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Monday, July 06, 2009

John Stossel on Canadian health care and free lunches.

John Stossel disagrees with President Obama's view that government can make health care cheaper and better for Americans. The truth is that free lunches, including the sorts handed out at soup kitchens, are rarely sought out for their quality and consumer-friendliness. In Stossel's words:

In England, health care is "free"—as long as you don't mind waiting. People wait so long for dentist appointments that some pull their own teeth. At any one time, half a million people are waiting to get into a British hospital. A British paper reports that one hospital tried to save money by not changing bedsheets. Instead of washing sheets, the staff was encouraged to just turn them over. 

Obama insists he is not "trying to bring about government-run healthcare."

"But government management does the same thing," says Sally Pipes of the Pacific Research Institute. "To reduce costs they'll have to ration—deny—care."

"People line up for care, some of them die. That's what happens," says Canadian doctor David Gratzer, author of The Cure. He liked Canada's government health care until he started treating patients.

"The more time I spent in the Canadian system, the more I came across people waiting for radiation therapy, waiting for the knee replacement so they could finally walk up to the second floor of their house." "You want to see your neurologist because of your stress headache? No problem! Just wait six months. You want an MRI? No problem! Free as the air! Just wait six months." 

Polls show most Canadians like their free health care, but most people aren't sick when the poll-taker calls. Canadian doctors told us the system is cracking. One complained that he can't get heart-attack victims into the ICU.

In America, people wait in emergency rooms, too, but it's much worse in Canada. If you're sick enough to be admitted, the average wait is 23 hours.

"We can't send these patients to other hospitals. Dr. Eric Letovsky told us. "Every other emergency department in the country is just as packed as we are." 

More than a million and a half Canadians say they can't find a family doctor. Some towns hold lotteries to determine who gets a doctor. In Norwood, Ontario, 20/20 videotaped a town clerk pulling the names of the lucky winners out of a lottery box. The losers must wait to see a doctor.

Shirley Healy, like many sick Canadians, came to America for surgery. Her doctor in British Columbia told her she had only a few weeks to live because a blocked artery kept her from digesting food. Yet Canadian officials called her surgery "elective." 

"The only thing elective about this surgery was I elected to live," she said.

It's true that America's partly profit-driven, partly bureaucratic system is expensive, and sometimes wasteful, but the pursuit of profit reduces waste and costs and gives the world the improvements in medicine that ease pain and save lives. 

"[America] is the country of medical innovation. This is where people come when they need treatment," Dr. Gratzer says. 

"Literally we're surrounded by medical miracles. Death by cardiovascular disease has dropped by two-thirds in the last 50 years. You've got to pay a price for that type of advancement." 

Canada and England don't pay the price because they freeload off American innovation. If America adopted their systems, we could worry less about paying for health care, but we'd get 2009-level care—forever. Government monopolies don't innovate. Profit seekers do.

We saw this in Canada, where we did find one area of medicine that offers easy access to cutting-edge technology—CT scan, endoscopy, thoracoscopy, laparoscopy, etc. It was open 24/7. Patients didn't have to wait. 

But you have to bark or meow to get that kind of treatment. Animal care is the one area of medicine that hasn't been taken over by the government. Dogs can get a CT scan in one day. For people, the waiting list is a month.

This hardly sounds like an "improvement" on the current system.

Posted by Alina on July 6, 2009 in Health care reform | Permalink


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Bang on! This is the free market issue for Canadians. If I earn money, why am I not allowed to buy extra medical services from Canadian producers? Why do I have to travel out of country for this service? At the same time, there are local providers who would be happy to serve me, but under our current bureaucratic system, they get economically punished for serving "too many" customers.

Also, what really gets me about Canada, is that my doctor knows that because I don't really pay for my service (actually I do, but indirectly...), he doesn't really have to make me happy. He "tolerates" me to get his paycheque from his real client (the managers in Victoria). He doesn't really have to pay attention to my concerns or my feelings, because he is professionally charged with keeping me happy at the lowest possible cost.

