Monday, October 12, 2009

Canadians Speak Out Against Socialized Medicine I


With Canadians enduring pain for months and years while they wait for surgery, traveling to the U.S. for treatment, entering "lotteries" to get a doctor, and getting "wait list insurance," is Canada really a model for U.S. health reform? As America moves closer to a government-controlled health care system, anxious Canadians want to set the record straight about life under their country's “universal” system.

Join Michigan's Mackinac Center for Public Policy, as it journeys across Canada, documenting harrowing stories from real Canadians of long waits, physician shortages, doctor lotteries, special treatment for insiders and being forced to travel abroad for basic medical care. This is the first in a series, more videos to follow on CD.


31 Comments:

At 10/12/2009 9:49 PM, Blogger Francois said...

BS...I wish you Americans could wage your "healthcare civil war" without involving us. We like our system just fine thank you very much. When was the last time 91% of Americans agreed on ANYTHING????? http://blogs.e-rockford.com/sweenyreport/category/canada-poll/ Do us all a favor and quit trying to fix your system, just stay with what you got now...eventually when the bullets start flying, have another go at it. Francois

 
At 10/12/2009 9:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was on disability and could not get insurance, my social security counselor suggested I move to Canada - he was Canadian.

I have an Irish friend who is a farm manager here, he does no make a lot of money. He pays his usual medical expenses out of pocket. "But if something bad happens, I just fly back to Ireland."

I beleive Francois is right, if we don;t fix this now and we have to ga at it again later, when health care is eating 35 cents out of every dollar and even more are uninsured, THEN Republicans will have lost all crdibility.

Hydra

 
At 10/12/2009 10:15 PM, Anonymous Steve said...

We should listen to what those with socialized medicine say about their coverage and care before we begin to take steps in that direction.

 
At 10/12/2009 10:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm Canadian in my 50s and I wanted to say that the Canadian Health Care System is perhaps the best things Canada's ever done. In fact, Tommy Douglas, who is considered the 'Father of Canadian Medicare' was recently voted 'Greatest Canadian' by the citizens of Canada. That should tell you something about Canadians feel about their health care system in general. It certainly saved my father's life: he had heart problems at a young age, before anyone even understood what cholesterol was. After several operations in the lates 70s and again in the late 80s, he is still alive today in his late 70s, his anti-cholesterol medication and other drugs all paid for (90%) under medicare. In the US, my father would have been un-insurable, and his health issues would likely have bankrupted us.

The system is not without its problems, but nothing close to what I have sometimes seen played out in the US media. Like other Western countries, Canada had a baby boom after the war. As a result, a high percentage of the population is older, which has put a lot of pressure on hospitals and doctors. But I have many Americian friends, and comparing many of their experiences with my own - in terms of the level of care from doctors or being in hosptials - is quite similar. It might suprise many in the US to learn lots of Americans come to Canada to purchase drugs (prescription drugs). Canada negotiates bulk pricing with drug companies for all Canadians, while this seems to verboten in the US for some strange reason.

Hope this helps.

 
At 10/12/2009 11:31 PM, Anonymous Peter said...

Wow. That video was utterly unconvincing.

No matter what system is in place, you will always be able to pull a story about a bad experience. No system can ensure everyone will have a good experience 100% of the time. As a former patient of the Canadian health care system (25 years of it) I had several surgeries and never had to wait an unreasonable amount of time. The quality of care was always excellent.

As much as I love the free market, leaving it to handle health care on its own is insane, for obvious reasons.

 
At 10/12/2009 11:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gallup did a poll of Canadians US and British on their health care systems. In canada 48% are somewhat or very dissatisfied, 50% in the US, 56% in the UK. For Affordability of healthcare 72% are dissatisfied in the US 41% in Canada and 52% in the UK. As noted in other comments you can find anecdotes either way, but polls provide a better feedback. One could do similar video clips in the US and get the same sort of result, depending on who you talk to. The Globe and Mail and CTV did a poll and found that 91% of Canadians prefer their system to the US one.

 
At 10/12/2009 11:58 PM, Anonymous Brandon Bertelsen said...

