Tag Archives: MSP

Gordon Campbell’s Record

We’re moving closer to a provincial election and the super plasticky premier Gordon Campbell and his cronies will be putting on their best faces, making more promises and hiding their earlier dirty work. Unfortunately they’ll probably get in again because people have notoriously short memories. So here are a few things to do with health care that we can thank Gordon Campbell for.

  • Raising the cost of medical services by 50%. And remember, BC and Alberta are the only provinces that pay for what Canadians call “universal health care” that’s free everywhere else. Ask your MLA why we have to pay.
  • Broke contracts with health science professionals, nurses, health support workers and community social service workers. That was in his first four years and even though it went tot he courts and the Campbell government was found in the wrong, what did that do for those people who had to wait four years to get a ruling?
  • Because those contracts were broken and things like cleaning hospitals was given to the lowest bidder, which did not guarantee that workers knew how to work with biohazardous waste, many people lost their lives and livelihoods do to increased infections (some of this is to blame on health cleanliness standards too).
  • Raised Pharmacare deductibles for the poor on MSP premium assistance from $600 to $800 a year.
  • Delisted podiatry, eye exams, chiropractic, physiotherapy, and massage services. This means they are no longer covered or subsidized under health care. As people age what two areas tend to need work: eyes and feet. But who needs those, right? I have a condition that requires massage or chiropractic to stop chronic pain, and when I cannot receive timely care because of the cost, I end up seeing my doctor and specialists and in no way does this cut the costs to the health system.
  • Privatized MSP billings to Maximus, an American company, making private BC records subject to disclosure under the US Patriot Act. This company was also fined twice and has not save people money.
  • Eliminated the provincial mental health advocate.

Everyone may have forgotten these things (and the many more listed below) with the huge economic downfall scare. However, the poorer we all become the less likely we are to be able to pay for any healthcare needs, and we’ll all just suffer a bit more. I never trusted Campbell and I still don’t. A premier that will tear up legally binding contracts is bound to do more dirt to the people.

This site lists 77 reasons, and that only up to 2005 on what Campbell’s government has done for us. http://www.pej.org/html/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=2551&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0

http://www.bcndp.ca/node/1054

http://www.vancouversun.com/news/todays-paper/Campbell+record+reform+falls+short+ambitious+agenda/1238924/story.html

http://howbadtherecord.blogspot.com/2009_03_01_archive.html

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Health Care: Canada & the US

One great difference between the US and Canada is the litigiousness of the US. Americans seem to sue over a pinprick, a spilled coffee, personal stupidity. I remember a friend who does some sailing sending me an article at one point from one of his sailing magazines.

It was about a man trying to sue his sailboat insurance company because his ex-girlfriend was suing him for giving her genital herpes. His case against his insurance company had been dismissed with the following (paraphrased) statement: Unless the boat veered suddenly and Mr. Jones fell with his open mouth upon his girlfriend’s naked vagina, it is impossible to list this as the insurance company’s fault.

It was hilariously ludicrous that the guy would even try but through the years of talking to my many friends over the border I’ve come to understand some of the litigious nature. It boils down to the difference between our universal medicare program and the “everyone for themselves” system of the US.

True, many companies (most?) offer healthcare benefits in the US because people can’t otherwise afford to have themselves covered, but there are horrendous gaps. I know a couple with two kids who can only insure their children under their work insurance but can’t afford to cover the whole family. I have a friend who is diabetic and, years ago, was paying $800/month for health care insurance. Another friend would have to drive over an hour to a practitioner covered by her insurance plan. And, unbelievable to anyone in Canada where we have a shortage of practitioners, I know a doctor who couldn’t get a job because of how the insurance companies worked. Not to mention all those people with low-paying jobs and no insurance. How do you get it? Join the navy, army or air force.

Still, in Canada, you might wait months to see a specialist, to even get a doctor, for an operation and die in the process. But if you have a baby, break a leg or need emergency surgery, the cost to you is covered. You don’t come out of the hospital and suffer a coronary because you’re in debt for life. It’s not a perfect system and it’s being mismanaged but it’s better than nothing.

How does this relate to the litigious nature of the US? Simple. Any time a person is injured or needs medical treatment they end up paying astronomical medical bills. Weighing the price of a lawyer against the rising medical costs leaves most people with one option: sue to cover the bills.

The US is a much more populated place than Canada. This works better for many businesses; costs for production are similar in both countries but if 10% of the population buys the item, well, that’s a big difference between the two. Could universal medicare work in the US? Since Canadian medicare comes from taxes, I bet it could. But I’m no expert or analyst. However, if one looks at the cost of suing people, of tying up the courts with medical lawsuits vs freeing them up to deal with crime, it might be that it’s cheaper all around to give some modicum of healthcare to everyone.

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Healthscare: the Undermining of Our Free Health

I’ve already said that if the government is so worried about the funding for our health care, then part of the solution is preventative medicine. This means you can’t deny people services when they’re in an acute stage. The longer one waits for treatment, the more it costs the health system as the problem becomes chronic, sometimes with life lasting problems.

