NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 13, 2009

The state guides health care for our two closest allies: Great Britain and Canada.  Like us, these are prosperous, industrial, Anglophone democracies.   Nevertheless, compared to America, they suffer higher death rates for diseases, their patients experience severe pain, and they ration medical services, says Deroy Murdock, a columnist and media fellow with the Hoover Institution.

Look what you're missing in the United Kingdom, say Murdock:

  • Breast cancer kills 25 percent of its American victims; in Great Britain, the Vatican of single-payer medicine, breast cancer extinguishes 46 percent of its targets.
  • Prostate cancer is fatal to 19 percent of its American patients; the National Center for Policy Analysis reports that it kills 57 percent of Britons it strikes.
  • Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) data show that the U.K.'s 2005 heart-attack fatality rate was 19.5 percent higher than America's; this may correspond to angioplasties, which were only 21.3 percent as common there as here.
  • The U.K.'s National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) just announced plans to cut its 60,000 annual steroid injections for severe back-pain sufferers to just 3,000, condemning tens of thousands to needless pain and suffering.

Things don't look much better up north, under Canadian socialized medicine, says Murdock:

  • Canada has one-third fewer doctors per capita than the OECD average; the doctor shortage is a direct result of government rationing, since provinces intervened to restrict class sizes in major Canadian medical schools in the 1990s, says Dr. David Gratzer, a Canadian physician and Manhattan Institute scholar (some towns address the doctor dearth with lotteries in which citizens compete for rare medical appointments).
  • 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, says Pacific Research Institute president Sally Pipes, a Canadian native; that's 86 percent longer than the wait in 1993, when the (Fraser) Institute first started quantifying the problem.
  • Such sloth includes a median 9.7-week wait for an MRI exam, 31.7 weeks to see a neurosurgeon, and 36.7 weeks -- nearly nine months -- to visit an orthopedic surgeon.
  • Canadian supreme court justice Marie Deschamps wrote in her 2005 majority opinion in Chaoulli v. Quebec: This case shows that delays in the public health care system are widespread, and that, in some cases, patients die as a result of waiting lists for public health care.

Government medicine has proved an excruciating disaster in the United Kingdom and Canada.  Our allies' experiences with this dreadful idea should horrify rather than inspire everyday Americans, says Murdock.

Source: Deroy Murdock, "Government Medicine Should Horrify Americans," Real Clear Politics, August 7, 2009.

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