Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Canadian Patients Travel to Oklahoma for Surgery


Many advocates of health-care reform are admirers of Canada's state-run, no-opt-out, single-payer system. Indeed, in 2003, President Barack Obama voiced enthusiasm for such a health-care program.

Proponents of Canadian-style health care should meet Cheryl Baxter, a Canadian citizen who waited years for hip-replacement surgery, only to be told that her operation would not happen any time soon. Instead of waiting, Baxter did what an increasing number of Canadians are doing: She flew to a clinic in the United States, paid out of pocket, and had a life-altering surgery in a matter of weeks rather than years.

Ms. Baxter travelled to the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, which follows a market-driven approach to surgery, including a practice of posting transparent prices for all of its deeply-discounted, payable-in-advance, cash-only procedures (featured on CD here).  If a competitor offers a lower price, the Surgery Center of Oklahoma will match or beat it.     

29 Comments:

At 12/09/2009 3:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

She wasn't too smart--going to a high cost country.

She should have gone to Thailand.
Check this out: http://www.medical-tourism-in-thailand.com/

 
At 12/09/2009 4:15 PM, Anonymous Machiavelli999 said...

The funny thing is (and I don't have the exact statistic right now) but something like 70% of hip surgeries in America TODAY are financed by the government.

 
At 12/09/2009 4:16 PM, Anonymous Machiavelli999 said...

Anonymous makes a good point. Why doesn't Mark report some of the people leaving this country to get cheaper operations in outside countries.

 
At 12/09/2009 4:45 PM, Blogger OA said...

Anonymous said...

She wasn't too smart--going to a high cost country.

She should have gone to Thailand.
Check this out: http://www.medical-tourism-in-thailand.com/


My dentist is in Thailand and I've had elective surgery there. But for something like a hip replacement where it has to be placed correctly, I'm not sure I'd do it there.

If there are complications afterwards, that's a long way to go to get it fixed versus heading down to Oklahoma.

 
At 12/09/2009 4:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous makes a good point. Why doesn't Mark report some of the people leaving this country to get cheaper operations in outside countries.

He has.

People go abroad to escape the expensive market distortions imposed on us by the left.

 
At 12/09/2009 5:01 PM, Anonymous Stephen said...

What is preventing private medical centers in Canada from offering the same thing at a similar price?

 
At 12/09/2009 5:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Machiavelli999,

He does.

 
At 12/09/2009 5:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stephen,

What is the armed might of the State?

 
At 12/09/2009 5:33 PM, Anonymous Benny The Man said...

I don't know why she didn't go to Thailand. It would have been a lot cheaper there, and from my experience, better.

I have had two surgeries in Thailand, one of which I probably could not have afforded in the USA.

I had a benign cyst on a testicular tube, the size of a golf ball. I could not even get a quote out of my privately paid doctor (I have no health insurance).

The hospital room in Burbank CA was $1+k a day, and I might have to stay two days, maybe three, and the docter's fee was several thousand, but not fixed. Other charges for nurses etc. were unclear.

My wife is Thai. I got it taken out in a private hospital in KOrat, Thailand for $1k, and about 12 nurses took care of me, in a nice room. Everything so clean. Food was good.

I wholeheartedly recommend Thailand for surguries. You will save 85 percent or more on the cost, and have a much better experience.

From what I can see, ordainry Thais can get a national health card for a reasonable fee, and then access their health system for very reasonable rates.

Major problems, such as advanced cancer and very bad heart probelms are not covered. You just die.

Maybe that is the way to go.

 
At 12/09/2009 5:39 PM, Anonymous morganovich said...

one of the things i always really notice when i'm in Europe is the number of people who walk with canes. they limp and hobble. old people there simply cannot get the knee, ankle, and hip surgeries to fix such conditions while they are commonplace here.

in europe, my mother would likely be unable to walk. here, she's fine.

this is no small consideration when you are choosing a health system.

