This dirty word keeps creeping into conversations and headlines.
This variant of the word is increasingly used in relation to healthcare.
This is, at least, the case when discussed within the context of the American healthcare system.
In a country that staunchly stands by the concept of free enterprise and capitalism, socialized anything is never an option.
Socialized Medicine — the concept that is embraced by 50+ countries around the world as the decent and right thing to do in order to assist its citizens — is also often pegged by some Americans as the domain of the lazy, the greedy, the miscreant and the opportunistic — those for whom whatever reason can’t afford to pay their medical bills. This may be a good time to add in the “full disclosure” thing that tells you my vantage point in writing this article. I’m Canadian, proudly so, and support the concept of universal healthcare 100 per cent.
“Why should I pay for them?” the question is often posited by opponents of a system that provides standard medical care for all.
“Why should I use my hard-earned cash to help them, when they haven’t done anything to help themselves?”
The underlying assumption here is that many who benefit from a society that provides a socialized medical program are clearly “gaming the system” and are taking advantage of the hard-earned tax dollars of those who may not reap as many benefits. Another perspective is one of fiscal responsibility, in other words, a philosophy that posits the idea that universal medical care is just too expensive.
Perhaps these people that support this viewpoint are healthier and don’t need to see a doctor or visit a hospital as often as others.
Perhaps these hearty and healthy individuals only take what they need from the system: when they’re ill it’s valid, you see; when others are ill, well, they could be scamming.
Perhaps the beneficiaries of socialized medicine should just get a job and pay for their own medical needs. After all, it’s every man, woman and child for him, her or themselves, isn’t it?
I started writing this piece while I was in a hospital bed in Quebec, Canada this past summer. For those of you unfamiliar, Quebec is the province beside Ontario, from where I hail, Toronto to be specific. It is not my home province, but it is a Canadian province, one of 14 that adheres to the philosophy of helping those who need it — medically or otherwise.
I was on what was to be a one-day trip to the Gatineau, Quebec region when I unexpectedly tripped and fell, was immediately immobilized and rushed to the nearest hospital. Surgery on my leg followed, and I stayed in said hospital for a total of nine full days while recovering enough to continue my convalescence in Ontario.
While at the hospital, I received the following:
·Assistance from paramedics and transportation to the hospital via ambulance
· A seven-day stay in a private room on the Orthopedics floor of said hospital
· Surgery to repair my ripped tendons
· Daily medication for pain relief
· Daily consultations by doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists
· Three meals daily — albeit, hospital food, but food nonetheless
· General medical advice, support and care
Since my fall, I’ve not received the following:
· A bill
Since returning home, I’ve continued the very long and incrementally slow convalescence to my former self. The doctors and physiotherapists have told me that the type of injury that I endured takes about a year before I’m back to normal (and even then, I’m only going to be at 90% of my previous ability, but that’s another story. Read my thoughts about it and details on my blog, here). I continue to endure regular physiotherapy appointments and visits with a local orthopaedic surgeon who was tasked to oversee my recovery once I returned home.
I can’t imagine what this long and slow recovery would cost out of pocket. I’d venture to guess tens of thousands of dollars. Universal healthcare, thankfully, is a right of every citizen in my country.
That being said, it’s still seen to some that this receipt of “free” services is just plain wrong on so many levels. After all — “why should I pay for them?” they ask.
First — let me clear up the idea that the universal healthcare model means freebies for all. That’s actually not the case. Rather, we as Canadians all contribute to the ongoing functioning of our medical system through our taxes, both federally and provincially. It doesn’t hurt and it’s not painful to have these taxes deducted in order to spare others from pain and to receive the medical care that they need. Most Canadians I know are happy to support a system that makes sure that our family, friends and neighbours are cared for when they really need it. It’s the right thing to do.
Second — One’s personal financial situation should not under any circumstances dictate whether or not a person receives proper medical care for whatever ailments they may have. Being financially solvent — or not — shouldn’t be a factor in the determination of much-needed medical care. Money should never be the element that may stand between health and well-being or, in some extreme cases, life or death.
Being financially solvent — or not — shouldn’t be a factor in the determination of much-needed medical care.
Finally — It’s a measure of a society in how it treats — or doesn’t treat –its sick, its elderly, its weak and its infirm. Do people really want to live in a world where it really is every man, woman and child who are left to fend for themselves, personal financial situations notwithstanding? I know I don’t, and so many of my Canadian compatriots don’t either.
President Trump has recently amped up the differences in Canadian and American values and continues to underscore an “America First” philosophy. I would suggest that indeed, the consideration of citizens’ needs are important, but those needs should not exclude basic medical care. After all: “A true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.” (Mahatma Gandhi).