Would You Rather Pay More Taxes or Pay More for Health Care?

September 28, 2007

Those Canadians have it made! Or do they?  I’ve talked with two Canadians recently about their health care system and taxes and neither one of them seemed too pleased.

With the rising cost of health care in the US, having medical services funded by the government sounds pretty nice at first.  Here is a summary I found of the Canadian health system.

“Canada’s health care system is a group of socialized health insurance plans that provides coverage to all Canadian citizens. It is publicly funded and administered on a provincial or territorial basis, within guidelines set by the federal government.

Under the health care system, individual citizens are provided preventative care and medical treatments from primary care physicians as well as access to hospitals, dental surgery and additional medical services. With a few exceptions, all citizens qualify for health coverage regardless of medical history, personal income, or standard of living.”

Of course universal health care comes at a cost.  The income taxes in Canada are much higher than they are here in the US.  In fact the Canadian I visited with last night became an American citizen when his mother married a Texan and has no plans to move back to Canada simply because the high income taxes there. The other Canadian I talked with owns a business and said he’d gladly pay more of his own money for health care if it meant lowering taxes.

What do you think?  Do you prefer the current US system or would you rather see universal health care coverage at the cost of higher taxes?


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15 Responses to Would You Rather Pay More Taxes or Pay More for Health Care?

  • Patriot

    Sorry for the second post but did everyone see the truth about costs finally coming to the light of day? This bill is going to cost us a fortune and ultimately when has Government made anything better. In fact, many intelligent thinkers have pointed out that health insurance would cost less in this Country if we had less Government involvement. Isn’t that kind of ironic?

    Here is the article on the true cost coming from Obama’s own health agency..

  • Patriot

    I’d like to pay less for healthcare and pay for it myself. I’d like to be the more direct customer instead of the Government mandating that I must buy it through my employer. I’d like to see the Government allow competition. I’d like to see caps on Medical Malpractice suits.

    I certainly do not trust the Government who has ruined Social Security, Ruined Medicaid/Medicare and bankrupted the Post Office to run my healthcare. Though apparently, in the land of the free I have no choice but to be dictated to by a well funded morally bankrupt minority. This is not representation and the current bill will cost us Trillions and ruin healthcare in this Country. Watch as we loose qualified doctors and only common conditions receive treatment.

    I fear for my children and grandchildren as the Socialist have their way with our Country as well. They’ve ruined the rest of the free Countries with their fairness(slavery) for all and they won’t be happy until the shining beacon of hope that America represents is extinguished in favor of status quo governing.

    Welcome to a Government where the elite rule and are wealthy and the Middle class becomes smaller and smaller until we are all working class poor.

    Country GDP in PPS
    US 37300
    JP 27800
    EU-27 24700

    Again, why do we want to follow their model of Government? Because it’s more “fair”, who decides what “fair” – The Government – You trust politicians to determine what is fair for you and your family. If so, you scare me because history is riddled with stories of the failure of big government.

    I put my trust in my fellow man before I put my trust in Government solutions.

  • pidgeon92

    I have to agree with all of the others who said that having a chronic illness will change your perception. I have always been of the opinion that free/cheap healthcare should be provided to all people. Getting sick and then having to pay on top of it seems like one of the most unfair things that can happen in life. My uncle recently died after his second bout with pancreatic cancer, and while he was insured his wife is now left alone with staggering medical bills. I took out a life insurance policy, as my family has a high incidence of cancer and I do not wish to bankrupt my husband if I should die young.

  • Jason

    I think that socialized health care takes the price out of the supply and demand equation. Their is a demand but the providers will either be able to charge whatever the want, which is bad for us, or they will have federally mandated prices, which is bad for them.

    Socialism really steams me!

  • Bob Weber

    The bottom line in this discussion is that healthcare is going to cost money. It’ either out of pocket, or through taxes with a little extra added.

    Baskically we have two options.

    One is to create some kind of government managed healthcare. As one of the commenters pointed out, we already have Medicare/Medicaid which are in serious financial trouble. I think I read somewhere that the US already contributes more to citizen healthcare than most/all other contries.