 
At 12/09/2009 7:27 PM, Anonymous Stephen said...

Anonymous,

Canada does not ban private medical centers. That's why all the talk about the government "controlling" healthcare and denying coverage for people, or the long wait lines, are red herrings. People can pay money to skip ahead in line or get the medical care they were denied by the government via private health insurance plans and/or private clinics.

 
At 12/09/2009 7:30 PM, Anonymous terrence said...

Stephen said at12/09/2009 5:01 PM "What is preventing private medical centers in Canada from offering the same thing at a similar price?"

Private medical centres are illegal in Canada, outside of Quebec. It takes very brave and wealthy doctors to even consider setting up such centres. The provincial governments tightly control what doctors do, and where they do it.

 
At 12/09/2009 7:32 PM, Anonymous Machiavelli999 said...

People go abroad to escape the expensive market distortions imposed on us by the left.

Can you conservatives please get your talking points straight? Because first I hear:

"The US has the best health care system in the world and the Democrats want to ruin it"

Then I hear:

We have a terrible healthcare system and it's all the Democrats' fault.

Which one is it?

It kinda reminds me of that Jon Stewart sketch on Glenn Beck, where he shows 8 years of Glenn Beck talking on his radio show and his show on CNN and Fox about how amazing our health care system is and how the left wants to ruin it.

Then he gets a hemorrhoid and actually has an experience with the healthcare system and suddenly he says: "OMG, the healthcare system is horrible and it's all the left's fault"

 
At 12/09/2009 7:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stephen - do you know anything about medicine in Canada?

The federal government, "Canada", does not control anything relating to health care. The feds collect the taxes for health care and dole it out to the provinces. T he provinces determine how the money is spent, and whether private centres will be allowed. Most provinces do NOT allow private centres.

 
At 12/09/2009 7:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you conservatives please get your talking points straight?

These two statements are not at odds, America does have the finest health care in the world, and, yes, many people have difficulty affording it because leftists have passed market distorting legislation making it more expensive than it should be.

There, that wasn't so hard was it?

 
At 12/09/2009 8:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few cases do not a trend make.

My Canadian health care has never failed me and I've made extensive use of it.

This blog gets the unsubscribe now.

 
At 12/09/2009 9:07 PM, Anonymous Benny The Man said...

Morganivich:
The free market probably would not result in hip replacements for the elderly. That is covered by Medicare. I pay onerous payroll taxes so that your mother can get such care, and so does my employer, nd so did I when I was an employer.
Payroll taxes are onerous. I do not personally begrudge your mother, of course.
But facts are facts. It is socialism that got your mother her hip repleacement.

 
At 12/09/2009 9:31 PM, Anonymous morganovich said...

benny-

what do you mean the private sector doesn't provide hip replacements?

sure it does. my mother, to take an example, had her knee surgery under private insurance.

loads of health plans cover things like that. mine certainly would, and it's not a terribly expensive one.

you yourself said you went overseas to have operations for cash. you could get a hip done the same way. how is that the free market providing a service?

under an HSA system, it would be easy for the elderly as well. save money when you are young and healthy, spend when you are old and need things with the added benefit that under a user pays system, people would actually ask what things cost and impose price disciple on providers.

add in some tort reform, and now you're really talking.

3k a year for 45 years of work yields 135k before interest. with it, more like 200 grand. that's a lot of trips to india.

further, possessed of a large HSA account, even the old could get private insurance at reasonable rates by using high deductibles.

this covers the few truly disastrous events and would keep you from getting your account wiped out by one bad occurrence.

the private market is also the only reason medicare CAN provide these services. without it (under single payor) they would be rationed, like europe and canada.

 
At 12/09/2009 10:29 PM, Anonymous Stephen said...

Anonymous @ 12/9/09 7:35.

