Thursday, December 23, 2010

And one year later...

And one year later...I'm a real permanent resident of Canada. Today I received my OHIP card (Ontario Health Insurance Program) for health care services. What a wonderful moment! Not only is this the last thing I was waiting for regarding my immigration, I haven't had insurance for the last 3 years. I turned 22 and got kicked off of my mom's insurance. I only worked part time so I never received any medical benefits. I was going to grad school which provided really expensive insurance that I didn't take. I figured I worked in a doctor's office, so if the worst happens, I always had doctor's around to help me. It wasn't too bad. Whenever I had to see my real doctor I just paid for it, and I think I actually saved money compared to getting real insurance. Unfortunately, I went to the doctor more often after I moved to Canada and realized how beneficial insurance can be when I had to pay for my visits as an unemployed woman.

So receiving this card was quite a wonderful moment. I finally felt safe. Anything could happen to me, and I could see a doctor. This might not mean much to other Canadians, but coming from America and working in medical billing, I understand what a privilege it is to receive free health care. The card came stuck on a piece of paper. I looked at the paper over and over again. It just said here is your card, please notify us if your address changes. I was expecting a list of restrictions. Could I really go see any doctor? The ER? Walk In? Specialists? I'm not sure yet...I think I may need a referral for specialists. But I know many people walk into the ER like it is the walk in clinic. I recently heard a story where a woman died in the ER while waiting to be seen because the wait time was so long, and no one was available to tend to her.

I guess there are advantages and disadvantages to both systems. There are not many doctors in Canada because many of them migrate to the US where doctors get paid more. The salaries in Canada are lower because most of the medical expenses are paid by the government. Waiting times are long, and doctors' skills may not be allocated properly since even a little cold is treating by the ER doctors. Health care is very expensive in the US but we don't have to wait very long. There must be a happy medium between the two.

I'm still very excited about receiving my card. At least I have some option. Not only do I need a lot of services, it will be interesting to compare the two systems as well.

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