Private Answers in a Publicly Funded System?


bright cardiac cardiology care
Photo by Pixabay on

One simple phone call and two business days later, I was driving across the city to my much-needed MRI appointment.  I bet you are thinking, Wow–Canada must have a super efficient healthcare system.  Impressive!  That’s the place to go for help.  I would be of the same mindset if I were reading this.  Almost too good to be true, right?!  Would you be even more impressed if I told you that the very next day my doctor’s office called with my results asking me to come in the next afternoon to go over the scan.  I mean, talk about service–now, that’s the way to get things done in a timely fashion!  Never mind that along the way I was given the golden treatment, including everything from the cheerful receptionists to the supportive technicians and very thorough radiologist’s report to the free water bottle and day-long parking pass at the end of my imaging session.  If you were telling me this story, I would hardly believe you, and I would have an awful lot of questions with the first one being, ‘How did you manage to get that type of fast, friendly care and tell me EXACTLY what to do if I am in a similar situation?’.

If you have read some of my most recent blogs, you already have some insight as to where I am going with this and if you haven’t tuned in before, then there is a good chance that you have a pretty good hypothesis based on the title of this post. Indeed my friends, some extra dollars out of your savings, along with an opportunity for private health options, and you, too, could receive some of the fastest and best care that you have ever received in your whole life.  The questions are:  Is it right?  Is it ethical?  Is it fair?  To be honest, I am still grappling with all of it two weeks later.

Am I happy to be paying out-of pocket for something that really should be done through our public health system which we are all contributing our fair share of taxes to?  No, I am not.  Not at all, in fact.  However, as I’ve said before, there was NO way that I was going to continue to live with the extreme pain of my ankle.  I have already endured enough over the years, and this past one especially has left me physically and emotionally drained.  Living in constant fear and chronic pain, along with increasing immobility is not really living, and I had to do something about it even though it came at a personal cost to me.  Conversely, am I happy that the private testing was available as an option and that it quickly gave me the answers that I needed?  Yes, very much!  Three short days after my phone call to the MRI clinic, my doctor could finally explain the reason behind my pain–‘IT’ now had a name, and better yet, a resolution; albeit, a bit of a stressful one in that it requires surgery, but at least there is a hopeful fix.

What bothered me most as I left the MRI place last week is that I was only one of many who needed answers and got them.  What about everyone else?  The others in the nicely decorated waiting room of the conveniently situated clinic might also have received their long-awaited news, but beyond that two hundred square-foot space, we all know that there are thousands of others whose names are on a list a mile-long and they, too, need their turn.  For some people, it might even be a life-or-death turn at a scan that could help reveal disease/conditions and possible treatments BEFORE its too late.  What a prospect to think about!  So, as I drove away from the Imaging Centre after my testing was completed, I was left with both a good feeling and a bad feeling.  Good about my decision, but also guilty–not because I was negating the importance of my own situation, but because I could empathize with others for whom private health is simply out of the question forcing them to ‘make-do’ with their pain/symptoms.

As a University-educated person, I was and am fully aware that we live in a tiered society of varying classes.  Undoubtedly, most of us live in places around the globe where homelessness and poverty are issues, and the wealthy just seem to get wealthier, but to see a whole other side to one’s livelihood so blatantly with your own eyes in a way that you have never before seen was a bit unsettling.  I mean, why me?  Why should I get a turn before someone else?  Regardless of our ‘lot in life’, we all deserve to be treated equally, do we not?  Does it really come down to the notion that if you can afford it, you get the medical help that you need when you need it, and if you can’t, then sorry about your luck, get in line.  Once again, I knew that degrees of inequity existed and have from the start, but I now view it through a different lens.  Quite frankly,  it seems beyond ridiculous that in a North American country, which has publicly-funded programs through taxpayers like me, we can’t accommodate more needs.  Please understand that when I say what I’m saying, I am not knocking the hard-working, healthcare professionals in our public system who face daily shortages of time, money and resources to do what they need to do to provide efficient care.  Instead, it is the time and time again choices of our self-serving government members who are to blame for that.  Too bad, tragic actually, that poorly-run politics and healthcare go hand-in-hand.  Sadly, a person’s fate can, though not always thankfully, come down to the dollars and cents of the haves and the have-nots.  Hmmm….

To end on a more positive note, a dear friend of mind helped to ease my mind somewhat when she pointed out that my willingness to pay for a private scan likely meant that someone else on the public list got moved up a number.  Not enough to quell the ethical indifferences which continually re-play themselves in the back of my mind, but enough to make me feel mildly better in that my choice hopefully meant a chance at answers for someone else.  Fingers crossed!!!


3 thoughts on “Private Answers in a Publicly Funded System?

  1. I understand how you feel regarding the guilt, after I had my open heart surgery I joined the British Heart foundation forum to see if there were any other people who had been through open heart surgery to have a tumour removed because it’s very rare that they get noticed before they can kill you.

    What I found on the site were lots of people who’s surgery had been cancelled at the last moment due to urgent life threatening cases like mine. I felt guilty and even apologised to one man because I had jumped up the list.

    Honestly Sue if I had the money I would have gone private I would have had the same surgeon who does have private patients at another hospital near the hospital I was in. I wouldn’t have felt guilty because I wouldn’t have taken up someone’s place in the NHS because in fact I would have made a space available!

    My only issue with private healthcare is that in the real world it shouldn’t happen. People who have these amazing skills should be cherished and paid what they deserve through the funds that we as individuals have paid over the many years.

    We have an amazing NHS in England that is struggling like crazy with fantastic people doing the best they can with the resources they’re given.

    So don’t feel guilt because you spent your hard earned money on making your life bearable Sue ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate you sharing your story and thoughts. Thank goodness your tumour was noticed & promptly removed. Clearly, life-threatening cases should jump the list & you need not give it a second thought.

      I believe that our system does a good job of urgent care as well. That’s partly why orthopaedic cases get pushed back—our cases aren’t life-threatening. The problem is that they are very debilitating. My friend’s mother-in-law also has a torn tendon and she went through the system—18 months later and she is finally getting her surgery. Her foot is so damaged now that the surgery will be way more complicated. Mine is in 3 days, thankfully, done again privately.

      Liked by 1 person

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