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Milt Hankins: Arguments against health care reform just don't hold up

Feb. 07, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

Lately, I've been hearing that "Obamacare" is "socialized" medicine, and it doesn't work well in other countries, especially Canada. The arguments are entirely unsubstantiated. I've researched thoroughly, and the truth is that most Canadians love their health care system.

I've talked to many Canadians, but I didn't simply take their word for it. The results from several Canadian sources, including the 1996 National Population Health Survey, the provincial Ministries of Health, and the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association "do not support the widespread perception that Canadian residents seek care extensively in the United States. In fact, the numbers found are so small as to be barely detectable relative to the use of care by Canadians at home."

Canadians who need emergency tests do NOT wait months for necessary tests or procedures. People with emergency needs are moved to the front of the line. You say the United States had the best health care system in the world before "Obamacare." Not so! My wife waited four months to get an appointment with a rheumatologist in Huntington. The soonest she could see one in Ashland was one year!

A few weeks ago, I was about to be sent home from a local hospital with a 90 percent blockage in one of my "good" artery bypasses, even though I had considerable distress during a preliminary nuclear stress test. The doctor merely wanted to increase my medication.

My wife objected doggedly that treatment for the symptoms was not enough. We wanted to know the cause of the problem, and the doctor finally agreed to a heart catheter. The blockage was found, stented, and I'm here, writing this article.

If the two first-hand examples I have provided are illustrative of "the finest health care in the world," then we are in deep trouble around the globe. The World Health Organization lists 36 countries (including Canada, Israel, Cyprus, Columbia, Greece and Spain) whose health care outranks the U.S.

What about those cancellations? Considering the number of people insured in this country, the number of policies canceled was insignificant. Nonetheless, some were canceled. Why? Because those policies were not worth the paper they were written on. They were sub-standard, and many were cancelable when the "insured" experienced health problems. Some were canceled because insurers were charging exorbitant fees for sub-standard "coverage," and some policies were canceled because better and cheaper coverage was available under the Affordable Care Act.

Problems with the rollout of the program? Admitted, up front. What new program does not have glitches, especially government programs? The opposition had a hey-day! Given time, "Obamacare" will be as widely accepted as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Hopefully soon, a universal, affordable, single-payer system or a system based on income will be enacted.

The Affordable Care Act is people caring for people. It means folks who are desperately ill getting the treatment they need to thrive and survive. Like it or don't like it -- but let's not beat it to death with rumor, innuendo, misinformation and partisan politics!

Milt Hankins of Ashland, Ky., is a retired minister, theologian and freelance writer.

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