Saturday, March 8, 2014

Canadian Health Care - March 8, 2014

Canada has had a national government run health care system since the mid-1960's.

I remember when it was first brought in my late father saying he was happy that we would have health care coverage BECAUSE IN THE EVENT OF A MAJOR ILLNESS YOU WOULD NOT LOSE YOUR HOME, LIVE SAVINGS OR FACE BANKRUPTCY.

Since that time the program has been enhanced and yes we pay taxes for the system and in the province of BC monthly premiums based on income - anyone under about $24,000.00 pays no premiums but still receives the same level of care. Those under $30,000 - myself included pay reduced premiums.

Is it the best system - no - it was never meant to be womb to tomb health care although many people seem to think that is what it is. It never was intended to cover everything.

Yes it is expensive - it eats up about 40% of the provincial government revenue yet we have a budget surplus - the federal government provides a good chunk of the costs through a transfer of tax points - except for the last few years when the recession hit - the Canadian government was running surpluses and should return to them next year - this despite my distaste for the current federal government.

I bring this up as i alluded to a post around Xmas that my best friend had been hospitalized since the end of October and he is still in St Paul's although he is just waiting to be moved to a transition place to work on his rehab and get him up and walking.

What has it cost him directly to date. NOTHING!!! His only cost has been his TV rental.

While these figures are general - here is a rough cost breakdown of his stay

6 weeks in ICU = 42 days at about $4000.00 a day = $168.000
14 weeks in a general 4 bed ward = 98 days at $1500.00 a day =$147.000

and that doesn't include the cost of the pacemaker which I believe is around $6000.00

So over $300,000 spent and he isn't bankrupt and the government isn't going broke.

But then we here in Canada would rather spend our money on health care than military spending.

It is all about priorities - health care or military spending - thankfully successive Canadian governments of different political stripes from left leaning liberals to reform minded conservatives have made the right choice.


Passive planning

I think the best way to describe the planning for such an undertaking and this far in advance is passive - the collection of brochures from the various tour operators, watching for Internet or TV articles on some of the countries and talking to people who have been to Europe.

So far those people don't think I am crazy - which is a relief to me as some people think that I am a naturally born crazies. 

They do seem astounded that I won't fly - more on that later - and would take the time to train across America and then cruise ship across the Atlantic.

I have already received either by mail or from a travel Expo show here in Vancouver a number of tour brochures - for the most part they offer the same itineraries - just different formats - from less expensive - using hostels and paying for some meals yourself to much more expensive - 4 *** hotels and fancier meals etc.

While cost will certainly be a major factor - I don't mind hostels etc - the placing of overnight stops will be a factor - case in point - in looking at Irish tours almost all have an overnight in Killarney - which is fine - it is only 30km from Tralee which I want to visit as it is the town that my father passed away on - well in the last brochure I received this week the operator of a budget travel company stops overnight in Tralee and not Killarney - suspect it is cheaper to stay in the former rather than the latter - if this tour is still available in 2017 it would likely be my choice.

As the brochures have arrived I am using color tab stickies to the tours that interest me for easier reference.


Now about the subject of not wanting to fly - as I indicated in my previous post on this subject my last experience on a plane was enough to turn me off and while planes and plane safety is much better now than 40 years ago there is still all the hassle of what you can and cannot take with you, etc, etc, etc.

My dilemma is this - I want to keep this trip to 60 days max - from the time I leave Vancouver until I return but here it where the challenge rises - it is 4 - 5 by Amtrak to the east coast and vis versa - so 10 days of 60 already taken.

It is a minimum of 7 days across the Atlantic x 2 = 14 days - so i am already at 24 days leaving only 36 to see the continent and of those two or three are likely to be used as travel to tour start points. So really only about 30 days to see the three focal points of my trip.

This method of travel also increases greatly the costs of doing the trip - however at this point I am not too concerned about the financial aspects of the trip

I might be able to find a repositioning cruise for the trip over that will include some of the Baltics - while not perfect it might have to do if time becomes a factor.

I might also bite the bullet and fly one way - one thought is to fly Vancouver to Shannon which would be reliving the trip 40 years ago as that is where I set foot in Ireland - then head to London by train and ferry and continue with the trip from there - or finish up in Ireland and fly either Dublin or Shannon to Vancouver. It would have to be a non-stop - the takeoffs and landing are what scare me the most - and if on the return it wasn't Vancouver but another Canadian or American city that would be fine - just Via or Amtrak it from there.

Lots of time to stress myself about those possibilities.

More later.