Shona Holmes was a Canadian happy with her country’s nationalized health care-until tragedy struck. When Holmes was diagnosed with a brain tumor, she had no options but to come to the United States for brain surgery. Since then, she has spent the past four years trying to get the Canadian government to reimburse her for her surgery. Her attempts have been unsuccessful.
“I’m so happy to be here with such an angry mob,” Holmes began, addressing the crowd of thousands at the recent Americans for Prosperity (AFP) Defending the American Dream Summit on October 3, 2009. She said she grew up “believing that my government would take care of my health care because it was all I ever knew…When it gets bad is when you start realizing how you fall through the cracks.”
Holmes compared America’s current health care system to food. In America, people choose what they eat; they go to a store and decide for themselves how much they will buy of each kind of food they want to eat. The very poorest in America end up in the soup line-they still get food, but often at inconvenient times and there are no choices about what kind of soup they’ll receive. In America, Holmes said, very few end up in the soup line today. “In Canada, everyone is in the soup line,” she said.
“It is illegal for me to purchase private health insurance. It is illegal for me to use my own money out of my own pocket to go and get a doctor to take care of me,” Holmes continued. “Rationing happens in Canada, without question.” She explained, “Surgeons are given 10 hours of operating time a week. The sickest will get taken first. But if you have been on that wait list for nine months, by the time you’ve been on the list for nine months, I can guarantee you are now the sickest one.”
This is not how things are in America-yet. “I am here to tell you to be very, very cautious,” Holmes said. “In Canada, there are those who are proud that our average wait time for an MRI has been reduced to one hundred days. I don’t know an American who is prepared to wait one hundred days for an MRI, and you shouldn’t have to,” she concluded.