April 05, 2009

Canada ensures access to care

I find it unfortunate that Cory Franklin would attempt to use a tragic, singular, high-profile case to indict the entire Canadian health care system ("Was Canada's health care the problem?" Commentary, March 27).

Natasha Richardson died in a tragic set of circumstances, and there is little evidence to leap to the grand conclusion that if her accident had occurred in the United States she would have survived.

But as long as we are comparing the systems, allow me to discuss the tragic death in February 2007 of Deamonte Driver. He was a 12-year-old from Prince George's County who died from a simple tooth infection. He was also one of the more than 45 million U.S. residents who lacked access to health care.

His simple infection, one that would have been considered minor and easily treatable in the Canadian system, was allowed to fester until it migrated to his brain and eventually took his life.

The United States has the most sophisticated health care options in the world, as long as you have the means to get access to those options.

But all too often, people here lose access to care through a simple turn in the economy (e.g. job loss), the inability to pay huge sums of money for adequate coverage or some other twist of fate.

Given the option of a system that provides good, affordable health care to all or one that acts as if denying access to the millions of Deamonte Drivers out there is an acceptable price to pay, I would choose the former. And I suspect that more than 45 million uninsured U.S. residents feel the same way.

Kenneth Packard, Bel Air

Simple ski helmet could save lives

Cory Franklin ponders whether Natasha Richardson could have survived if she had sustained her head injury in the U.S. instead of Canada and correctly points out the differences in access to specialized trauma care in the United States and Canada ("Was Canada's health care the problem?" Commentary, March 27).

However, the only solutions he offers for Canada are more widely available CT scanners and helicopter transport.

But I think the obvious is being ignored here: Ms. Richardson would likely be alive today if she had been wearing a $100 ski helmet. Had she worn such a helmet, Ms. Richardson could have survived such a low-energy fall in almost any location, regardless of the available medical care.

Dr. J. Mark Blue, Westminster

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