NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 10, 2009

You've undoubtedly heard of the "Happy Canadian."  Maybe you know one.  These are the Canadian ex-pats who tell us how wonderful the Canadian health care system really is.  They were invariably treated without delay, had access to all the finest medical technology and, best of all, it was free.  The problem is, it's just not true, says Tom Patterson, chairman of the Goldwater Institute and a former state senator.

According to the Fraser Institute, a Canadian think tank:

  • In spite of the Canadian government's best efforts to address an acknowledged problem, Canadians are still spending huge amounts of time in lines for health care.
  • There is an across-the-board median delay of 16.1 weeks from referral to a specialist until treatment actually begins.

Canadians don't fare any better for routine preventive care, according to Fraser:

  • According to the Canadian group Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), 65 percent of Canadian women aged 40 to 64 have had a mammogram within the last five years, that's the same percentage as uninsured American women, but far below the 87 percent of insured American women who have had the procedure.
  • Just 16 percent of Canadian men have been screened for prostate cancer, compared to 31 percent of uninsured American men and 52 percent of insured American men.

Rationing, including with the use of wait times, is one of the ways to control the otherwise infinite demand for services in a country with socialized health care.  As these numbers show, Americans are right to be skeptical of the claimed benefits of socialized health care systems.  Canadians with government health care don't have more access to treatment, says Patterson.

Source: Tom Patterson, "Canadians don't have better access to routine preventative health care," Goldwater Institute, November 4, 2009; based upon: Nadeem Esmail, "Waiting Your Turn; Hospital Waiting Lists in Canada: 2009 Report," Fraser Institute, October 2009.


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