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Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast

Recently I saw the movie Alice in Wonderland. It had been a very long time since I read the book, so some aspects of the movie were a surprise.

One of the things Alice’s father teaches her is the practice of thinking up six impossible things before breakfast each day. Her job then is to try and find ways to make these things possible. What a great idea!

I have mentioned in previous blogs some of my experiences in connecting with friends from long ago on Facebook. Overall, this has been a fun and rewarding experience although I have learned a lot about how different my perspective is after having lived in Canada.

Truly, one of the gifts of my experience living in Canada has been access to universal healthcare. If you speak to any American ex-pat, they’ll same the same thing, even if the system has warts. Frankly, when I listen to the politicians and media folk south of the border pan it, I get very frustrated. This is mostly because the comments they seem to make are either horribly misinformed or politically motivated.

One of the unwritten rules of living in Canada (and especially if you are in human resources) is that you don’t talk about the subjects of politics or religion among friends or at work. We live in a highly diverse community, and the expectation is that we are respectful of others and we have to steer clear of things that might engage others in a negative way.

In all my years of living here, I can count on one hand the number of times someone has tried to engage me in terms of politics or religion. Interesting enough, these seem to be primary topics discussed on Facebook.

Call me naïve, but up until healthcare reform in the U.S. took hold, I never thought of the right of access to healthcare as being a political issue. Starting last summer, after reading several negative Facebook posts from friends about universal health care or a public option, I decided to write a Facebook note which laid out the pros, cons and costs of universal healthcare in Canada. I wrote it from the perspective of someone who has accessed healthcare in both countries. I talked about how long I have had to wait for service, the quality of doctors, and how much is paid for healthcare. There were a few U.S. readers, and there were a few friends who posted that they’d appreciated reading my note and were pleasantly surprised by the contents. Some of the things my U.S. readers were particularly interested in is how pre-existing conditions are handled inside group plans, wait times for certain services (www.ontariowaittimes.ca) and the difference between the things OHIP covers and things you’d pay for out of pocket or might be covered by a private plan.

I have been surprised however by the number of people who have written posts on their Facebook page to suggest that universal healthcare is the root of all evil; pushed by those with socialist agenda. It has been said by people I know that the U.S. is full of lazy people, illegal immigrants, and others who do not deserve access to healthcare that is “free”. It has been said that universal healthcare is downright un-American, and a product of an idealized liberal plot to overthrow capitalism and the American way. It has been said that the United States simply cannot afford to provide healthcare for everyone. My friends aren’t unique–read a U.S. newspaper or watch a U.S. news channel and you’ll hear the same thing. One day I was so frustrated that I put a post on my page which said, “I am saddened by reading posts this a.m. about how this Bill will cause the U.S. to convert to socialism. Please defriend me if you don’t like my posts. Flawed Bill or not, I believe this is an important 1st step toward the long-term health of the U.S., particularly economically.” Thankfully, no one defriended me for this, but I was surprised that no one did. This gives me hope.

So, my number one impossible thing to address for this week is convincing those I know in the U.S. that universal healthcare will NOT convert the country to socialism, and further it will also be good for the U.S. economy and “the people” generally. I am challenged in that I do believe the healthcare reform bill is flawed and it will be difficult to control costs, however, it is a big statement toward the future direction of the nation. I know I am supposed to have five more impossible things, but this is so huge, that I believe it is worth the six all-in-one.

To the readers of this blog who have relevant experience with the positives and the flaws of universal healthcare and can give real examples, I want to hear from you. Perhaps armed with a facts and personal experiences we can help universal healthcare overcome its bad reputation.

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