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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Heath care & "The Third Way"

"Is Canada's health care system in trouble or is it just fine as it is? I contend that you would have to be wearing blinders and ear plugs to believe that we can continue under the system as it now exists.
Before change is contemplated it would be worthwhile to identify the faults that have led the system to it's present sorry state. Unacceptable waiting times and costs away out of line when compared to results should be the main targets for improvement. Adding money into health care budgets has been done over and over again without achieving any real change.
The one thing that has not been tried in the forty or more years of the system in this country is the magic of the free market and competition. What is also lacking is any freedom of choice by the consumer of the services. All the European nations that provide medical services akin to what is provided in Canada have moved to public/private cooperation. Users are able to purchase insurance to meet their needs if they wish to supplement the services provided by the public system. The naysayers in this country trumpet loud warnings that such changes would lead to the complete collapse of the public system. There is no evidence of this occurring in Europe. Those naysayers seem to be more committed to maintaining an ideologically pure socialist system than they are in maintaining the heath of the population. I say bring on the "Third Way" also and enhance the freedom of choice for the individual."
The debate on Ralph Klein's modest proposals is raging in the Edmonton Journal. It is pretty much a one sided debate with the Journal's seeming proclivity for views from the left, 29 against his changes and 2 for them by one readers counting. My letter, as pasted above, would make that 3 for the Third Way, but I only got my letter published by sending in a completely changed letter one week after my first attempt. I have just written a shorter letter to the Edmonton Sun which I will paste as a comment if it gets published and if this post is still alive.

Posted by Bob Wood on March 9, 2006 | Permalink


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“faults that have led the system to this sorry state”

Monopolies don’t work.
But this is a double monopoly.
A single payer system,
run by unions.

It’s hard to come up with a worse combination.

Having said that, it’s more accurately an oligopoly, there are private outlets, used by PMPM, but they are hush, hush; that is tier 2.
Workman’s Compensation is tier 3.
Those that go to the US, Tier 4.

Lots of tiers, we just don’t talk about them.

Posted by: nomdenet | 2006-03-09 8:35:40 PM

"The naysayers in this country trumpet loud warnings that such changes would lead to the complete collapse of the public system. There is no evidence of this occurring in Europe."

Yes there is.

"The bottom line is that generational imbalances across the eurozone gravely threaten the single currency's medium-term viability. The choice for nearly all EMU members is between tax hikes on a scale unprecedented in peacetime or drastic government spending cuts. Given the political weakness of most national governments, it is hard to see either choice being made. But the only other conceivable possibility - a sharp and unanticipated rise in inflation, which "solved" some fiscal crises in the past-also seems improbable, at least within EMU's constraints."

Welfare programs always collapse, because they take something which is valuable, personal and private, and attempt to make it free and public.

Is there a third way? Consider this: you cannot offer identical or even substantially similar services or products side-by-side, in one queue "for free" and in the other queue costing a large amount of money. If the services are comparable then almost everybody will get in the "free" queue and demand to be served. But as soon as all those people jump into the "free queue", the service will have a long waiting list, or it will be rationed, or its quality will be cut in order to serve more people more quicker. A balance will eventually be reached between the slowness and awfulness of the free service, weighed against the great cost of the private service. No lasting improvement can ever be made, because anytime the free service gets a little better, the queues will quickly fill up again as people are lured out of the private system. This is exactly what has happened in the public housing projects which exist side by side with the private housing market in most of our cities.

The poor people - on whose behalf the welfare programs were created in the first place - will of course be stuck in the queue for the crappy, but free services. There's your third way for you - accomplishes the exact opposite of the original intention, while at the same time wasting the maximum possible amount of wealth and human potential on a wasteful, ineffective and doomed attempt to repeal the laws of economics.

Posted by: Justzumgai | 2006-03-09 8:53:41 PM

In other words, nomdenet, the actions of consumers reveal that the system, as we publicly outline it - doesn't work.

The major problem is that our 'Tommy Douglas' universal health care system was set up within a structure that ensures its economic failure. The reasons are simple. The system has a guaranteed source of money - the gov't via taxpayers. It does not market its goods and services. Therefore, it has no need to reduce costs or enhance services.
Second, its employees are all unionized.

A union's only function is to make money for itself as a union. The management of a union requires union-members; their dues pay the union managers! And, a union then begins its ONLY actions, which are to increase, increase, increase salaries and benefits. That increases the union manager's salaries and benefits as well.
But- the fact is - that this increase slips those costs to the consumer..who has to pay more for goods and services..so that the union employees can receive their higher salaries...

All that happens - is that the health care system gets locked into its being transformed into a huge employment structure. It has NOTHING to do with providing health care.
Because so much of the money is spent on employee salaries and benefits - the health care system can't afford more employees. It can't afford more equipment; it can't afford better equipment. It spirals downward.

