True or false: Canada is a socialist country.
True or false: the United Kingdom is also full of socialists.
Haha, Kelly, you're so silly. Those aren't socialist countries! They're just like us, except they have different accents.
Turns out, they're actually NOT like us, because they put an extra "u" in the words "colour" and "favourite" and also because they have a national health care system.
The same thing that we should have, because almost all of the other developed nations of the world have it (this includes most of Europe, Australia, and a few Asian countries as well. To see a full list, click here.). But every time it comes up, people scream socialism and then usually add on a few other ignorant slurs because that's how we roll, and we all know that "socialism" is a bad word. People are afraid of what they don't understand, and I don't think we really understand how it works in other places.
If Barack Obama is a socialist for implementing the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare"), then Mitt Romney is also a socialist, because he did the exact same effing thing in Massachusetts (naturally, "Romneycare.") I think the good people of Massachusetts are doing okay... I don't see them running around being all socialist, whatever it is that socialists do besides hand out health care.
Socialism: I do not think it means what you think it means.
(Sidenote: I really like this article/post I just found - "Obama is simply not a socialist. Or, if he is, he's the absolute worst socialist in the history of socialism." And then it goes on to describe Actual Socialism. Also: the guy is from Texas, not typically a place known for being pro-liberal.)
(See also: "Jesus Was a Socialist" and "Can't We Just Admit a Socialist is Someone Who Wants to Spend Government Money on Shit You Don't Like?")
Hell, even the socialists won't claim Obama.
Quote, this article:
"It makes absolutely no sense," said Greg Pason, national secretary of the Socialist Party USA. Obama's health care overhaul "is anything but socialist. It's bailing out for-profit companies."
It’s kind of the opposite of socialism when it helps insurance companies by hand-delivering them millions of new customers. That’s VERY capitalist.
From what I can tell, most people like the main points of the ACA (for example: no denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, keeping your kids on your insurance until they're 26), so I think the issue most people have is with that of mandating coverage. But the only way to keep insurance companies from flipping their shit ("this person has [insert disease here]! they're going to be expensive! wahhh!") is to basically guarantee them a larger pool of customers. I don't know. I'm still figuring it out.
Moving on to the original point of this, post, though...
I recently asked some of my Canadian friends to describe their health care... and I will admit, I am super, super jealous of it. If I wasn't a big enough wuss about Midwestern winters as it was, I would totally move up there and injure myself over and over just to bask in the glory of not having to pay for any of it. I'm kidding, of course, but man... I wish we'd get our shit together down here. Hell, Obamacare isn't even CLOSE to being the same as the universal health care system that our friends up north have.
CANADIAN TESTIMONY #1: JEN
The health care where I'm from (Alberta) is free - no monthly fees/yearly fees. If you don't have insurance through work or private insurance, you still pay for prescriptions and things like massage/chiropractic. However, going to see a doctor is free, if you get very sick (cancer etc.) your treatments are covered, if you have a baby you don't pay for any costs. In fact when I heard how much having a baby can cost in the US, I was astonished. You get a year of maternity where you are paid 80% of your salary - though you can split that between the mom and dad if you prefer.
People seem to think that we pay more taxes or have shitty doctors or wait a long time for things but I've never found any of that to be true. Our taxes are about 18% of a paycheque (if you make under $50,000) and goes up exponentially depending on your salary. As for sales tax on goods etc. in Alberta it is 5%.
The longest I've waited in an emergency room is about 8 hours and while that definitely felt long at the time, it was a non-life threatening cut that needed stitches - on a busy Friday night.
I've lived in several countries and any of them that I've needed medical attention in I've received fairly quickly and saw good doctors. Even when I was in Eastern Europe, I waited 1 hour, had an X-ray, an EKG and 2 shots all at the great cost of zero dollars.
I literally cannot wrap my head around the medical situation in the United States. I lived there for 2 months and bought the best insurance I could find, just in case. It's terrifying to me.
Anyway, I don't know exactly how it works up here, I just know I have great health coverage, am never worried about getting sick or accidents, breaking anything, or waiting too long for anything. I don't feel like the government controls my choices/doctors/medications. If that's socialism - count me in.
CANADIAN TESTIMONY #2: BRANDY
I'm with Jen. As a Canadian, (and a fellow Albertan!) I felt sick when I heard how much some people have to pay just to have a baby in the US. Or knowing people who aren't taking their cancer maintenance meds because they can't afford it? How is that acceptable? And the idea of becoming bankrupt because you get sick... it's like telling me you only play golf underwater- I just really can't understand it.
After watching the debate and hearing Mitt Romney speak, you'd think we'd have a horrible health care system but I've never had anything but great treatment (minus a slightly crazy doctor, but again- that's his personality not the fault of the system!). Growing up, I was never sick but my brother routinely got stitches and was in and out of the hospital and I have no idea how my parents would have dealt with the headache and fear of having a sick child AND hospital bills.