Do you have any sources to your assertions? According to wikipedia:

"About 30% of Canadians' health care is paid for through the private sector. This mostly goes towards services not covered or only partially covered by Medicare, such as prescription drugs, dentistry and optometry. Some 65% of Canadians have some form of supplementary private health insurance; many of them receive it through their employers.[25] There are also large private entities that can buy priority access to medical services in Canada, such as WCB in BC."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care_in_Canada

 
At 12/09/2009 11:02 PM, Blogger QT said...

Stephen,

The private options are very restricted in Canada. Listen to the political rhetoric...for many politicians private clinics and
fees for services such as MRIs violate the Canada Health Act.

Fact...Canada has fewer MRIs per capita than South Korea

Waiting lists for standard diagnostic tests compromise patient safety.

My experience of U.S. healthcare is that:
1. I can find the top talent in the U.S. on any given medical specialty
2. I have arranged an appointment with the foremost orthopaedic surgeon in the U.S. in 2 weeks (vs. 1 year in Canada)
3. I can get access to care for medical conditions requiring timely treatment ie. conditions like cancer where the difference between timely care and a waiting line is life & death; in the case of rotator cuff tears, it is the difference between treatment and permanent disability

Death and permanent disability suck. I realize that U.S. health care is expensive but at least, you can GET care....for many of us here in Canada, we have to fight for care and hope that we will not be permanently disabled.

 
At 12/09/2009 11:43 PM, Anonymous Benny The Man said...

Morganivich-

If we really go to free market solutions, there would be no HSA. That is nanny-statism too. No savings should be tax-preferred over other savings.

I would like to see a private national health insurance company (state's rights gets in the way) that offers coverage in which buyers agree to binding arbitration for all disputes, no coverage if you are terminally ill and over age 70, and limits on treatment, such as visits to chiropractors, quacks, and psychiatrists. No mammograms until age 50 etc. And you pull the plug on Terri Schiavo in month one, not year 10. Etc. Bare bones,

Probably this would be affordable for many.

Right now, we have private providors billing public payers--public payers with bottomless pockets. Oh gee, do you think that will lead to runaway health care costs?

Why either the left or right is ranting to save this system, or build on it, is beyond me.

I see no intelligent discussion or frameworking of the issue.



We have the worst of both systems. It consumes monstrous amounts of our GDP, double European nations.

 
At 12/10/2009 1:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Benny,

What color is the sky in your world?

 
At 12/10/2009 5:49 AM, Blogger OA said...

Benny The Man said...
Morganivich-

If we really go to free market solutions, there would be no HSA. That is nanny-statism too. No savings should be tax-preferred over other savings.


People keeping and saving their money tax free and then using it at their discretion for health purchases is "nanny-statism"?

That assumes the expected situation is savings should be taxed and this being an exception is courtesy of the nanny state. Yeah it should not be favored, but that should be due to other savings also being free of tax, not HSA interest and earnings being taxed.

 
At 12/10/2009 10:41 AM, Anonymous morganovich said...

benny-

i really don't follow you at all here.

is an IRA account nanny statism?

how about making tax free donations to charities?

they aren't telling you what to do with anything (or compelling you to even have an HSA)

that's not nannying, it's just providing an option.

by your logic, a lower rate of tax for capital gains is also nanny statism.

"the worst of both worlds"? we have the best care in the world.

we're a rich country. we have more disposable income to spend on health.

we spend more on cars, TV's, and kitchen appliances too. that's a good thing. it's a sign of wealth.

pricing in our health system is distorted by the fact that the consumer of the service does not face the cost. once you hit your deductible, you could care less what a procedure costs. most people never even ask.

fix that, and the US system will be fantastic.

HSA's, high deductibles, and cheap insurance that is really insurance (for catastrophes, not every day stuff) would do just that.

 
At 12/10/2009 12:30 PM, Anonymous Benny "Tell It Like It Is" Man said...

