Nowhere To Send Canadians

Many people are talking about “single-payer health care”. Many people know that “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009” is President Obama’s way of starting us down the road to a single-payer system.

Do you know what a single-payer health care system is?

Single-payer health insurance operates by arranging the payment of services to doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers from a single source established and managed by government. This source replaces private insurance companies with a single, public entity which would provide health insurance -but not health treatment- typically to all citizen,s or all legal residents.

Single-payer health care funding would operate as a public service and is a way to deliver near-universal or universal health care. The fund can be managed by the government directly or as a publicly owned and regulated agency.[2] Australia’s Medicare, Canada’s Medicare, and healthcare in Taiwan are examples of single-payer universal health care systems.

President Obama is a proponent of a single payer universal health care plan. That’s what he’d like to see. Don’t believe me? Listen to him say it in his own words.

While HR 3200, the health care bill may not mention the single-payer system by that very name, it sure references a lot of the same “options” as a single-payer system and it sure covers all the basis for Medicare doesn’t it. Remember, Australia and Canada both call their plans “Medicare”.

As much as people love to complain about our current health care system here in the United States, there are a few facts most of those people forget to mention. Did you know,

  • Americans have better survival rates than Europeans for common cancers.
    • Breast cancer mortality is 52 percent higher in Germany than in the United States, and 88 percent higher in the United Kingdom. Prostate cancer mortality is 604 percent higher in the U.K. and 457 percent higher in Norway. The mortality rate for colorectal cancer among British men and women is about 40 percent higher.
  • Americans have lower cancer mortality rates than Canadians.
    • Breast cancer mortality is 9 percent higher, prostate cancer is 184 percent higher and colon cancer mortality among men is about 10 percent higher than in the United States.
  • Americans have better access to treatment for chronic diseases than patients in other developed countries.
    • Some 56 percent of Americans who could benefit are taking statins, which reduce cholesterol and protect against heart disease. By comparison, of those patients who could benefit from these drugs, only 36 percent of the Dutch, 29 percent of the Swiss, 26 percent of Germans, 23 percent of Britons and 17 percent of Italians receive them.
  • Americans have better access to preventive cancer screening than Canadians.
    • Take the proportion of the appropriate-age population groups who have received recommended tests for breast, cervical, prostate and colon cancer:
      • Nine of 10 middle-aged American women (89 percent) have had a mammogram, compared to less than three-fourths of Canadians (72 percent).
      • Nearly all American women (96 percent) have had a pap smear, compared to less than 90 percent of Canadians.
      • More than half of American men (54 percent) have had a PSA test, compared to less than 1 in 6 Canadians (16 percent).
      • Nearly one-third of Americans (30 percent) have had a colonoscopy, compared with less than 1 in 20 Canadians (5 percent).
  • Americans spend less time waiting for care than patients in Canada and the U.K.
    • Canadian and British patients wait about twice as long – sometimes more than a year – to see a specialist, to have elective surgery like hip replacements or to get radiation treatment for cancer.[6] All told, 827,429 people are waiting for some type of procedure in Canada.[7] In England, nearly 1.8 million people are waiting for a hospital admission or outpatient treatment.

Why are President Obama and Congress trying to re-design our entire system from the ground up when we could easily be providing insurance for just those who need it right now?

If HR3200 is allowed to pass, it will allow the single-payer health care system to gain a foothold in America and none of those facts listed above will be relevant within a year. Once it is adopted, things will just get worse.

Remember the other day when I mentioned our own personal medical nightmare when our son’s appendix ruptured? While I thank God every day that he survived, I honestly believe if we lived in Canada, he would be dead right now. We were lucky when we walked in the door of the emergency room that day. We were seen within minutes of arriving (even though it seemed like hours at the time). I cannot imagine what I would have done if the following had happened to us.

You tell the nurse that your son must be seen by a doctor immediately – it’s an emergency! – as his condition is worsening by the minute. The nurse tells you, stone-faced, to go and sit in the waiting room to wait for a triage nurse. Having no choice, you do what you are told and join twenty or so others in line in front of you. You are given nothing to help make your son more comfortable – no damp facecloth, no bedpan for the vomit, nothing.

When a triage nurse finally strolls in a half hour later your son is too weak to respond to her and you begin to panic. Finally, a doctor appears and says it’s just a “bug” and that you should not be playing “armchair doctor” by “diagnosing” appendicitis. He orders some time-consuming tests anyway, because you have shown him that you are very, very angry. Six hours later the test results come back positive for appendicitis.