We've got to break this system apart and ASAP!

Posted by: Paul Geddes | 2009-07-06 1:34:58 PM

Canada and England don't pay the price because they freeload off American innovation.
Posted by Alina on July 6, 2009

"Freeload" off American innovation. Bwahahahahaha

Close to 50 million Americans don't have any health coverage. It's estimated another 25 million have restricted health coverage due to a pre-existing condition. That's 25% of the American population that don't have full coverage. That's something to be proud of.

Posted by: The Stig | 2009-07-06 1:46:04 PM

Alina, excellent. The American system has many faults too, but most who critisize it do so with the belief that it is truly a free market system.

Posted by: TM | 2009-07-06 2:39:45 PM

A 2007 study by Harvard University found that 25% of all US personal bankruptcies were the direct result of medical costs. How many Canadians have gone bankrupt because they couldn't pay their medical bills?

Posted by: The Stig | 2009-07-06 2:41:15 PM

In Calgary, I can't find a personal doctor. But everywhere I look, dentist offices' have "New Patients Welcome" signs. Are the educational requirements for each that different? No. One 'free', the other not. Co-incidence? I think not.

Posted by: Frank Gas | 2009-07-06 2:41:29 PM

Frank, interesting.

Stig, If that is true, then it could be because of a few factors. One could be that they just don't handle their finances as well as Canadians. It could be that they don't buy any insurance, or they don't buy enough. It could be that government interference has driven up costs significantly. Or it could be all the above. None of these factors are the fault of the free market.

Posted by: TM | 2009-07-06 3:15:54 PM

There is a difference between no insurance and no treatment. Defenders of the Canadian system constantly infer that someone who has no coverage is denied treatment. This is simply not true. As to the statistic that some 25 million don't have coverage, some are self employed who have opted out, some are young people who have deferred acquiring coverage and some self insure but the common theme here is that all of them did this through personal choice. There are some people who have pre existing conditions and their coverage is restricted. This will inflate the numbers uninsured individuals.
I would submit that the Canadian system covers everyone but denies or defers treatment to a much greater percentage that the number of uninsured in the US. The US system treats everyone but cannot collect the costs in total from those receiving treatment but the Canadian system collects all of the costs but does not provide universal treatment in a timely manner. By the way, this was at the heart of the Canadian Supreme Court decision. If the system cannot provide timely and effective treatment it should not be in a position from precluding individuals from getting coverage privately to provide said treatment.

Posted by: B | 2009-07-06 3:23:51 PM

Let me get this straight. Shirley's blocked artery was considered elective surgery while abortion on demand is not. This is the kind of bureaucratic decision making that greatly contributes to the demise of our system. Add to this that a large part of money goes to the top heavy bureaucracy and the situation gets even worse. Instead of cutting corners by closing hospitals, emergency units and allowing people to die waiting for care, eliminate the top heavy bureaucracy for a start. A better system would work like ICBC where the government is only an insurer and stays out of the running of hospitals and medical care.

B is correct about the American system.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-07-06 3:47:20 PM

Soon only the Toronto area will have any doctors at all.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-07-06 4:21:58 PM

"How many Canadians have gone bankrupt because they couldn't pay their medical bills?"

For once you're exactly right Stig. Too many Americans can't pay their bills. So the question is why. The problem is that the American system is regulated at every step. Drugs, pharmacies, hospitals, HMO's, doctors etc. These regulations are incredibly costly and of course the government limits the number of competitors with licences. So what happens to prices when you constrict supply and subject businesses to added costs?

Let's take one of your favourites, the FDA. The FDA's added costs have inflated the price of drugs. These costs are passed off to consumers who end up not being able to afford their drugs. This is the price of consumers pay for the alleged increase in safety. So while arguing ardently that the FDA is absolutely required, you then turn around and complain that 25% of Americans don't have access to health care. I find it rather ironic.

Not that our system is any better. We ration our care. Meaning we don't get the best treatments and as time goes along, will have to wait longer and longer for surgeries and treatments. Our system is insolvent and headed for disaster.

