Monday, September 12, 2011
Who's More Compassionate, Canada or The U.S.
When people condemn the health care system in America, they point to our friends north of our border for comparison. Here in America, we are rich, greedy, callous doctors and medical industrial complexes whose only goals are to maximize our profits regardless of the consequences to our poor, economically disadvantaged patients. Canadians, with their universal health care, smugly point to their "superior" access to doctors and freedom from anxiety about expensive medical treatments.
One of the flashpoints in this argument is the treatment of illegal immigrants. Here in the U.S., we have millions of illegal aliens in our population. As many as 80% of them, if not more, carry no health insurance. However by law we doctors have to treat them when they show up at the emergency room door, regardless of their ability to pay. Some patients are so brazen as to admit publicly that they are here illegally in the hopes of getting sympathy treatments without fear of being deported. One of my fellow anesthesia bloggers, Bleeding Heart, who hails from the land of the Loonies, commented how we Americans should be helping our poor downtrodden illegals become productive members of society.
While it might be easy to point fingers and reprimand our way of living from a distance and across the border, the reality is that we treat our illegal immigrants far more compassionately than our Canadian brethren. In a Canadian Federal Court of Appeal ruling in July, illegal immigrants in Canada have been ruled to be not eligible for Canada's free health care. Nell Toussaint, a Grenada citizen who overstayed her tourist visa to Canada in 1999, developed multiple medical problems ten years later. She sought to receive free health care by applying for residency after she got sick. Nuts to you, the Canadian courts ruled. First, the courts said that since she waited ten years in Canada before applying for residency, there is a question of why she wants to be a Canadian. Does she want to be a Canadian because she loves hockey and Celine Dion, or does she only want free health care? Legitimate question. Judge David Stratas, writing for the three member Court of Appeal, further noted that had the ruling favored Ms. Toussaint, this would only encourage more people to enter the country illegally to get free healthcare, which I guess is a problem the Canadians would rather not face, unlike the Americans.
Hmm, maybe all that snow and arctic winds does sharpen one's senses. Offering free health care just might encourage more people to come here illegally. One way to stop this unwanted migration is to take away the incentive to do so. Even though our liberal northern friends favor homosexual marriages and medical marijuana, at least they woke up to the chaos that can occur from having millions of illegal immigrants using up scarce resources that its own citizens desperately need. In this regard the U.S. courts are far more compassionate than the Canadians.