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Find The Boots

Rantings from a few corporate types about life, technology, travel, guns, politics, and everything good in the world.

A Canadian Doctor Describes How Socialized Medicine Doesn't Work

Monday, July 30, 2007

Investor's Business Daily has an article about the transformation of a Canadian doctor into a believer in the free market:
I was once a believer in socialized medicine. As a Canadian, I had soaked up the belief that government-run health care was truly compassionate. What I knew about American health care was unappealing: high expenses and lots of uninsured people.

My health care prejudices crumbled on the way to a medical school class. On a subzero Winnipeg morning in 1997, I cut across the hospital emergency room to shave a few minutes off my frigid commute.

Swinging open the door, I stepped into a nightmare: the ER overflowed with elderly people on stretchers, waiting for admission. Some, it turned out, had waited five days. The air stank with sweat and urine. Right then, I began to reconsider everything that I thought I knew about Canadian health care.

I soon discovered that the problems went well beyond overcrowded ERs. Patients had to wait for practically any diagnostic test or procedure, such as the man with persistent pain from a hernia operation whom we referred to a pain clinic — with a three-year wait list; or the woman with breast cancer who needed to wait four months for radiation therapy, when the standard of care was four weeks.

Government researchers now note that more than 1.5 million Ontarians (or 12% of that province's population) can't find family physicians. Health officials in one Nova Scotia community actually resorted to a lottery to determine who'd get a doctor's appointment.

These problems are not unique to Canada — they characterize all government-run health care systems.
I lived in a small town in Canada for several years. We didn't have a doctor. The nearest doctor was 40 miles away, and he was only in his office every other Wednesday. You needed to get an appointment several weeks in advance. So if you were going to get sick with something, say pneumonia, you needed to plan well ahead. Of course, we could always drive 300 miles to the "Big City" and wait in an emergency room for a few days.

Yes, it was "free" (we won't talk about the crushing taxation), but what good is "free" if you can't get in to see a doctor?

Compare that to the US. I had a sports injury last fall. The day after I went to the doctor I had an MRI. I could have had it that afternoon, but I had a business meeting in my schedule I couldn't get out of. A week later I was at a top specialist, who suggested surgery the next Tuesday. Yes, I pay a lot for health insurance. It's a benefit I've had to work hard for.

It's funny how the same people who want us to have socialized medicine in the US are up in arms about the conditions at Walter Reed. I'll make this real simple: Walter Reed = Socialized Medicine. When the government runs health care you get the same level of service as you do at the DMV, the IRS, and the Social Security Administration. Why is this so surprising?

No one in the US is denied health care. Even the illegal aliens understand this. Just show up at an emergency room and you'll get care. True, that's not the optimal way of dealing with many issues, but it's far better than no doctor at all -- which is what Hillary would like to give us.

Hat top to GOP Bloggers for bird dogging this article.


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