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The PJ Tatler

by
Stephen Kruiser

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September 25, 2013 - 2:00 pm

Well, if he’s upsetting them

When you’re being forced to endure another rabid Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) soliloquy on Obamacare’s threat to human freedom, it’s easy to forget how absurd our health-care debate seems to the rest of the civilized world. That’s why it’s bracing to check in with red-blooded, high testosterone capitalists north of the border in Canada — business leaders who love Canada’s single-payer system (a regime far to the “left” of Obamacare) and see it as perfectly consistent with free market capitalism.

This is a game that is rather easy to play: you go find six Canadians who love the health care system there and I’ll find six who had to wait three months for a procedure they could have scheduled, had done and healed from in three weeks here. Usually when it is bad up there, it’s not bad for the guy getting sinus surgery, it is usually bad for the guy who needs a new kidney.

Still, the real point is that, like all redistributive social fantasies, it really only works well when there is a less socialist option to flee to. If every country on Earth went socialist tomorrow, someone would find a way to colonize the moon and make it a tax haven before the government got to all of his/her capital.

One of the main reasons the non-socialist alternatives need to be kept chugging in medicine is innovation. The author of this article throws in a line I’m sure he wasn’t aware sort of unravels his “Ain’t it awesome?” thesis (emphasis mine and misplaced apostrophe WaPo‘s).

“The whole single payer thing just makes sense,” Martin adds. “You don’t spend time trying to shift costs.” It’s hardly perfect: a few folks go to the United States to jump the line on certain elective procedures, and Canada, like others, free rides on American’s investment in pharmaceutical innovation (funded by higher U.S. drug prices). But, he adds, “I literally have a hard time thinking of what would be better than a single-payer system.”

Yes, you can have newer, better and life-saving drugs because those heartless American bastards aren’t letting the government completely monkey with the price of pharmaceuticals, thereby financially incentivizing innovation.

There is also a dig at the top of the piece about “the rest of the civilized world” and government involvement in health care. What most who say things like this never take into account is that the military protection of most of these areas is partially underwritten by the United States.

But that’s another conversation and this is a blog post, not a book.

Stephen Kruiser is a professional comedian and writer who has also been a conservative political activist for over two decades. A co-founder of the first Los Angeles Tea Party, Kruiser often speaks to grassroots groups around America and has had the great honor of traveling around the world entertaining U.S. troops.

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All Comments   (9)
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Just an addendum on the constitutional thing: So, what we have in Canada isn't ObamaCare. It's RomneyCare. Also, "far to the left of Obamacare" is a laugh, if by "left" you mean "centralized bureaucratic control". Have fun Yanks, now that Health Care has just become a service provided by your friendly neighbourhood IRS.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well ... I happen to be a (ahem) Canadian. I can tell you that we are plenty dissatisfied. I just got my appointment to see a specialist for next Tuesday (which I've waited for 4 months for) rescheduled -- they tell me there's nothing prior to the new year. A friend's shoulder is completely disabled and his arm inflamed -- he'll be in for a "consultation" in 12 months. My wife passed away of cancer and (the specialists agreed with my assessment on this ) her chances at survival the second round of chemo were severely harmed by (a) Month-long delays in getting urgent tests done and (b) our centrally regulated system that only allowed certain treatment pathways, when there was a relatively good success rate for a different pathway used in the U.S., but illegal in Canada as a "cost saving measure".

But I digress. Consider the phrase, "Canada’s single-payer system (a regime far to the “left” of Obamacare)"

Hmmm. Where to start?

First: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS "Canada's [health care] system", single-payer or not. That's because Canada does NOT have a NATIONAL health care system, not now, and not ever unless the constitution changes. That's because Health is a PROVINCIAL constitutional mandate -- just as in the U.S. it is a STATE mandate. The only difference is Canada appears to respect its own constitution more than the current U.S. regime.

Single payer is convenient, but it is also opaque. Lack of transparency means lack of control over one's own services. It also puts the government (or other single payer) in the driver's seat. I happen to take an extremely expensive arthritis medicine; it's the only thing that works for me. For about a decade after it was approved (upon successful medical trials) in the U.S. it was illegal in my province. Note: I don't say it was UNCOVERED -- it was ILLEGAL. Not because it had not been established as safe and effective by the trials ... that was ok. It was because the government was unwilling to pay for it. That single payer became a gatekeeper to medicine, for non-medical reasons. Bit of a poison pill, that.

You might say (after all common sense would dictate), why not decriminalize it so that -- at least -- those able to benefit could choose to spend their own hard-earned money on it, at no cost to the system? You might say this. Because you might think it's the obvious thing.

But you'd think wrong. Because under single payer health care the single most unthinkable idea is anything that could be described as "two-tiered medicine". What is "two-tiered medicine", you ask? It is any service which is more freely available to those of financial means than those without. In other words, if they made it legal, then rich buggers like me (ha! if only!) could get treated and "the poor" wouldn't.

There's the devil in the details. Because the government isn't willing to pay for it, NOBODY can have it. Because that would be unfair.

Incidentally, it has also been suggested that such services could be offered for direct pay at HIGHER rates than they cost, so that "cue-jumpers" could thereby subsidize the system for others by paying a premium, thus reducing the single-payer cost and injecting more capital for investment and facilities. But whenever this possibility is raised, it is soundly refuted by shrill chants of "Two Tier! Two Tier! We don't want none of your Two Tier Medicine!" And you get herded outta town and (metaphorically) strung up.

Next time someone talks about how much more expensive health care is in the U.S. versus Canada consider: How expensive would Canadian care be, if Canadians were simply PERMITTED to pay for the services they want instead of either forbidden from doing so and forced into line, or simply not having the option? Also, many of our people "of means" actually do pay, and get those services. They also pay for plane fare to the U.S. (where they pay and get the services) and back again. So like it or not, we've GOT two-tiered medicine. And the cost gets calculated as part of the U.S. overall cost of medicine, not the Canadian cost.

Careful what you wish for.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
It occurs to me that most of the "civilized world" that uses government health care even remotely effectively (Canada, Switzerland, Finland, etc.) have microscopic economies and tiny populations compared to the United States. Could it be that the concept just economically doesn't scale up to Superpower size?
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
The reason that the average Canadian doesn't understand the opposition to Obamacare is that as bad as it is it is better than what they have.

You also have to remember that if Obama wrecks the US healthcare system Canadians won't have any place to go when they can treated in Canada.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
As an expat Canadian, I've been making that point since day one.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Billionaires have it better.

(Alberta versus Ontario)
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
“I literally have a hard time thinking of what would be better than a single-payer system.”

I'm sure he can't. The dairy cow has no concept that life could be better.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
And they're always a little confused when the big truck with the ramp pulls into the farm yard.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
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