Being from Canada (a country where everyone and their dog enjoy free "healthcare") I'd like to (but probably shouldn't ) take this opportunity to set a few things straight.
There are no "death councils" in Canada.
Sure, someone somewhere decides what medicines/treatments etc. are to be offered/available, but those are then offered to one and all! There is no "council" that decides this person get's this drug/treatment while joe over there gets an inferior drug/treatment.
Of course, this means that there are some treatments/drugs which are available in Europe or in the US that aren't available in Canada. Sometimes the government will pay and sometimes it won't. That doesn't mean there is some "death council" in Canada. It just means that in Canada we believe if we can't afford a treatment for all, then it doesn't make it under the "free healthcare" umbrella. Something inherently wrong with that?
Sure, wait-times. Wait-times are atrocious. Sometimes people end up dying before their scheduled appointment for treatment. It happens in a system that tries to care for all at the same time.
I'd like to share two very differing experiences with our "free healthcare" system with you for analysis.
Many years ago the vehicle I was travelling in was hit head-on by a drunk (intent on killing himself). Long-story short, I was ejected, bounced on the highway and sustained quite a few fractures. As a result of those injuries I spent almost 5 months in the hospital, several more as an out-patient and am sure my "bills" (in a non-free healthcare system) would have made me bankrupt!
Did I receive the very BEST treatment known to man? Probably not, I'm sure there are better technologies etc. available in Europe/USA for certain injuries I received, but at the end of the day I'm alive and not bankrupt!
A few weeks ago while using a "mandolin" (yes I'm a man....and yes I do cook) I turned a portion of my thumb into a faux-potato slice (yes...I said I was a MAN! ...what safety guard??). At first my wife simply cleaned the wound, and bandaged me up nicely (we were having a dinner party so going anywhere at that moment was out of the question).
Hours later, (post clean-up) with my whole hand now throbbing and at 1am I decided to head down to the local hospital to get at least a tetanus shot (I hadn't had one in years). It took almost an hour for the triage nurse to see me. She un-wrapped my thumb saw it was still bleeding (this was now almost 10 hours after I initially cut it) cleaned it again, re-wrapped it and said "please have a seat". So I sat down among the other 4 people in the emergency waiting area.
One of the other four had a bad rash, another bad stomach pain (she left after waiting for 3 hours....) the third had what appeared to be a sprain as a result of drunken stumbling and the the fourth had a nasty cough.
So I waited......and waited........and....well my throbbing hand and I along with the security guard who didn't look like he could run down an old lady......watched almost the entirety of two movies.......while I waited.......and waited.....looked again at my yellow wrist-band and the large sign beside triage:
White wrist-band = can't remember (don't worry or something like that)
Green wrist-band = not urgent
Yellow wrist-band = urgent
Red wrist-band = emergent
Purple wrist-band = resuscitative
Then at around 4am the triage nurse asked me to follow her into a room. "The doctor will be right in to see you........". Around 30min later a rather lovely nurse un-wrapped my thumb for the second time, saw it was still bleeding, cleaned it again and left....."the doctor will be right in to see you....." An additonal 30min later the lovely nurse was back to stick me with a needle (the Tetanus shot I had come for) and once again said...."the doctor will be right in to see you..."
...somewhere around 5:30am a nurse just about to go take a nap (she spoke over her shoulder at someone outside the room) un-wrapped, and once again cleaned my still bleeding (and now slightly more aggravated.....thanks to the constant un and re-wrapping etc.) thumb, then she went to take a nap. This time no one said "....the doctor will be right in.....".
Around 6:30am I left the room and started pacing the hallway.......was anyone even coming? What was I still doing here? I mean I'd received the shot I needed, was there anything left to do? sigh........public healthcare....grumble grumble....
At 7:10am a doctor sidles into the room with a joke on his tongue.......nice. Did you just get on shift buddy? cause I've been warming your waiting room chairs and now this flat-ass stretcher for the last six hours! He got the hint.......monk was in no mood for jokes right about then. So he got busy un-wrapping my thumb for the umpteenth time! (and btw.......doctors SUCK at un-wrapping things......those nurses were much more sensetive......damn...I bit my tongue!) So.....Mr. doctor-man looks at my thumb....says....."wow....nice potato-slice.....tee hee!..." then he says....we'll get it wrapped up again and you're free to go. Then he leaves the room.....I'm sitting there holding bloody gauze against my thumb so the still bleeding wound won't mess up the otherwise clean room.
..another 20 minutes later....a third nurse......(chirpy little thing)..breezes in....sticks my thumb in some totally impractical condom-like device and gives me a hand-puppet! Thanks. I'm hoping my car hasn't been towed....
Of course I'm not exactly thrilled at the performance of our "system" in my second scenario. So do I support a TWO-tier system whereby in scenario number one everything that happend, would happen the same way again, but in scenario number two I might have the option to go to a "paying clinic" and have had my shot and been out of there in minutes as opposed to hours.
Public free healthcare is GREAT but what would make our system BETTER, is to simultaneously have the option of going to other clinics (within Canada) where one could pay and therefore forego the wait-times of our free healthcare system.
I say, more options are always better. Those claiming that public healthcare is wrong/bad, simply don't know what they are talking about!
-- monk out!