Contemplating Health Care Reform
Everyone is saying that in Canada medicine is free and good. They have no idea.My parents live in Toronto, Canada. A few years ago, my mother suddenly began urinating blood. We immediately took her to the nearest and horribly overcrowded emergency room to wait all day for the only physician on duty. Upon hearing her symptoms, he told us he suspected that she either had a tumor or kidney stone, but he couldn't know without an ultra-sound. Unfortunately, the hospital couldn't perform the ultrasound at the time and he wasn't sure when the hospital would be able to. He could only offer to admit her to the hospital, give her a cocktail of pain medications while she waits for the next opportunity to have an ultrasound. He didn't recommend that. Instead, he said that she should go home and make an appointment with her primary care physician. The alarmed physician, immediately referred her to an ultrasound facility. We called five different facilities in the Toronto area and were informed that the wait list was a minimum of six weeks. At that point, we considered going across the border to Buffalo, New York, where we knew lots of people went to avoid the avoid the wait lists. My brother-in-law did exactly that for an MRI just a few months before.We finally found an ultrasound center about 2 hours outside of Toronto where the wait was a much more acceptable 1 week. Here's what I saw at the center: It was like going back in time. Nothing was computerized. The walls in the waiting area were covered in posters from the Canadian radiologist association asking patients to refrain from taking their frustration out on them for the lack of equipment to perform MRI's, CAT scans and ultrasounds and the resulting long wait lists and untreated conditions. They had asked the government to supply them with more equipment, but the government declined their request because the government told them it lacked funds. The ultrasound was performed by the technician. However, the radiologist who reads the results only visits the center every ten days. Ten days after the procedure we finally discovered that it was kidney stones, not a tumor. The next step was seeing a urologist. The wait for the Urologist was 3 months. Four and a half months after her symptoms appeared, the urologist finally removed the stone and the extremely painful experience finally ended. The pain was so bad that she was placed on narcotic pain killers which, if she had not been retired already, would have prevented her from working for the 4.5 months of this ordeal.A friend of ours in California had the same symptoms. He was seen by his physician the next day, the ultrasound was performed the same day and he was seen by a urologist within days of the ultrasound. All told, within a week and half of first experiencing symptoms he was diagnosed, the urologist removed his stone and he was back at work.Americans who support the proposed reform don't know what they're in for.