled due to diet and exercise) but due to possible complications and his previous heart surgeries they didn't want to send him home to wait.

He was transported to the major Vancouver heart surgery hospital from our suburban hospital a few days before the surgery. He received excellent care from a cutting edge surgical team and the after care was extremely comprehensive.

There were complications due to the diabetes and he was back in the hospital a couple more times until everything was fine. Total cost to my Dad $0. His medication is covered 80% by Pharmacare (a BC government plan) up to $1000 and 100% after $1000 (per year). His hospital care including multiple transports was covered by Medical Services Plan of BC (another provincial government plan).

Because my parents are retired and on a reduced income the normal monthly cost of health care insurance ($37 per person) is free. They do own their own home (valued at $650K with no mortgage), but it's their income that is the factor.

I also have Type 2 diabetes and because I work full time, my employer covers my family's basic monthly cost ($37 per person) and extended medical and dental insurance is also covered by my employer. For example, I pay 20% of the cost of my glucometer strips up to $1000 annually and then they are free as Pharmacare then takes over but the tests for diabetes and the doctor's visits were free. My family's eyeglasses are also covered up to $400 per year (frame and prescription) and the exam is covered up to $70 per year. There are many more benefits too numerous to mention.

We can also deduct our medical/dental expenses at income tax time.

I spent a few years of my life as a single parent on welfare with two small children and everything was covered by the provincial medical plan except my youngest daughter's ortho work but the orthodontist (who was one of the top doctors in Vancouver) allowed me to pay monthly with no interest at a reduced cost. Once I became employed the orthodontic work was covered by my employer up to 80%.

There are no deductions from my paycheque for my family's health coverage and I am not in a management position or in a union.

There are lots of complaints about wait times in the media here but personally I would trade waiting a little longer for affordability and health care access for all any time. I wish you all the best with your health care reform. We love our American family members and neighbours!

PS. Love your AsktheBuilder website and your newsletter. We just bought a 1941 house and are undergoing major renovations. We've gotten lots of helpful advice from you.


Posted by Tim Carter at October 9, 2009 2:38 PM

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