    Second is to find some way to reduce the costs of healthcare. This may involve regulation, changing insurance laws so they don’t favor employers, setting caps on malpractice cases, etc…

    The most amazing thing to me is that people will pay $500 a month for a car, or $1500 a month for a house, but complain about spending $200 a month for insurance to protect what is potentially their most valuable asset… their health.

  • Ben

    I guess the main thing that comes out of these responses is that we’re paying more now for health care whether through taxes or out of our pocket and that people who often need health care coverage the most are those that can least afford it.

    One thing is for sure, no matter what path the government takes, there are going to be some unhappy people. Young healthy people with good employer benefits may not want to pay higher taxes to cover universal health care but lower income people with chronic health concerns will likely be in full support of it.

    My guess is the politicians will try to meet somewhere in the middle and fail miserably. Is it better to try and accommodate everyone, or should the government build their plan around those in the most dire need?

  • Meg

    Those two options are not mutually exclusive–nor are they the only options. America’s system needs changing; there’s no question about that. But that doesn’t mean the only solution is to adopt a system like Canada’s. We need better insurance options, and the insurance companies need to be more regulated and have less discretion in the number and type of claims they deny.

    But personally I don’t want to put that responsibility in the hands of our government. Just look at the job they’ve done with the public education system…I pay thousands of dollars in property taxes + more in income taxes (some of which the fed redistributes to state/local school systems), and yet the public schools remain unexusably TERRIBLE. I’d rather have back that tax money to put towards private school tuition for my kids. And I feel the same about my health care, so long as I have access to good insurance options.

  • vh

    I fail to understand the difference: whether you get a bigger gouge out of your paycheck to cover health insurance (which may or may not get you into a doctor when you need help) or whether you fork up more taxes, you still have to pay the bill.

    At my job I was paying for the most expensive insurance plan of several available–a PPO that allowed me to go to any doctor I wanted. Having watched my mother die rather horribly in an HMO, whose staff had no incentive to recognize the obvious truth that she was full of cancer and every financial incentive to deny it, I’m determined never to be herded into a plan where I can’t seek competent medical care when I need it, and I’m willing to pay for that “privilege.”

    So, when I came down with appendicitis a couple of years ago, my ex-husband drove me down to one of the largest hospitals in the fifth-largest city in the United States, where he dumped me at the ER. It was late at night and it was Christmastime.

    The scene was straight out of the Third World. The place was absolutely jammed. I waited for almost five hours with no medical care at all, except for a sneer from an admitting nurse who didn’t like it that I was throwing up. I was in excruciating pain, and there wasn’t even a place to sit down, much less lie down. The floor was so filthy that despite my agony I couldn’t bring myself to lie down on it. I ended up sitting outdoors in the cold, on a cement bench, with a young woman who was having a miscarriage. She had been there for four hours, also with no medical attention whatsoever.

    Finally I called some friends to take me home, where at least I could lie down in bed.

    The following morning I called my doctor’s office at the Mayo. The doctor on call there told me to come in to the Mayo Clinic’s hospital, about a 20-minute drive from my house. I told her I could not drive at all. She said to call 911 and have them take me there. I said I did not think they would do it. She said they are required to take you where you ask to go.

    That, it develops, was not so. The EMTs insisted that the only place they could or would take me is back to the hospital where after five hours I had gotten no medical care. I sent them away and got a friend to drive me to the Mayo, where within minutes I was on the way to emergency surgery.

    Thank god I had the expensive insurance. It didn’t get me anywhere at St. Joseph’s ER, but it at least did, eventually, get me into a hospital where I received care. I am an elderly woman. Appendicitis is life-threatening, and it is more life-threatening when you’re skateboarding downhill to start with. By the time I got medical attention, I had been suffering from acute appendicitis for 23 hours. Twenty-five is about as long as you can go without a likely rupture. If my appendix had ruptured, I would have been at real risk of death.

    Within a year of that incident, the PPO announced it would stop covering the Mayo. Fortunately, my employer offers an EPO that continues to cover my doctors. In fact, it’s significantly cheaper than the PPO was.

    In an environment where multitudes of uninsured folk have to use ERs to get routine medical care (a flu epidemic was under way when I hit St. Joseph’s ER, and most of the people jamming the waiting room were there for flu symptoms), even the best insurance may not make adequate medical care available to you.

