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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

British Columbia Health Insurance Family Premium Rises to $114 Per Month

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.


  1. Steve Sibson1/05/2010 11:33 AM


    You forgot to point out that the $114 is not the entire cost of health care in Canada. Taxpayers are paying the rest.

    You also forgot how American insurance premiums include what the American government doesn't pay on those covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and Indian Health Services.

    You also forgoet about those Candadians who come to America because they are sick and tired of dying and/or hurting while waiting in line in Canada.

  2. While we impatiently wait to do nothing, we can take action our our own. The Community Center in Madison is sponsoring a weight loss challenge with the help of KJAM. It's an awesome way to start out the new year.

    You can join the Black Studios team if you would like. Come on Rod, we'll take you too.

    Check it our HERE.

  3. Steve is correct here. From the Wiki:


    In the Canadian system, the government pays 70% while the individual pays 30%. So to compare total spending it would be ~$345 per month. Though, the Canadian plan has no deductible and unlimited coverage, so it could be argued that it provides substantial and superior benefits. If we were to compare apples to apples we would need to get a quote from a US insurance company for a plan with out any deductible/co-pays. How much more that would cost above your previous US plan, I have no idea.

  4. How about these apples, then, Tony: when I worked at Montrose in 2006, family coverage through Sioux Valley/Sanford for the three of us would have cost over $1000 a month. If I recall correctly, that would have gotten us a $250 deductible. So, under the Canadian plan, if $108 was 30% of the full cost, we could've expected another $360 in taxes. That's $468 for coverage that's still more comprehenseive, requires less paperwork, isn't tied to my job, and couldn't be taken away for pre-existing conditions. Which apple would you bite?

  5. Michael, you're too late! I have a team this year, the "Center Street Chubs", and we're serious about losing weight and becoming less of a person than we were last year. Thanks for the offer, though.

    As for Canadian Health Care, cheaper isn't always better, although I'd take their 5% increase over Wellmark's 25% increase that just happened on January 1st with their short term medical plan. OUCH! The short term plan covers folks between jobs and they're the least able to pay another 25% in one year...Ten times the rate of inflation.

  6. Steve Sibson1/05/2010 4:15 PM

    Tony & Cory,

    Now how much of the $1,000 premuim is due to cost shifts from Medicare, Medicaid, and Indian Health Services? How much is due to illegal immigrants? How much is Canada saving by having wait lists?

    Are you do willing to change America's tax break by moving them away from employers and give them to indiviuals? Allow the individual to buy across state lines.

    Hey, I would even think a plan would become available that is half as much, but you have to wait 10 times longer for elective procedures. That would make it like the Canadian plan, except we all are not forced into a one size fit all government monopoly.

  7. So Rod, does that mean we will be seeing you as the Community Center?

  8. Yes Mike, I'm digging out my Speedo, hitting the pool, working the weights and walking like crazy. Well, I haven't actually done any of those things yet, but I'm agressively planning to get ready. Hope to see you up there.

  9. "Rod Goeman" + "Speedo"

    I don't know if that will help my Google juice or earn me a "This site may harm your computer" designation.

  10. Note to self: Send One Dozen Donuts to Rod's office!

  11. Rod, your cousin Jon is showing you up in the workout department. When we went in for our training session with Lisa Chase, Jon was Running from the parking lot right behind us.

    When will we see you up there?

    I'm not just picking on you. There are many of my friends that could be much healthier if they would take the time and effort along with a little money to become better, faster, stronger.

  12. Dan O'Neill1/06/2010 10:08 PM

    The author leaves out plenty of other costs concerning the funding of Canadian healthcare. In Ontario or other similar Canadian provinces on 110K of income you will be taxed 22.5K from the federal government, 10K from the provincial government and have a 13% sales tax. Then you pay the $104 dollars for healthcare premium. After all the other taxes I can see way $104 would seem cheap.

  13. The author (me) leaves out all sort of other information too about costs in the American system, like the deficit spending we've used to cover our Medicare prescription drug benefit and the thousands of preventable deaths each year in America due to lack of health insurance. (I've also addresses those points in numerous past posts on health care in the U.S. and Canada; I invite you to read further.) The main point here is not just that B.C.'s health insurance costs are relatively low (and no one has addressed my comparison above of the BC insurance plus tax burden versus a $1000+/month U.S. family policy) but that somehow, B.C. has increased its premiums less than 6% over five years. Amazing!

  14. Steve Sibson1/07/2010 7:37 AM

    "preventable deaths each year in America due to lack of health insurance"

    Again that is an out right lie. Here is reality; We had an half million dollar medical costs in Davison County on one who had no insurance. Yes, the person died and had no health insurance. But still got treatment. So there are other resaons for those who die and are not covered by health insurance. Stop playing funny games with numbers Cory. It is you that is the phony one, not Curd.

    And remember your own phony fear-mongering when you falsely attack the Tea Party movement.


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