You know what’s really wrong with the health care system?
Hospital parking fees.
Yeah, sure, there are the matters of waiting lists for surgery, lack of available beds and nursing shortages, but c’mon, we’re Canadians, and so brush that stuff off like we do long winters and crooked politicians in Montreal. But having surgery performed on your wallet in the parking lot? Now that’s gonna leave a scar.
In fact, according to a CBC Marketplace poll, nearly three-quarters of respondents said parking costs added stress to their hospital visits, and in some cases led them to skip appointments or visits entirely.
Now, we’re no doctor (much to the chagrin of our wife’s parents), but we’ve heard that stress is the No. 1 cause of illness, and that hospital tests are one of the most accurate ways to identify and therefore treat illness. So if fees are compounding the first point and compromising the second, it would seem that the Hospital Powers That Be need to spend a little time in their own facility. In the psych ward, where delusional thinking is best dealt with.
(We’d suggest they pay the parking lot a visit, but hospital CEOs probably couldn’t find it with a map, since many enjoy a free stall in a prime spot near the entrance. To be fair, though, it should be pointed out that their pay – an average ranging from $175,000 to $294,000 annually in Ontario – barely covers the price tag of a BMW, let alone the cost of parking it.)
We’ve all got our own horror stories about the parking police – stories that, if we didn’t know better, sound as though hospitals are trying to create business by inducing cardiac arrest at the toll booth.
There’s the frantic couple rushing a sick kid to Emergency who forget to plug the meter, and come out hours later to find a ticket on the windshield. The panicky dad who races to get his lady to the maternity ward but forgets to bring change, thereby giving her the opportunity to practice the cursing she will use once they get in the delivery room. And let’s not forget the friends who, in a much-appreciated visit to raise the spirits of a pal, got dinged $20 for caring.
But the sickest story we’ve heard in a while belongs to 82-year-old Richmond, B.C. widow Anne Graham. She shelled out a whopping $1,800 in parking and other fees while visiting the beds of both her son and her husband, both of whom passed away.
Think about that. It cost an elderly woman hundreds of dollars to lose her loved ones. It’s enough to make you ill.
Our health care system should help people in need, not victimize them. A simple cure here would be the abolishment of paid parking around emergency wards, an end to payment for those having tests done, and heavily discounted rates for those who make frequent visits to their loved ones.
The lost revenue can be made up through taxation, spreading the burden among us all. That’s a small price to pay to right a wrong in a system that’s clearly harmful to our health.