Saturday, 29 September 2012
My Experience With Canadian Health Care
My Alien Pen
A few weeks ago I was asked to be a guest on the #hchlitss tweetchat that occurred on Thursday September 27, 2012. The topic was Chronic Illness and the Canadian Healthcare System. It was a new experience for me - That's why I added a picture of this alien. You may still be able to read the transcript here
And here is the story I told of my life from a Canadian healthcare point of view. Luckily not exciting, but it may have interest as a contrast. I will answer any questions in the comments.
Before I was 20 healthcare was the farthest thing from my mind. We were all very healthy and went to the Dr for checkups now and then.
Once I was married children came into our lives pretty easily. Thank goodness we did not have to budget for doctor visits and delivery. At that period of life we were just starting out and had very little money.
Years passed and I had to have a biopsy for suspected cancer. The biopsy was the treatment so another hurdle passed. Around that period 1 kid broke his arm twice. We did have to pay for the cast. It wasn't covered.
Then, before our kids were teens, I became sick and did not know what was wrong. Unfortunately the doctors I saw did not know either. Finally I got a diagnosis from an orthopedic surgeon - it was Rheumatoid Arthritis. That's where the blog post titled "Things Were Different Then" fits in to this story. Since I was admitted to the hospital my drugs were covered at the start.
In our system only drugs adminstered in hospitals are covered unless you are 65 years old or above. If you can't afford your prescriptions help is available from the Trillium fund which is based on a means test.
Since that diagnosis 30 years ago I have been cared for very well by all of the Health Care Practitioners I see. I have had terrific rheumatologists. I would estimate 60 rheumatology visits over the years. For a while I was seeing my GP every week for an injection. Thank goodness I finally found out I could do it myself.
I had 4 foot operations and a gall bladder removal, all at no cost beyond my taxes of course. For massage and physio I have to pay; likewise if I wanted botox to look better it would come from my own pocket.
My husband has a job with health care benefits that covers items outside of the government health plan. That covered the prescriptions and some dental care and a portion of eyeglasses, as well as some of the cost of orthotics.
So as is the case with everyone who has chronic illness it has been a struggle dealing with RA but it has helped a HUGE amount that we are not dealing with large medical bills every time we turn around. And there are lots of expenses for over the counter medication and 10% copay on the drugs.
If we have enough medical expenses they can be used as a deduction when we file our income tax returns. So my teenage self, who read Ayn Rand and thought people should save up and cover their own ailments, was woefully uninformed about the realities of life. I can see that now and not just because it has benefited me.
I have often complained that things move slowly in RA but on the plus side that has let me plan ahead for surgeries that may have wait times. Everything has been within acceptable time frames except for the diagnosis. That was crucial but not the fault of the system.
Overall 30 years of chronic illness and still going strong!!