The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

That Horrible Canadian Health Insurance System

Went and renewed my Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) card today. Stepped into the OHIP office at 8:30, an office close enough to where I live that I could walk to it . A receptionist looked at my forms and documentation (a phone bill to show my address, my passport to show a signature with a picture, my old health card and a one page form.) She gave me a number, I sat down and was called less than 5 minutes later. The agent looked over my papers, chided me for not renewing it sooner, took a new picture of me, and gave me a letter to use along with my old health card so I can get care till I receive my new card in the mail.

Total elapsed time? Less than 15 minutes.

Now, to be fair, this is a lot better than my experience with OHIP in the early 2000’s when I was upgraded from a non-picture card to a picture card. That experience was a nightmare—long waits, an office almost 45 minutes from where I lived, unclear instructions so that I had to come back a second time, and a hostile and overworked agent. But in general my experiences with the OHIP bureaucracy, including the time I moved provinces twice in less than six months, theoretically making me covered by neither province, have been nothing but positive. In the case where I was covered by no one, a manager quickly made the right decision, on the spot: I had to be covered by someone, I was now living in Ontario, and therefore Ontario would cover me.

Simplicity is next to Godliness when it comes to bureaucracy, and from a patient’s perspective, the Canadian health care system tends to be simplicity itself.


The Reason Insurance Company Execs aren’t Scared of the Public Option


There’s a phrase for modern PR techniques…


  1. Reality is a hard sell these days in a country like the US where xenophobia, racism and dogmatism can be ignited to drown out common sense. But I sure appreciate your reports of the reality.

  2. BDBlue

    Actually, the only people it’s a hard sell to are the politicians and their corporate overlords. The American people support much more radical change. This idea that they’d never go for a Canadian style system is simply marketing bullshit dreamed up in Versailles. See here for an example from that liberal bastion Montana.

    The only thing the American people are guilty of is believing politicians. You’d think by now, we’d know better.

  3. You were very brave …

    Seriously, I’ve waited longer, far longer, for a new driver’s license.

  4. paul lukasiak

    will you marry me, so I can move to canada and get health insurance?

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