"Freeload off American innovation. Bwahahahahaha"

I'd hold the laughter if I were you. We do freeload off Americans. We cap our drug prices in this country making most drugs unprofitable in Canada. Just look at the list of drugs we don't have access to. What's worse, biotech and pharma companies, mostly for PR reasons, sell their drugs at a loss in Canada. They, of course, raise their prices in the US to compensate. What do you think will happen if ever drug prices are capped in the US? The same thing occurs in the Alberta auto insurance market. The prices for risky drivers are capped so the insurance companies raise prices on good drivers to compensate for the losses in the other business.

In the end both systems are awful. One is a communist system, the other a fascist one. Those defending either system are missing the point.

Posted by: Charles | 2009-07-06 4:56:40 PM

B is right, the numbers probably are inflated. But still, even if it's 5% or 10%, that's still too high.

Posted by: Charles | 2009-07-06 4:59:49 PM

Defenders of the Canadian system constantly infer that someone who has no coverage is denied treatment. This is simply not true.
Posted by: B | 2009-07-06 3:23:51 PM

First, I know someone in the US who was diagnosed with cancer and didn't have insurance. Her son ended up mortgaging his house to pay for the treatment. If he hadn't done that she wouldn't have got treated. Second, if you are going to get treatment without any medical insurance why would you get insurance in the first place.

Posted by: The Stig | 2009-07-06 5:31:04 PM

For the same reason you buy auto insurance despite it not paying for your oil changes, Stig. I know it's hard for you to imagine getting health care without somebody else to pay for it, but it is indeed possible.

As for everyone who has gone bankrupt to avoid death - it is clear that all of them have preferred bankruptcy to death. At least in the States you are given a choice.

Posted by: Andrew P | 2009-07-06 5:57:59 PM

"Freeload" off American innovation. Bwahahahahaha

Close to 50 million Americans don't have any health coverage. It's estimated another 25 million have restricted health coverage due to a pre-existing condition. That's 25% of the American population that don't have full coverage. That's something to be proud of.

Posted by: The Stig | 2009-07-06 1:46:04 PM

These factoids that you cite bear no relation to the issue of "freeloading," Stig.

Medical advancement occurs because there are many millionaires in the U.S. (and in the world, who are willing to travel to the U.S.) who are willing to pay anything to get the cutting-edge medical services they need. They are willing to pay the development costs for new treatments. But most importantly, they are ALLOWED to do so in the U.S. That's why America is the world leader in medical technology - they invented all of the scans, and many of the drugs, for two examples.

Other countries come along and take advantage of these American-developed technologies as soon as they have been prefected and can be bought at a cheaper cost.

The old Soviet Union did the same thing with virtually every technology the free world developed. They copied it, years or decades later, because they were incapable of developing their own technologies - at least in consumer goods and services. (Military technology, which attracted a huge proportion of communist resources, is something of an exception. Though even here, the U.S, kicked communist ass.)

Why is this "freeloading" idea so difficult to grasp? It is patently obvious, to anyone but an ideologue.

Posted by: Grant Brown | 2009-07-06 7:21:45 PM

I'm having trouble finding any reference to back up the claim that the US is the clear leader in medical advancement. They certainly have some great facilities, and some great practitioners, but I don't see evidence they lead the field in research.

Most of the big "eurekas" have come from government funded research, and quite a few have come from Canadian studies.

During the 2001 Anthrax attacks, a team of Canadian researchers from Suffield AB were brought in to study the situation. Research is something that has to be kept away from market influences.

The US is good at developing high dollar treatments, like viagra, and valium. The real big life savers, like penicillin, and polio vacinne were not American products.

Posted by: dp | 2009-07-06 7:49:04 PM

These factoids that you cite bear no relation to the issue of "freeloading," Stig.
Posted by: Grant Brown | 2009-07-06 7:21:45 PM

And did I say that they did?

