I was once a believer in socialized medicine. As a Canadian, I had soaked up the belief that government-run health care was truly compassionate. What I knew about American health care was unappealing: high expenses and lots of uninsured people.The whole thing is recommended reading.
My health care prejudices crumbled on the way to a medical school class. On a subzero Winnipeg morning in 1997, I cut across the hospital emergency room to shave a few minutes off my frigid commute.
Swinging open the door, I stepped into a nightmare: the ER overflowed with elderly people on stretchers, waiting for admission. Some, it turned out, had waited five days. The air stank with sweat and urine. Right then, I began to reconsider everything that I thought I knew about Canadian health care.
I soon discovered that the problems went well beyond overcrowded ERs. Patients had to wait for practically any diagnostic test or procedure, such as the man with persistent pain from a hernia operation whom we referred to a pain clinic — with a three-year wait list; or the woman with breast cancer who needed to wait four months for radiation therapy, when the standard of care was four weeks.
Government researchers now note that more than 1.5 million Ontarians (or 12% of that province's population) can't find family physicians. Health officials in one Nova Scotia community actually resorted to a lottery to determine who'd get a doctor's appointment.
These problems are not unique to Canada — they characterize all government-run health care systems.
Part of the high cost of American health care has to do with the fact that uninsured people are typically treated more quickly in our emergency rooms than are many Canadians in their "free" hospitals. Uninsured Americans have not paid exorbitant taxes, and may never have paid health care insurance premiums. Their care actually is free, for them.
Dr. Jacques Chaoulli's epiphany inspired a crusade which eventually persuaded Canada's Supreme Court to strike down a Quebec law banning private insurance for services covered under the government's health care system. Basically, Quebec's statist restriction of health services was judged "cruel and unusual."
In a 4-3 decision, the panel of seven justices said banning private insurance for a list of services ranging from MRI tests to cataract surgery was unconstitutional under the Quebec Charter of Rights, given that the public system has failed to guarantee patients access to those services in a timely way.It isn't just Quebec, of course, as previous TOC posts regarding Canada's health care system (with which, FWIW, I had over 20 years experience) help demonstrate.
As a result of delays in receiving tests and surgeries, patients have suffered and even died in some cases, justices Beverley McLachlin, Jack Major, Michel Bastarache and Marie Deschamps found for the majority.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
...every other advanced country
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Waiting for Trudot
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Lessons from Canada
Friday, December 15, 200
Socialized health care choices
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Socialist health care
Friday, May 05, 2006
Free health care
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
The cost of free health care
Saturday, April 22, 2006
Universal Health Care Update
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Universal Health Care
Friday, January 13, 2006
Things we can learn from Canada
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Social Change in the United States: A Canadian anal -ysis
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Ob-Gyns with 10 Month Waiting Lists
Thursday, July 14, 2005
You don't always get what you pay for
Monday, July 11, 2005
Brave New World meets Animal Farm
Thursday, June 30, 2005
Medicine Cabinet Minister
Friday, June 17, 2005
45 Million Myths Continued
Thursday, June 16, 2005
45 Million Myths
Monday, April 04, 2005
Canadian Health Care. You'll Get Old Just Waiting.