When people criticize the United States for having two-tier health care, the argument turns to the statistic that more than 40 million Americans have no health insurance, and millions are under-insured.
And that Canadians are much better off because we have universal health insurance.
Well, a growing chorus of people are beginning to argue that as the nature of medical care shifts from hospital-based procedures to outpatient and drug therapies, we are slowly adopting a U.S.-style system of two-tier medicine.
That's because some people have insurance that will pay for their medications and home care. And some do not.
In today's Star, I take a look at this issue through the eyes of Angela Cordi, whose father — a retired welder — took out a $100,000 line of credit on his home to pay for her cancer treatment. She takes the drug Avastin every other week along with chemotherapy, at a cost to her of $1,500 per dose.
In a letter Cordi received from the ministry of health explaining why the province wouldn't pay for her Avastin, she was told the "cost effectiveness" of the treatment wasn't good enough.
To both Brian Day, head of the Canadian Medical Association, and Micheal McBane, of the Canadian Health Coalition — two men pretty much on opposite ends of the political spectrum — that amounts to two-tier medicine like in the United States.
Some people have trouble wrapping their heads around the idea of this being two-tier, pointing out that hosptial care and doctor visits are still covered. But as healthcare moves out of the hospitals, Day and McBane argue, medicare needs to find a way to move with it.
Cordi, who also holds fundraisiers to cover her medical bills, can only agree.
"We're just a step away" from U.S.-style care, she says. "And we're getting closer."
Read the whole story here.