Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Another Canadian Politician Gets Treatment In the USA

Belinda Stronach, Canadian MP and former cabinet minister recently travelled to California for her breast cancer surgery, rather than having it performed within the Canadian medical system. (Here's a related story.)

Her people are denying that it indicates any lack of confidence in the Canadian system.

I don't fault someone for seeking the best treatment for themselves, or for following the advice of their doctors. That is completely rational. What I do find horrible is a system that explicitly forbids patients from spending their own money on what's best for them, and instead requires that they wait in line until the government decides it's acceptable for them to receive treatment.

Some Canadians don't mind their system too much, because they can avoid the waiting lists. Wealthy Canadians just travel to the USA and purchase the care they need here. The politically well-connected use their "pull" to move up the waiting lists without too many questions being asked -- something that ordinary Canadians bitterly refer to as "queue jumping." The people who are harmed the most by the Canadian single-payer system are the sickest, the poor, and those without special political connections.

(Via Jim May and Richard Bramwell.)