June 14, 2005



From The Wall Street Journal: Unsocialized Medicine; A landmark ruling exposes Canada's health-care inequity:

The larger lesson here is that health care isn't immune from the laws of economics. Politicians can't wave a wand and provide equal coverage for all merely by declaring medical care to be a "right," in the word that is currently popular on the American left.

There are only two ways to allocate any good or service: through prices, as is done in a market economy, or lines dictated by government, as in Canada's system. The socialist claim is that a single-payer system is more equal than one based on prices, but last week's court decision reveals that as an illusion. Or, to put it another way, Canadian health care is equal only in its shared scarcity.

UPDATE I -- June 16: This cartoon appears in today's Investor's Business Daily.

UPDATE II -- June 21: From Capitalism Magazine: Why Canadians Purchase Private Health Insurance by Walter Williams.

The Vancouver, British Columbia-based Fraser Institute keeps track of Canadian waiting times for various medical procedures. According to the Fraser Institute's 14th annual edition of "Waiting Your Turn: Hospital Waiting Lists in Canada (2004)," total waiting time between referral from a general practitioner and treatment, averaged across all 12 specialties and 10 provinces surveyed, rose from 17.7 weeks in 2003 to 17.9 weeks in 2004.

For example, depending on which Canadian province, an MRI requires a wait between 7 and 33 weeks.

Orthopaedic surgery might require a wait of 14 weeks for a referral from a general practitioner to the specialist and then another 24 weeks from the specialist to treatment. That statistic might help explain why Cleveland, Ohio, has become Canada's hip-replacement center.

As reported in a December 2003 story by Kerri Houston for the Frontiers of Freedom Institute titled "Access Denied: Canada's Healthcare System Turns Patients into Victims," in some instances, patients die on the waiting list because they become too sick to tolerate a procedure. Canada's Prime Minister Paul Martin responded to the court's decision saying, "We're not going to have a two-tier healthcare system in this country. What we want to do is strengthen the public healthcare system." That's the standard callous political response. He's telling Canadians to continue waiting, continue suffering and perhaps dying until the day comes when there's no more waiting.

Posted by Forkum at June 14, 2005 09:00 PM