Universal Health Care?

Health care in this country is free...depending on how you look at it.

Is health care in this country free?

I suppose it depends on how you look at it. All essential treatments and procedures are paid for by medicare. But for the millions of Canadians who don’t live in an urban centre, close to a major hospital, nothing is really free.

Once you factor in gas for travel, hotel rooms if necessary, and quite often lost wages for family members who have to make the trip with the patient, health care in this vastly spread out country of ours can actually be quite expensive.

Having all of these services available at rural hospitals does not make financial sense. Equipment is expensive, and trained staff to operate it is scarce. Centralized services is really the only feasible option.

However if Canada’s, or British Columbia’s, health care system promises affordable care for absolutely everyone, then does the responsibility not fall on the government to make sure that patients can afford to access this affordable health care?

Communities and non-profit organizations have done a tremendous job in helping individuals and families who are burdened with the cost of travelling for medical services. Places like Ronald McDonald House even offer lodging for parents with sick children. But should that really be their responsibility?

A young family in Golden is going through a medical crisis, and not for the first time. They are faced with travelling to Alberta to get the necessary treatments.

The community has gotten behind this family, and have organized a fundraising event for the second time. The Rotary Club of Golden has also made a contribution.

But what if they hadn’t? What if two young parents had to take time off work, travel to Alberta, and stay in hotels until their child was released from care? Who could afford that?

Health care should be equally available to all Canadians regardless of where they live. There should be government funds available for patients who can’t afford these travel expenses. Claiming them on your income tax does not help enough.

We can’t claim to be a country with free health care if not all of the population can afford to physically get to that care. The sheer size of Canada does present problems, but we are also a wealthy country who should be able  to afford taking care of all our citizens in need.