Friday, August 28, 2009

Sloan Compares Canada and the US

In the August 26, 2009 Grand Junction Free Press, former Canadian resident Kelly Sloan compares the health care systems of Canada and the US.

Here are some excerpts from, "Why the U.S. can't afford Canadian-style health care":
When Tommy Douglas, architect of Canada's government-run health care system, (and head of North America's first socialist government) nursed his pet project to fruition in the early 1960s, he envisioned a medical utopia, where contented citizens, freed from the ravages of market forces, heartless insurance companies, and greedy doctors (sound familiar?) would receive timely, quality medical care on demand, provided by an army of cheery yet determined practitioners whose only concern in the world was to advance the general welfare of their fellow man. Paradise in a lab coat.

Some 40 years later, the reality bears little semblance to the idealistic vision of Kiefer Sutherland's grandpa. Skyrocketing costs, crippling tax rates, chronic doctor shortages, months-long waits for routine tests, (years for many specialized services), and oftentimes outright denial of procedures are the norm. Governments, desperate to control costs and prevent a total collapse of the system, are continuously de-listing previously covered procedures, and seeking new taxes or even, (heaven forbid) user fees.

As a Canadian, I can testify to the elongated waits for tests that often result in additional and more costly treatment, when you do finally get around to being treated. Those who can afford it flock south for their medical care.

So what went wrong?...
Sloan also offers some positive recommendations to improve the current American system:
This is not to say that improvements can't be made. America has been in the business of improving things since its inception more than 200 years ago. Few would deny there are costs associated with the system that can be controlled. Tort reform (it is somewhat ironic that under President Obama's plan, the only segment of the health care industry who would not be making great financial sacrifices are the trial lawyers), addressing the issue of portability, easing mandates on insurance companies, and Health Savings Accounts would all go a long way toward creating real competition, lowering costs, and helping solve the problem of dropped coverage associated with job loss and pre-existing conditions, as individuals took ownership of their insurance. Many of these common sense reforms were, incidentally, voted down by previous Congresses, which included then-senator Obama in the "nay" column.
These would be excellent steps in the right direction -- and would constitute real reform.

(Read the full text of "Why the U.S. can't afford Canadian-style health care".)