Why is this "freeloading" idea so difficult to grasp? It is patently obvious, to anyone but an ideologue.
Posted by: Grant Brown | 2009-07-06 7:21:45 PM

5 of the top 7 pharmaceutical firms in the world are European not American. The largest medical diagnostic device manufacturer is Siemens, second is GE and third is Phillips. In both pharmaceuticals and diagnostic equipment Europeans lead their respective industries not the Americans. But I don't need to tell you that do I Doctor. Oops sorry you're not a real doctor.

Posted by: The Stig | 2009-07-06 8:15:14 PM

OK, let’s say for the sake of argument that Stig knows a guy who has a relative who could not get treatment unless he sold his house. I indicated there are people who have no coverage and self insure. This guy would be one of them. I think it would be helpful if we knew all of the circumstances surrounding this situation. Did he not enroll in his employer plan when it was offered? Is he self employed and decided not to secure coverage because of the premium? Does he have a pre-existing condition that made insurance unavailable?

Now let’s compare this situation. I have a friend who received surgery for bowel cancer. The surgeons ran out of theater time, closed him up without removing all of the cancer. The tumor reappeared more aggressively. He was told to go home and get his affairs in order. Instead he went to the US secured surgery on a timely basis and has the entire tumor removed. The cost was a little over $40,000. Fortunately he had the money. This happens all the time in Canada, service is denied, deferred or delayed and the individual makes the trek to the US.

In my case, I was told I had to wait three years to get into a sleep clinic to get a diagnosis for sleep apnea, a life threatening condition. I had no option if I stayed in Canada. Instead, I opted to spend my own money, go the US and have the test done there. My cost including travel was less than $2,000 but I decided my health was more important than a three year wait or two grand.

So in the example that Stig provided the guy mst likely made a decision to opt out of coverage, save the premium and take his chances. It did not work out to his advantage but that was his decision. In my case and my friends case the system failed us. This was not through any decision of ours. It is a flawed system that relies on denial of treatment to control costs without any alternative coverage. As imperfect as the US system is I would take it over this one hands down. In fact, when push came to shove, I did.

Posted by: B | 2009-07-06 11:33:42 PM

People are so worried about losing their job, coverage, denial of treatment, which seems to increase bank deposit latetly. That means stimulus funding mainly goes toward bank deposit for a rainy day increasing jobless rate. It proves again that a healthy society yields better productivity, prosperity.
It is time to 'Change' the notion of the public health as a fundamental human right and install 'a safety system for all' like all of the other industrialized nations, I think.

Posted by: hsr0601 | 2009-07-07 5:19:14 AM

The independently-funded healthcare policy research organization, The Commonwealth Fund, compared possible savings 'a health insurance exchange' could bring under three different scenarios. One would include a Medicare-like plan along with private insurance. Another would instead offer only a government-run plan with rates somewhat higher than Medicare. The final one would be private insurance with no government plan at all.
Commonwealth's study found cumulative health system savings between 2010 and 2020, compared with projected trends for that period, would range from $3.0 trillion under a Medicare-like plan along with private insurance paying providers at Medicare rates in competition with private plans, to $2.0 trillion for a public plan paying providers at rates between Medicare and private plan rates, to $1.2 trillion in the private plan-only scenario. All three options would help insure nearly all Americans, it said, with the number of uninsured dropping to about 4 million people by 2012. 'Such an exchange' would offer a central point for consumers to shop for and compare health plans.

Under the Medicare-like plan along with private insurance, all U.S. residents would be required to obtain health coverage. The plan would establish a new government-sponsored health program for people younger than age 65 who are not eligible for Medicare. More than 40 million people would be expected to enroll in the program, according to Cathy Schoen of the Commonwealth Fund.

