Tuesdays from the chemo unit, April 3, 2012

I am sitting in the fancy new waiting room, noticing again what a nice job they did in the renovations to this important space, the place where people are scared, anxious, and in pain as they wait for their chemotherapy. I reflect, once again, on the fact that I am here every week and I never have to pay a penny out of pocket thanks to the Canadian health care system.

I  get exceptional care here at the hospital. Despite my belly aching about too much tape on my arm or a long sit in the waiting room, most of the nurses here are outstanding and my doctors are incomparable. And I don’t have to worry about whether I can afford it or not.

I look around the room and I see people from all walks of life. There’s not a unit for those that can afford it and those that cannot. We all get to enjoy the fancy chemo unit together.

When I gave birth to my son in the hospital, my sister-in-law who lives in the U.S., asked me how much it cost for my time in hospital.  I looked at her stupidly wondering what she meant. After giving it some thought, I remembered that I had had to pay $10 to have a phone in my room, which I have to say I had resented at the time.  When she had her son, a few months after me, it cost her over $1000. She incurred that cost, despite having good medical coverage.

When I was preparing to have my stem-cell transplant, I found a book outlining what I might expect during the transplant. There was a whole chapter on negotiating with your insurance company to pay for what was, 11 years ago, a $200,000 procedure in the U.S.   My cost: the phone rental charge – it may have been $50.

I believe I have used far more than my share of health care dollars, which makes me feel a little guilty sometimes.  But I  am profoundly grateful that through this time of illness, I have not had to worry about how to pay for my treatments. For all of its faults and gaps, I think it is worth celebrating a health care system that offers high quality care without out of pocket costs. I am happy to pay higher taxes to live in such a system, to ensure equal access for all.

There’s my patriotic post for the day.


One thought on “Tuesdays from the chemo unit, April 3, 2012

  1. Sam,
    Your thoughts are so well presented and yes, unfortunately you have had to be part of the system for too long, however, it is wonderful knowing you and your family did not have to move out of your home to live with inlaws or in your car to support the cost of your treatments. Thank you again for asking us to realize the work of the many thinking caring people who have engineered this flawed but “perfect” system.

    Also always a breath of fresh air to see you at the stand.

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