NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

SOCIALIZED MEDICINE DOESN'T WORK

July 27, 2007

Government researchers now note that more than 1.5 million Ontarians can't find family physicians. These problems are not unique to Canada -- they characterize all government-run health care systems, says David Gratzer, a physician and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

For example:

  • More than 1 million Britons must wait for some type of care, with 200,000 in line for longer than six months; one cancer patient tried to get an appointment with a specialist, only to have it canceled -- 48 times.
  • In France, the supply of doctors is so limited that during an August 2003 heat wave -- when many doctors were on vacation and hospitals were stretched beyond capacity -- 15,000 elderly citizens died.

Despite this situation, a growing number of prominent Americans are arguing that socialized health care still provides better results for less money.  One often-heard argument is that America lags behind other countries in crude health outcomes, namely life expectancy.  But this statistic can be misleading, says Gratzer:

  • Americans live 75.3 years on average, fewer years than Canadians (77.3) or the French (76.6) or the citizens of any Western European nation save Portugal.
  • Health care influences life expectancy, of course, but a life can end because of a murder, a fall or a car accident.
  • Such factors aren't academic -- homicide rates in the United States are much higher than in other countries.

And if we measure a health care system by how well it serves its sick citizens, American medicine excels. Consider the five-year cancer survival rates:

  • For leukemia, the American survival rate is almost 50 percent; the European rate is just 35 percent.
  • For esophageal carcinoma, the American survival rate is 12 percent; the European rate is just 6 percent.
  • For prostate cancer, the American survival rate is 81.2 percent; in France, it is 61.7 percent; and in England, it is down to just 44.3 percent in England -- a striking variation.

Source: David Gratzer, "A Canadian Doctor Describes How Socialized Medicine Doesn't Work," Investor's Business Daily, July 27, 2007.

 

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