The government-operated insurance exchange would be similar to an existing program in Massachusetts and would allow people to compare coverage offered by private insurers and the new public program. In addition, the plan supports wide adoption of health information technology, better disease prevention efforts and 'changes to the insurance payment system' that promote efficiency. Health spending would continue to increase under the plan, but at a slower rate than current projections over the next 10 years. The Commonwealth Fund said the plan would reduce annual health care spending growth from a projected 6.7% to 5.5% and save a cumulative total of about '$3 trillion' by 2020, adding a national health insurance exchange program that includes a federally managed health insurance option could potentially save $1.8 trillion more than a plan consisting only of private plans.
The group's analysis assumed other changes would also be made to the U.S. healthcare market. These include an expansion of existing government coverage and new regulations that would require insurers to cover a wider range of consumers. Hospitals and doctors would also see their revenues grow with any of the three exchanges but at a slower rate, the report said.

The proposal's advocates have argued that a government-sponsored insurance plan would offer the 46 million uninsured Americans an affordable alternative to costly private insurance, adding that It would provide a strong incentive for private plans to strealine, innovate and compete.

Thank You !

Posted by: hsr0601 | 2009-07-07 5:20:34 AM

Even though I'm the last person in the world to be defending universal healthcare in Canada, I feel I need to respond a bit here.

While service shortages are rampant in the Canadian system, this story, as many others vastly over-exaggerates the scope of the problem.

I've been unfortunate enough to have seen a lot of medical emergencies with my family and friends in the past few years, and I must be honest with you: when it has come to emergency care, I have never seen a single delay in tending to the patients I've known.

A family friend recently had a heart attack, and was by all accounts, received top notch care. Immediate care.

My wife went into labour early last year, and we were immediately admitted to Mount Sinai hospital.

My mother required emergency brain surgery to remove a tumour near her brain stem--a 14 hour surgery--that was performed at St. Michael's hospital, that was performed expediently, along with follow-up Gamma Ray Knife treatments at Toronto Western Hospital.

Now all of my experiences are anecdotal. And I'm well aware of the stories of premature babies being taken to US hospitals because of overflowing neonatal care units, and folks getting their hip replacements done in the US, or in some cases, having cancel treatments done in the US. So I don't deny any of that. We've all seen the stories. They happen. It's a problem.

But the picture painted that it's a widespread, constant, persistent problem, is a little bit of an over-exaggeration.

By all accounts, the people in the United States who die from chronic conditions because they cannot afford to maintain palliative care is often not factored in when making these comparisons.

Certainly, US hospitals must provide emergency care, regardless of ability to pay, (of which about 50% of all emergency visits are uninsured), but people with chronic conditions and wasting diseases are often unable to receivable any type of palliative care and have a much worse quality and duration of life than they would in Canada or the UK.

These stories are focused on the most dramatic examples they can find within the Canadian system. But they do not consider that, more broadly, the overall statistics: in general Canadians with chronic conditions have higher survival rates than Americans and longer life duration's.

Certainly, America has higher quality care--in general.

America has far better cancer treatment than Canada, for example. And survival rates in the US, for people who can access the top-notch services, far exceeds the Canadian cancer survival rates. However, on average, when the entire population is counted in: Canadian and American cancer survival rates are roughly the same (tables: http://www.canceradvocacy.ca/pages/stats-mortalality-fatality.htm)

If you ask me, the best argument in the United States against moving to a Canadian model, is not about a drop in quality of care for the average person. But rather, medical research will be massively encumbered. All of the cutting edge medical treatments in the US--which let's be fair, are inaccessible to large swaths of the population at current--will be slower to, and may never reach the mass market as fast as they would in the current system, if at all.

I personally think that's a compelling reason against the US moving in that direction. But that's just me.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2009-07-07 12:11:30 PM


"In both pharmaceuticals and diagnostic equipment Europeans lead their respective industries not the Americans."

Now go look at who they sell to and what the margins are like per region. Margins are much higher in the US because prices are capped in Europe.

We are free-riding off the US. The returns on invested capital in Europe are not high enough to cover the cost of capital. If pharma companies lose the US, they will have no choice but to curtail their operations world-wide.

If you want your free-ride to continue you had better hope the Americans don't socialize their healthcare system.

