With American Dreams in tow, I, like people all over the world, am drawn to the US, a country that provides so-called quality of life and the best living environment. But if anything has prevented me from proceeding with a plan to immigrate to America, it would be its healthcare system.
Unlike the Canadian healthcare system that everyone is treated more or less the same, the American-style system is built for the wealthy class, leaving the unemployed and working poor falling through the cracks. Currently, the most common type of health coverage in the US is the employer-provided private insurance that offers 156 million American corporate employees a decent medical insurance. But employees working for small businesses could only rely on Obamacare, which the rich-supporting Republicans were poised but failed to kill. Worse yet, they want to abolish it and slash the Medicaid, the only lifeline for the working poor.
Working for a small business in the Chinese community, I would be in the shoes of the working poor if I moved to the US. The private health insurance would become something I desire but not entitled to.
Lacking the decent private insurance coverage may have more profound social implications. It provides more than a service that helps you to put your personal health in order. It has become a status symbol, showing a privileged access to the decent health services that others don’t have, such as top ranked doctors and hospitals, the best prescription drugs and the most advanced medical technology. In addition to houses and cars, as well as salaries and job titles, the private insurance coverage would be another indicator of ones’ success. In the Chinese community that is deeply obsessed with social status, those who don’t have such a golden ticket would be judged as a total failure.
Yes, I may be able to scramble for a coverage by purchasing the private insurance through my life savings. But given the expensive premiums I paid, it is hard to imagine that I will not be falling into this deeply engrained American psyche – that healthcare is just like personal consumption and that more care is better care. In the US, doctors and hospitals treat those with insurance as cash cows. I might be prescribed with the pricy medicines that are less effective, or ordered tests that may give me – who suffers from medical examine phobia -- false positive results, adding unnecessary but substantial amount of stress to my life.
Despite various problems, Canada provides a more equal system to its citizens, leveling the playing fields for the poor working class like myself. My health card is my only ticket to my doctor’s office and my appointment to see her will be arranged based on my health conditions, rather than relying on how thick my pocket is or whether I have a corporate badge. Unlike living under the American system where I would seek a quick fix for health problems through tests and drugs, I would more focus on finding a long-term health solution to ensure I live a productive and happy life – such as a healthy diet and exercise.
Apparently, facing healthcare challenges would be a significant stressor in my assumed life in America. It makes me value more about my Canadian dream and discourages me from pursuing a life in a country that discriminates against the poor. I appreciate that Canada would not let my marginalized social status to undermine my healthcare needs, or deprive my opportunities to seek assistance when I am as sick as my rich friends.
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