    IMHO, a national plan that would provide coverage for EVERYONE would be a helluva lot better than one where you have to get a job with an employer who can afford to insure you (an increasingly rare commodity) to be able go to a doctor at all. No one should have to wait until their child is frighteningly sick with a sore throat, a cough, and vomiting to get routine attention for the flu from an ER. No young woman should have to sit on a cold cement bench outside a hospital while she miscarries a baby with no medical help. And no old lady should have to face a life-threatening emergency without hope of getting treatment at one of the major hospitals in the country.

  • guinness416

    I moved from NYC to Toronto and pay about the same income tax, or if it’s different I haven’t noticed much of a dent. Sales tax is higher though. I’m young and healthy, and had very good medical care in the US and have experienced very good care in Canada too.

    A few thoughts I’ve had since moving: I lived in the States for seven years or so and every.single.year my healthcare was more restricted (number of doctors, rate of copay, drug list), I had to contribute more from my paycheque, and I think I had a total of 5 or 6 different HMOs because my employer was always switching. It wasn’t so much of a headache for me, but colleagues with kids just seemed to be drowning in paperwork. I also sat in on a few board meetings where HMO rates, switching HMOS, etc were the centrepiece of the discussion rather than bus dev or recruitment, which seemed a shame. The third thought is that I met people who wanted to go freelance or take a break from work but were just paralyzed by the fact that their job was their healthcare. Here, the freedom to do your own thing is palpable.

  • m

    “I’ll bet you’d get a different response if you asked someone with a chronic illness.” I totally agree with this.

    Also, I don’t think money is the only issue here either. One problem with our American system is that people get turned down for health insurance for both serious and minuscule “pre-existing conditions.” I put that in quotes because even the smallest things, such as the use of an asthma inhaler or even lesser health need is enough for an ins. co. to reject them for coverage.

    This system makes it virtually impossible for sick people to get coverage unless they are able to get it through work. And we know not all jobs offer insurance. And of those that do, many offer plans that are unaffordable for most of their employees.

    With our system, the sick, who need ins. the most, either are unable to get it or have to pay such exorbitant costs for it, that added with their actual medical costs (since the ins. never picks up all the cost) that they end up in bankruptcy, homelessness, and other dire situations.

    Even those who’ve worked hard, saved, and done well for themselves their whole life can lose everything with one serious illness. There is almost no one in this country that this issue does not have the potential to affect. Unless you are very very wealthy, one serious illness can devastate you. You might go over your lifetime maximum if you have coverage, and then be stuck with massive bills or have to forgo needed care, or you might lose your coverage altogether if it isn’t a group plan of if you can’t work due to illness.

    There are so many horrible possibilities and the truth is that many Americans aren’t just going broke but are losing their lives due to their inability to afford proper care and medications.

    Additionally, we don’t have to emulate Canada. There are many models for us to look at, and we have the option of coming up with a system of our own that suits our needs and abilities.

  • dr

    I’ve spent a lot of time studying the universal health care programs being put forth by the candidates, and whether you like them or not, we simply can’t afford them. We have a crisis around the corner with both Social Security and Medicare. To add what would be in excess of $100 billion a year to insure the 15% of the population without insurance (to say nothing of undocumented immigrants) is just not tenable. As to the health of Americans, that indicts our life style, not our medical system. To be sure, improvements could be made to the delivery of health care in America, but it still is the best in the world.

  • Anonymous

    Looking at my paycheck, 23% of my gross pay goes towards paying my various medical insurances and yet I can’t go to the doctor for “preventative” reasons or else I will be hit with exceptions and will be stuck with the bill anyway.

    Add that to my 20% marginal tax rate, and I never see nearly half of what I make.

    Just because we’re not “taxed” at the same rate as Canada does not mean we aren’t paying out the arse for sub-par medical insurance.

  • plonkee

    I can’t tell you what you should do but I vote for universal healthcare every single time.

  • KMC

    I think these two people you talked to are young and/or healthy. I’ll bet you’d get a different response if you asked someone with a chronic illness.

    I certainly hope health care in America changes soon. Costs are rising faster than wages and inflation and our population is aging. It’s clearly unsustainable.

    We pay the most money of any industrialized country for health care in America, but by many measures aren’t very healthy.


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