Posted by: Charles | 2009-07-07 12:55:12 PM

Dear hsr0601,

I don't find the study you refer to (from the Commonwealth Fund) http://www.commonwealthfund.org/ to be very believeable. Do you really think that universal coverage can reduce costs without affecting quality?

People are always coming up with ideas to provide services at better quality or lower costs, but such claims are not always true. Are such claims more likely to be true when consumers are free to shop around OR when government picks out the level of service it thinks is best?

Here in Canada our governments have tried to do the impossible in giving us the quality of health service we want when it is "free" AND at the same time not create too much of a tax rebellion. Instead of limiting us to the level of service that governments think we can afford, why not just leave us alone to buy the quality we are willing to pay for?

I'm sure that my tastes and desires in life are different from yours. I do not claim to presume that my tastes in health are better than yours. Why do you think you have a right to impose controls on the health services that I might wish to buy? Whenever you talk about "government operated" insurance, you are talking about taking away from me, my control of my life. Why would you want to continue doing this?

Posted by: Paul Geddes | 2009-07-07 1:48:55 PM

The American system is overall superior to the "stand in line to die" system. It needs the same cure for its ailments as Canada does though.
Both systems are full of first class practitioners who would love to give better service at a reasonable profit. The only thing keeping this from happening is government over regulation in both cases. When it is more profitable to be a Doctor we'll see more of them.
And then in a truly free market we'll see a competitive fee structure from people who's goal is a happy and healthy client. Until then both systems will suffer from a cancer called bureaucracy.

Posted by: The original JC | 2009-07-07 3:32:51 PM

Many young, new doctors today act as referral agents: they refer you to a specialist. They have little incentive to excel because the government pays them. The more clients they can pass through per unit of time the better they are compensated. They get paid whether the client lives, dies, gets better or gets worse. The specialist screams at the clients because of his/her work load.

Posted by: dewp | 2009-07-07 7:35:54 PM

Stig: "A 2007 study by Harvard University found that 25% of all US personal bankruptcies were the direct result of medical costs. How many Canadians have gone bankrupt because they couldn't pay their medical bills?"

Canada's personal bankruptcy rate is higher than the U.S. rate. And this study by the Fraser Institute suggests that U.S. medical bankruptcies are a myth.

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2009-07-07 8:07:16 PM

Canada's personal bankruptcy rate is higher than the U.S. rate.
Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2009-07-07 8:07:16 PM

My response is so what. The question I asked was how many Canadians have gone bankrupt due to medical costs.

A 2007 study in BusinessWeek suggested that 62% of all US bankruptcies were health related. Even if the study overstated the results by a factor of 2 it would still mean 30 % of bankruptcies were health related. Now the Fraser Institute says it's a myth. I don't believe the Fraser Institute.


Posted by: The Stig | 2009-07-07 8:26:59 PM

I think a better question is how many Canadians went dead from excessive wait times? I can always recover after bankruptcy. I can't from going dead.

Posted by: B | 2009-07-07 11:35:39 PM

Wow - this seems like one accurate webpage. I like the fact that the average wait time in Canada for those that are admitted is 23 hours. Do these people just make up their facts? I am certain they use an antedotal comment and turn it into a statistic. Complete BS. My wife is an ER nurse in Canada. She will tell you - emergencies get looked at very quickly. The average wait time for those that are admitted at her hospital (in CANADA) is less than an hour. Most 'emergencies' are seen in less than 15 minutes.

Look at what Crowder went to the ER for (http://stevencrowder.ning.com/) - 'a sore wrist'. He could have waited anywhere from 2 to 10 hours at the hospital my wife works at. But a heart attack - no wait more than 95% of the time - less than 10 minutes the rest. In the US I am guessing Crowder would get looked at before an impoverished person with a heart attack. Good for you. We do have problems - many doctors go to the US to look up rich peoples anus' and make a lot of money. That is why we have a shortage. Texas recruits in africa for nurses - stealing talent from places in the world that need it the most. Because they can pay for it. To hell with all those poor people in Africa - they can't pay to keep their talent - but the US can. Again - good for you.