Well, I don't know if anybody is still reading, but yes, I think there should be a single and low tax rate on dividend and interest income. No nanny-statism patting me on the head for this or that type of savings.
I believe in national private insurers--but those insurers have wide latitude to design plans that limit coverage and lawsuits. Spelled out in very clear plain English.
If we maintain our current system of private for-profit companies billing public billpayers, and also maintain the "moral" position that even a Terri Schiavo must be kept alive for years on end, we will see health care absorb 20 percent of GDP in a few more years.
Along with other wasteful federalized sectors (agriculture, the military, housing) this will lead to lower GDP growth, and decline.
Hey, I am not saying anything that any Friedmanesque economist wouldn't say.
I assure you Milton Friedman would not support tax-advantaged savings of any kind.
Let the free market and free choice rule.

 
At 12/10/2009 2:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh please, this is silly! The health care bill you repubs are so scared of - aka, "ObamaCare" - in its present form is a watered down, weakly of a health care reform bill that’s ultimately a big giveaway to the health insurance industry, and is a big waste of money. Yes, there's some worthwhile ideas in it, such as eliminating the health insurance industry’s ability to discriminate against pre-existing conditions; but overall, it's nothing than a big win for the insurance industry at everyone's expense. Sorry, there won't be any gulags or forced-labor camps as a result of this health bill, so you can all put your guns away.

Canada's system will leave you "high and dry" waiting; American health insurance companies won't pay to separate your conjoined twins because, you, sir, used your cat as a wheel barrel at age six. "Mr. Hopie-Changie" will, as always, half-ass the situation with a weak-spine compromise: he won't kill you, but he'll let you live the remainder of your life as a quadriplegic vegetable, anecdoting in a remarkable speech of your example as a "victory for liberty and the way of the American life."

I think the “war president” should relinquish his Nobel Peace Prize and give it to a very deserving man: George P. Mitchell, founder of Mitchell Energy Development (now part of Devon). Mitchell Energy Development pioneered much of the “fraccing” techniques used to extract shale gas back in the ‘80s and ‘90s; kiss this man if you ever meet him.

 
At 12/10/2009 4:16 PM, Blogger OA said...

Anonymous said...
Oh please, this is silly! The health care bill you repubs are so scared of - aka, "ObamaCare" - in its present form is a watered down, weakly of a health care reform bill that’s ultimately a big giveaway to the health insurance industry, and is a big waste of money....



Not sure what you're trying to say here. Seems like you've listed 2 big reasons to hate the bill. Are you thinking that other people are hating it for the wrong reasons?

 
At 12/10/2009 5:29 PM, Blogger juandos said...

mach999 whines: "Can you conservatives please get your talking points straight?"...

Why can't YOU liberals quit lying?

One has to remember its always been a liberal Democrat involved in screwing up the medical sector in this country...

LBJ and medicare...

LBJ and medicaid...

Sen. Ted Kennedy (in collusion with R.I.N.O. Nixon) and HMOs...

So should conservatives sit back and watch the Dems socialize the what's left of the medical sector?

 
At 12/11/2009 9:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

QA,

The health care reform bill is a worthless floater that should be promptly flushed down to the bowels of hell ASAP. What I find funny is how a lot of right wing blowhards blow up over the bill for the wrong reasons: "It's going to lead us down to the path of socialism! This is similar to what the Nazis did! We're going to have "death row" waiting lists like they do in Canada." Blah, blah, blah. There’s also the NRA’s recent rationale: The government will use health care reform to document gun owners.”

None of this is true. The reason why the bill is a worthless pile of crap is because it's ultimately a big give away to the insurance industry, it does little to control costs, it's not true health care reform, and it continues to support the status quo. “But it introduces a slice of socialist health care, right?” Yeah, that bill might cover a few termites, but nothing more; so again, the bill is nothing more than a big win for the insurance industry at everyone's expense.

I remember how some Obama blowhards were adamant about how Obama was going to change D.C.; “You’re going to be disappointed,” was what I told them. Yes, I think I’m a prophet.

 

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