It is so hard to believe that the United States, being one of the "Super Powers" of the world, has let its health-care system teeter on the edge of an epidemic. When we, as Americans, have to look to other countries to find affordable prescriptions and medications to maintain our health, it shows the greed of the American drug companies. This has sent our health insurance status into a downward spiral.
I own a small business here in West Virginia. We at one time had a small group health insurance plan, but were forced to drop it, due to the extreme rise in premium costs. I was added to my wife's health insurance plan. She has been in management at Tri-State Greyhound Park & Gaming Center, going on 10 years. Two months after I was put onto her insurance, the company announced that they would no longer offer paid health insurance as a benefit. They stated that they would maintain insurance for management for a weekly payroll deduction of $156 a week for a family plan or $12 a week for an employee-only plan.
There was no way we could afford an $8,100-a-year family plan, so we were forced to drop myself and our child off of her insurance plan.
We scrambled to find some kind of affordable insurance. Due to the fact that I take Paxil and Lipitor, most claims were rejected, would have had riders on them to not cover my monthly medications, or were just so expensive that we could afford only one or the other. So, at this point, our child and I have no health insurance. We have to pay for doctor visits and medications out of our pocket, and we hope and pray not to ever be hurt or sick.
It just seems that American health care has reached a "Catch 22" phase. If you can afford insurance, you can't afford medications or vice-versa. Or the premiums are so high that if you HAD that kind of money each month, you could afford to go to the doctor anyway.
I am just your average "John Doe," trying to make a living, pay the bills and provide decent health care for my family. I am now forced to scour Canadian online pharmacies for cheaper prescription prices. And to read that a major American drug company is going to cut supplies to Canada because they are reselling at lower costs, enrages me! How dare they!
If this keeps up, I fear that a lot of Americans may be learning the words to "O' Canada" and making a run north of the border.
As a Canadian-born American citizen, I am amused and annoyed by the debate about health care in the U.S. vs. Canada. I left Canada in 1967 when my employer transferred me to California. Except for my children, my family is all in Canada. I have repeatedly dealt with the Canadian health-care system as my parents aged and passed away.
The Canadian system is far from perfect. Your Aug. 3 articles comparing the two countries' systems were well done. They certainly underscore the need for an impartial debate, if that is possible. The American system's costs are out of control, while the Canadians struggle with a serious lack of physicians and the latest medical gizmos. But they are still on the right track. The life expectancy of babies and their ages are a testament to their approach.
I am starting a new manufacturing business in West Virginia, and health-care costs are of real concern to us, the founders. I am a strong believer in free enterprise tempered with social responsibility. Market-driven demand is theoretically based upon customer choice. But health happens randomly because of a lot of external, genetic, unknown and sometimes self-inflicted conditions. As a caring society, surely we can, and should, care for one another and not profit from it. A $15 million annual income for a pharmaceutical CEO is certainly the ultimate arrogant and robber baron mentality. European, Japanese, Canadian and Australian executives all survive very well on a fraction of U.S. CEO average incomes.
And for those who think that U.S. citizens need to be "protected" somehow from Canadian firms, and that Canadians should be prevented from selling the same medicines here in the U.S. for reasonable prices, because they might not be as safe, I would like to point out that, in the 1950s, it was Canada's National Research Council that first uncovered the potential horrors of thalidomide to pregnant women. The U.S. FDA took more than a year to accept the Canadian findings, due to pressure from the drug's maker. As a result, no thalidomide babies were born in Canada, except for mothers who came to the U.S. to buy the pill. Which country was safe then? Canada has excellent scientific watchdogs as well as price controls
Given the choice between the overpriced and uncontrolled U.S. health-care system and the imperfect Canadian system, this moderate Republican thinks that we — as caring Americans — must find a better path. Both the Canadians and, I believe, the Australians, have done so. They are practicing true compassionate conservatism.
I have long wondered why we have to reinvent the wheel here. Many other countries offer health coverage to their citizens. Why aren't we looking at those systems and copying?
I'm a paramedic, so I see all kinds of medical problems and personal situations up close. The usual problems are: