“So, if you’re sick, can you get in to see your doctor right away?” I ask my new Canadian bar buddies.
“Yes,” says one.
“No”, says another.
“Depends,” says a third.
“The problem with your American system is the insurance companies,” says the first one, changing the subject.
“I agree that’s part of it,” says I.
This one isn’t as tricky as the “gun debate”, but it’s still something Canadians are passionate about. I’m actually quite sympathetic with them here. While I have heard some horror stories from Americans who were care givers in Canada, I know our system is broke financially and broken in practice as well. But then, I’m not sure the Canadian model is the way to go for the USA.
Well, here’s where you have to acknowledge the differences between the USA and Canada, and before you tell us how great it is in the Great White North, understand it might not be so great down here.
So, what are the differences?
Doctors have higher salary expectations in the USA Now, I think they’re outrageously high here, and I have a fix for that: just put more doctors into the system (supply and demand) and fix the torts, and voila! Salaries will go down. What I am not in favor of is socializing the pay scale so that doctors earn so little they don’t care. Here’s where I’m going to raise some Canadian ire as well: I’d say on average our doctors and hospitals are better. You do get better quality when you pay ten times as much. But then, I’m not sure I want a guy cutting on me who’s being paid minimum wage, either.
Illegal aliens Our hospitals are filled with them now. Open it up to nationalized health care, and I’ll never see a doctor again without waiting behind an army of Guatemalan children lined up for sniffle shots. The illegals have to get all the way through the USA to finally get to Canada. They almost never do. They just proceed until they find the juiciest welfare teat and suckle up to it. Usually, that’s Minnesota, just south of the border. Lucky you, Canada!
Torts Nationalized care won’t fix a thing as long as juries award Lotto winnings to successful litigants. We can’t have intelligent jurors, which would be the best solution, because if you’ve ever looked at a jury of your peers, you’d think you were at the Driver’s License Bureau in some Third World barrio. So we must impose some kind of arbitrary discipline on these unruly imbeciles in the form of award caps. Or we could just hand the cases over to judges or mediators who specialize in such. In Canada, if a doctor amputates the wrong arm he has to pay for the prosthetic device…or maybe throw in a set of free Ginsu knives in the bargain as punitive damages…here, we give a billion bucks to an itinerant farm worker.
Obesity OK, we’re fat. Canadians? Yeah, chunky, but we’re just plain fat. We’re going to need more health care.
Demographics Similar to above, but in addition to being fat, we have large populations of hutus who are prone to shooting each other and doing boatloads of illegal drugs. By the way, they’re fat, too. Canada has large populations of thin and industrious Asians who live to be 100 with nary a visit to the hospital and then keel over dead in their dry cleaning business while folding clothes.
Americans don’t play by the rules If the system can be gamed, we’re going to do it. Sure, people will get caught over-billing and prescribing huge doses of amphetamines to phantom social security numbers, but that won’t stop them from trying. We’re bound to cheat more than the Canadians do.
Insurance, hospitals, and drug companies What Canadians don’t seem to understand is that all of our politicians are for sale. Yes, including Obama. That’s why his stab at socialized medicine left virtually all of the old system in place and didn’t even come close to touching the very rich and bloated insurance companies, doctors, hospitals, or drug companies. I didn’t think it was possible, but Obama actually took the most expensive and bloated system of health care on the planet and made it worse. It wasn’t easy, or cheap, but he did find a way. Hope! Change! I hope we change this idiot soon…I assume Canadian politicians are for sale as well, but, since the dollars aren’t as big up north, it’s easier for them to just say no to medical lobbyists.
The AMA I would put those guys number 3 on the most influential PAC’s lobbying Congresscreatures, and they almost always get their way (the top 2 are AIPAC-Israel and “defense” companies). They will stand in the way when it comes time to build new medical schools. They will try to avoid outsourcing patient care to nurse practitioners. They will make sure patients must go through gatekeepers to see a doctor that actually knows something about their health problem. They will, in short, make sure that their nest is feathered.
American expectations We actually DO have the best health care in the world, if you can afford it. The problem is, most of us can’t anymore. We expect we will have the best doctors. We expect that we will have expensive diagnostic equipment even at Jerkwater Hospital in Butte, Utah. We expect that if we smoke, drink, and have promiscuous sex with anonymous partners while eating pure lard for forty years that someone will make sure we still live to be 90, even if we have to be kept on life support and eat through a tube. Canadians expect a serviceable health care system that won’t get them killed as long as they try to do their part.
I’m still not convinced, though, that Canadians get great health care. I’ve just heard too many stories to the contrary, and there are too many of them seeking treatment outside of their own country. That said, our system is absolutely, positively, irrevocably broken, and no one seems even slightly interested in fixing it. It seems like the motto is “drive it ’til the wheels fall off.” It’s the American way. Don’t mess with it. And don’t tell us about no Communist/socialist medicine you dole out in Vancouver, either. 🙂
If you want to hear about a personal horror story, you can read about it here.