I’m tired of hearing Canadians complain about our healthcare system.  You know what?  We do have to wait longer for some types of treatment – but not usually anything life-threatening.  And you know what else?  That’s life.  Resources are expensive, limited, and in Canada, they’re allocated based on urgency of need.

I had to go to a clinic here in the States for a minor issue that I’ve visited several Canadian clinics for in the past.  The experience was nearly identical!  They had the same advice, and the same treatment.  The setup was similar.  I swear even the posters on the wall were the same.

However, there are a few major differences.  See if you can spot them.

The Canadian Experience:

  1. Realize you have a problem

  2. Go to walk-in clinic

  3. Present your health card

  4. Wait (1-2 hours)

  5. Get treated

  6. Go home

 The American Experience:

  1. Realize you have a problem

  2. Call insurance company

  3. Explain problem

  4. Get pre-approved and record claim number

  5. Go to walk-in clinic

  6. Attempt to have them bill the insurance company directly

  7. Often have them refuse to bill insurance company directly

  8. Wait (15-30 minutes)

  9. Get treated

  10. Go to cashier

  11. Pay bill out of pocket (cash, visa, mastercard)

  12. Get full detailed receipt for insurance

  13. Go home

  14. Fill out claim form

  15. Fax or mail claim form and detailed receipt to insurance company

  16. Wait for payment in the mail (1-4 weeks)

  17. Optionally argue with insurance company about non-payment or co-pay amounts

  18. Deposit reimbursment cheque (assuming they pay)

Can you see the difference?

I only had about 14 the wait time in the US clinic.  The visit (which only lasted about 15 minutes) cost about $100, which I put on my credit card.

Meanwhile, I had to spend at least the amount of time saved in the clinic fussing around with stupid insurance paperwork.

But here’s the big difference.  While I “jumped the queue” and enjoyed quick treatment for my minor, non-life-threatening problem, millions of middle-class Americans suffered through their illnesses, got sicker, and some of them probably even died.  Why?  Because they had little or no insurance and simply couldn’t afford it.