Friday, July 11, 2008

Gov't. Health Care Reform = Fixing Prices

Government controlled health care is going to drive the best people out of business. Who wants to spend years of studying to be a doctor, just to become a government bureaucratic hack?

Some day you'll be wheeled in for a heart bypass operation, and a surgeon will be the person who is now behind the counter when you renew your car registration at the department of motor vehicles.

If we’re not careful, we’re going to wind up with a health care system like they’ve got in Canada, a nation that is broke from health care spending, even though Canada is a sparsely populated country with a shortage of gunshot wounds, crack addicts, and huge tort judgments.

What are we as Americans supposed to learn from a medical system devoted to hockey injuries, sinus infections, and from trying to pronounce French vowels?

Well, we’ll learn to fix prices. Because that’s all that health care reform really is. It’s just price-fixing. Price-fixing works great in Cuba and North Korea and in rent-controlled apartments in New York. Everybody knows how easy it is to find an inexpensive apartment in a nice neighborhood in New York City.

P.J. O'Rourke


At 7/11/2008 10:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Canada's "broken" system costs a little more than half of what the U.S. system does per capita.

The only difference over time is that all Citizens of Canada have health care with no deductible but only 87% of U.S. Citizens have some type of health care insurance that does not cover the majority of health care issues and comes with big deductibles
and co-pays...something that is foreign to Canadians.

If Canadians want better health care coverage they can vote for an increase in taxes. God knows they've performed miracles to have results that match ours by spending just more than half what we do.

At 7/11/2008 11:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Government controlled health care is going to drive the best people out of business."

And where would these "best" people go? Yes, I'm sure that if government starts controlling health care (any more than they already do) that we'll see a mass exodus of workers from the health care business.

At 7/11/2008 12:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What are we as Americans supposed to learn from a medical system devoted to hockey injuries, sinus infections, and from trying to pronounce French vowels?"

It is too bad that PJ still argues like a hippie.

Must concur with Anon. 10:47, the Canadian system is not perfect but it delivers relatively good care for less than half the cost of the U.S. model.

At 7/11/2008 12:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon @ 10:47 said "Canada's "broken" system costs a little more than half of what the U.S. system does per capita."

So is the benefit of lower cost worth the trade off of lower quality available care and longer waits? Shouldn't the decision between cost and quality of care be made by individuals based on their own knowledge of their unique circumstances instead of government beaurocrats with no idea of a persons situation?

The U.S., as a result of the higher cost you mention, has 5 times more MRI machines than Canada per million people, 3 times as many CT scanners per million people, 36% more physicians per 10,000 people, etc. That doesn't even take into account the fact that the opportunity for profit has led to most medical breakthroughs in techonology and medicines have occurred in the U.S. or with major contributions from U.S. companies.

At 7/11/2008 3:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ rvturnage -

Right on. I lived in Canada for 8 years just south of Toronto, and your MRI example was exactly what I was thinking of when I read about the broken Canadian system. It is a 6 month wait for MRIs in Toronto. A bunch of Canadians will just go down to Buffalo, and get same day treatment at a private clinic.

Furthermore, your point about profit potential is spot on as well. I don't know if any of you recall the specifics of Kevin Everett, the Buffalo Bills player who was "paralyzed". Because of an innovative new treatment created in the US just months earlier, paralysis was prevented and he is able to walk again. You don't see new, innovative treatment coming out of the "wonderful" socialist health care of Canada and Western Europe.

At 7/11/2008 3:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Absolutely agree. Excellent post. Your numbers on MRIs, diagnostic equipment, # of doctors, etc. are spot on.

Quality, access to timely care and cost are all important components to assuring a high level health care system. Unfortunately, Canada's public system suffered from cost being elevated about all other factors.

Years of cut-backs and short-sighted decisions like cutting enrollment in nursing and medical schools, cutting diagnostic equipment, capping salaries for doctors in Ontario, and inadequate funding, have affected access and quality of care. While money has been thrown at the health system in recent years, these problems will not be resolved overnight.

One might well think carefully about health care run by Washington bureaucrats and politicians. In Canada, we have some real problems although it is an exaggeration to suggest that our system is completely broken as posited by PJ O'Rourke notably without substantive evidentiary support.

Agree that the great strengths of the U.S. system are exactly as you outline, namely, breakthroughs in medical technology, access to timely care, access to the latest in diagnostic imaging, access to specialty care, greater number of physicians. Would further add that the U.S. provides ratings for hospitals, and physicians.

Isn't comparing the healthcare system of Canada to that of the world's largest economic superpower an apples to breadfruit comparison?

At 7/11/2008 3:50 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Well Canada's single payer (socialized medicine) health care system is in such fine shape that even the New York Times can see failure when its so blindingly obvious: As Canada's Slow-Motion Public Health System Falters, Private Medical Care Is Surging

Mother's Tragic Tale Underscores Big Flaws Of Canadian Health Care

Canada's cost-conscious, government-run system wasn't there for me when I needed it most. Even worse, it continues to overlook the most fundamental rule of health care — that patients ought to come first.

As America considers ways to reform its health care system, I hope that my experience reminds decision makers that more government intrusion in health care is a poison pill.

Canadian Health Care We So Envy Lies In Ruins, Its Architect Admits

Four decades later, as the chairman of a government committee reviewing Quebec health care this year, Castonguay concluded that the system is in "crisis."

"We thought we could resolve the system's problems by rationing services or injecting massive amounts of new money into it," says Castonguay. But now he prescribes a radical overhaul: "We are proposing to give a greater role to the private sector so that people can exercise freedom of choice."

