Former health insurance exec says the industry pushes lies about Canada's healthcare system

If you've heard that Canada's health system is an example of socialist failure, where wait times are outrageous and people swarm to the U.S. to get the healthcare they really need, you can probably thank Wendell Potter for that.

Potter spent two decades working in the health insurance industry, first for Humana, and then for Cigna. He was head of corporate communications for the latter when he had a crisis of conscience in 2008 and quit. Since then, he has been on a mission to revamp the healthcare system in the U.S. He has also served as a whistleblower, exposing behind-the-scenes corruption and manipulation in the health insurance industry.

Which brings us to Canada.

Potter posted a thread on Twitter this week explaining how he had personally been a part of the push to make Canada's system look bad so that Americans would think our system was superior.


He wrote:

"Amid America's #COVID19 disaster, I must come clean about a lie I spread as a health insurance exec: We spent big $$ to push the idea that Canada's single-payer system was awful & the U.S. system much better. It was a lie & the nations' COVID responses prove it.

The truth: Canada's doing much better than the U.S. when it comes to #COVID19 testing & treatment. On a per capita basis, more Canadians are being tested & fewer getting sick & dying. This may shock Americans who still believe the lies I told about the Canadian health care system.

Here's the truth: Our industry PR & lobbying group, AHIP, supplied my colleagues & me with cherry-picked data & anecdotes to make people think Canadians wait endlessly for their care. It's a lie & I'll always regret the disservice I did to folks on both sides of the border.

In Canada, no one gets turned away from doctors due to lack of funds. In America, exorbitant bills are a defining feature of the system. What about quality of care? When it comes to #COVID19, there's been ~ 21 deaths per 100,000 in Canada, versus 34 per 100,000 in the U.S.

Remember, in Canada there are no co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance ever. Care is free at the point of service. And those laid off in Canada don't face the worry of losing their health insurance. In the U.S., millions are losing their jobs & coverage, and scared to death.

You learn a lot about a healthcare system when a global crisis hits & different nations have different results. Canada's single-payer system is saving lives. The U.S. profit-driven corporate model is failing.

I'll regret slandering Canada's system for the rest of my life."

Potter also added a video explaining a bit more about why Canada has the U.S. beat so badly in our concurrent fights against COVID-19.

Canadians who have experience with both systems chimed in in the comments on Potter's thread, sharing how baffled they were when they first heard how terrible their home country's health system was supposed to be.

There are some things that the U.S. medical system does very well. But for the things most people need, our system sucks compared to most other developed nations.

Not to mention, Canada's health outcomes are better than ours.

And the amount of money we pay for our subpar healthcare experiences is horrifying.

While a few people pointed out that Canada does sometimes have wait times for non-emergency procedures, the truth is that the same thing happens sometimes in the U.S. as well. Depending on where you are and what specialists are available and what demand is, you can end up waiting months for a non-emergency surgery or other procedure here too.

And the trade-off for waiting a bit longer is that you don't have to worry about whether or not you're going to be able to afford it. Yes, please.

And for those who say, "They pay out the nose in taxes!" well, no, not really. Comparing tax structures between countries is like comparing apples to sandwiches, but an analysis from Investopedia and another from CNBC show the difference in what most of us pay in taxes is really not that drastic. And what Canadians get for the taxes they pay results in a much higher quality of life and overall measure of happiness than what we live with in the U.S.

Seriously, it's time. Show us how it's done, Canada. We're ready.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
True

This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

Keep Reading Show less

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

Keep Reading Show less
True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."