They found ten people in Canada to complain about our healthcare system. /clap

Oooh and Windsor has 44,000 people that don't have a GP!? I wonder of the 323,000+ Windsor residents what the incidence in the population of males 18-34 who haven't been to see a doctor in 5-10 years is? /double clap

Here's a quick run-down.

Canada:

It's free (average tax rate = 33.4%). If you're not dying, get in line. If you are dying, come right this way. Prescription drugs - on the cheap. If you want to pay for it, go south.

USA

It's not free (average tax rate = 28.2%). If you're not dying, you better have health insurance. If you are dying, you better have health insurance. If you are dying and you don't have health insurance, "die quickly". If you are dying and you do have health insurance - you better hope it covers whatever is wrong with you. Wait, is that a pre-existing condition? Prescription drugs - take out a loan.

I really liked Drayson's comments from the floor about GOP stalling on this issue a few weeks back. In addition, I respected the fact that he went on the Situation Room and said it again.

Everyone knows America needs something better than what it has now. If you're poor, have no job, or both, you're screwed. If you get sick, and you have shitty coverage you're screwed. If you get sick and lose your job you lose your coverage, you're screwed.

I can't remember the stats, but isn't there something like 40 Million uninsured citizens? That's more than the entire population of Canada. It's actually kind of pathetic when you put into perspective the fact that it's one of the richest countries on the planet.

Stop fighting over it already. All you're causing is lost labour productivity. You can make adjustments on the way.

It's time to play let's make a deal with all the over-payed doctors, insurance companies and drug makers. At least before it gets to the point that medicare costs 20% of GDP in its current form. Its like a helium balloon that a kid kicked in the air rather than just lost his grip of the string.

 
At 10/13/2009 12:18 AM, Anonymous Brandon Bertelsen said...

Important note. 2 of the 10 individuals represent companies that put them in a position of conflict in commenting on these issues. The gentleman in yellow. Is a Representative for Acure Health Group a company that provides secondary insurance for access to specialists by sending you to the USA. The women of what seems to be South-East Asian decent works for a company that specializes in sending you elsewhere for treatment as well.

 
At 10/13/2009 1:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steve said, "We should listen to what those with socialized medicine say about their coverage and care before we begin to take steps in that direction."

OK. Let's see what they have to say...

http://www.city-journal.org/html/17_3_canadian_healthcare.html

What steps should we take? How about running as fast as we can in the opposite direction?

 
At 10/13/2009 2:34 AM, Anonymous Ian Random said...

I like the idea of wait lists for greedy geezers. It is a great way to solve the social security crisis.

 
At 10/13/2009 6:42 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> As much as I love the free market, leaving it to handle health care on its own is insane, for obvious reasons.

Interesting claim, considering that pretty much not less than 50% of Americans thoroughly disagree with your "obvious" reasoning. Must all be completely insane. I think that's going to make for one hell of an expensive bunch of therapy sessions for any public health care plan, innit?

I fail to put a lot of faith in claims made by someone who starts off with "I love the free market, but [this] should not be left to the free market... for 'obvious' reasons." One seriously doubts the basic reasoning capacity of someone unable to even see the absurdly "obvious" disconnect there.

And I am really curious, given the number of idiots chiming in to parrot the exact same points, how many of these postings come from one or two sycophantic dipshits using different nyms.

> As a former patient of the Canadian health care system (25 years of it) I had several surgeries and never had to wait an unreasonable amount of time.

It's always amazing how many people there are that seem to deny the factual basis -- statistically derived information -- while claiming "Hey, I've never had any problem" -- Note how said idjit doesn't list any of the vaaaaaast and expensive array of procedures he had thirty years ago when he was there dodging the draft...

But when someone comes up with equally "worthless" anecdotal info on how much it sucks, well, hey, suddenly:

No matter what system is in place, you will always be able to pull a story about a bad experience. No system can ensure everyone...

> Here's a quick run-down.

Oh, yes, by all means...

Here's a quick run-down:

Canada:
Sponge off the pharma R&D paid for by your southerly neighbor

Understaff and underequip your doctors and hospitals until there's an 18-week delay for "non-life-endangered" procedures, so that your residents will flee southward to your southerly neighbor and pay to get some kind of treatment to help relieve the "non-life-endangering" agony you've been suffering from for a month and a half now.

