September 1st, 2009


Canadians And Health Care: Who Is Coming Across the Border?

As the health care debate rages across America we find ourselves at odds with each other over just what is the appropriate level of government intervention in health care. Do we follow the Canadian model? With a full 43% of some provincial budgets going to health care alone? Do we follow the French model which is over $2b in debt? At least the Canadian system apparently work because according to one study very few Canadians go south of the border into the US looking for health care, but in the same study we find the existence of the much dreaded "wait-list", especially for such services as radiation oncology treatment, total knee replacement, coronary artery bypass surgery, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and cataract surgery among other services not specifically listed; but wait!

According to the Waiting Times Primer (also available here (PDF)), there is no wait-list for life threatening services. As a matter of fact, that document fully claims on page 1:
Indeed, while waiting lists certainly do exist for certain non-emergent procedures, it is not at all clear that the "waiting list crisis" that is so often talked about by the media and opponents of single payer actually exists.

Yet, the study from Health Affairs very clearly states that there is one, and not only that but it exists for procedures such as coronary artery bypass surgery, radiation oncology treatment (which if I had to go on a list for when receiving my own treatment for cancer, I'd probably be dead) and those are only an example of the many services that wait-lists exist for!

Where to go from here, I think, is the next honest question. Do you believe the Waiting Times Primer pdf or the seemingly comprehensive and well researched study? To be completely open and honest I stopped reading the PDF at page one when I came across that because there is an obvious discrepancy between the PDF and the study. Which do I believe? Certainly both cannot be true as some would like to have us believe. Either there are waiting lines (as anecdotal evidence a friend of mine in Canada waited nearly a year for a hernia operation), or there are not.

[tags]health, medicine, politics, government[/tags]