UPDATE: Canadian ‘Single-payer’ healthcare system is imploding – Confirmation from Top Doctor
August 16, 2009
THE CANADIAN PRESS
SASKATOON–The incoming president of the Canadian Medical Association says Canada’s health-care system is sick and doctors need to develop a plan to cure it.
Dr. Anne Doig says patients are getting less than optimal care, and she adds that physicians from across the country – who will gather in Saskatoon today for their annual meeting – recognize that changes must be made.
“We all agree that the system is imploding, we all agree that things are more precarious than perhaps Canadians realize,” Doig told The Canadian Press.
Current CMA President Dr. Robert Ouellet believes there could be a role for private health-care delivery within the public system.
With all the debate going on about the apparent pitfalls written into the Healthcare Bill currently in the Senate, I feel it is appropriate to bring the spotlight again upon last year’s publication by the Fraser Institute disclosing the dire problems that ultimately had to become prominent in the evolution of Canada’s experiment with single-payer healthcare.
Demonstrating just one example of these problems is the story of Canadian Shona Holmes in 2005. Shona had sought out medical attention in Canada due to the symptoms she had begun to experience, symptoms including headaches, sleeplessness, dizziness, and rapidly deteriorating vision. Her family doctor in Canada diagnosed a brain tumor pressing on her optic chasm, but she would have to wait several months just to get on the appointment calendar of a Canadian neurologist or endocrinologist. Upon seeking help at the Mayo Cinic in Arizona, the immediate excision of the cyst/tumor was recommended. This Shona submitted to after the Canadian government’s healthcare system confirmed it would not fast-track her medical care.
Debate currently going on in Town Meetings nationwide include the contention that either of the Healthcare Bills (House and Senate versions) leads us spiraling downward to a government, single-payer monopoly on health care. I will address that issue in my next post. As context for that post, however, I present this study and encourage your viewing the full PDF study:
The Hidden Costs of Single Payer Health Insurance:
A Comparison of the United States and Canada
(The following is the excerpted “Conclusion” from the above-titled article published in the September 2008 publication by the Fraser Institute, “Studies in Health Care Policy”, by Brett Skinner, Mark Rovere, and Marisha Warrington.)
Canada’s single-payer health insurance monopoly is failing. The Canadian experience shows that such a system is not financially sustainable in the long run. Canadian patients do not get the same timely availability of medical care as American patients. In Canada, single-payer health insurance does not provide timely access to the most advanced medical treatments and technologies.
Millions of Canadian patients wait so long for treatment that, in many ways, they are no better off than uninsured Americans. Access to a waiting list is not the same thing as access to health care.
Even worse, Canadian patients are practically prohibited from paying privately (above what they pay in taxes for the public system) to escape the delays in the public system. Canadians are quite literally trapped in a failing system. This makes them even worse off than the uninsured in America, who can at least gain access to health care by paying cash or credit for it.
The Supreme Court of Canada also recently struck down the government health insurance monopoly in one province as a violation of patients’ right to preserve their own health. The court has seen the evidence that Canada’s single-payer health insurance system delays or denies access to medical treatments and makes people wait too long to get medically necessary care.
Canada is currently witnessing the failure of its own single-payer health insurance system. Why would Americans want to adopt such a disastrous system for themselves?
Nevertheless, the problem of the uninsured needs to be solved before a “tipping point” is reached and Americans have a Canadian-style health policy disaster foisted upon them by single-payer advocates who are not fully disclosing all the facts about health care in Canada. There are better alternatives that should be considered if universal health insurance coverage is deemed a political necessity. The Swiss health insurance system is probably the best real-world model for how to achieve universal health insurance coverage on a sustainable basis. Americans should consider adopting, and improving, the best parts of Swiss health policy.
In a private market, there will inevitably be a few people who lack the income to purchase health insurance and there will also be some who are unwilling to make the purchase of health insurance a priority, even when their income is sufficient to do so. Instead of an unnecessary, single-payer health insurance monopoly, Americans should simply demand that everyone be legally required to show individual proof of purchase for health insurance coverage or demonstrate the personal financial means to go without insurance coverage. Low-income people could be subsidized to help them buy private insurance. Such a system should completely replace existing public programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
The evidence indicates that the best approach to achieving universal health insurance coverage is to make people prioritize their own income toward the purchase of their own health insurance, not to make some taxpayers buy health insurance for everyone through a redistributive, government health insurance monopoly.