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Thursday, October 28, 2004

Goin' ta Carolina

It's confirmed: I am going on a business trip to North Carolina November 10, 11 and 12. I travel maybe once a year on business, usually going to various vendors for technical training sessions. This trip is have the distinct pleasure of having our president and our sales manager as travel partners. Yippee.

I think it will be interesting to say the least to be in the north-of-the-south a week after the American election. Regardless of who wins, and if the election is anywhere near as close as the last one (from what I remember, the polls say it is currently neck and neck) things could still be unsettled at that point.

I also saw my first US Presidential commericial today (it was a Kerry ad). I see the political blogs, the articles, the "Red" voters and the "Blue" ones. I've seen a site run by cousins of George W. Bush who are all voting for Kerry. I've read posts on other blogs where people question the intelligence of each other based on their political choices. I've seen sites dedicated to proving Kerry's image is a media fabrication designed simply to lull voters, ignoring his record in government prior to now, downplaying his silver-spoon background.

Something that is always downplayed in the US, for reasons I really don't understand, is the healthcare system. It doesn't seem to be an issue this election. I know it was raised a fair bit with Gore/Bush. But whereas here, while I might have to get a referral from my GP and have a bit of a wait to see a pdoc (which I bypassed by going to emerg), I do not pay one red cent for any of my care (meds are different, but are covered by my work insurance plan, which is also very common here). But I know friends in the US who are near indigent, mentally ill and unable to get care because they fall below the radar of the for-profit system that exists in most of the US. Where is that in this American election? I know you leave no soldier behind, but what about your own people? On the streets?

I'm going to have to mind my Ps and Qs more than normal when I visit the US in November. I have a feeling this election will be one to remember.



Blogger Cliff said...
I'll have ta wave hello to ya when ya fly over, I'm not too far from North Carolina. A bit of a ways from any appreciable metropolitan area though, or my wife and I'd drop by and buy you dinner. :)  

Blogger moodymicello said...
Congratulations on the trip. When it's only once or twice a year it can be fun. Especially when you're travelling with the elite. haha. As to why the medical never makes it to an issue on the ballot what comes to mind is most Americans are petrified at the thought of socialized medicine because we would lose control of our choices as you mentioned. I imagine a study would show that the rich, upper and middle class and the very poor all have coverage either from private insurance, medicare, medicaid, welfare, or charity. Drugs are extremely high in the states.My guess is the ones who are hurting and missing out on medical care are a minority and not active enough to get the attention of Congress or the Dem/Rep parties. Kerry does stand for health reform; however, that reallly is a joke coming from two men who are trial lawyers because the answer to bringing down the costs of health care is tort reform, caps on damages, etc. Our society is a litigious one and that has caused costs to soar. Anyway those are my thoughts on the candidates and healthcare reform.  

Blogger moodymicello said...
Congratulations on the trip. When it's only once or twice a year it can be fun. Especially when you're travelling with the elite. haha. As to why the medical never makes it to an issue on the ballot what comes to mind is most Americans are petrified at the thought of socialized medicine because we would lose control of our choices as you mentioned. I imagine a study would show that the rich, upper and middle class and the very poor all have coverage either from private insurance, medicare, medicaid, welfare, or charity. Drugs are extremely high in the states.My guess is the ones who are hurting and missing out on medical care are a minority and not active enough to get the attention of Congress or the Dem/Rep parties. Kerry does stand for health reform; however, that reallly is a joke coming from two men who are trial lawyers because the answer to bringing down the costs of health care is tort reform, caps on damages, etc. Our society is a litigious one and that has caused costs to soar. Anyway those are my thoughts on the candidates and healthcare reform.  

Blogger blondzila said...
Cliff: I'll wave wildly and yell really loud so you'll know it's me :-). And thanks for the thought re: dinner. That's sweet :-)

Michele: You're right re the litigious nature of your country. It's weird how fast you guys sue each other. It is very much an American thing. Maybe some people need to take conflict resolution classes?? :-)  

Blogger Franikins said...
I used to think that health care in Canada was free but then I saw how high taxes are. Don't taxes pay for the "free" health care?  

Blogger blondzila said...
My taxes pay for my health care, my son's schooling, road repair, policing and a host of other things. Nothing in life is free, but because the cost is buried in our taxes, there are very very few people who have to pay out of pocket for their health care. That means they don't have to mortgage their house for an MRI, or organ transplant, or even have to make the mundane decision between paying for their child's vaccination shot or getting the brakes fixed on the car. It's a matter of perspective. I understand your point, but it's one thing we fight for vehemently here in Canada (we're pretty laid back otherwise) is the sanctity of our health care system, as fractured as it may be.  

Blogger synergy said...
Nothing is free. Americans, as a general rule, believe that the marketplace is better equipped to handle providing services, like health insurance, than the government. The problem is that the market failures occur.

One example is the problem Americans are facing with the lack of flu vaccine for this winter. Companies had no incentive to develop the vaccine and the United States was limited to 2 providers. When one of the providers has a problem, supply problems ensue. If the government had remained involved, as in Canada, more suppliers would have remained in the market. There are precedents for the federal government stepping in to support failing companies, when the market would be too limited by the loss of one company.

What I wanted to say was even with health insurance mental illness can be financially devastating. Many plans in the US don't cover mental illness. K has one of the best medical/mental health plans available and her illness still cost us around $13,000 (inc. heart attack). That figure does not include lost wages, only what we paid to medical providers. Her prescription drugs were $1500, and insurance paid the other $6000 or so.

Health insurance problems have received some campaign coverage, but like everything else have been dwarfed by the economy and national security. Plenty of soldiers are also being left behind, as the Veteran's Administration doesn't have the resources to care for them and as mental illness is considered a weakness within the Armed Services.

