23 July 2007

One of the Biggest Questions: Why Doesn't Sicko Feature Taiwan as the Shining Beacon of Health Care Instead of Canada?


As you know, I have lived in Taiwan for two years. Their health care is second to none. Like us Canadians, they have a tax-based, basically universal health care system. But it's not all public like ours. So one does not need to take the Tommy Douglas view, the die-hard leftie view. Not that I'm a die-hard anything. But, I think that's where part of the problem lies.

Taiwanese do not have to wait for hours to see a doctor. They do not have to spend tens, hundreds, thousands, nor do they have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars. How much is a visit? If you have a health card, it costs about $3.50 CAD, including the visit and the medication which is handed to you when you finish your visit. If you are a foreigner with no visa, or if you don't have your health card, it costs about $15.00 CAD, for the visit and the medication. Taiwanese pay about the same taxes per year (percentage-wise and income-wise) as we do in Canada, but what the government gives back in terms of highways, medical care, bridges, subways, trains, and so forth, far surpasses the quality and value and quantity of what we get? What is wrong with us?

For those of you who don't know, Taiwan is no longer a tiny country with a little dictatorship under Chiang Kai-Shek. It is a democracy, which despite is flaws and its laughable hockey-style parliament fights, is a healthier democracy than in the United States or Canada. They have a population of twenty three million people based on land which is about the size of Vancouver Island. We Canadians have a population of thirty million, and for some strange reason, we live on land that is second only to Russia. For some reason beyond the person-on-the-street's perspective, land in Canada is worth hundreds of times more than it's worth in Taiwan. Canadians only make slightly more income than Taiwanese. However, Taiwan is far more egalitarian than any country I've seen or read about. Doctors and big businessmen, etc. do make more than the average Taiwanese, but not as much more as in the U.S. or in Canada, and they have the same access to services, restaurants, or bars that most of us do. Sure, there are posh bars and restaurants, but if someone is lower middle class, they can easily survive a night in one of these places. Once again, I ask the question, what is wrong with Canada? I don't mention the States, because I don't live there. But I am Canadian, and I just see what incredible inefficiency there is, similar to the inefficiency of the Montreal subway system that I discussed in a previous blog.

I say this: let us open our doors incredibly wide. Let us bring half of the Taiwanese population over here to Canada, to design subways, teach Chinese, build subways, manage and administer departments and businesses, etc. Because they do it well. Because they would love Canada. Because they are a peace-loving people, just like us. Because they are smart, just like us, but in some respects (like single-mindedly on things like subways) smarter. Because we have all the room in the world. Because Taiwan's land would benefit from the lessening of strain on its environment from scooters, cars, factories, etc. Please, Government of Canada and all the Powers That Be, bring us half of Taiwan's population. Give them citizenship. We won't regret it! Welcome, Taiwanese!

So, with all this in mind, I link you to another article in the Taiwan Journal, from an American who was born in Taiwan, but whose family emigrated to the United States when she was a toddler, and who returns to gaze longingly at, among other things, the Taiwanese health care system. I don't agree with her assessment that the Taiwanese garbage and recycling system is good - but then she lives in the United States, and, I think, not even in California (which is very environment-conscious) so she she doesn't know. But she says exactly the same things I say about the health system there.

I think Canada, Britain, the United States, France, and really everyone, should imitate the Taiwanese health care system!

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