Crommunist on ‘Obamacare’ – an interview with Jamila Bey

I had an opportunity last week to talk to atheist and PoC issues commentator and activist Jamila Bey on her show The Sex, Politics, and Religion Hour on Voice of Russia Radio. We were discussing the recent Supreme Court Ruling on the Affordable Care Act, derisively nicknamed “Obamacare” by idiots.

Listen to part 1

Listen to part 2

Once again this qualifies as one of those times when I step firmly outside of the usual subject matter of this blog, but health policy is the kind of stuff that makes my socks roll up and down.

Some important things that I failed to articulate well during the interview:

  • It is likely true that the richest Americans get ‘better’ care than the richest Canadian would (if ze went to a public sector hospital). I put ‘better’ in quotes because oftentimes the more expensive care is a result of additional and unnecessary testing and medical ‘extras’. There are drugs and technologies that are available to Americans who are willing/able to pay that you couldn’t get in Canada, but usually if something doesn’t get funded by Canadian Medicare, it’s because the additional benefit is not worth the additional cost (i.e., much more expensive, only marginally better health outcomes for patients).
  • The Canadian health care system doesn’t handle extremely rare conditions well. If you have a disease that is expensive to treat and is not listed on the formula for funding, it can often be incredibly difficult to get the appropriate care. These circumstances obviously do not happen often, but when they do it is the cause for national consternation.
  • The figure I cited of ~30-40% of American health care costs being administrative came from this study.
  • Some health care in Canada is delivered on a private, for-profit basis. Doctors in Canada may choose to practice either in the private sector or in the public sector, but not both. It is usually far more simple and profitable to practice in the public sector, so private clinics are rare.
  • I forgot one of my favourite talking points, which is that medical bankruptcies are very much a foreign concept to we Canadians. You can go broke if you get sick and you lose your job and you can’t afford to pay your mortgage, but you won’t go broke paying for your medical bills. Considering that somewhere in the neighbourhood of 40% of American bankruptcies are due to medical expenses, you can imagine how much more resilient and stable the Canadian economy is for this reason alone.

Jamila made it clear that I was welcome to come back on the show another time, so you may be seeing more conversations like this popping up here soon.

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