While I realize that this question is asked from an American viewpoint, I am a Canadian, and I only offer a little information of what our Government program of Medical Care or referred to as Medicare in our country is like.
The care is a Federal program but it is an interlocking one which involves the 10 provinces and 3 territories of Canada. I’m not going to explain the intricacies of the program, but what I will tell you about are ways it makes a difference to the people like myself. This care is included anywhere in Canada we travel even though each province manages their own healthcare system.
We have the choice to look for a doctor we wish to go to, and if we choose to change we can do that also. When we go to that doctor and they or we decide that for further investigation of a health concern, we need to see a specialist, they will refer us to one. We do have some input into whether or not that particular specialist is who we want to see, or how long the waiting list is to see them. Waiting for any length of time is usually only if the reason for the visit is not urgent. If it is of a serious nature, one is usually seen as soon as possible. After we have seen the specialist once for a specific reason, it is not necessary to be ‘referred’ again. You continue to see them and make appointments for follow-ups yourself.
The main reason that our system is excellent is that everyone has access to a doctor or Emergency Care at any hospital we go to within Canada. We will not be turned away no matter what our financial circumstances are. Sometimes our hospitals are busy and we may have to wait, but again each person when they arrive at the hospital is evaluated according to the urgency of their need. The most urgent are seen first, and that is understood when you go there. For example if one is having pain or difficulty in breathing or a child is very ill with high temperature etc; they are seen before someone for example who has a cold or a cough. Of course there are always ‘impatient’ patients who don’t like to wait, and thus it shall always be. But you are ensured to see a doctor.
One thing that doctors determine when they examine you, is if they believe they need to order tests such a blood or x-rays, they will do so without hesitation in order to correctly diagnose the problem.
Are there any times when people are not correctly treated when they go to the emergency department? The answer would have to be yes, as there are these issues that arise anywhere, anytime because symptoms are not clearly defined or change after leaving the hospital, or just human error in realizing the nature of the illness that is possible with any doctor.
The main issue here is that no man, woman or child goes without proper treatment and if necessary hospitalization.
There is the issue of prescriptions is of course something different. The cost is only covered basically for seniors, (over 65) or those that are on social assistance. There may be other cases but that is the usual. So for that, you still need you own private insurance, but a lot of employers include coverage for that.
I don’t know all the details of every aspect of the program but that is basic information. I know that I blog for the most part with Americans and I have heard stories about those that don’t have insurance and I feel that is so unfair. Everyone deserves the same attention. I have heard on the news, that those who have private insurance are concerned about having their taxes increased to pay for those that don’t and that is the one of the concerns, but there is I’m sure more that I don’t know. I also realize that there is a population difference in our countries.
Having said that, I think that it would be good and maybe even possible for the United States of America to devise and implement something that would help those who can’t afford healthcare insurance because of their financial status…. My humble opinion only….. Diane