I think both Americans and Canadians have misbeliefs about the other’s healthcare system–where the truth is that there are advantages and disadvantages to both systems.
For example, if money isn’t an issue (how many people fit this category?), then clearly the advantages of the U.S. healthcare system are numerous.
If you’re able to spend, $500, $1000 (or more) a month out of your own pocket in premiums, co-pays, etc, there are definitely luxuries that the U.S. system allows.
Considering I’m alive due to the generosity of my friends (and that my long term outlook is bleak), I decided to start researching the options for my care in Canada…what the Canadian system may or may not be able to do for me.
Since a lot of my medical care is in the ‘grey’ area of medicine (meaning, my tests results are often unreliable due to my impaired immune response, so i need doctors to act even with negative results),
it makes a healthcare system that approaches medicine black or white not very appealing..and worse, potentially life ending for me.
So I looked up online infectious disease and Toronto, because I wasn’t really sure where else to start, and I got Dr. Kaul’s name and number. I called him this afternoon at exactly 2pm (5pm Toronto time), and I left a long and rambling message about my medical case, and if he could point me in the right direction regarding where I could find some answers about getting the right kind of medical care in Canada.
The part that amazes me is–not only did he call me back *himself* within a few hours–but he spent a good of time discussing my case with me and being friendly about the entire Canadian medical system in general.
Dr. Kaul could sense my nerves and concerns, and he was warm and welcoming. He said point blank at one point,
“Like any medical system, Canada is not perfect. There are many medications that we do not cover here, so you should definitely do your homework before you come. But we’re a friendly bunch, and we like to believe we do our best to help those who need us”.
I almost dropped the phone. I don’t think I have ever heard a doctor be that friendly and warm and welcoming. And that the fact he was calling from this ‘socialist’ medical system–a system that they paint here in the United States to be so cold and impersonal–just surprised me even more.
In the end, while he was very compassionate and receptive to my case, he ultimately referred me to someone else, who he said specializes in adult immunodeficiencies. He reassured me that this doctor would take care of me, and given his background he would be the right doctor for my case.
This is particularly exciting in some ways, because this is even hard to find in the United States–most doctors interested in immune deficiencies only do pediatrics here in the United States.
As much as I would love to see Dr. Kaul (and I told him that!), we parted ways at the end of the call, but I made sure to promise to call him if I’m ever in Toronto and need an infectious disease specialist (which is likely…if I’m ever living in Toronto!)
Dr. Kaul said this other doctor would have all the answers I need for me regarding access to IVIG, and any other question for me regarding getting lots of help living with an immune deficiency.
I’m not entirely sure that my health is stable enough to be anywhere but near doctors who already know my case, but it was comforting that his physician was so warm and welcoming…and combined with my experience with Dr. Kyrillos at the Walmart medical clinic in Ottawa last July, it’s just more evidence that Canada is not as bad as what is portrayed in the U.S. media…a visit that I waited less than 10 minutes to see a doctor, and that would have been totally free if we had been Ontario residents…
Canada is not bad at all. Due to the complexities of my case I’m not sure they can help me, but at least doctors are trying to point me to where I might find help within the Canadian system. Now I just have to meet these doctors, and see what they have to say–