Understaff and underequip your entire system so that undetected problems (like cancer) remain undetected until it's far later than it should be before you actually, finally get through that ridiculous waiting period for "non-life-endangered" procedures (hey, we don't know you have cancer YET, so it's not YET "life-endangered", eh?) your chances of survival have been cut by one/half or more over what they would have been, had your system actually reflected costs properly, in a rational and sensible manner.

In short, use the USA as your safety valve when things go tits up and your system is on the verge of collapse.


USA:
Go find a doctor, get an appointment tomorrow, get the lab work and procedures you need next week. See the doctor again the next week, start getting the treatment you need RIGHT NOW within a week or so.

I vote for option #2, the private system, for "obvious" reasons. It really is insane to do it any other way.

 
At 10/13/2009 6:45 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> I like the idea of wait lists for greedy geezers. It is a great way to solve the social security crisis.

They have that. It's the minimum age=62/65 limitation... and they're already talking about adjusting it upwards to "temorarily" fix the overwhelming problems in the system.

 
At 10/13/2009 7:36 AM, Blogger Colin said...

I just wish those Canadians that brag about their low drug prices would thank us Americans for subsidizing their consumption.

 
At 10/13/2009 7:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to wonder but I think Francois might have a valid point...

BTW Francois your referencing a poll done by Canadian TV is completely misleading and shows that Canadians like many Americans aren't paying attention to reality...

I note that anon (a.k.a. Hydra)) @ 10/12/2009 9:57 PM claims: "when health care is eating 35 cents out of every dollar" yet offers nothing credible to back it up...

Another anon @ 10/12/2009 10:31 PM claims:"Tommy Douglas, who is considered the 'Father of Canadian Medicare' was recently voted 'Greatest Canadian' by the citizens of Canada"...

So are we to take it that Canadians applaud socialist thieves?

Remember this from John Stossel?

O.K. Peter what are your obvious reasons when you say: "As much as I love the free market, leaving it to handle health care on its own is insane, for obvious reasons"?

BTW are you under the impression that American medical care is truly free market?

If it were would hospital emergency rooms be mandated to give service to those who can't or won't pay?

I wonder what Canadians think of the following?

THE INTERVIEW: Claude Castonguay, Quebec healthcare funding reform expert

 
At 10/13/2009 8:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Francois et al, my casual observation is that most Canadians love their health care system until they get critically ill. Then they discover to their dismay that their wonderful system isn't very wonderful at all. The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of us remain healthy until we get old or something extra ordinary happens. The 91% figure, I would think, are relatively healthy people that have never had to deal with the inherent problems.

 
At 10/13/2009 8:44 AM, Anonymous Brandon Bertelsen said...

Costs:

The USA will not be able to afford any kind of healthcare for its citizens if costs continue to incline the way they are. What was it, 16% of GDP last year, increasing at an annual rate of 6.7%?

Everyone that is arguing against controls or mild socialization of the industry as a whole is being ridiculous. You are already spending more than we are and getting less out of it.

Wait Times:

Emergency services, General Practitioners, and walk-in clinics are available when you need them, always. The wait times issue in Canada is for Specialists only. The median wait time is 4.1 weeks with 86% waiting up to 3 months. (12 weeks, not 18 as OBloodyHell).

Life Expectancy:

In response to: "your chances of survival have been cut by one/half or more over what they would have been".

In Canada the life expectancy is higher than the US
In Canada the infant mortality rate is lower than in the US

Although I do agree that we are seriously behind on preventative medicine in Canada.

 
At 10/13/2009 9:33 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"In Canada the life expectancy is higher than the US
In Canada the infant mortality rate is lower than in the US
"...

Got anything credible to back these statements up with Brandon Bertelsen?

