"Free" Healthcare in Canada?!?!

  1. Does anyone else every get frusterated or mad when they hear someone refer to our healthcare system as "free". I just read the thread about someone wanting to come to Canada so that they could have their child for free, and it really struck a nerve with me. Yes, I understand for the most part our health care is no-payment up front, but it drives me crazy when people (yes, even fellow Canadians) assume its all FREE.....as if no one has to pay for it! Sure I won't get a bill at the end of my clinic visit, lab test, xray or hospital stay, but I've been paying for health care services whether or not I use them since I started working. Several times, with Canadians and Non-Canadians alike I've found people making statements about how our system is "Free". Then, when I try to explain our HIGH taxes, and the fact that we do actually pay for our healthcare, they just don't get it.....urgh. As if the money just comes out of thin air. I'm not knocking our system at all, just the perception some people have of it.

    One of the girls I go to school with routinely goes to the ER for a sorethroat or a headache "just in case". I try to explain that you could just try to take tylenol/cough syrup on your own, but she always responds with "what does it matter, its free anyways. This way the doc can tell me if I really need it." Honestly, how do people think our health care is paid for!?!?

    One girl in my class was an international exchange student, whose health care was fully covered by the exchange student health insurance plan. But, anyime she used services, she was sent an itemized statement for what her healthcare cost the insurance company. She actually saw the difference in cost from a clinic dr visit, to a clinic NP visit, to an ER visit. I think this would be a great idea to help make the public more aware of the actual costs of the health care they use.....maybe they might use it a little wiser, or have a greater understanding of where the money in our health care system goes.

    Anyone else ever feel like doing this:
    Last edit by S.T.A.C.E.Y on Feb 10, '07
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  2. 11 Comments

  3. by   gauge14iv
    Yes - here in the US we bang our heads on the wall too - I had a young mama tell me that she might as well call the ambulance to check her child's temperature for her because it was FREE! Well it is free for HER but somebody is paying the bill - in higher taxes, higher insurance premiums - it all gets paid for somehow!

    Accountability is a key component - without that services that were meant for those who NEED them just get abused.

    They do send these people the bill here in the US - but it doesn't make any difference - it's the same people who continually abuse the system. Those same people also know what it costs and have no intent of ever contributing anything to the system.

    The folks who need the services and really have no other options - that I can understand.
    Last edit by gauge14iv on Feb 10, '07
  4. by   montrealRN
    I think that the term "free" is misused....the goverment pays for health care...and pay we do...in Quebec we pay the highest taxes in north america...insane...
    I also read the thread about the girl who wanted to have her baby in canada because she could...that too upset me...it's people like that who will make our "free" health care a thing of the past!!!
  5. by   KellNY
    If it helps at all, I'm an American and never assumed that healthcare was free in Canada. As I understand it, you all pay very high taxes into it.
  6. by   NotReady4PrimeTime
    A bill really means nothing to someone who knows s/he doesn't have to pay it. Just consider your teenager who cares not one bit about the water bill as she takes a half-hour long shower everyday. It's not real to her because the money doesn't come out of her pocket. I had to give my daughter a lesson in economics one day when she asked me why she couldn't have Tommy Hilfiger jeans... "Don't you and Dad make a lot of money?" When I got her to do the math, she was stunned. But it still wasn't real to her. In terms of helping Canadians understand that our health care isn't free, a bill or itemized list of services rendered and their costs might work for some, but the majority will still see it as something they JUST GET. They never see the tax money taken out of their pocket, they don't pay attention to that part of the pay stub that breaks down all the deductions, they just see that they can go to ER and be seen (eventually) or have an MRI or surgery, and no one asks them for a dime. Even my coworkers, highly educated people that they are, don't pay attention to how much they pay in taxes, or union dues, or even for parking, but they darned sure know how many vacation and sicktime hours they have!
  7. by   Silverdragon102
    same feelings I have here in the UK, everyone assumes it is free and gets abused so much that it has been know for people come to the UK just for operation and when billed say they have no money and skip back to their own country :angryfire In no country is health care free, someone will pay for it
  8. by   OgopogoLPN
    I've worked in the public healthcare system for 11 years now as a medical office assistant and have seen such abuses of our system from patients and doctors and it makes me :angryfire:

