NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 21, 2007

Arnold Relman, the former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, writes passionately about why the United States should adopt a Canadian-style health care system.  However, the truth is government run and financed health care -- both in the United States and abroad -- stinks, says Robert Goldberg, vice president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest.


  • Canada has pumped billions of dollars into its system to reduce waiting times for specialty services, but according to Health Canada, the waiting times and shortages have gotten worse.
  • Price controls cause shortages of doctors in the United Kingdom that in turn are filled by waiving immigration regulations that allow neurologists with bomb-making skills into the National Health Service (NHS).
  • In the United States, the State Children's Health Insurance Program -- 10 years after its enactment -- has failed to enroll 3-out-of-5 Medicaid eligible children in private health care plans and access to care has barely increased.

According to Relman, the problem with our commercialized, profit-driven system is that physicians tend to gravitate toward highly paid specialties, resulting in a major shortage of primary-care doctors.  What he doesn't mention is that in the United States, we have market-based responses to such problems.  For example, consider the rapid expansion of retail health clinics:

  • MinuteClinics offers walk-in health care centers for common medical problems and offer vaccinations, checkups, etc.
  • People can pay cash or use their regular insurance, and most visits are 15 minutes or less with no appointment needed.
  • In many cases, MinuteClinics are often affiliated with local hospital or physician practices, and will refer customers to a primary care doctor if they don't have one. 
  • Additionally, the center generates an electronic medical record that customers and doctors can access through the phone, fax or the Internet.

Source: Robert Goldberg, "An unhealthy health care plan," Washington Times, August 21, 2007.


Browse more articles on Health Issues