For what its worth BB consider the following:

From NBER: Does Canada's publicly funded, single payer health care system deliver better health outcomes and distribute health resources more equitably than the multi-payer heavily private U.S. system? We show that the efficacy of health care systems cannot be usefully evaluated by comparisons of infant mortality and life expectancy. We analyze several alternative measures of health status using JCUSH (The Joint Canada/U.S. Survey of Health) and other surveys. We find a somewhat higher incidence of chronic health conditions in the U.S. than in Canada but somewhat greater U.S. access to treatment for these conditions. Moreover, a significantly higher percentage of U.S. women and men are screened for major forms of cancer. Although health status, measured in various ways is similar in both countries, mortality/incidence ratios for various cancers tend to be higher in Canada. The need to ration resources in Canada, where care is delivered "free", ultimately leads to long waits. In the U.S., costs are more often a source of unmet needs. We also find that Canada has no more abolished the tendency for health status to improve with income than have other countries. Indeed, the health-income gradient is slightly steeper in Canada than it is in the U.S.
(($5) for electronic delivery)
===================
Consider one more from the same source: Comparing the U.S. and Canadian Health Care Systems

 
At 10/13/2009 9:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Sponge off the pharma R&D paid for by your southerly neighbor"

Ah, the ugly American rears his head.

There's quite a lot of medical research in Canada, as elsewhere in the world. Research is like that. Insulin, for example, was discovered in Canada. Without it, diabetics can't live. There's currently tens of millions of people in the US suffering Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Just ask Wilford Brimley! In fact, there's more diabetics in the US than the entire population of Canada, primarily in the South, and largely because your population is following the Wall-E trajectory. We're starting to suffer from it too. On behalf of Canada, your welcome!

 
At 10/13/2009 9:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

> I just wish those Canadians that brag about their low drug prices would thank us Americans for subsidizing their consumption.

You're also seem to be at mercy of Big Pharma lobbying which prevents states from negotiating directly on drug prices to lower costs. It seems to serve drug companies at the expense of the people.

 
At 10/13/2009 10:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In short, use the USA as your safety valve when things go tits up and your system is on the verge of collapse."

Ha ha. You should understand a little bit more about your own country before you start sounding off.

Apparently, there's quite a few Americans heading over to India for their medical procedures. Why is that, when everthing is so fantastic down there.

60 minutes

 
At 10/13/2009 10:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"So are we to take it that Canadians applaud socialist thieves?"

It's true we normally applaud only the financial thieves - for example, a big high 5 to Lehman Brothers and AIG! - but we're making a special exception in this case.

 
At 10/13/2009 11:03 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"It's true we normally applaud only the financial thieves - for example, a big high 5 to Lehman Brothers and AIG!"...

What's missing in this comment?

The obvious of course, federal government intervention in the housing market...

 
At 10/13/2009 11:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And I am really curious, given the number of idiots chiming in to parrot the exact same points, how many of these postings come from one or two sycophantic dipshits using different nyms."

Dude, you have some serious anger management issues. Is Prozac covered by your HMO?

 
At 10/13/2009 11:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

> Francois et al, my casual observation is that most Canadians love their health care system until they get critically ill.

I would have to disagree with this statement. One of the big issues for Canadians when viewing the American system is becoming uninsurable after having some problem at a relatively young age. After that, you're either dropped or your insurance premiums skyrocket.

 
At 10/13/2009 3:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Canada along with Europe has decided to go a more Social Democratic route than the US, as is their right in a democracy. Historically Canada has been a more restrained country than the US (the mounties prevented the wild west in Canada). A part may be that the most conservative part of the population of the colonies moved their after the American revolution as they wanted to remain British.

 
At 10/13/2009 10:19 PM, Anonymous Peter said...

How can the free market alone ensure that everyone gets access to health care?

 
At 10/14/2009 4:24 AM, Anonymous Brandon Bertelsen said...

The focus should be on the problems within your own country. Americans have an opportunity to look outside of their country and see what does and does not work.

These conversations that attack or defend are exactly what Dem. Congressmen/Women are complaining about. They do not focus on the issues at hand:

1. Healthcare costs, in the USA, are not scalable in the future.
2. In the USA, a large amount of people have no access to any form of healthcare.

Now, considering these two important problems and considering the pre-existing infrastructure - how do you fix it such that costs are controlled for the future and everyone has access to healthcare?

