For years we have been told—and I sure used to believe—that the Canadians had the best approach to health care. Single payer funding, privately employed doctors—seemingly, a good mix. Except it’s not. From a column by Nadeem Esmail in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal:
Canadians often wait months or even years for necessary care. For some, the status quo has become so dire that they have turned to the courts for recourse. Several cases currently before provincial courts provide studies in what Americans could expect from government-run health insurance.Some Canadians have had enough and are suing the government, claiming these long waits are constitutional violations.
In Ontario, Lindsay McCreith was suffering from headaches and seizures yet faced a four and a half month wait for an MRI scan in January of 2006. Deciding that the wait was untenable, Mr. McCreith did what a lot of Canadians do: He went south, and paid for an MRI scan across the border in Buffalo. The MRI revealed a malignant brain tumor. Ontario’s government system still refused to provide timely treatment, offering instead a months-long wait for surgery. In the end, Mr. McCreith returned to Buffalo and paid for surgery that may have saved his life.
And talk about age-based rationing!
Bill Murray waited in pain for more than a year to see a specialist for his arthritic hip. The specialist recommended a “Birmingham” hip resurfacing surgery (a state-of-the-art procedure that gives better results than basic hip replacement) as the best medical option. But government bureaucrats determined that Mr. Murray, who was 57, was “too old” to enjoy the benefits of this procedure and said no.In Canada, patients are not allowed to pay for their own health care—egalitarianism run amuck. That’s why those who can, come to the USA: Even the Provinces sometimes send women here to give birth!
Canada’s system comes at the cost of pain and suffering for patients who find themselves stuck on waiting lists with nowhere to go. Americans can only hope that Barack Obama heeds the lessons that can be learned from Canadian hardships.We need reform here, no doubt. But centralized control leads into a labyrinth.