My wife and I lived in Vancouver, British Columbia for eight months in 2004 and 2005. We bought our health insurance, as required, from the B.C. government. Our couple's premium, paid to Uncle Sam—er, well, in Canada, I guess that would be Uncle Gordon—was $96 a month. Had we been a trio—the divine Miss K didn't join us until 2006—our family premium would have been $108 a month. And that's Canadian dollars, which at the time were about four-fifths the value of Ameribucks.
Health insurance premiums just went up in B.C. Starting Jan. 1, the premium for a family of three in Vancouver, Victoria, Kamloops, etc., rose to $114 a month. That's a 5.5% increase... in five years.
If I'm reading this Kaiser Family Foundation chart correctly, health premiums in the U.S. have risen at least 22% over the same time period. Premiums rose 5% in America just last year.
Think of it: 5.5% increase in premiums over five years. Could that have anything to do with why the Canadian dollar is now at 0.95 of the American dollar? Or with why Canada hasn't had nearly has rough a recession as we have?
But what do British Columbians get for their Canadian health care dollar? A whole lot of nothing. They get no deductible, no paperwork when they enter the hospital, no bill when they leave.
Last year my family paid $300 a month for health insurance with a $7500 family deductible and a lot more restrictions than our old Canadian policy. Does anyone believe we were getting 2.8 times as much health care here as we would in Canada? We don't.
And remember: if we were paying $114 a month for health insurance, we'd have another $186 a month to pump into the local economy. Heck: we could afford to buy cereal at Madison's Sunshine!
The solution is not for my family to go back to Canada (as some of our neighbors will inevitably shout). The solution is to bring the Canadian system here, with its cost savings and greater respect for life.
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