Letter: U.S. needs universal, national health insurance

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I was impressed by the logic and enthusiasm for universal health care expressed by Edgar Allen Beem in his “Medicare for All” column.

As a Canadian, born in the throes of the Great Depression of the 1930s, I grew up in the days when you got a bill from the doctor who visited your home, or from a hospital if and when you recovered sufficiently from an illness. I cheered when Tommy Douglas, the mildly left-wing premier of Saskatchewan, brought in Canada’s first Medicare program in 1947, and again in 1966, when publicly funded, universal national health insurance became law across Canada. Since then I’ve benefited from the system through several illnesses, without having to spend a cent of my own money for treatment.

Sure, wait times are an issue in some parts of Canada, but I’ve never had to wait more than several days for an appointment with my family doctor, or more than a couple of months to see a specialist. I can often get a diagnostic test from a medical clinic the same day, and not have to worry about the cost, because I know it’s covered by Medicare. While drugs, dental care and optometry are not included, I’ve been fortunate enough to have employer-paid coverage through my job.

I agree completely with Beem’s conclusion that America needs a publicly financed national health program, paid for by taxes as it is in Canada and most other civilized nations. Obamacare was a good start. I’m sure you in the States will get there eventually, though probably not in my lifetime (I’m 87).

John C. Ward
Scarborough, Ontario