What ails Rafe Mair? The illogic of what MSP does and doesn’t pay for.
“Comprehensiveness: All necessary health services, including hospitals, physicians and surgical dentists must be insured.”
This is one of the five principles of Medicare, and it’s so interpreted as to avoid keeping people healthy and to avoid medical costs.
Let’s assume a man of 81, me, and see just how “comprehensive” Medicare works in practice.
One of my needs is dental. For the most part I’m not covered. For such things as examinations, cavities and root canals, I pay.
I’m getting hard of hearing, but hearing aids aren’t covered. Basic hearing aids will cost several hundred dollars — the problems being that they are uncomfortable, fall out of your ear or don’t work. Any decent hearing aid (one) runs upwards from $2,500.
As a diabetic — very common for us old farts — the cost of drugs is substantial, especially if you’re on insulin. It costs me about $1,500 per year.
I see a chiropractor every three weeks. The alternative is very expensive surgery which is dangerous and has a terrible record in terms of outcomes. This comes to $1,500-2,000 per year.
I go to a naturopath for help with my diabetes. I do that because I have little faith in family doctors to advise in areas of food and health supplements. When I was treated by a family doctor alone, my blood sugar readings were too high. He wanted me to go on insulin — very expensive — so I went to a naturopath who in no time got my readings well within the accepted range. I see him about every two months, costing me about $500. The health foods he has me eat are horrendously expensive, costing at least $300 per month.
Is it working? Of course — it keeps my blood sugar levels down, which extends my life, which is what it’s all about.
One of the consequences of diabetes is bad circulation in the extremities. On my doctor’s advice, I see a podiatrist about every six weeks at $50 per visit. Is it worth it?
Since loss of limbs can be a result of diabetes, and since I have numbness in the feet from that affliction, you’re damned tooting it’s worth it.
Here comes an interesting one for you. I have vertigo, which means dizzy spells and occasionally, serious ones. My family doctor recommended a physiotherapist and a special procedure they have developed. Last year that was $240.
Another expense is travel. Now, it’s not my doctor’s fault I live in Lions Bay, but that means I must take the bus to see him, which is about a three-hour turnaround. He has, however, made it a rule that there be no more “refills,” and that each time I run out of meds I must see him.
I have no doubt that the purpose of this is to increase the number of visits — a retaliation against the B.C. Health Ministry, which in their view doesn’t pay enough per visit.
Wild MSP logic
There are some interesting anomalies.
For example, diagnostic services such as X-rays are covered when ordered by a physician, midwife, podiatrist, dental surgeon or oral surgeon — but not by a chiropractor or naturopath.
If I want any sort of medical service that keeps me away from surgery, such as chiropractic or naturopathic treatment, I am not compensated. But if I don’t take care of myself, I’m home free.
Moreover, friends, the province’s Medical Services Plan is illogical as hell.
By paying for some health expenses but not others, they are implying — indeed shouting from the rooftops — that some treatments have merit and others do not.
If that is so, why doesn’t the government ban these non-meritorious practices as they once did? Surely it can’t be heard to say that it’s tolerating medical practices that have no merit!
I demonstrate with this point: a medical doctor can perform chiropractic services and charge them to Medicare, so if I go to an MD for chiropractic care, I don’t pay. But if I go to a real chiropractor, I must pay!
Another rather telling point: hundreds of thousands of Canadians see chiropractic care as part of their health care program. Why would they go if it didn’t help them?
The allopathic doctor runs the system in the sense that they establish what should and should not be insured. This from the MSP website: “preventive services and screening tests not supported by evidence of medical effectiveness (for example, routine annual complete physical examinations, whole body CT scans, prostate specific antigen [PSA] tests)” are not covered.
Here we men are bombarded by suggestions that we get regular tests for prostate cancer, yet pay for it ourselves; while if we ignore this advice and get cancer, we are fully compensated!
Then we have mental health. This is where the MSP gets brutal. Seldom do mentally ill people need surgery. Their requirement is time. That’s why MDs don’t like handling them. There is an answer — mental health counsellors and psychologists. But both these groups are specifically excluded from coverage.
When one looks at the overall picture, it’s blatantly obvious that the system is run by the government in partnership with the medical profession — or perhaps it’s the other way around. What is also clear is that the needs of the citizens are not the paramount considerations in funding the system.
The bottom line is this: when catastrophic medical situations occur, B.C. looks after its citizens reasonably well, but when it comes to avoiding the catastrophes in the first place, we all but utterly fail.