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.