SecondStreet.org is a Canadian-based think tank named after the most common street name in Canada, and for good reason. The organization devotes its energies documenting the stories of Canadians from coast to coast and how government decisions, like the country’s single payer health care system, impact lives.
Mackenzie’s story is one example. Although the Canadian Health Care System foots the entire bill for hip surgery, it can take months, maybe years to schedule one. Mackenzie went from being an active senior citizen to someone who spends nearly every day in an apartment managing pain.
No Free Lunch
SecondStreet.org reminds Canadians there is nothing free about the country’s health care. Canadians pay for the program through higher taxes and time waiting and looking for care. Canada bans private health care options, so Canadians often leave the country for medical treatment. Secondstreet.org has been documenting this “medical tourism” on its website.
Using government data, SecondStreet.org determined Canadian citizens took 217,500 trips outside the country for health care in 2017 alone.
SecondStreet.org president, Colin Craig says his group’s website and Facebook page, featuring articles and videos, could be useful to Americans who think socialized medicine is the answer to U.S. health care problems.
“Politicians like Bernie Sanders never seem to discuss Canada’s long waiting lists when advocating for the U.S. to copy our health care system, so our material can be a real eye opener for some,” said Craig.
Stories can be a useful tool in trying to understand health care, says Craig. “Health care discourse in Canada often features lots of large statistics,” Craig said. “We’re trying to tell the stories behind the numbers, like what it’s like to wait a year for hip surgery or travel abroad to get surgery on your back.”
Craig says health care is a major concern in Canada, so SecondStreet.org is also devoting time to researching and educating the public about alternative health models.
“Ultimately, we hope Canadians understand that there are much better health care models,” Craig said. “[And perhaps] American visitors to our sites will see our system is not worth copying.”
AnneMarie Schieber ([email protected]) is managing editor of Health Care News.