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3 Weird Things About the U.S. This Pro-American Canadian Doesn’t Get

America: You know I love you, right? But we have to talk...

by
Kathy Shaidle

Bio

August 27, 2012 - 7:00 am
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#3 — Our health care is weird, but so is yours

Don’t listen to Michael Moore. He gets Canada wrong, just as he does everything else.

Canadians fund the developed world’s fifth most expensive universal access health insurance system. (…)

Given Canada spends so much relative to its economy, you might expect that Canadians receive world-class access to health care. Alas, the evidence is otherwise.

Consider waiting lists. In 2011, the median wait time from general practitioner referral to treatment by a specialist was 19 weeks in Canada. Despite substantial increases in both health spending and federal cash transfers to the provinces over the past 15 years, the 2011 wait time was 60 per cent longer than the 1997 median wait time of 11.9 weeks. In 2011, patients waited more than double the 9.3 weeks they would have waited in 1993. Our indicators are getting worse, not better.

NOTE: Those “waiting lists” aren’t an “unintended consequence” or “side effect” of the system. Rationing IS the system. If they can keep you waiting so long you eventually drop dead, you’ve done the system a favor.

In other words, my cat can get an MRI faster than I can, and so can any American reading this.

But just to review:

My MRI is “free” but takes me months to get. You get yours the next day — but have to pay who knows what for it and the treatment your doctor will subsequently prescribe.

Is either extreme ideal?

The solution for Canada — and the U.S. — is a system that lets those who can afford it to go to private clinics, thereby relieving the burden placed on the public system (which would remain in place, albeit drastically reformed.)

The government wouldn’t make us buy insurance — but if we didn’t, we’d be you-know-what outta luck, just like you are if your uninsured house or business burns down. You made a foolish choice about what to spend your money on instead, and now you’re paying for it.

By the way: Canada does have a tiny number of private clinics. They are used mostly by pro hockey players, labor union leaders — and politicians (especially socialists) who publicly praise Canada’s as “the best health care system in the world,” knowing they risk losing their seat if they don’t keep mouthing that fact-free phrase.

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