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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Opinion: Health Care

I am a very physically active person. I enjoy Martial Arts and outdoor sports. Both have a high risk for injury.  I have had a few minor injuries to my shoulders and ankles, all which I have been able to mend through physiotherapy and rest.  Only once have I suffered a serious injury as a result of sports because I was able to seek medical attention and advice this injury has healed rather well and causes me little problem.

When I was ten years old I stretched the ligaments in my right knee while snowboarding. I had to be rushed to the emergency room and given x-rays to assess the severity of my injury. Nothing was broken and all of the ligaments were intact. I had to rest my knee for a few weeks and was not able to practice Karate or any other rigorous sports for three to four months. I was also given a set of exercises by the doctor to help strengthen my knee and instructed to wear a knee brace until my knee became strong enough to support its self again.

Because I live in Canada all of my doctors visits and x-rays were covered under a basic insurance plan that everyone in British Columbia must subscribe to. As this plan is subscribed to by everyone in the province there is room for people of lower incomes to be subsidized, allowing them the same basic access to health care as everyone else.

Last summer I was visiting the United States and made friends with a man named Matt. He was also very active and had played a lot of team sports while in high school. He told me how he had had many minor injuries through out school but was never able to visit the doctor for treatment, as it was simply too expensive. This amazed me as I had visited the doctor numerous times throughout my life and cost was never a concern, even though I did not come from a wealthy family. 

In the two years before I came to Japan I had visited the doctor a minimum of ten times. I had at least 3 x-rays, one to asses an ankle injury, one to see if I had been injured after falling of my bike and once to make sure that my lungs were healthy and that I was fit to participate in the JET program.

Without being able to visit the doctor and have x-rays or other examinations, I may not have been able to treat my injuries and other ailments in an informed and active manor. With out proper information it would be likely that many of my injuries would have been re-injured or that I would never have fully recovered from some of them. I am very proud of the access to health care we have in Canada and am constantly shocked when I find out others do not have the same access. It is very disappointing for me to think that people in some of the richest countries in the world, particularly the USA, do not have access to basic health care and are often faced to consider their financial situation before seeking basic medical advice.

Get a second opinion.

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