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Letter: Canada is a great model for American health care

Canada is a great model for American health care

Most of us believe health care should be a right rather than a privilege. Universal, public funded health care, (the NY Health Act), overwhelmingly approved three times by the New York Assembly has, however, been blocked even from debate by the Republican-controlled Senate since “taxes would skyrocket.”

Really? We can easily verify or debunk this belief with a comparison right across the Niagara River. For 52 years, Canadians have had tax-funded universal health insurance, without deductibles, networks or copays, (similar to what the NY Health Act proposes). So how do taxes compare?

My wife and I live in Amherst with Medicare A, B, D and a Medicare supplement. My brother and his wife, also retired seniors, live just 30 miles across Lake Ontario from Olcott and we’re both middle-class pensioners with some investment income. During a recent phone call, he mentioned having just taken two hours to file his much simpler tax return, while I’d taken days to compile our 1099s, receipts and documents for our CPA to sort and prepare. I asked what percentage of income they paid. Combining their total incomes and taxes, (federal and provincial), their effective overall rate was 8.27 percent.

I was shocked! How could they not be paying more than we do? Our 2015 and 2016 returns show our effective rate was 17.9 percent and 17.1 percent, respectively. This year’s should be similar. We’re actually paying double what my brother in Ontario pays. So just who is being crushed by high taxes?

Furthermore, they have no additional health care expenses, while last year we spent $7,483.95 out of pocket for premiums, deductibles, copays and drugs – and we’re on Medicare! Our property taxes are also double theirs due to the 85 percent of our Erie County taxes that fund Medicaid – an obligation that doesn’t even exist in Canada since everyone is already covered.

In fairness, Canada’s tax rates are significantly more progressive, but the fear that the NY Health Act would require a huge tax increase is obviously nonsense. In fact, including private health insurance premiums, copays and deductibles in the comparison, 98 percent of New Yorkers would save significantly. Myth busted!

Richard Clements

Williamsville

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