THE COST OF BEING SICK by Brad Fisher
Most healthy people do not realize or understand the perils caregivers and patients must deal with on a day to day basis. You think that if you get sick you will be cared for. Here in Canada we have a socialized system of medicine. Don’t think for a minute we aren’t paying for this medical because we have very high taxes and these taxes pay for our medical. While our system is socialized patients with very complex needs are not having these needs all met. Our daughter has a life threatening condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 1. While our daughter is physically immobile she has 110% cognitive function and can communicate but this article is not about my daughter’s illness as much as it is about medical suppliers and the system.
Since our daughter’s diagnosis I have noticed the incredible cost of medical devices for children with life threatening disease and other children with disabilities. What gets me is how prices of equipment and supplies don’t get any less expensive even while our dollar keeps rising close to parity with the U.S. dollar. I’ve noticed just looking on line that the cost of items is in many cases 30-60% less than suppliers are selling them for here in Canada. Because I was once in the retail business I completely understand how retail operations purchase from manufacturers and distributers. I know that items a retailer purchases cost less when they purchase in bulk or just have an account with a supplier or manufacturer. Then retailers turn around and sell items at the manufacturers suggested retail price which can often times be 40 to over 100 percent more than the retailer paid for these items. I understand people have to make money that is what business is all about.
What about these businesses that supply the government or in our case our socialized medicine? Why is it that the government who routinely does not cover 100 percent of the cost of items for our daughter, that have to be additionally funded by charities, cost more than when our dollar was 40 percent less than the U.S. dollar. Why does our government or socialized medical prefer to pay a local supplier sometimes 50% more for an item because they want service vs. paying 50% less from a supplier in the states thereby not forcing families to seek additional funding from charities to purchase equipment for their children!
If we look deeply into the business practices of our provincial government purchasing from local medical suppliers I guarantee we will uncover graft, over billing, and cheating on every level. I see medical suppliers as vermin feeding off profits made from sales to families with terminally ill children not caring if the item exceeds the programs allowable funding knowing full well charities will cover the rest. Yes I believe in business and profits but when government health programs are not paying the full share of the cost of equipment thereby making the public pick up the tab over and above the taxes we pay through donations to charities you have to stop and ask why? Who is in charge? Why is there no accountability? Why is the government denying equipment and other services or only funding portions of them? Why is the government paying too much for products?
I have done some comparison shopping recently on a piece of medical equipment our daughter needs and found the government could save almost $2000.00 purchasing the item in the U.S. The argument the government has is what if we need to service the item. Even if the item had to be serviced and paid for it would still be less expensive than buying from local retailers not taking the high dollar into account. Government medical contracts do not create competitive pricing. The lack of competition in Canada has bred an environment of suppliers feeding off the people that need the most help. It’s time for our government to step in and oversee purchases made and what these suppliers are doing so that children with life threatening illness are not denied equipment needed to improve their quality of life. It’s just not right that people need to go to charities to raise money to buy medical equipment while medical suppliers laugh all the way to the bank on the backs of children with life threatening illnesses, the elderly and the challenged. Shame on you medical suppliers; How do you look your children in the eyes knowing your pricing may get a child denied a much needed piece of equipment that has a life threatening illness and shame on the government employees not standing up to bad policy!! Shame, shame, shame on you!