the price of care

“Eleven years ago, one cardiology exam with associated tests cost $800, now the same exam costs $2,800. In 2003, our son’s first two open-heart surgeries cost $250,000. In 2006 his fourth and fifth open-heart surgeries cost more than $800,000. In 2005, one heart catheterization cost $27,000. In 2008 he had two, priced at $78,000 and $86,000.” – from Amanda Rose Adams’ The Price of a Child I Wouldn’t Let Go.

The Canadian health system is not perfect.  We don’t have enough family physicians to go around.  There are ridiculous wait times for specialists’ appointments and for crucial diagnostic tests.  Our mental health system is fractured and struggling.  Families with children with disabilities pay out-of-pocket for their children’s rehabilitation services – Speech, OT, PT, family support, behaviour coaching.  We pay directly for dental and eye care and pharmaceuticals.  BUT.

If my child requires inpatient hospitalization, the cost to me is $0.  Technically, I pay for inpatient health services through my taxes.  But I do not write cheques for hospital care, or pray that my employer’s insurance coverage is adequate to cover the costs of a sick child.

As a Canadian, these thoughts do not even cross my mind.  When Tommy Douglas fathered universal health coverage in 1962, Canadians were safe from bankrupcy due to hospitalization forever more.  I will fight tooth and nail (and by my the ‘x’ on my ballot) to ensure that the Canada Health Act remains intact, and is not tinkered with by greedy provincial governments.

Amanda Rose Adam’s essay in Motherlode reminded me to be thankful for what we have in Canada.  It also sparked an internal outrage on behalf of our neighbours to the south who encounter catastrophic financial ruin because of sick kids, accidents or chronic health conditions.

Michael Moore made the film ‘SiCKO’ seven years ago.  I was reminded how his message remains true today.  As Amanda points out, health care prices have gone UP substantially since this movie was made.

“The measure of a society is how they treat their most vulnerable citizens.”  America, surely you can do better?

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