Stats make U.S.-style health care a tough sell

A piece in the Edmonton Journal begins with three stunning and gripping paragraphs. Anyone on the fence about the benefits of universal health care needs to read this.

The writer said, “Statistics for 2009 compiled by Harvard Medical School and the U.S. Census Bureau show that, in the insurance-dominated U.S. healthcare system, 45,000 Americans died because they had no health insurance; 922,819 Americans went bankrupt because of medical expenses; 50,700,000 Americans have no health insurance.

The comparable figures from the Canadian health-care system are zero, zero and zero.

Which health-care system would you rather have?”

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10 Responses to Stats make U.S.-style health care a tough sell

  1. WOOF says:

    OMG, please don’t give these people any suggestions to have another study. We cannot afford the cost of more consultants, committees, inquiries, etc, etc. And when it’s all said and done they’ll send “THEIR” edited version of any reports to the MINISTER OF HEALTH who will take 15 yrs to review and decide the report is not CONCLUSIVE………..sooooooooooo, lets hire some more consultants, etc, etc, etc for more studies…….blah, blah, blah. Long past due the whole lot is tossed.

    But to the question……..give me the US style where medical staff is accountable and stop telling me how lucky I am to have this 3rd rate system where nobody gets quality health care.

    • The author of this post isn’t promoting more discussion and study. He’s saying don’t let the vested interests and ideologues subvert our system. We need change, but changing it to a pay model like that in the U.S. is not the answer. A few hard numbers will arm Canadians against those who would change our system for their benefit, not ours, and these same numbers should have Canadians thinking more about the problems within our system.

      Thanks for caring enough to comment.

  2. ausca says:

    45,000 Americans died because they couldn’t afford it; 922,819 Americans went bankrupt because they couldn’t afford it, and comparable figures in Canada might be zero and zero.

    So how many Canadians died waiting, even though they could afford it?

    We need to change the way we manage public health care, and comparing ourselves to the arguably failed US model won’t help. I wonder how many people died waiting in France or Japan?

    • I’m posting this because there are people in Ottawa and amongst the chattering classes who have been pushing – and will be pushing harder – for more privatization. The Canadian public needs to be armed with hard numbers to fight back against the statistics that the pro-privatization side will use to make their argument.

      The problem in Canada is that the people who have inside knowledge of the system, like front-line health care workers and the medical professionals, have been too quiet. It’s not a matter a money, it’s how it’s managed and spent.

  3. Australia has both private and public. Considering my own experience, I’d say there are advantages to having the public system face a little competition from a private system. It makes for more innovation and greater flexibility.

    The truth of the matter is that Canadian public health care does not apply to all health needs and people must sometimes resort to private means (or make special appeals for charitable help). For myself, I have had treatment in the USA that I could not get in Canada. The primary thing that sets the Canadian Health Care system apart from all the rest is that the public part of the health care is protected by a non-compete clause.

    The issues are difficult. I think you are absolutely correct to point towards top-heavy management. Onerous bureaucratic rules and vogons may also be an issue?

    At least helpheathcare is spotting a few holes in the dyke, that’s got to help…

    • I think we have an opportunity – and a duty – to try to fix the system we have before we risk crossing a line from which we won’t be able to backtrack. Watch this space – and The Herald – next week for some alternatives.

  4. ausca says:

    I’ve lived under the Australian system (although it was last 25 years ago) and I was far more impressed by ours.

    In Oz, you can have the best health care your money can buy.

    Like the US, if you can afford the top private premiums, you can get immediate attention in the best private hospitals with the nicest private wards. Otherwise you wait, and you pay 15% of each consultation with a GP. The government bulk bills 85% of the going rate, and you pay the rest.

    Actually, the notion of ‘private’ health insurance down there is a little misleading.

    in 1998, the cost of private insurance premiums had reached the point that large numbers of people were exiting in droves to the public system – so much so that the health contribution funds were threatening to move into a more profitable line of business. The conservative Howard government responded by REFUNDING 30% of annual private premiums, and just in case you failed to get the message, they imposed a LEVY on income tax that INCREASED every year a taxpayer foolishly chose not to buy private health insurance. So all Australians are compelled to underwrite ‘private’ health insurance in Australia. Would you like to see that here?

