Saturday, June 18, 2005

Healthcare, Canadian style

A hot issue for Democrats and garden variety liberals alike, is healthcare. More specifically, they want a single-payer system in which the government assumes the role of payer. It’s really quite simple. Those that can now afford to purchase insurance will divert payments to the Public Treasury…plus a lot more to cover the cost of others who cannot afford it. That’s right, much higher tax rates that exceed the initial private healthcare costs. After all, we’re in this together, even though we’ve never met and have no relationship beyond a common nationality.

The higher tax burden would certainly be worth it because of the spectacular service that government is known to provide. Without those greedy, profit-chasing HMOs oppressing those in need, free and universal healthcare could heal all the wounds of our deeply divided nation. Take Canada, for example. Our northern neighbors have already established such a progressive system, whereby all receive care, regardless of means. Steve Chapman put it this way:
To critics of the American health care system, Shangri-La is not a fantasy but a shimmering reality, though it goes by another name: Canada. Any debate on health care eventually arrives at the point where one participant says, “We should have what Canadians have. Free care, universal access and low cost — who could ask for more?”
Recently, the Canadian Supreme Court issued a ruling that is rather unfavorable to Canada’s current scheme. The Court declared that it has “serious flaws” and must be “fundamentally changed”. The unconstitutional aspect in question is not unlike that which killed the early Clinton proposal, so called “Hillary Care”.
In some cases, the delay lasts longer than the person enduring it. Or as the Supreme Court put it: “Patients die as a result of waiting lists for public health care.”

Not only does the government subject its citizens to painful and even fatal delays in the public system, it bars them from seeking alternatives in the private market. You see, it’s illegal for private insurers to pay for services covered by the public system.
Despite repeated failures (to varying degrees) of collective, egalitarian governance, many still turn a blind eye, insisting instead that the rich enjoy success “on the backs of the poor”. Many actually think that there is a finite amount of wealth in existence that must be equally divided among the world’s inhabitants. Those with this mindset often point to Western Europe and Canada as desirable templates for a “fair” and “socially just” system. This may sound good to the uninformed, but the statistics tell a different story.
Take breast cancer. In Britain, which is famous for its socialized system, close to half of all victims die of the disease, according to a recent Cato Institute study by John Goodman, head of the National Center for Policy Analysis. In Germany and France, almost one-third do. In Canada, the figure is 28 percent — and here, it’s 25 percent. Our mortality rate for prostate cancer is 67 percent lower than Britain’s and 24 percent lower than Canada’s.

The usual story we hear is that the health care system next door provides first-rate care to all, at low cost. The realities — dangerous delays, bloated expenditures and mediocre results — are not so appealing. American liberals may not welcome evidence that the single-payer model works far better in theory than in practice. But for that, they can blame Canada.