Eh, Canada, Hate to Butt In, Butt….

Interesting article here.

In a nutshell, it’s an article about a recent development in the enchanted land of The Great White North.

Apparently our friends in The People’s Republic of Cannuckistan passed a law that basically says that airlines can’t charge an extra fare on domestic flights for passengers who require an extra seat because they need to be accompanied by a personal attendant due to a medical condition, or for folks whose butts are too big to fit in a regular airline seat.  This new law is affectionately known as the “One-Person, One-Fare” rule.

This left the airlines in a bit of a quandry.  How to determine who qualifies for a free second seat due to their obesity?

They basically had three choices.

1.  They could simply allow passengers to determine on their own if they need an extra seat due to their large posterior.  Of course this would no doubt result in nearly everyone demanding an extra seat.

2.  The airline could make the determination about who qualifies.  Of course this would leave the airline open to all sorts of accusations of discrimation and possible legal action.

or…..

3.  They could pass the buck (or loonie if you prefer) and require that large passengers get an exam by their doctor who then gets to fill out a medical certificate proving they have a large ass.  The patient can then submit the certificate to the airline for review prior to their flight.

Guess which one they chose…….go ahead, guess.

Surprisingly, Canada’s docs aren’t too pleased with this.

What?  You mean doctors aren’t ecstatic at the prospect of having to fill out another retarded form????  Surely you jest!

The medical certificate from Air Canada even includes a handy diagram to show doctors how to measure the width of a giant Canadian ass (derriere in Quebec, I suppose).

Spokepeople for the Canadian Medical Association “weighed in” with their opinion, which essentially is that they are annoyed at the airlines for dumping this on them, without even so much as an “Eh doc, you mind if we act like total hosers and send our fatties to you so you can slap a tape-measure on their ass and fill out a form?  That’s cool, eh?”

The doctors point out (rightfully) that this is a waste of medical resources.   They point out that it is unfair to the patients to make them pay for a doctor visit to have their butt measured.  They point out that it doesn’t take a medical education to properly weild a tape measure.  They point out that it already is difficult to get an appointment to see a doctor in Canada for non-urgent problems and that wait times for such appointments are pretty long.  Requiring this medical certificate will only exacerbate this problem.

Overall, I’m on the doctors side here.  Doctors are already swamped with an endless deluge of similarly stupid forms and paperwork, all of which takes them away from the actual patients.

The article did leave me with a couple of questions however.

1.  In Canada’s Utopian (or Universal if you prefer) Health Care system, will doctors be able to charge a fee of some sort to be reimbursed for their time in completing this silly excercise?  If so, who will they charge?  If they charge the patient, doesn’t that sort of go against the whole spirit of the “One-Person, One-Fare” rule?  If they charge the airlines or the government, will they actually get paid?  Or is this simply another in the multitude of unfunded mandates foisted upon doctors?

2.   All I ever hear from the pro universal health care crowd is how awesome the system in Canaduh is.  I’m constantly told about how there are like 47 million uninsured in the U.S. (about 15% of the U.S. population), but in awesome Canaduh, everyone is covered and taken care of and it’s all just super-duper groovy!  How does this jive with the following excerpts from the linked article?

“It would have been good if they met with us first,” said Dr. Briane Sharfstein, a spokesperson for the 68,000-member CMA. Sharfstein said doctors throughout Canada are “disappointed” and “concerned” that the airlines didn’t take the time to consult with the organization before deciding to “offload the decision about whether or not someone can fit into a specific seat on an airplane.”

Sharfstein explained that while Canada’s universal health insurance system provides free health care services to all residents, the reality is that patients often wait months to see their doctor. More than 5 million Canadians don’t even have a family doctor, he said.

“We think the majority of individuals seeking a second seat will be individuals who are simply too large to fit into a single airplane seat,” Sharfstein said. “That determination doesn’t require a visit to the doctor. It requires a tape measure.”

Dr. Arya Sharma, an obesity specialist in Canada who also weighed in with some ideas for the airlines, said airlines are passing the buck. “You don’t need to go to medical school to figure out if someone can fit into an airline seat,” Sharma said.

Besides being a burden on doctors, Sharma contends the new system puts an undue burden on travelers. Travelers will have to pay out-of-pocket expenses for a doctor’s visit — and they’ll have to wait. “Most people, for a non-acute medical condition, would have to wait weeks or months before they can see a doctor,” Sharma said. “In my clinic right now the waiting time is approximately one year.”

 

Not to nitpick, but 5 million Canadians represents about 15% of the Canadian population. So about the same percentage of folks who are uninsured in the U.S. don’t have a family doctor in Canada.

And about those multi-month long waiting times to get a doctors appointment in Canada, I’m not trying to brag or anything but, if someone calls DrSam’s clinic for an appointment, way down here in backwards redneck Mississippi, we can usually get them in that day or the next day at the latest.

Anyway, interesting article.

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