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Sick of the system

I

don’t really understand health care in the United States. I know you have to pay for it, while you don’t have to in Canada. I know that Canadian politicians get in a flap every time the idea of private, paid-for healthcare comes up – the spectre of a “two-tier” healthcare system apparently being a mortal threat to one of our fundamental Canadian values.

I know that Americans generally seem suspicious of our state-sponsored healthcare. They have been told that it’s not as good as their system (as with all things not Made in America) and that it is somehow evidence of state socialism by stealth. I know that trying to reform the healthcare system in America was one of Hilary Clinton’s failures (when she was wife to President Bill) and I know that reforming the healthcare system in America is one of Obama’s successes as President – one that he expended huge political capital on, though no one seems sure yet what he actually achieved.

The effects of this reform haven’t hit the streets yet, particularly on the wrong sides of the tracks in my neighbourhood. America is still a scary place to get sick or injured. If you don’t have health insurance through your job or personally purchased, then you’re screwed. Hence the plethora of lawyers offering to litigate on your behalf if you get injured (how else are you to pay the medical costs?) and the abundance of private clinics and pain management centres, mostly staffed by overseas doctors.

The healthcare system in Canada is unsustainable as baby boomers age, increasing the demands on the system as they live longer and longer (due to recent medical advances it seems that some of these boomers might never die) while the significantly smaller generation coming up behind them are unable to shoulder the tax burden of these costs. The healthcare system in America, as capricious and Darwinian as it seems to me, might end up as our future in Canada.