Sunday, February 03, 2008

Putting on my medical reporter's hat

CNN has done it again: Another report full of half-facts and omissions from the network that calls itself the most "trusted" news channel.

Case in point: Canadians have to wait months for surgery. Yes, in Canada you are likely to wait for elective surgery, not surgery that needs to be done quickly (this part was omitted), and it does not depend on your bank account. We pay a very reasonable insurance premium, based on our incomes (and if you don't have an income, you still get health care), and don't have to worry about seeing the doctor or getting a bone density scan or having surgery or being in hospital for a week. We're not talking perfection here, we're talking being able to be treated without financial hassles and worries. That's why the CNN brand of reporting bothered me. If you're going to do a report, do it properly. To wit: The level of care and equipment in the U.S. is the best (though only for those who can afford it) because, CNN pointed out as an example, the U.S. has five times as many MRIs than Canada -- but but but, conveniently omitted the fact that Canada has only 10% of the U.S.'s population. And while we have to wait our turn if we want an MRI (unless it's urgent), we can have it without using up our savings or going into debt.

The CNN report also said France has the best universal health care... but wait! They have higher taxes, and Americans don't want higher taxes, so that's that. Huh? Is CNN saying they'd rather go bankrupt or die from their disease because they can't afford medical care? I'm sure higher taxes would be far, far less than $12,000 insurance premiums per annum and a big deductible on top of that. We pay higher taxes, but our most basic needs are assured.

I want to see universal healthcare in the U.S. because I want my family there to have it in case they need it and won't have to go bankrupt because of it, and I don't want to see one of my oldest friends have not only to be going through all that cancer treatment she's going through and be worrying about the finances of it. The trouble is a lot of the politicians putting forth their plans don't know what they're talking about, burbling about tax breaks and whathaveyou. Tax breaks for the middle- to low-income will not pay for even a fraction of their health-care needs if they have big medical problems.

The bright light in the health-care area recently was the news that a Canadian research team here in Toronto may have found a treatment for Alzheimer's disease, using a treatment already being used on Parkinson's patients. They probed a part of the brain that retrieves memory, and it is now being tested on Alzheimer's patients with very encouraging results. The Medical Post (where I work three days a week) will be keeping an eye on the trials and reporting on it.

See? Every cloud has a silver lining.


  1. Wonderful news about the possible breakthrough in treating Alzheimer's. As for France, it does have excellent medical care, with no delays in getting help you need (unless it's August, when half the population goes on holiday, leaving behind few doctors). I think the higher taxes are worth it for the peace of mind. Glad you clarified the point about CNN's report. They made similar mistakes when trying to refute parts of Michael Moore's film "Sicko." xo

  2. hmmmmm. ( still paying the exhorbant bills after our private insurance paid on my May '07 surgery)


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