    Patients will see a doctor over basically a hangnail, or the sniffles. If they were handed a bill for $30 for that 3 minute visit, I don't think they would have seen the doctor. I've seen doctors "fudge" a record a bit to bill a higher fee code. For example, a patient goes in for a regular allergy shot, which they can only bill around $10 for (I think, don't quote me on that). While in the exam room, the doctor will look back on their chart and see that they were in for a sore hand a month ago. He'll say "oh, how's your hand?".

    The patient will respond and the doctor will write that in the chart. Now, they can bill a full office visit at 100% of that fee and the allergy shot at 50% of the fee. Stuff like that :angryfire:

    I wish that every Canadian could get an itemized account of all the healthcare expenses they incurred over a year. It would hopefully open up some eyes!!

    I know some provinces don't have a healthcare premium, but BC does. My family pays $108 per month for the 4 of us. This would go down if income is lower, but this is on top of the astronomical taxes we already pay!

    Although, I really shouldn't complain. With delivering two children in a hospital, I'm sure my own personal healthcare expenditures have been far more than the premiums I've paid into the healthcare plan.

    This is a sore subject for me too!!
  9. by   gauge14iv
    Quote from Ogopogo
    I've seen doctors "fudge" a record a bit to bill a higher fee code. For example, a patient goes in for a regular allergy shot, which they can only bill around $10 for (I think, don't quote me on that). While in the exam room, the doctor will look back on their chart and see that they were in for a sore hand a month ago. He'll say "oh, how's your hand?".

    The patient will respond and the doctor will write that in the chart. Now, they can bill a full office visit at 100% of that fee and the allergy shot at 50% of the fee. Stuff like that :angryfire:
    That isn't fudging - that's follow-up and failure to ask those questions and document them is one of the biggest reasons people get sued. If I'm going to do the work of taking the time to discuss it and document it, then I deserve to paid for it. I don't know what litigation is like in Canada, but in the US its called covering your arse. Unfortunately, it also drives up costs.
  10. by   linzz
    Free, yea right! Here in Ontario we pay a LOT of income tax. We also pay a health care premium, $900. for us a family of 4. I am alright with the fact that there is not really any free health care anywhere but the things that bother me are that often we wait and wait for services and often hospitals, and LTC's seem to have lots of $$ for buildings but little for proper staffing levels.
  11. by   VegRN
    Quote from gauge14iv
    Yes - here in the US we bang our heads on the wall too - I had a young mama tell me that she might as well call the ambulance to check her child's temperature for her because it was FREE! Well it is free for HER but somebody is paying the bill - in higher taxes, higher insurance premiums - it all gets paid for somehow!

    .
    hahhahaa this makes me mad :angryfire but also, just picturing it, it is sooo funny.
  12. by   lenjoy03
    Well I'm not from Canada nor from US. But I think most often than not, people who abused this so called "free healthcare benefits" are those who are not yet or haven't experienced working. They dont feel how hard it is to earn money and that most of your salaries goes to taxes to pay other peoples' debts.
  13. by   LouleeRN
    When we travel in the US, we often get asked about our "free" health care, usually prefixed by the comment "Is it really true that you don't have to pay for your health care? That must be wonderful!" When I explain that we don't pay each time we use the system but that our taxes are reportedly much higher than theirs, that we have a national sales tax (GST) as well as a provincial sales tax, and that the wait times for some surgeries or certain diagnostic tests are sometimes measured in years, or at the least, many months, their attitude changes. And in Manitoba, we don't pay a premium. I'll have to mention in the future that some provinces do. Usually they realize that while neither system is perfect, there are good and bad things about each.

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