Bush uses the word "rationed" to describe Kerry's health care plan. What no one in this country wants to admit is that health care is already rationed based on income. Somehow using income as a way to decide who receives treatment for illnesses is deemed acceptable, but any other determination, such as need, is considered bad.

Sorry for the lengthy comment. There is no perfect solution to America's health care woes. But there are certainly incremental steps, which could be taken, to improve it.  

Blogger Cliff said...
"Conflict resolution classes"??!? How slanderous! You'll be hearing from my lawyer!

(Insert Big American Grin here)

I think part of the difference is in the fact that, as a whole, Canadians are just nicer people than Americans. Having met many over the years, that's what I have found to be the case.

We have entire areas of our country that are rude to the core, it's like it's built into their culture. Sometimes I find it hard to communicate with them, since in their culture insult and name calling are signs of endearment. It feels as if there is an undertone of brutality and aggression that repulses me.

I have never, ever sensed that in anyone from Canada.

When I had my car accident a while back, almost everyone was telling me to sue for health related damages, even when I told them I wasn't hurt. My father was very angry at me for not going straight to the doctor. To me, it wasn't right doing that if I was not injured. To them, it was the "way things were done."

You know, I've always wanted to see Hudson Bay...  

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Synergy's K here: Not to minimize the importance of the discussion but I would like to add that the figures Ms. Synergy posted don't include the cost of all the gifties I have HAD to buy to compensate her for all of her time spent care-taking. In fact, I think a box was just delivered today---chocolates from France.

Ms. Synergy is very particular in which gifties she will accept........I have tried to offer her some of my most precious possessions---lithium and trileptal! They were rejected.  

Blogger blondzila said...
Cliff: Hudson's Bay is apparently quite lovely in an austere way. It's very rocky up there (I've never been, but the sense of it and other similar norther Canadian landscapes are well portrayed by the Group of Seven. Here are a few links to their work. http://www.mcmichael.com/jackson.htm

http://www.mcmichael.com/web1/our_collection/harris.shtml

http://www.mcmichael.com/johnston.htm

Synergy:
I have heard from American friends of mine who have had to go on disability and who haven't had a lot of other financial resources who struggle for the meds and sometimes have to make the dangerous decision of rationing medications so they last until they can afford the next refill. I'm not saying Canadian health care is perfect - the long waits for some things are our biggest complaint. But we don't have different hospitals for different people - it seems that "inner city" ones give out a certain level of care and suburban ones are tony and attract the best doctors. I live in the biggest city in Canada and I'm not aware of a drastic difference from hospital to hospital, care to care. One of my American friends refuses to go the VA now because of the low level of care there and the attendant frustration - so now he's without meds and ultraradian rapid cycling. It's very sad.

And K??? :-) I'd offer the meds too. Maybe you could slip 'em in the chocolate???  

Anonymous Anonymous said...
The only way I am able to afford mental health care is the fact that I have social security disability AND a private top notch disability policy. I have Medicare too but it only pays for HALF of mental health care services and doesn't cover prescriptions. That's enough to make me more depressed. I have a medigap policy that covers the other half of my mental health care bill but premiums aren't cheap. I can see the benefits of Canada's health care system. Maybe I should marry a Canuck and live in Canada....hey wait a minute! I'm already engaged to one but he's immigrating here. hee hee  

Blogger blondzila said...
Oh, and Cliff? Thank you very much for the kind kudos to us Canadian folk :-) There are rude people up here too, but we are kind of proud of our stereotype of "neat, clean and polite".  

Blogger blondzila said...
Anonymous: there are some very attractive draws for Canadians to move to the US. We give up a lot (public health care being a biggie), but there are some heavy financial gains to be had living in the US if you do it "just right". But of course, your fiance has the added incentive of being closer to you :-)  

Blogger moodymicello said...
WOULD DEFINITELY BE WORTH THE ECONOMIC ADVANTAGE. i PAID $2748 IN PRESCRIPTIONS SO FAR THIS YEAR WITH THE INSURANCE PAYING A WHOPPING $10.558. tHIS IS FROM THE SUPPLEMENTAL (TO MEDICARE) POLICY FROM MOBIL WHICH IS QUITE GOOD, I AM FORTUNATE TO HAVE SUCH GOOD INSURANCE AND TO HAVE WORKED FOR SUCH A LARGE AND GOOD COMPANY. MY OUT-OF-POCKET MEDICAL IS MINIMAL AS WELL. OF COURSE, GIVEN A CATASTROPHIC SITUATION THAT COULD ALL CHANCE. MICHELE  

Blogger Cliff said...
Wow, those are seriously nice links to the Group of Seven's stuff! I am personally of the opinion that anyone can take a photograph, but to really SEE something, you have to look at a painting of it.  

Blogger Becky said...
Actually, I think health care has been mentioned quite a bit during this election, especially during the presidential debates. In my view, Bush seems to think that trial lawyers are responsible for all high drug care costs and he thinks that market forces will force corporations to lower their prices. Of course, he doesn't seem to talk about what will happen to everyone waiting for medical treatment whil we're waiting for these miraculous market forces to do their thing. In contrast, John Kerry wants to work toward socializing health care, but if you listen to his jargon, he's really talking about socailizing care for the elderly. So, in his world, everyone above 55 would have help paying for the meds, while the rest of us would be screwed. I know that I pay out of pocket for my shrink and my meds and that if it weren't for the amazing generosity of my parents, I'd be completely screwed. I know that Canada's health care system isn't perfect—my Dad did his residency at the big children's hospital in Toronto. But fact of the matter is that even in its imperfect state, Canucks of all classes still have access to health care, a fact that is woefullly untrue here.  

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