By Melanie Scott
As you may have noticed, we’ve been devoting a lot of column inches to the state of regional health care lately. With good reason.
I think our region is very lucky. We have an engaged, active, caring, and determined bunch in the Des Collines Health Foundation and the CSSS des Collines. Their task – to help make sure we don’t all kick the bucket before our respective time on earth is up via getting health care back on track – is a thankless one. Going up against the powers-that-be in Quebec City is painful at best.
And we’re woefully unlucky: we can’t get decent care.
Which is why we’re devoting yet more ink to the Health Matters campaign.
Time was, if you got sick, you went to the doctor and the doctor got paid by the government. You paid for your care through your income taxes. It was never cheap, but it was equitably divided in terms of income versus pay-in. It was a thing of beauty: democracy in motion, fairness for the masses, the humanitarian thing to do. People don’t ask to get sick, so a public system ensures they aren’t punished for inheriting a proclivity for high cholesterol.
According to the Fraser Institute, just over 24 per cent of income tax collected goes towards health care. Trying to compare this to what an average American family of four pays for private health insurance – $20,000 – is like comparing apples and oranges, because the system, with or without Obamacare, has all kinds of deductibles and restrictions that throw the numbers off.
But let’s look at, say, Sweden. Seventy-one per cent of the health care tab is funded through various taxes, and 97 per cent of all costs are borne by the government. Swedes, though, contribute a small portion out of pocket – it’s kind of like a deductible. And once they pass a certain amount spent, the government pays the whole shot. If you’re really, really sick, you are guaranteed a primary care doctor – i.e. someone who will get to know you and be your main medical squeeze – within three days of showing up at the clinic with open sores or gut-wrenching pain. In addition, when you get sick and the doc declares that you are sick, the state pays your salary until you’re back in the pink.
We can’t all move to Sweden (all those pointy fiords and pickled herrings) but we can push for a return to an equitable system, even if it means we fork out a few bucks to show up at emerg.
The final public meeting in the Health Matters campaign happens tonight in Wakefield at Vorlage Lodge at 7:00 p.m. This is your chance to speak up about what kind of system you want. The people behind the Des Collines Health Foundation and the CSSS des Collines aren’t doing this to get their jollies; they’re doing it out of a sense of civic duty and compassion. Let’s help them to fight the good fight.
For more info on the campaign, go to http://fsdc-dchf.ca/health-matters-now-campaign/.