Govt Keeps Costs Down? A Canadian Speaks.
Yeah, right. Even the Blue Dog Dems don’t believe that… Here’s a blog article straight up from a Canadian who knows what he’s talking about on health care. Joseph Ben-Ami discusses the reality of rationing, wait-listing, budget constraints on personnel training regardless of demand as well as some good aspects of socialized health care. The rub, however, is that government-run health care is not the answer to improving America’s health insurance woes. Changing its structure isn’t the answer, but we must address the problems.
…consumers (are) able to opt out of the government plan, or they would be able to obtain private supplemental insurance to cover those things the government plan would not, but few would since there wouldn’t be many private insurers left selling such coverage, and the premiums would be exorbitant. The de facto government monopoly in health insurance would quickly become a de facto nationalization of the health care industry as a whole, even if the government doesn’t actually own the hospitals or directly employ the doctors and nurses.
That is essentially the system in place in Canada today, where most doctors and nurses in aren’t government employees – they’re private contractors who bill the government for the services they provide to patients.
In Ontario, like other provinces, fees are set by the government – in consultation with doctors – in order to keep overall costs to the system down. The total amount that individual doctors can bill the government plan each year is also capped to keep them from “cheating” the system by setting up a volume practice; that is, encouraging, and then charging for, “unnecessary” appointments by patients. It seems not to have occurred to the “experts” that the number of “unnecessary” appointments may have more to do with patients not having to pay for their visits than it does with doctors’ greed. In any event, an unintended (and bizarre) by-product of this cap is that new patients are regularly turned away by doctors who have “too many” already.
To make matters worse, because doctors’ and nurses’ education in Canada is heavily subsidized by taxpayers, government gets to decide – in consultation with experts – how many will be trained each year. The number of students that medical schools can accept each year depends on the amount of money available in the budget for training, not the actual demand.
Is it any wonder that there’s a shortage of doctors and nurses in Canada?
Most Canadian cities have fewer MRI machines than many individual American hospitals, and according to a report released last year by the Cancer Advocacy Coalition of Canada, Ontario – the country’s wealthiest and most populous province – boasted a grand total of just nine PET scanners for the whole province, and some of these were sitting idle because hospitals couldn’t hire the technicians to run them without exceeding the limits placed on their spending. This is the real legacy of government-run health insurance in Canada, and it’s what awaits Americans too if they travel down the same path.
Are there good things about the Canadian system? Of course there are. For starters, everyone is insured with no limit on coverage, an important factor that should not be ignored. But there’s a trade-off: chronic shortages of personnel and equipment mean that timely treatment for anything other than a sudden and catastrophic illness or injury is generally unavailable in Canada. The result is that Canadians with serious chronic illnesses either languish on waiting lists for treatment, or they obtain treatment in… you guessed it – America, and pay for the treatment themselves.
None of this is to say that there aren’t significant problems with health care in the U.S. that ought to be addressed, particularly when it comes to insurance issues. The notion that a government-run insurance plan can be relied upon to resolve any of these issues is dangerously misguided though. At best, government insurance would sink American health care into a pool of mediocrity; at worse, it would deny or delay life-saving treatment to those who need it.
This isn’t fear-mongering – it’s a daily reality for many of us in Canada that Americans must be made aware of before it’s too late.
Reprinted from U.S. Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats barking up the wrong tree on health care, at Proud to be Canadian. See the link to their RSS feed.
August 4, 2009 - Posted by Lisa | (Definitely Not) Free Markets, (Un)Limited Government, Agenda of the Left, Family, Fiscal (Ir)Responsibility, Politics, Wake Up | advocacy, Canadian health care, de facto govt monopoly, de facto nationalization, eligibility, patients turned away, shortages, untimely treatment, waiting lists
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Samuel Adams“If you love wealth more than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, depart from us in peace. We ask not your counsel nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains rest lightly upon you and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.”
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Walter E. Williams on Government
"At the heart of the American idea is the deep distrust and suspicion the founders of our nation had for government, distrust and suspicion not shared as much by today's Americans. Some of the founders' distrust is seen in our Constitution's language such as Congress shall not: abridge, infringe, deny, disparage, violate and deny. If the founders did not believe Congress would abuse our God-given rights, they would not have provided those protections. After all, one would not expect to find a Bill of Rights in Heaven; it would be an affront to God.
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"The American people, along with our elected representatives, whether they're Republicans or Democrats, care less about what is and what is not permissible under our Constitution. They think Congress has the right to do anything upon which they can secure a majority vote, whether they have the constitutional or moral authority to do so or not."
--George Mason economics professor
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