Monday, March 3, 2008

A true story about CanadaCare...why we don't want it here

Perhaps due to its proximity, the health care system of Canada is held up as an example by many folks left of center, from Ralph Nader to Michael Moore, and many (saner) people as well. I hope that this is due to the fact that Canada seems like a friendly efficient country, and their reputation adds a layer of integrity to the idea of a health care plan. Because heaven knows their plan actually sucks.

Fact is, Canadians aren't happy with their wonderful health care system. I lived in Canada for six years, and I can tell you from up close and personal that it isn't what it's cracked up to be. I write this post because of a recent experience of a friend of mine who lives in in Montreal.

She is a professional in the city, earning a notable salary that would command respect in the United States, and would come with a strong health care plan. She was out socializing one night, and had a bad fall, landing with her arm underneath her. Her arm in turn had landed on and broken a glass.

She was taken to the hospital. Where she sat in the emergency room for 7 hours. Seven hours before a doctor saw her. In a metropolitan emergency room. Badgering from her companion did no good.

Eventually, the doctor arrived, shuddered at the damage to her artery, and did the best he could. In a follow-up appointment, the professional said that she would need "emergency surgery" as there was concern that sensation and prehension in this arm could be gone for good.

In that wonderful Canadian health care system, in the second largest city in the country, what's the wait time for this "emergency surgery"?

Twelve days.

That's hours to be seen in an emergency room, twelve days for emergency surgery. And before you ask, Canadians understand the word "emergency" to have the same meaning as Americans do.
(Now, people who know a lot more than me about government health care plans usually prefer, say, Germany to Canada's model. Fair enough. But any liberal who idolizes Canada for its health care system is ignorant. To take another example, I saw a study in wait times in Canada that amazed me. The statistic that stays with me is this: the average wait time from seeking an appointment over cancer concerns to the first treatment of chemotherapy in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan is 11-13 months.)

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