June 11, 2011 in New Brunswick, Canada; the Maengs - a Korean family that was being deported - were granted the right to stay. Their deportation orders had been set for the end of June 2011. The cause? Their seizure disordered autistic son was considered too expensive for Canada's government funded medical system. http://timestranscript.canadaeast.com/front/article/1414506
For several years the Maengs were (and now still are) legal, taxpaying immigrants that relocated to Canada in search of top medical care for their son Sung-Joo. Now 15, Sung-Joo was originally diagnosed with autism and epilepsy at age 5. Sung-Joo had the condition when he was first admitted into the country and yet earlier this month Citizenship and Immigration denied an extension to the family's temporary resident permit because of Sung-Joo's medical and education expenses.
Fortunately, it appears that media attention and provincial responsiveness turned deportation due to financial restraints into acceptance due to public pressure.
A public outcry preceded Sue Stultz's, Moncton West MLA and Minister of Social Development, ability to get a provincial letter of financial support for the Maengs. National press had picked up the story and a rally of supporters was set for the same day that the Maeng family's deportation orders were lifted, and visas issued.
I am what is fondly referred to as a Camerican: Canadian citizen living in the United States of America. Perhaps that's why when most of my friends were surprised to see "Canadians acting so American', I was not.
In my opinion, North American justice and fairness are often related to one's willingness to step into the limelight and fight for it in a public popularity contest. The problem with fighting anything, is that the fighting becomes the job. In other words, fighting for the legal right to healthcare can become so time consuming that there is no time left to care for the health of the child you are fighting for. Fortunately, at least in so far as immigration status is concerned, for the Maengs, that part of the battle is over.
I work internationally with autism. I observe as relocated families fight this fight in search of the best place to raise their autistic child quite frequently. In fact, it seems to be a global theme. I am witness to family after family as they recreate their lives in an effort to help their children. Many of those people have traveled -- at least for some portion of their lives - to North America in search of better services. For example, a young girl I work with in Italy moved to New York for two years in order to get her seizures under control and her behavioral program in place before going back home. The father and mother lived in separate worlds, sacrificing much, because they wanted to improve their daughter's quality of life. Going back home, in their case to Italy, was a viable choice. One they made freely because the therapy they set up was comprised of people willing to travel. Fortunately, they could afford the airfare.
Like my Italian family, the Maeng family had been willing to relocate, to do whatever it took for their son to be most helped. Even if that meant stepping into the limelight to gain public support. Luckily the public was interested. And so they won this portion of their son's health care battle. Not because Canadian Immigration lived up to its Canadian reputation of being supportive of difference and ethnically open. No, the decision to deport them had been financially based. Just as the decision to allow them to stay was popularity based, which of course influences power and finance.
What makes this story especially interesting to me is my Camerican status as the mom of several autistic sons who relocated in search of something better for her boys. In my case, I was trying to get away from government control and gain the freedom to home school. In the process of immigrating I was first issued a temporary permit into the United States, just as the Maeng's were issued temporary status into Canada. Even though I came to America with four autistic and potentially expensive children, they were never an issue. This is probably because, at that time, there was no health care system to fight. Thus, I got the treatment that an overwhelmed, trying really hard mom of eight, five disabled and four autistic, deserved: I got the freedom to solve. First, I jumped through all the necessary legal hoops. Then, I was invited into the country and told: There you go. Now figure it out. And I was (and am) grateful.
So now you know the back-story to my feelings about Obama Care. I am leery to say the least. When I lived in Canada I liked having a health care system. Living here I have chosen to be uninsured. I like that too.
Before Obama health care I never really thought so much about government run public policy in regards to health care. Though Americans asked me enviously about it a lot, thinking I could just flee home to Canada if I ever was in need. I doubted if that was true but never really looked into the details. Probably because I never wanted to go back to Canada. So, as regards to health care, I didn't have that much to say. I either lived someplace that had it or I didn't.
Now, because of the Maeng's situation, Obama Health care and my enjoyment over being free to choose "uninsured' I am thinking about it.
Here are my thoughts:
I don't have health insurance because I prefer prevention to illness. Given the recent economic crisis and how it has affected me, I have been forced to choose between the two. Health Care doesn't cover any of the alternative therapies, supplements and/or diets I choose for my family. Mainstream medicine didn't have much to offer my autistic sons, so it seems financially foolish to continue paying for the insurance I was using. My monthly bills were exorbitant. I was paying for the possibility of eventual illness via insurance and also paying to prevent that eventual illness by shopping at the health food store, which came straight out of pocket. When I looked at the details I saw that I wasn't spending more than $150.00 per month on doctors and/or medicine but my insurance bill was $350.00 a month. My deductible was five thousand a year and since I never met the deductible I wasn't eligible for much of a reduction at the Doctors office. I also noticed that my children and I visited the doctor for small things that could have been easily handled at home. I think that behavior was my way of justifying paying for insurance in the first place. Of course I never wanted to see any of the doctors on my insurance company's list so in the end I was paying the entire bill and not justifying anything. Once I examined the details, I realized that having insurance cost me more than not having it did. It seemed silly so I cancelled it all. Suddenly I could afford my medical by not paying for it. Okay, an emergency could be a problem. But I'd rather invest my money and have a chance at using it if there is no emergency, than pay for the emergency I may feel obliged to have. So as it turns out, immigration, education and health care, are all about money. Even the president agrees.
According to Obama the need to have health care put in place is also financially driven.