Tuesday, March 15, 2011

An important difference between Canada and the US

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Warning: this post may contain political content.

Thanks to original author Gery Woelfel, via ESPN/TrueHoop, there are at least two articles going around about Kim Hughes's pancreatic cancer, and how - when his employer, the Clippers, wouldn't pay for it - some of the players on his team got together and covered his whole bill:
"I contacted the Clippers about medical coverage and they said the surgery wouldn't be covered," Hughes said. "I said, ‘Are you kidding me?' And they said if they did it for one person, they'd have to do for everybody else."

When Dunleavy learned the Clippers wouldn't cover the cost of Hughes' surgery, he mentioned it to his players.

Several of them, including now Milwaukee Bucks forward Corey Maggette, Chris Kaman, Elton Brand and Marko Jaric, were taken aback by the news and decided to offer their assistance.

Henry Abbott of TrueHoop lists some of the reactions he had upon learning this news:
  • "add yet another well-deserved log to the bonfire of owner Donald Sterling's reputation"
  • "think like a financial planner, and use it as a reminder to plan for health care needs"
  • "But honestly, my main thought is not anything but joy. Nice stinking going, Corey Maggette. Hats off to you Chris Kaman, Elton Brand and Marko Jaric. We talk about these NBA players all the time, but we don't know them very well....Combined with Hughes' evident recovery from the cancer, this story is nothing but happy."

I have a thought of my own: how come anyone - let alone an employed, reasonably well-off individual like Kim Hughes - needs this sort of help to pay their own medical bills? This isn't tiddlywinks, either; this was an immediately life-threatening condition that was likely to kill Hughes if he hadn't acted sooner. How can the United States claim to offer the best health care in the world if no one can afford it? How can the US even pretend to be a modern country when things like this happen?

As a Canadian, I am required by law to point out the benefits of universal health care (just kidding). But truly, stuff like this reminds me how backwards our southern neighbours are on a lot of issues. Right now, the US can't even agree on a way of providing insurance coverage for those who can't afford it, let alone talk about universal health care coverage for all of its citizens. And did I mention that US health care is also about twice as expensive as Canadian health care?

And that is my main thought when I think about this story. If the US health care system wasn't broken, this event would never have happened and this story wouldn't exist.

We now return to regularly scheduled (basketball) programming.

 - Devin


  1. Hopefully, though, the quality of American healthcare should be one of the highest in the world, right?

  2. V.Money:

    Let's say (for argument's sake) that the quality of American health care is the best/near best in the world. You'll have a hard time finding stats to back that up, as far as I can tell, but let's suppose that's true. Even if American health care is the best in the world, if a person like Kim Hughes - an assistant coach of an NBA team - can't afford the coverage that will save his life, then the quality of care is irrelevant.

    If only the super-rich can afford life-saving treatments, your country is in for a very bumpy ride - especially as its demographics trend towards an increasingly older population.