The longest I've waited in the hospital is six hours and again it wasn't for a life threatening injury. I've had surgeries before and they were scheduled within a month. My mom's longest wait was a month and a half for a major (but non life threatening) surgery. When I was diagnosed with Celiac's disease, I routinely saw my doctor for check ups and even had appointments with nutritionists scheduled for me so I could ask them questions.
In terms of mental health, I feel even more grateful to be living in a country where you aren't punished for requiring help. My work covers my prescriptions and therapist visits were also covered by my doctor. I know of people who didn't have benefits through work and the government covered their therapist fees. Again, if I felt like I had to pay a lot for getting the help I needed, I wonder how long I would have waited. And I wonder how much worse I would have felt.
Because I don't have to worry about a medical bill costing money, I don't panic when I do get sick. If I knew I'd have to pay large sums for treatment, I know I'd hold off in seeing a doctor until I couldn't wait a second longer, how does that help anyone?
I love so much about the States and am amazed at how much your country has accomplished yet I find myself flabbergasted that so many Americans have accepted their health care system as is- as though that's the only option. It's not. I can't imagine ever taking my wallet to the doctors office or even worrying about a medical bill. When you are sick- whether it's a serious or minor illness, the last thing you want is the worry of cost weighing on you. I'm far too familiar with American friends dealing with that and it breaks my heart. Hopefully people do some research and vote for the candidate who has the fortitude and vision to make health care more accessible to more people. (In my opinion, it's Obama by a landslide).
CANADIAN TESTIMONY #3: STEPHEN
Canadian healthcare is excellent. I've never worried about getting sick or injured bankrupting me, or my not being able to get care because I couldn't afford it or didn't have insurance. It's just there, hospitals, doctors, walk-in clinics for off hours. Most good employers have extended coverage that covers most prescriptions, dental and a mix of eyewear, massage, Chiro etc. depending on the employer and the plan. My kids are covered, my retired parents are covered and I'm covered no matter what.
CANADIAN TESTIMONY #4: SIMONE
Another Canadian weighing in here! I think our Health Care System is one of the best parts of being Canadian. In Ontario, health care is free - I don't pay anything per month/per year, like Jen was saying. If I need to go to the doctor, I just make an appointment and go - and it's free. You get to choose your own doctor. If your doctor isn't available and it's something that needs to get dealt with that day, there are walk in clinics where you can go and see a doctor for free. Unless your workplace covers it, you do have to pay for prescriptions and extras like physiotherapy, chiropractic, dentists, etc. If something serious happens (i.e. cancer, major surgery, having a baby) - it's all covered. I've never had to worry about sacrificing my health because I can't afford something - and it makes me really, really sad that this is the case in the USA for many people. Yes, we have to pay income tax and sales tax, but I don't mind. I take great pride in living somewhere where when it comes to health care everyone is given the same treatment, regardless of income level.
So, there you have it. Canadian health care: (mostly) free and not crappy. Are you jealous now too? Because I'm still jealous.
I mean... remember how it cost me $700 to get four stitches in my elbow, because I was stupid and tried to run to my car in the rain while wearing flip-flops? In some places of the world, it would have cost me ZERO DOLLARS. Alas.
Speaking of health care... I need to squeeze in something about Planned Parenthood because they are a very important part of this discussion and yesterday's reproductive health discussion, but I felt that post was getting long and it was more relevant to my health care discussion anyway.
First of all, federal money does not fund abortions - it never has, it never will. What it DOES fund is health care for somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 million people (men and women) who rely on Planned Parenthood's other services, not the least of which includes cancer screenings. In one of their recent campaigns, Planned Parenthood pointed out that for every $1 invested in Title X family planning, taxpayers save $3.74. Seems like a worthwhile investment to me, but I'm terrible with money. (This is for the people who base their "cut funding!" arguments on financial reasons, rather than ethical ones. Your financial reasons are bullshit, so you may as well admit to opposing this group for religious reasons. I'd respect you more for being honest.)
So, suppose Planned Parenthood funding does get cut. At least with "Obamacare" low-income women can still get preventive health care without having to scrape up a co-pay. But wait! We're going to get rid of that too. Effectively leaving NO options for the segment of the population who need these services the most. (And somewhat selfishly, I, for one, really enjoy not having to pay for my annual lady doctor visits. They're unpleasant enough as it is, without costing me a co-pay. The cost of co-pays really add up, to the point where I will avoid going to the doctor. And I have insurance.)
Anyway. Something to consider when you hit the polls on Tuesday (if you haven't already). Health care = good. Cheap health care = better. Barack Obama = not a socialist.
PS - don't forget to change your clocks back. I haven't done it yet because I'm lazy but I'm getting increasingly annoyed by the fact that it's technically 5:55pm even though my clocks say 6:55pm but either way it is PITCH BLACK outside and this displeases me greatly. Unless my computer already updated itself, which it probably did. HOLY SHIT WHAT TIME IS IT I DON'T EVEN KNOW.