Castonguay advocates contracting out services to the private sector, going so far as suggesting that public hospitals rent space during off-hours to entrepreneurial doctors. He supports co-pays for patients who want to see physicians. Castonguay, the man who championed public health insurance in Canada, now urges for the legalization of private health insurance.

At 7/11/2008 4:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love it.
Democrats claim to be the party of civil rights and choice, but they are the first ones to throw my rights, freedom, choice, and liberty under the bus when it comes to:

1. Health care. No choice here. Just government monopoly health care.

2. Education. No choice here either. Just government monopoly public schools. I guess they really aren't pro-choice; just pro-government.

3. Free speech. They want to re-impose the fairness doctrine; they have imposed college campus speech codes; they supported McCain-Feingold. How can anyone who claims to be for civil rights honestly support a speech code? I guess only liberals' rights are protected.

4. My right to bear arms. A right that is specifically mentioned in the constitution actually isn't there according to them; a woman's right to privacy - not mentioned in the constitution at all - is there.

If we get to make things up as we go along - the whole living, breathing document theory - you have no actual inalienable rights - just those privileges the politicos deem you worthy of at the moment.

You think you have a right to something? Sure. Just wait a few years - your rights are subject to the whim of some clown in a black robe.

I wouldn't be worrying about the black helicopters - I'd be worrying about the black robes.

God help us all.

At 7/11/2008 4:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Victim impact stories abound for both U.S. & Canadian Wall Street Journal ran a story about a stroke victim who was taken to a regional hospital rather than a nearby hospital with a special stroke unit resulting in delayed treatment and permanent disability.

A libertarian quoting the Gray lady? Well, I never. Ok, politician, a bit better although almost everything is poorly run in Quebec:

Extensive analysis comparing Canada's system to public systems in other countries is available at the Fraser Institute:

The reports do not support the view of catastrophic, calamatous, irrevocably broken, irreparable and deadly dangerous, etc. Are there conditions where waiting is a very real concern...absolutely, cancer.

Proving that Canada has problems thanks merely proves that Canada has had several decades of economically challenged liberals in power following in the footsteps of PM Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Mr. Trudeau's personality cult shares a great deal in common with Obamamania. Be careful what you wish for, my friends.

At 7/11/2008 6:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Be careful what you wish for.


"Until Canada breaks free from the "Alice in Wonderland" absurdity of its system, droves of Canadians, including me, will join millions of others around the globe in seeking medical sanctuary in the U.S.

If your "patient-first" system begins to crumble, we'll have no place to go."

At 7/11/2008 6:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry Juando's. I didn't notice the duplicate story for IBD. The link is different but the content is the same.

At 7/11/2008 6:29 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Sorry Juando's. I didn't notice the duplicate story for IBD. The link is different but the content is the same"...

Hey anon @ 6:11 PM, some lessons bear repeating more than twice...:-)

"A libertarian quoting the Gray lady?"...

Ahem anon @ 4:46 PM, who's the libertarian?

None the less I take your point...

Funny you should mention the Fraser Institute...

Very timely to considering your comment which I think is really on target: "Canada has had several decades of economically challenged liberals in power following in the footsteps of PM Pierre Elliott Trudeau"...

Using the Fraser Institute search engine with the phrase, 'single payer' turned up some very interesting information and flaws in Canada Care...

Looking at Obama's delusional view on medical care lends even more emphasis to your words, anon: "Be careful what you wish for"...

Works for me...

At 7/11/2008 6:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would seem that one of the best argument against public medicine is Walter Reed Hospital.

Most countries with public systems have a mix of private and public care. Canada is one of the few where a nonsensical moral disdain for private healthcare exists.

Allowing services to be delivered by the most effective and economical means (whether private or public) would seem logical but in Canada, it's one of those issues dominated in the public venue by passion and ideology rather pragmatism.

One notes that none of the links come from medical journals which is fairly indicative of how media driven this subject and most other public policy issues have become.

At 7/12/2008 5:51 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> Canada's "broken" system costs a little more than half of what the U.S. system does per capita.

And continues to exist mainly because Canucks can come over here to pay for the care that they can't get north of the border.

Average wait for a common procedure (one you walk into your doctors office to get) is something like 17 weeks.

Up until the mid 1990s, the entire nation of Canada, with over 30 million people, had all of four (yes, *4*) CAT scanners.

The far from wealthy state of Tennessee, with one sixth of the population, also had four.

What good is "free" healthcare you can't actually get?

At least if you can't afford to get a procedure, there is a chance people will help you get the money you need for it.

Government run health care. From the same people who brought you the success stories known as the US Post Office, The Public School system, the IRS, and the DMV:
Oooooh, yeah, gimme more o' that!!!

At 7/12/2008 5:56 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

Hey, "anons" -- how much friggin' work is it to actually create a friggin' name under the "name/url" heading? You don't even need to give a URL, it can be left blank.

You can't even bother to take all of **3** seconds to create a name for yourself, so we don't have to refer to you as "Hey, Idiot@6:42...", but you imagine that we should think you actually have taken the time to research jack about the subject at hand?

Uh-huh. Right.

At 7/12/2008 6:03 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> A libertarian quoting the Gray lady? Well, I never.

Then you haven't really been reading very widely. When even the NYT has to say something so clearly at odds with their blatantly obvious position on such things, it says that the reality has to be bad indeed.

At 7/13/2008 5:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You and other posters have argued far better than O'Rourke's "french vowels" rhetoric. I would have to concede the field to you although it seemed my heart was never in it. O'Rourke just gets up my nose occasionally.

Having a sibling with the same penchant for sarcastic, wise-cracking, must confess to finding such devices rather annoying. Realize I should be a bit more patient.

Cheers :)


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