@Jaundos,

http://unstats.un.org/unsd/Demographic/products/socind/health.htm

Infant Mortality Rate:
Canada, 5.4 (2006)
USA, 6.9 (2006), 6.6 (2009, provisional)

Life Expectancy:
Canada
Male 78 / Female 83

USA
Male 77 / Female 81

@Jaundos,

NBER makes a valid point, but what they neglect to mention is that everyone in Canada HAS access to the system. It's not perfect, but it is there and available to all who need it. Regarding inequality from an income-health gradient perspective, they've reported the obvious - the rich/educated are healthier. But what they don't talk about are factors like: lifestyle decisions, location of rich individuals (city centers where wait times are significantly shorter, in contrast to rural Canada where populations are older and in need of not only common surgeries but also GPs).

As a young individual, looking forward, I would say that the biggest caveat of our (Canadian) system is complete ignorance of preventative medicine. No one tells me that I should go and have a physical every year. No one talks to me about my nutritional choices and how they may effect my future. No one talks to me about the choices I make and how they may effect the outcome of my life. The only time I go to see a doctor is when there is a specified need and the diagnostics available to me are minimal in comparison to my experiences in other countries (I'm currently living in Switzerland, where I pay for everything under 2500 CHF and fork out 300 CHF a month on insurance)

In any case, the overall message here is: take your understanding of systems in other countries and use them to create a system within your own that addresses the problems at hand. It wouldn't even be close to reasonable to say that the Canadian system would ever work in the US, so arguing against it - is really only argument for the sake of argument.

Now I know and understand what Drayson meant when he said "nattering nabobs of negativism".

 
At 10/14/2009 9:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In the USA, a large amount of people have no access to any form of healthcare."

Total BS. I suggest you look into Medicaid, SCHIP, and a host of other programs. Lastly, no hospital can turn down a critically ill person.

 
At 10/14/2009 9:48 AM, Anonymous Brandon Bertelsen said...

@Anonymous,

> "In the USA, a large amount of people have no access to any form of healthcare."

> Total BS. I suggest you look into Medicaid, SCHIP, and a host of other programs. Lastly, no hospital can turn down a critically ill person.

Sorry, let me adjust my statement:

In the USA, a large amount of people have _virtually_ no access to any form of healthcare unless they are critically ill.

A 2005 population survey by the United States Department of Health and Human Services puts the number at 16% (45+ million) of the population. Of which 25% are below the poverty line and 28% between 100% and 199% of poverty.

So, let's take something pretty common like pneumonia (with a population incidence somewhere in the vicinity of 5+ in 1000). In the early stages, a GP sends you away because you can't pay and it seems like you just have a common cold (influenza). You have to be dying for a hospital to take you so you wait until almost that time. Sounds like virtually no access, to me.

In response to your second point Medicaid and a "host of other programs". Each one has eligibility requirements that just happen to leave 46 million people with "virtually" no access to healthcare. To me that is not "BS". It's an important and necessary element of the discussion and the problem.

 
At 10/14/2009 2:02 PM, Blogger Allen said...

"The Globe and Mail and CTV did a poll and found that 91% of Canadians prefer their system to the US one."


The comment I'm about to make may come off a mean spirited American. I'm not a huge fan of over the top nationalism. I also acknowledge that as a whole overall Canada is arguably more free and capitalistic than the US. Nevertheless, Canada has a long history of struggling with finding an identity, finding what it means to be Canadian. Beside issues with how a poll is conducted, another issue with this sort of thing is that health care may be something that Canadians see as a means of what makes them Canadian. That may seem silly but there is something to be said about how much being a Canadian gets defined as how they're not American. And with 91% preferring the Canadian system over the American such nationalism could be a large factor.

 
At 3/04/2010 3:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many of you may not want to hear this but, I am a Canadian, and I find our health care system to be terrific.

My family and myself have been treated well, compassionately, and timely even in the gravest situations. As for doctors, we have a walk in clinc close by that we can visit any day of the week for immediate treatment or referal at no charge. I have much less anxiety than I did when I lived in the U.S.

 

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