Make sure you read Cathy LeBoeuf-Schouten’s “My Canadian Healthcare Horror Story“. If that wasn’t bad enough, watch this.

Why on Earth would our politicians be considering any plan that could lead to single-payer health care? You would have to be a moron to ignore the statistical fact that it would ruin health care in our country and people would die because of it.

Do we really want morons like this running our country? Do we really want to allow them to pass such a measure here in the United States? Contact your member of Congress today and tell them not to support this bill or any other bill that opens the door for the single-payer system in America.

4 thoughts on “Nowhere To Send Canadians

  1. Regarding single payer health system:

    In Canada, the provinces administer health services; consequently, each province has its own single payer system. One great advantage of a compulsory single payer system is that you are always covered for health care and don’t have to worry about getting coverage when you change jobs or move about the country. A single payer system is also very efficient from the standpoint of billing. A doctor simply bills his provincial government and is paid. The doctors’ association negotiates a payment schedule with the province concerned for all services offered by the system and so very few paper pushers are required, compared to a situation with hundreds of competing private health plans.

    As for your statistics regarding cancer deaths and various diagnostic tests, they are not the whole story. The Canadian death rate for lung cancer for example, is lower than in the U.S. Also, there is a debate about whether the high usage of some of the diagnostic tests you mentioned are really necessary. At this point in time, one result of the Canadian single payer system is a considerably lower level of infant mortality and a longer average life span in Canada compared to the USA. Prior to implementation of a single payer system with universal coverage in 1970, the infant mortality rate and life spans in Canada and the USA were virtually identical.

    Personally, I don’t know anyone who does not support our health care system. I have a relative, now retired, who was once president of a billion dollar multinational corporation based in the USA. One reason he maintains a home in Canada (as well as a home in a warm part of the USA) is to keep his Canadian health care coverage. Canadians visiting the USA need private health insurance. You want to believe that the private insurer flies the sick Canadian back home to Canadian medicare soon as possible.

    • I have a few issues with your comment, because of personal experience.

      I know for a fact that no one tried to get my aunt back to Canada as soon as they could when she suffered her stroke, but that’s a story for another day.

      You’re right, however, that cancer survival rates are not the whole story, and there is good and bad on each side of the border.

      Me? I’ll choose to stay on the side of innovation and medical breakthroughs anyday. It’s one thing to know you have basic health care in a single payer system where budgets determine the total amount of treatment each year, and it’s quite another to know that if I walk in the door of a hospital with a serious condition my chances of living are much greater being here the United States.

      Like the title of this post implies, where would people go for decent treatment for serious conditions if we subjected ourselves to the same style of health care?

  2. Michael:

    The reason that the private insurers of Canadians who fall ill in the USA want to get the patient back to Canada is because American health care is costing them serious money. (This was the case for one of my sisters-in-law who became ill in Florida). As soon as the Canadian patient returns to Canada, the private insurer of course, no longer has to pay. The provinces used to pay for their “snowbirds” health costs incurred in Florida and other warm places in the U.S., but that is no longer the case as they no longer wish to pay for the very costly American medical charges. When a Canadian turns 80 years of age he/she often can no longer afford to go to Florida for the winter because the private insurance rates rise a great deal.

    I am sorry about the health outcomes of your two relatives that you mentioned. I can have no opinion on the kind of care that they received as I do not know the relevant circumstances. I do know that we have some very good doctors and of course some that are not so good. Among the good would be the Toronto doctor who was flown to the U.S. a few years ago to treat Al Gore’s son, who I believe had been hit by a car and suffered a head injury.

    While it is possible that the outcomes of your hospitals might be better than in Canada as you suggest, we do know that infant mortality is lower and lifespan is longer in Canada. So that would indicate our hospitals are doing a good job overall. Or maybe we just have a lot of healthy Canadians who never go near a hospital! That way there’s less chance of being done in by a klutzy surgeon or by a deadly bacteria.

    Bruce

  3. Not to re-hash things too much again, but single statistics such as infant mortality and longer lifespan don’t go far in proving health care is better.

    What good is living longer if you’re in pain or living a lower quality of life? This is not to say it happens in every case. There are examples good and bad on both sides of the border, and we could discuss them all day til we were blue in the face.

    The fact of the matter is there are a number of factors in determining the true quality of health care and each persons measurement of those factors can vary a great deal.

    Personally, I would much rather live a shorter life if it meant I had a higher quality of life, and health care, in my remaining years.

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