Oh yeah - back to statistics. Did you know that 78% of statistics quoted by Republicans are fabricated? That's heinous!!

Posted by: Stats lover | 2009-07-21 6:27:05 AM

Stats Lover,"She will tell you - emergencies get LOOKED at very quickly. The average wait time for those that are admitted at her hospital (in CANADA) is less than an hour. Most 'emergencies' are SEEN in less than 15 minutes."
Your words are decieving. You may get looked at but do you get into surgery? The average wait time to get into surgery is 23 hours, not the average time to get looked at.

Posted by: Sane | 2009-07-21 12:14:28 PM

Stat lover, another thing, did you know 92% of people can make up stats off the top off their head? Just thought you should know because you seem to be good at it

Posted by: Sane | 2009-07-21 12:15:54 PM

the us health system is is unsustainable it is not a choice between socialised health care and free market health care, it is a choice between a sustainable health system and an inefficient adverse selection ridden quagmire. obama realises this, hes no socialist. he is a capitalist politician trying to save american industry fro this quagmire, i personally hope you keep your messed up health system as a European it would be great to see the usa brought to its needs by its greedy drug and health care companies.

Posted by: stevie | 2009-07-21 1:42:49 PM

I'm glad that some people have had such great experiences with hospitals in Canada and the stats look so good to some.
A couple of my experiences include:
- over 24 hours to have my mother admitted, during that time she never saw a doctor but at least she was put in a bed after a few hours. When a doctor finally saw her she was immediately admitted, she was very sick and dead 3 days later. It was an easily diagnosed reoccurrence of an earlier cancer. Took the hospital less than a day to find the problem after two years of varying types of testing earlier which had been mainly waiting for months on end for each test to be booked by her doctor. I hear these are 80% curable when found early, but when your doctor was prescribing laxatives after the tumour got so large her digestive system was fully blocked for the last 3 months of life there was nothing they could do. I found out as a result the government protects it's employees - there is no chance for malpractice like on US TV.
- We went to see a friend of my son who had broken his arm playing basketball. It was over 24 hours later, he was still waiting to have the arm set.
- My 80 year old father was brought in by ambulance after collapsing with a very high pulse. He waited in line for 2 hours to be triaged, despite the paramedics twice trying to queue jump him since they knew how bad he was. Several of the people in line ahead appeared to have minor cuts and the like, but I guess even in emergency Canadians must stay in the queue. He had had a stroke with complications, his heart rate was in the 140 range for that period. The tiny over worked hospital where my mom and dad went was replaced by likely the largest most modern one in the nation. Typical government though, huge fancy building but they forgot to put enough doctors and nurses inside it to meet demand.

To me a monopoly in health care is a very very dangerous idea, from both philosophical personal views.

Peter Jaworski had Dr. Chaoulli (sp?) giving a talk before the good doctor won his court case to try to get his patients care (which he won: but the governments seem to have stalled any enforcement). It is people like him who will bring change, and yes the courts should be able to overrule stupid government policy when the constitution indicates a right is violated. I recommend the ILS summer seminar to anyone healthy enough to come.

Posted by: V. M. Smith | 2009-07-21 2:09:24 PM

Left-wing Americans who use Canada as an example of the virtues of socialized medicine use a few devious techniques:

1. They'll use wait times in urban Ontario hospitals, which tend to be pretty good. Rural Sask. hospitals -- not so much.

If the U.S. implemented a Canadian-type system, I'm sure people in NYC and other major centers of Democratic power would receive timely care. I'm also sure that people living in rural Kansas would get screwed.

2. They'll attack the character of Canadians who publicly complain about the Canadian system.

3. They'll ignore the extent to which Canadian health care depends on advances made in the United States (e.g. in drug technology.) But there is reason to think Canadian-style health care in the U.S. would stifle the very advances Canadians rely on.

After I wrote an article in an American newspaper about Canadian health care, American leftists used all three techniques in an attempt to discredit it.

Silly leftists!

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2009-07-21 3:34:40 PM

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