NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


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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