We wish we weren’t writing this editorial. But nothing has changed.
In 2014 we covered the story of Tammy Walker, who was desperate for a life-saving double lung transplant — only she couldn’t even get onto the transplant list without being able to prove she and her family had $25,000 in the bank to pay for her aftercare.
And that didn’t mean health authorities were offering to help pay the pricetag either.
Quite the opposite.
Now, the Cowichan Valley’s Rick Alexander is in the same boat, needing a liver transplant, with time running out.
He needs to prove he has $15,500 to live on the Mainland for four months following surgery.
We wrote in a 2014 editorial, and apparently it bears repeating because the province hasn’t gotten the message, that putting a pricetag on saving someone’s life is shameful.
It’s also at odds with how our universal health care system is supposed to work.
The whole point of it is that we in Canada decided as a society that everyone deserves equal care, no matter how much money they have in their bank account. It doesn’t matter how old they are or where they live or how they contracted their illness.
It is a central moral belief that virtually everyone in this country today would tell you they still hold dear.
Yet chasms in care like this one put the lie to our health system being free and universal.
A man suffering from cirrhosis of the liver should not have to take to GoFundMe in hopes there are enough good people able to donate to save his life.
That’s why we pay the (incredibly regressive) Medical Services Plan premiums in British Columbia every year.
That our citizens are being told that their bank accounts aren’t big enough to save their lives is inexcusable and must change.
If our provincial health system is not going to offer these life-saving surgeries on Vancouver Island so that people can recover in the comfort of their own homes, then they should well pay for the huge expense faced by all those outside the Vancouver urban centre.
If a stay on the Mainland is part of the required care than it must be covered by the system, period. Medical issues aren’t supposed to bankrupt people in this country, like they do all too often in the U.S.
Walker was told during her ordeal that this is a crack in the system.
It’s much more than a crack, and deserves the full and fast attention of our political leaders.