And - people move into other levels, as pointed out by nomdenet. They use private health care. But they don't talk about it, because we must maintain the Tommy Douglas sanctity of Universal Health Care. And, we go to the US to get treatment, rather than wait and die up here. But, we don't talk about it.

Etc, etc.

So- as usual, Canadians live in a Cave, with their Fictional Tales..and refuse to confront reality and do something about it!!

Posted by: ET | 2006-03-09 9:02:52 PM

I am a former user of the health care system. It has been 7 years since my last visit. By looking after my own health and going to a Naturapath and using herbs/supplements I have gotten off of 4 medications. I have also not stayed a single day in hospital since. I was in for weeks at a time even a month or more at one point.

In 10 years I have saved taxpayers up to one hundred thousand dollars or more(no more month long stays in the hospital). Imagine if we all did this.
I may need a doctor one day for emergency procedures or for diagnostics (which is all they are really useful for anyway) but I will avoid them for all other issues if I can and go preventative with whatever knowledge I have.

Posted by: St. John | 2006-03-09 9:24:05 PM

We aren't all hypochondriacs Sister John.

It's good you saved all those hundreds of thousands though. You never know when the healthcare workers are going to strike for a raise or we could always blow it on more immigrants.

Posted by: Speller | 2006-03-09 9:55:23 PM

That's St. John, Miss-speller!

I was no hypochondriac such as your pathetic self.

Sorry to want to save the taxpayers some money, all the more for your welfare check, Miss speller.

Posted by: St. John | 2006-03-10 10:26:39 AM

The elephant in the room is “rationing”, it’s unavoidable.

The public system rations. I had a hypothetical discussion (I pray, i don't need bypass) with my doctor that if I had bypass surgery there is a little $50 gizmo they can put in that regulates the heart and improves the odds. The Dr said “try to have you’re your surgery at the beginning of the government fiscal year when we have those in stock, at the end of the year the budgets run out”. I said well then, I’ll just buy my own and bring it.
He replied “can’t, that would be unequal to those that can’t buy their own”.

That’s rationing in the public system, but in the end even a private system will get rationed by our wallets.

We spend the same amount in Canada as the US does on the public system,
About 6% of GDP
But we only spend 3% privately whereas the US spends 9%.
A total of 9% and growing in Canada, a total of 15% and growing in the USA.
Theirs is higher for a few reasons, the chief one being that they are less capped or less rationed. Ours is going to go through the roof with baby boomers.
The question is: do you want your Health taxes going to CUPE to do expensive janitor work or would you prefer to have that little $50 gizmo.

Some politician, maybe it will be the CPC’s Tony Clement, is going to have to explain in very simple language where we are going with Health Care and what our choices are.

Rationing, equality, the invisible hand of capitalism making things efficient … all these things go into a discussion on Health. It’s complicated. That’s why politicians try to avoid it.

Posted by: nomdenet | 2006-03-10 11:24:20 AM

By all means let's talk about the laws of economics and Universal Health Care (that great Orwellian phrase!). If the price of a service or product decreases, demand tends to increase. When the price falls to zero- as in "free" health care- the demand becomes infinite. That is why government-paid "free" health care will always result in waiting times and rationing. No amount of taxation will ever catch up with the demand for a free service.

More fundamentally, though, is the immorality of denying citizens their inelianable right to life. A society that routinely sacrifices their own citizens by letting them die rather that purchase the health care they need in a free marketplace, is simply a totalitarian one.

The fear of a free marketplace for health care services from the Left does not originate from their concern that it will fail and cause people to waste their money, but from their panic over the fact that it might succeed!

Once multispecialty clinics open up in Canada- staffed by some of the best doctors in the world, offering Major Medical and Catastrophic health benefits for a reasonable yearly premium, Canadians will flock to them in large numbers, causing the government run system to look like the horrible scam it is.

Posted by: Roger Menendez, MD | 2006-03-10 3:44:01 PM

I agree St .John '. ; The sad part is , all it takes is the avoidance of a few key macros [ hydrogenated oils , high glycemic index carbs, preservative laden junk food ] and any one can be reasonably healthy . Unfortunately the pharma- medical- advertising mafia holds a Svengali - like trance over the sheeple. Save your advice because you will rarely be thanked for your concerns. It`s human nature. There is big money at stake here and Edward Bernais is smiling in his grave.
Re the ' health system ' , you can be reasonably sure that when the masses start demanding free health care and education , communism [ actually a Rockerfellian bogeyman ] , correction socialism is right around the corner. Oh that`s right , it`s here now.

Posted by: Daveh | 2006-03-10 5:47:02 PM

Some facts from our experience:
Living internationally with private insurance, my wife was hospitalized three times.
1996 Foothils in Calgary at $3,000. a day
1997 Strathfield Private in Sydney, Australia at $440. per day
1998 Liverpool Public in Sydney, Australia at $675. per day
Tells me that private can be more efficient and cost effective.

Posted by: Ben | 2006-03-11 12:50:52 PM

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