Single-Payer Health Care: A View From The Insideby Doug Mataconis
A Canadian Doctor provides a fascinating, and for anyone who cares about freedom, troubling, inside view of the kind of medical system that Hillary, Barack, and Michael Moore would like to bring to America:
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.
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.
But that’s just the beginning, consider this:
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 â€” they characterize all government-run health care systems.
Consider the recent British controversy over a cancer patient who tried to get an appointment with a specialist, only to have it canceled â€” 48 times. More than 1 million Britons must wait for some type of care, with 200,000 in line for longer than six months. In France, the supply of doctors is so limited that during an August 2003 heat wave â€” when many doctors were on vacation and hospitals were stretched beyond capacity â€” 15,000 elderly citizens died. Across Europe, state-of-the-art drugs aren’t available. And so on.
And yet, here in the United States, we are being told by the elites that it is the Canadian, and British, and European, health care systems that we need to emulate.
I don’t know about you, but if the cost of government run health care is having to wait for necessary surgery and people dying because there aren’t enough hospital beds, something you never hear of happening in the United States by the way, then I, for one, am not willing to pay the price.
Unfortunately, the media, aided and abetted by the Democratic candidates for President and propagandists like Michael Moore, never tell you about the costs of government run health care. And, they also never tell you about just how good we have it here:
One often-heard argument, voiced by the New York Times’ Paul Krugman and others, is that America lags behind other countries in crude health outcomes. But such outcomes reflect a mosaic of factors, such as diet, lifestyle, drug use and cultural values. It pains me as a doctor to say this, but health care is just one factor in health.
Americans live 75.3 years on average, fewer than Canadians (77.3) or the French (76.6) or the citizens of any Western European nation save Portugal. Health care influences life expectancy, of course. But a life can end because of a murder, a fall or a car accident. Such factors aren’t academic â€” homicide rates in the U.S. are much higher than in other countries.
In The Business of Health, Robert Ohsfeldt and John Schneider factor out intentional and unintentional injuries from life-expectancy statistics and find that Americans who don’t die in car crashes or homicides outlive people in any other Western country.
And if we measure a health care system by how well it serves its sick citizens, American medicine excels. Five-year cancer survival rates bear this out. For leukemia, the American survival rate is almost 50%; the European rate is just 35%. Esophageal carcinoma: 12% in the U.S., 6% in Europe. The survival rate for prostate cancer is 81.2% here, yet 61.7% in France and down to 44.3% in England â€” a striking variation.
Yes, there are plenty of things wrong with health care in America. Most of them, I would submit, are attributable to unnecessary government regulation and the existence of a health-care insurance system, encouraged by tax subsidies, which hides the true cost of much routine health care from consumers. In other words, while America is thankfully far from the socialized mess of Canada, Britain, and Europe, there still isn’t a truly free market in health care in this country.
Until that happens, things will continue to be screwed up.