Thursday, February 2, 2012

Canadian Health Care

This story by Kari Huus, of highlights what a failed medical system we have in the US embarrassing as it is. It's something obvious to anyone paying attention but it's mainstream stories like this one that hopefully will wake more zombies to the issue.

Since the death of Canadian skier Sarah Burke in January, fans and supporters from around the world have donated over $300,000 – more than enough to cover the massive U.S. medical bill generated by efforts to save her.

The outpouring of grief for Burke and the influx of funds are a tribute to a young woman who was a pioneer and legend in her sport. The need for a fundraiser — to help her grieving family avert bankruptcy — was viewed by some Canadians and U.S. observers as a condemnation of the U.S. health care system.

"The irony is that had the accident occurred in Canada… her care would have been covered because, unlike the U.S., Canada has a system of universal coverage," wrote Wendell Potter, an insurance executive-turned-whistleblower who writes for iWatch at the Center for Public Integrity. "No one in Canada finds themselves in that predicament, nor do they face losing their homes as many Americans do when they become critically ill or suffer an injury..."

Burke, who died at 29, was on skis by age five, and pursuing a professional skiing career before she left high school. She pioneered women’s halfpipe skiing and was instrumental in getting the event included in the X-Games, according to a profile in Sportsnet magazine of Canada.

"She was to freeskiing what Wayne Gretzky was to hockey or Michael Jordan was to basketball — the iconic face of a sport,” wrote Sportsnet reporter Dan Robson. "She built her world by conquering limits, both on the hill and off it."

After Burke’s crash while training on the Eagle Superpipe at Park City Mountain Resort in Utah on Jan 10, doctors fought to save her for nine days. She died Jan. 19, from a torn vertebral artery in her neck that caused bleeding in her brain,

Burke’s contribution to sport — not to mention her youth, beauty, charisma and fame — has no doubt helped the effort to generate donations to cover an operation, countless tests, care and hospitalization. The fundraising page on late Monday showed that $302,535 had been raised. Burke’s publicist said that medical costs were expected to be about $200,000.

The fundraising page said that future contributions would go to a foundation “to honor Sarah's legacy and promote the ideals she valued and embodied."

The loss of Sarah Burke is no less painful for her loved ones, but with medical care covered through donations, the aftermath will not bring them additional hardship.

For many Americans, the hardship persists.

On Monday, Potter pointed to the plight of a 13-year-old Caroline Richmond on life support in Alabama after collapsing from a stroke, which turned out to be caused by leukemia. Her self-employed parents do not have health coverage.

“As it turns out, Caroline is one of more than 50 million men, women and children who do not have health insurance in the United States, which is why her family is in the same predicament as Sarah Burke’s,” Potter wrote.

The community has launched a multi-pronged effort to raise money to cover mounting medical costs for Carolyn — car washes, a bake sale, a fish fry and so on — but like most people who have life threatening medical conditions, she is not famous.

An estimated 700,000 American families file for bankruptcy every year because of medical debt, Potter said.


Anonymous said...

All very true however, Burke carried no "Additional" health insurance while competing in the United States (or any other foreign country for that matter).

The first rule of thumb is ensurey ou have adequate health (not travel) insurance when going out of your home country.

Canadians known as snowbirds who travel to warmer climes during our winter season carry substantial amounts of self-paid insurance to cover just about any possibility of medical or related problems. when going south.

Keep in mind Burke if injured in Canada would have received basic coverage to the amount her insurance from her home province would have covered; it varies somewhat province to province.

However she carried "no" insurance other than what she would have had if she was in Canada, somewhat callous IMO.

To give another example. I as a bona fide resident of Canada have always carried enough health travelers insurance (not the same as insurance if your travel is interrupted BTW) to cover just about any possibility.

The days of having basic travel insurance, for me are long past.

For me to travel anywhere beyond Canada's boundaries, and in fact the boundaries of the province of Ontario account possible additional charges in coverage in another province; means for me
a surcharge of about $1000.00 perday for a policy. I have Lupus, suffer from the after effects of cancer and have advanced arthritic and congestive heart failure.

For me to go outside of my home territory, and expect some other jurisdiction to cover me if something goes amiss is simply stupid.

For a three week trip to either the USA, the UK or Europe or anywhere else for that matter, a monetary premium of at least $5000.00 payable up front before leaving is an absolute requirement. And as I am over 65, an additional premium is also imposed. And too that is just for basic coverage not extended hospital stays or even extra medical procedures. If I fell off my motorcycle say in the hills pf Pennsylvania and sustained a broken limb, the cost would no doubt out any insurance I would have underthe prepay policy. And if all was said and done and I came home and it is years later, that incident alone would be on record here and said incident would be part of of additional surcharges next time I wanted to travel.

The cost alone means I ain't traveling, anywhere.

Bryce Lee
Burlington, ontario

Conchscooter said...

That is actually very interesting. The health care issue will only get worse as we struggle to pay for everything with less and less money. Health care seems bound to suffer even in advanced countries like Canada and Europe. Perhpas in a few years I won't feel the envy I currently do for those not subjected to the US system of indentured servitude for the sick.