Well, I had some first hand experience with our "free" health care system today. It's not very often that I do, because I don't have any health problems...but I was with our daughter today and she had a problem.
Lindsey is visiting from Nova Scotia. She was coming with me on my blood driving job this afternoon, and her grandfather was picking her up in Perth so she could spend a night visiting with him. Tomorrow, he'll drop her off in Perth, and she'll come back to the KOA with us until she leaves on Monday.
About half way between Kingston and Westport, she complained of a sudden sharp pain in her lower back on one side. She said "something isn't right", and it was so bad that she was in tears. I said that we could continue on to Westport where I know the people in the doctor's office there, or we could turn around and go back to the hospital in Kingston. She was obviously distressed by the pain. We decided to continue on to Westport.
As we approached Westport, I asked if she wanted to continue 20 minutes drive further on to Perth where there is a small hospital, or of she felt she needed to go to the doctors office in Westport, and she said Westport.
So we stopped in Westport. As soon as they saw her Nova Scotia health card, we were asked for cash.
For those of you who don't know, the Canadian health care system is administered by the provinces. That means that each province can have totally independant guidelines and the doctors operating in those provinces are under no obligation to accept another province's fee guidelines. As Canadians, we are ONLY insured for services in the province in which we reside. All others pay CASH, at the discretion of the attending physician.
You then have to submit any receipts to your provincial insurer for "consideration". The vast majority of these claims will be paid, however there are different levels of payment depending on each province's fee structure.
Anyhow, when Lindsey heard we had to pay cash, she was immediately put off. Pain or no pain, she wanted to continue to the hospital in Perth, so that's what we did.
In Perth, I continued on my job, and her grandfather took her to the hospital. There was no question about accepting her Nova Scotia health card, and it wasn't busy so they took her right away. Service was fast...they took a urine sample and within minutes the nurse had said she thought it was a kidney stone, but the doctor would have to confirm that, and soon he did.
So she will probably have a painful couple of days until that stone follows it's course, but at least we know what it is. She's up at her grandpa's for the night, and I'll meet her in Perth tomorrow afternoon to bring her back here. She says it's painful, but they gave her a prescription and she's gone with grandpa to get it filled. Yes, she has to pay for the prescription, but will be reinbursed under her employer's private health plan.
But I am miffed at this doctor in Westport, and I am going to voice my concern. By not accepting another provinces health insurance fees (Ontario has the highest fee structure!), this says to me you are in the business strictly for the money. For the number of times that a small town doctors office would encounter a situation like this, I think it is very petty.
And the ironic thing is, that instead of receiving slightly reduced income based on Nova Scotia guidelines, this particular doctor received NOTHING because we decided to carry on.