Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Followup to Kennedy OpEd

After I posted Dr. Richard Parker's OpEd on Senator Kennedy and "Universal Health Care", I received the following e-mail from a physician who trained in Canada but now works in the US. I am posting this with his permission:
When I was a radiology resident at the University of Toronto, Toronto General Hospital ran short of funds. In order to ration funds the radiology department closed the MR scanner at 5 pm even for emergencies. One evening however I was paged interpret an emergent MRI. A member of parliament had developed acute back pain and we fired up the MRI scanner and performed the study. He happened to be the head of the NDP (New Democratic Party). The NDP is the socialist party and evolved from the CCF party. The CCF party was founded by Tommy Douglas, the original creator of Medicare!

Socialist leaders usually are the best fed and get the best medical care. It is easy to support socialist ideals when you are so rich that taxes and budgets are irrelevant.

Thank you for sharing this.
This sort of abuse by celebrities and those with political connections is so rampant in Canada that ordinary Canadians have a word for those who jump to the head of the government waiting lists for medical care -- "queue jumping":
Dr. Day's [president of the Canadian Medical Association] experience is one example of what he calls the "parallel public system," a system of social connections that make it easier for people in a certain class of society to get quick access to medical treatment.

He admits he himself used the system when he needed knee surgery, jumping a long queue to get the procedure done within a week by a surgeon who was also his friend.

It's not realistic, Dr. Day believes, to expect people not to use their connections to jump the queue when their own or their family's health is at stake.
More generally, it's not realistic to set up a government system that pits patients rational self-interest in getting good health care against following the rules. This is why a free market which allows patients, providers, and insurers to voluntarily contract for services according to their own best judgment to their mutual benefit is the right system -- because it aligns one's rational self interest with the rules.

The notion that "universal health care" will deliver medical treatment to all on the basis of need without any political considerations is a fantasy, and is one of the 20 myths debunked in the following article from the National Center for Policy Analysis, "20 Myths About Single-Payer Health Insurance". Similar information can be found here at, "The Myths of Single-Payer Health Care" by David Hogberg.