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Thoughts Online Magazine
Collected Articles on Culture & Politics
National Health Single Payer System 
7th-Mar-2007 10:55 am
Sure, people say it's ok to handle the routine bruises and scrapes of living in modern society. But anything more exotic turns out to be not so good. I know: there are those who insist that statistics favor single-payer systems. But the reality has been somewhat different in Canada:

In his Wall Street Journal article, Lemieux quotes Professor Livio Di Matteo of Lakehead University in Ontario describing a three-tier system of health care in Canada. The very rich, DiMatteo pointed out, can go to the U.S. for rapid, personalized, high-tech treatment. A second tier, consisting of well-informed, aggressive Canadians, knows how to navigate the government system to gain every possible advantage, like getting to the head of the queue.

The third tier are the unconnected citizens, who make up the vast majority of patients in the Canadian health care system. They must suffer the slings and arrows of a system notoriously oblivious to anguish, discomfort, humiliation, and other affronts perpetrated by unfeeling bureaucrats on patients whose pain is most definitely not felt by those in charge.

The point is that while Canada has a single-payer system, the US system is part of it for all practical purposes: those who can afford private treatment cross the border (it is illegal to offer private treatment in Canada).
8th-Mar-2007 05:21 am (UTC)
Health-care in Canada is actually a bit more complicated than the authour might be aware. For one, the Great White North is a federation like the United States, and health-care is a matter of provincial jurisdiction. The exact extent of public coverage thus varies from province to province (or territory to territory), and it's often not illegal to offer private services - in Quebec for instance, dentistry, optometry, and medical scans such as MRIs & ultrasounds can be done by private clinics. In some jurisdictions, private clinics can offer the same services as public ones, in others they can only offer services that aren't part of the public mandate.

That said, there is federal law on the matter, due to the federal gov't having negotiated a treaty between the federated provinces in which a minimum standard of care was agreed to for all persons whom are within the boundaries of the federation. For residents and citizens, it also stipulates a common agreement for the home province of the patient to "pay the bills" of whatever treatment they might recieve in another jurisdiction. Confusing yet? It gets worse. :-D

The health-care shortages that have occured in some places in Canada over the last seven years often have completely different causes, and often the administrative and political authorities come up with completely differene (but equally bone-headed) solutions from year to year:

In Quebec, the "shortages" don't actually exist. There is more than enough money, equipment, and waiting rooms buuutttttt...
i) for several years, a seperatist goverment hid large amounts of (federally transfered) money for reasons of political checanerie,
ii) the province is bureaucrat-happy with hospitals often diverting rediculous amounts of time, energy, and money to paper-work and administration, this is primarily a cultural problem that doesn't exist in other places in the country,
iii) due to issues of doctor unions, government control fetishes, and the aforementioned bureaucracy, an artificial shortage of doctors, nurses, and specialists was created during the 1990s.

How have these problems been addressed? By cutting the administration you may ask? By the unions letting people go to medical school if they want? By actually letting the hospitals know about the money that's sitting in the bank? Are you on drugs? Of course we didn't do any of that! We paid for people to go somewhere else to get surgery - it was easier than actually doing something smart! ^_^

And let's not get started on Alberta or Ontario: two provinces where shortages have been artificially created for ideological or political goals...
8th-Mar-2007 04:14 pm (UTC)

So messed up, and in a country with generally sensible people! Imagine what would happen here!
9th-Mar-2007 02:09 am (UTC)
Imagine what would happen here!

You might end up with HMOs! Thank God it's all theoretical! :-D
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