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The Root of it All: Yes, America, you do want Canadian-style healthcare

A recent first-hand experience has SooToday columnist David Root singing our health system's praises
David Root

I have heard people complaining about our health care system for years. I won't deny there are problems, but overall I find the system works well.

Yes, there are lengthy wait times for elective procedures, there is overcrowding, but all in all, when we need healthcare, it is there for us.

I have spent most of the month of June in hospital.

I collapsed at home and was taken to Sault Area Hospital, where it was determined ( I believe I had a CT Scan - its all a bit of a blur, at this point) that I had a brain tumour, and I was flown to Sudbury and underwent surgery.

After a day in ICU, I was transferred to a post-op ward, where I received physical and occuptional therapy to help me regain my balance and ability to walk.

The care was exemplary, including regular blood pressure and blood glucose checks and appropriate medication to get everything in balance.

I have not gone hungry, either. The food is not great, and there could be more of it, but it's tasty enough and you don't pay extra for it.

Speaking of "paying for it", I find a great deal of reassurance comparing my experience with that of people who have fallen ill in the USA. Many of us know people who, even with travel insurance, have been presented with huge bills for medical services in the US.

We complain about our taxes and government waste and mismanagement, but at the end of the day, four ambulance rides, and two transfers by air ambulance are all just part of the service, thank you very much. Not to mention the surgery and the recovery care.

As I understand it, although it is much more expensive to run than our own system, the NHS (National Health Syetem) in the UK is even better, and much more proactive in looking after and promoting people's health.

For instance, diabetic supplies are provided at no charge; the thinking is that keeping people healthy is cheaper than treating them and restoring them to good health when things go wrong.

Meanwhile, here in the hospital, my blood sugar is being checked far more often than I would have done myself at home. At home, I have to pay for supplies.

If you've seen TV ads for diabetic test meters, you will have heard that they are free. That's because the little test strips that you insert in them cost $1 each. If you don't have a drug plan, this expense adds up quickly

Here, my sugar is checked before and after meals, and if insulin is required it is administered. It has kept my blood sugar fairly constant, and I will benefit from this.

I have to admit this experience helped impress upon me the need to adopt a healthy lifestyle. No, I won't ever be a health and fitness guru, but I have a better understanding of the benefits of putting some effort into looking after my health.

And again, I am so impressed with our healthcare system. 

I listen to Americans saying they don't want a "Canadian-style healthcare system."

Yes, folks.... you do.

It works.