NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 8, 2009

Before America emulates the Canadian health care model with a new trillion-plus-dollar plan, it's worth examining whether government-run systems are all they're cracked up to be, says Sally Pipes, CEO of the Pacific Research Institute.

According to the Fraser Institute:

  • In 2008, the average Canadian waited 17.3 weeks from the time his general practitioner referred him to a specialist until he actually received treatment.
  • That's 86 percent longer than the wait in 1993, when the Institute first started quantifying the problem. In 2008, more than 750,000 Canadians -- 2.8 percent of the population -- were on waiting lists.

In Canada's system, provincial governments dictate what will be spent using global budgets.  There's only so much money per person over the course of a year.  Rigid budgets naturally lead to rationing, says Pipes.

In most cases, though, waiting lists are no laughing matter.  Former Canadian Member of Parliament Belinda Stronach steadfastly opposed any privatization of Canadian health care while in office.  Yet in 2007, after being diagnosed with breast cancer, she effectively opted out of her beloved public system in order to have surgery in California.  For most Canadians, such medical tourism is not an option, says Pipes.

Both Canada and the United States spend ever-greater amounts on health care, thanks to the increased utilization of technology and continuous medical innovation.  But the two nations part ways when managing those expenditures, says Pipes.

Source: Sally C. Pipes, "Coming Soon: The Nightmare from up There," Investor's Business Daily, July 2, 2009.

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