At the same time, each provincial government seems to have the impunity to whittle away our health care any way they want, without the federal government saying anything. In BC, we used to get 12 covered visits for chiropractic, physiotherapy and massage therapy each. I suffer from soft tissue problems which often take the combination of massage and chiropractic to stop my bones from being pulled out of alignment by my over-tight muscles. The BC government somehow didn’t believe that these therapies helped people so they took them away. Then you were allowed ten visits total and only if on subsidized medical.

Subsidized? But surely health care is free in Canada. Well, some provinces are freer than others. Alberta and BC pay a monthly premium (in which you are harassed, ignored and strong-armed into these payments–to be elucidated on later). BC residents pay $54 a month. Oh, and let’s see what we lost when the Liberal (liberal?!!) government decided to bleed us, but not for our health.

  1. Premiums doubled (we’ve always had to pay)
  2. Massage, physio and chiro went to no free visits (or only 10 combined if you were subsidized)
  3. Podiatrists were dropped (what happens to people’s feet as they get older)
  4. Optometrists were dropped (what happens to eyes as people get older)

Optometrists seem to be covered if you have a health problem but a check-up is not. Glasses and/or contacts have never been covered. Likewise, somehow dental health has never been covered. As someone who has no medical/dental plan, the cost of even the basic dental health is out of reach for many people. I’ll be paying out over $2000 for one crown and one root canal. Feet problems? Well I may have to put those off. Back problems. I suffer longer, use more painkillers which do not work and worry about the problems that become worse with time, where I must visit the doctor more often, get more prescriptions and seek more specialists.

Over the years of the mismanagement of MSP (Medical Services Plan) I have written letters and asked why we pay when other provinces do not. To this day I have never received any communication from MSP except for the automaton bills, which are erratic at best. I’ll devote a piece just to the unfair billing practises of MSP.

And now we’re looking at bill c-51 about to be passed where you and I will not be able to buy vitamin C, echinacea or anything else we want over the counter. We’ll need prescriptions and that will cost more. My last prescription: the drug was $6.50, the dispensing fee was $8.30. What will this mean? Pharmaceutical companies and drugstores will get richer, we’ll put greater strain on the health care system by either having to see our doctor for a prescription or by ignoring and taking no vitamins.

Granted there is a lot of self-medication and taking supplements that don’t do anything but really, will I need a doctor’s permission to take vitamin C and iron. Write your member of parliament if you’re concerned about any of this.

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The Slow (and Planned?) Demise of Medicare

I consider the various world governments that have suddenly proclaimed the environment as in dire shape as having really just tried to gain popularity with their voters. They’re not doing this in many cases because it’s right but because it will garner votes. Likewise, I see the present Canadian government as having put out the smokescreen of environmentalism to draw our attention away from the dire straight of our health care system.

Over the years, Alberta went through a stage where the Klein government cut back on many services. My mother, a senior, needed a blood test and there were only two labs in the city of Calgary because the rest had been closed down. She waited eight hours. Other similar cases lead to a crisis, wherein Klein then started letting in privatized clinics because of the waiting lists. Of course he set up the situation in the first place. Gordon Campbell in BC, like Klein, was a Liberal as opposed to a Conservative in sheep’s clothing, did the same thing. They both proved themselves to be the wolves at the doors of the health care system.

Healthcare in Canada is free to everyone. Except in BC and Alberta, richer provinces than any of the Maritime provinces, where people must pay a premium. How is this fair? How is this right?

On top of that, the healthcare system has never considered basic dental care as integral to someone’s health. As anyone who has ever had a toothache, broken tooth, crooked teeth or gum disease can tell you, dental care not only matters for hygiene, it matters for overall physical and mental health. In BC, chiropractic, massage and physiotherapy have been cut out of the system, leaving many people with trying to rely on drugs should they not afford the therapies that help with soft tissue problems. As someone who suffers from this condition it is massage that is most effective and yet denied. Should I even mention that the Liberal government also cut out podiatrists and optometrists, somehow not see foot or eye care (the areas that can have many problems for aging people) from the healthcare system. We’re living in an age of whittling away our healthcare benefits.

Granted it takes a large budget for all the country’s benefits but how is penalizing some people fair? I now know people who exist everyday in pain because they can’t afford the therapy needed to fix their problem. Private clinics won’t change that. It may put the good doctors into the clinics and the specialists, leaving a majority of the public with fewer good resources.

I have many friends in the US. Sometimes they must drive an hour or more to go to their doctor because that doctor is the only one on their company paid healthcare coverage. Others, even working, can only afford to cover their children, not themselves. A friend who is diabetic was paying over $800 a month for healthcare. Another friend who had uterine cancer surgery last year now owes over $20,000 to the hospital. That’s where privatized medicine will get you. Albeit, our system isn’t perfect and you must sometimes wait months for a specialist appointment, it is still better than paying thousands.

This is by far, not the end of this topic. I’ll have more to say and rant about another day.

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