    Last I heard, the private hospitals still recruited the best and the brightest from the public system with better remuneration, superior facilities etc., and this did not help the private system. Besides, we already have two tier health care in Canada. If you can’t wait 2 years for a knee replacement, hop on down to New York and for the right money you can have it fixed next week. No waiting.

    I’d personally rather not toss the baby out with the bathwater. We need to reform the way we manage public health care, to cut the waste and ensure it’s run for the primary benefit of the patients, not the convenience of the administration. Harper and Flaherty’s evident contempt for public health care is also a potential opportunity for the Provinces. Instead of circling the wagons to perpetually assail Ottawa for fixing Federal contribution to nominal GDP after 2017, they need to make it work within this limit, at least for the foreseeable future.

    When the Provinces finally show they can be creative and determined, some day they may be able to wheedle more out of Ottawa. Right now tossing ever more money at it is like perpetual transfusion to cure a massive hemorrhage. Makes more sense arrest the bleeding!

  5. Mike says:

    Canada already has a two tiered health care system – the whole premise this blog is founded on is flawed. Red Herring central. Canada is 70% public, the United States is 50% public (ever hear of Medicare or Medicaid??)

    Ever tried to stay healthy without access to secondary health insurance in this country? Ever get cancer without a secondary health care plan in this country? Yeah let me know how you fare if you do – I sincerely hope you don’t have to.

    You can always tell the vested interests of a union loving socialist thug, and this blog has it written all over in giant red letters. America is not the leader in health care, but they most certainly are for health outcomes when it comes to cancer. And also – Canada’s healthcare system has some of the worst incidence of Adverse Medical events of anywhere in the world – but no it can’t be those unionized workers at fault, right? Get real.

    • You’re right, we do have a two-tiered system. One for those, like you who have special access (I see you’re writing from the IWK website, so presumably you get better attention than the rest of us) and a second that is uncaring or overburdened.

      We have a system with plenty of people in charge, but no one seems to be responsible for failure.

      As for you cancer without health insurance comment, yes, my family member who looked after herself, was active, not overweight, ate responsibility, did everything her doctors told her to do, and died of cancer that five doctors on seven occasions told me didn’t exist. In nine months, our hospital wouldn’t conduct an MRI. Eight times they refused to do one. I was told, “An MRI won’t show what’s wrong.” Guess what? They were wrong.

      I don’t need a lecture from you on cancer.

      If having private insurance is the only way to guarantee adequate health care in Nova Scotia or Canada, why aren’t we prosecuting hospital administrators for failing to abide by the Canada Health Act? If an individual’s personal wealth is the real determining factor in the quality of care institutions like yours provide, then you are in violation of the Act and have deceived the public who pay your salary.

      As for me being a union-loving socialist thug, that will make my friends laugh. I have been in management for most of my life. I’ve written two business books. I’ve never belonged to a union, but I do see their value in some situations. And given how Nova Scotia’s hospital administrators ride roughshod over their staff, these people need to have someone standing up for them. It’s a pity it’s not health care executives. Why are unionized nurses or technicians a bad thing? Why isn’t it considered a drain on the system to provide a hospital administrator with a $75,000 car allowance plus pay his gas, vehicle maintenance, insurance and parking? Warren Buffet always laughs that he hears people at his country club, people who live on inherited wealth, bemoaning social assistance to the less fortunate. Buffet says they are no different than those who need public assistance because these heirs did nothing to generate wealth or help anyone else.

      People who are hospitalized didn’t chose to be sick, so let’s get away from blaming the patient and ask why these highly-paid executives you work with have gone more a decade without solving any of the on-going problems in our health care system?

  6. Bill Swan says:

    It’s funny how when someone makes sense they label you a pinko. Anonymous ideology-based knee-jerkerism (to coin a phrase) sucks the life out of real dialogue.

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