The debate in the United States that is raging over healthcare confuses me. I admit that my confusion is shared between both sides, Republican and Democrat. When I say that I am confused, I don't mean in the sense that I do not understand the problem; it's that I don't understand how either side cannot see the solution. It amazes me that both sides can be so blind to what is right in front of them. The solution is not the healthcare reform being pushed by the Trump administration, nor is the solution Obamacare as suggested by the Democrats. The only solution that will make any real difference is when the United States adopts total universal healthcare.

That means free health coverage that would include the old, the sick, and those with pre-existing conditions. A truly universal system.

The costs of universal healthcare

But It seems that this is a topic that no one wants to talk about. It is a subject that is taboo, and seems to be political suicide for most politicians in the US. Why? We're talking about being able to look after everyone, especially those most vulnerable. It all comes down to money. The Republicans would have you believe that over the course of ten years on a single-payer healthcare system, it would cost the US government 32 trillion dollars. We can come back to that number in a bit. In 2016, the government spent over $10,000 per citizen on healthcare.

With a population of 323 million, that would work out to 3.23 trillion dollars a year, or 32.3 trillion dollars in ten years.

By these numbers, the United States is already on pace to spend 32 trillion dollars on healthcare by 2026. However, the cost of healthcare is rising each year, and actual projections show that the current system of healthcare will cost 4.9 trillion dollars per year in 2026.

That's an increase of 170 billion dollars per year or 44.5 trillion dollars over the next ten years. Suddenly that 32 trillion dollar number doesn't look so bad, does it? So if by the Republican calculations, universal healthcare is going to cost the US 32 trillion dollars over the next ten years, it will save the government roughly 12 trillion dollars from what they would be paying on the current system.

Canadian's live longer and the price of healthcare per person per year is roughly $6200. The Canadian government is paying four thousand dollars less per person per year for healthcare that covers everyone. So when politicians criticize Canadian healthcare or Universal Healthcare in general, do some research and don't believe the negativity. It works, and it leads to a healthier and happier population.

The price of being sick

You might be thinking, what gives me the right to talk about US healthcare? Well, a few things. My family and I travel to the US quite frequently, and we always have year-round medical travel insurance. Twice, my son was sick in the US with croup, a childhood illness. His condition is not life-threatening, but enough that he needs to go to a hospital to be administered an oral steroid.

Sometimes they give him a cool mist humidifier mask, and then he's right as rain and we're off. He's had croup at home in Canada numerous times. Each trip to the hospital usually means a late night because that's when it tends to strike. But other than the loss of sleep, that's all we really have to be concerned with.

The first time it happened in the US was in Anaheim about four or five years ago at Christmas. I called our insurance company and was directed to the nearest hospital. All the paperwork was faxed through, and when we arrived, he was treated with a steroid and mask and released within two hours. Although our insurance covered it all, and there was no money out of pocket to us. I inquired as to the bill.

It would have been one thousand dollars if I didn't have medical coverage.

The second time it happened in the US was actually last year, in Salt Lake City. Again, I called the insurance company and was directed to the nearest hospital. After maybe one and a half hours, he was set and we were cleared to go. This time, it was only the liquid medication with no mask. The bill there? Nearly five thousand dollars. A ridiculous amount, but again, covered by my travel insurance.

The cost of dying

My father died nearly ten years ago. For the last month of his life, he was in the hospital. We'd go to see him every day, we'd chat with him, laugh with him, and remind him of how much we loved him. There was grief, and there was stress, but what there never was, was the worry of how mom was going to pay the hospital bill.

The reason for that is simple: there wasn't one. No matter what medication he was given, no matter what machine he was hooked up to, no matter what doctor he saw, there was no charge. And in those final weeks and days, we could concentrate on my father, and on the things that were important. No one worried if we'd have to sell the family home to cover the bills. The cost of dying was free, and the family kept their dignity.

In the US, the cost of dying can be catastrophic. How can you ask someone to go bankrupt because they got sick? How can you withhold treatment because it "isn't covered"? How can you deny someone because they were born with a "pre-existing condition?" How can you put the power of the dollar before the welfare of your own citizens?

Canada is berated by Republicans about how our universal healthcare doesn't work. Let me tell you, it does. Is the system perfect? No, it isn't. But it's far better than the American system, and that is why it's been adopted by so many countries around the world.

Anytime someone says something bad about universal healthcare, I go to the hospital and get my feelings checked for free.

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