Healthcare: Canada v.s the U.S.A.

fat couple exercise

According to the  USA Today, President Obama has begun his health care push.

child medicine Healthcare: Canada v.s the U.S.A.And you know what that means.

Like it or not, President Obama wants to give you a great big taste of Canadian style healthcare.

So, I thought that I would take a few minutes to let you know a little bit about my experience with the Canadian health care system.

  1. It is a massive (government) bureaucracy that eats up a lot of money and can frustrate the people who rely upon it.
  2. It’s full of hardworking doctors/nurses/technicians/etc who work long hours trying to keep sick people from dying
  3. It’s seems to work fairly effectively – according to the CIA, Canadian life expectancy is 81.23 yrs. (#8 in the world)

So, let’s compare that to the current American health care system.

  1. It is a massive (medical insurance) bureaucracy that eats up a lot of money and can frustrate the people who rely upon it.
  2. It’s full of hardworking doctors/nurses/technicians/etc who work long hours trying to keep sick people from dying
  3. It’s seems to work fairly effectively – according to the CIA, American life expectancy is 78.11 yrs. (#50 in the world)

Hmmm, seems pretty similar to me.

Except of course, the Canadian system is a public health care system. And everyone knows that a public system is essentially socialist, which is another word for communist, and dammit, no way is America going to have a communist health care system.

wow

I got a little excited there…sorry about that.

But seriously, other than this political/ideological argument, what are the differences between our two systems of health care?

1. Quantity of Life (longevity): We all want to live a long life. And without nitpicking, it looks like both countries are doing pretty good at increasing longevity.

Let’s call quantity of life a tie.

2.   Quality of Life: This one is a little trickier. Is there a difference between the general health & vitality of Canadians and Americans? According to all of the latest studies, both nations are growing more fat and less fit year after year. And as far as I can see, both of our health care systems are based on treating illness instead of  preventing illness.

fat couple exercise Healthcare: Canada v.s the U.S.A.

So, once again, let’s call this a tie…both countries stink.

3.   Cost: In 2006, per-capita spending for health care in the U.S. was US$6,714; in Canada, US$3,678. (dollar amounts adjusted for purchasing power parity)

healthcare costs Healthcare: Canada v.s the U.S.A.

Winner: Canada

And now for a personal story.

My wife blew out her back a few months ago…by sneezing.

I’m not kidding. Excrutiating pain, incapacitation, inability to work, sleep, sit, etc….

So, how did we deal with it?

Because of our personal experience with acute injuries such as my wife’s bad back, we knew that treatment needed to begin as soon as possible.We did not want this acute injury to become a chronic injury.

And that is the biggest problem with Canada’s public health care system. SPEED of SERVICE. Acute injuries become chronic injuries.

So, instead of going through the normal channels (go see the family doc, get an x-ray, wait for a consult, start public-pay physio, etc…), we began a series of physical therapy treatment – chiro, massage, acupuncture, laser and finally osteopathic. All on our dime. Yes, this is possible in socialist Canada.

We also made an appointment (the next day) with our publicly funded sports medicine doctor. Great guy, lots of experience working with professional athletes. And while my wife isn’t exactly an athlete, we like the fact that they focus on optimum health not just pain management.

At the sports medicine doc, my wife was assessed and given an x-ray at the first appointment.(public pay)

The x-ray showed nothing wrong…Yippee!!!

The next step was a requisition for an MRI. Here’s where it get’s interesting.

If we had followed the “normal” procedure, my wife would be getting her MRI in late November.

However, because my wife is in a lot of pain and is a pro-active kind of gal, she made a few phone calls, day after day and less than 2 weeks later, she had her MRI. (public pay)

Supposedly, this is impossible in the Canadian health care system. When I tell people that we got an MRI in 2 weeks, they don’t believe it. They have bought into the mind virus that Canadians are supposed to wait in line like a good little socialist patients and wait their turn.  Like sheep.

So, what’s the moral of the story?

The Canadian health care system isn’t perfect. But neither is the American system.

  • Wait times in Canada can be longer than in the U.S.
  • Medical expenses are the #1 cause of bankruptcies in the U.S. (Pre-Recession stats) That doesn’t happen in Canada.
  • Both systems ignore disease prevention
  • Both systems spend huge amounts of money trying to save very old, very sick patients
  • In a large part, the Canadian system is run by our government
  • In comparison, the American system is run by insurance companies

Pick your poison…I mean medicine.

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Doug Robb is a personal trainer, a fitness blogger and author, a competitive athlete, a social media nerd and a student of nutrition and exercise science. Since 2008, Doug has brought his real-world experience online via his health & fitness blog, Health Habits.

22 Comments

  1. Carol

    December 12, 2009 at 10:14 am

    I started a website to see the step by step struggle and government petition
    http://www.bettercanadahealthcare.com

    Article on wait times and cross border care
    http://www.insidetoronto.com/feature/article/217734–part-i-cross-border-care

  2. Carol

    December 12, 2009 at 10:12 am

    I’m a Canadian nurse who had to leave Canada for treatment because it took 8 months to get a mammogram for a breast lump. Then after I was informed it was negative it took 2 months to get a biopsy to confirm grade 2 ductal cancer. The worse is yet to come. My husband insisted I get a second opinion and being a nurse I felt I had to stay in Canada and after 3 days of arguing I gave in.
    Good thing I did- at the Mayo within a day they discovered 3 missed breast tumours and I had a double mastectomy. Not nice.
    All my trust is gone. I emailed the surgeon and nurse supervisor at the Toronto hospital to check their machines because what if other women were wrongly diagnosed. The worse is yet to come, never mind the cheal chemo in Canada, etc as well as spending over $70,000 it was worth it because if I stayed and waited I would be dead. I missed 2 months of work and was somewhat present for my family and a neighbour who is also going through breast cancer.

    Canadians need to wake up, siunce that time I have found their is a second tier system even though one is not suppose to exist. So much for fairness. I wrote and called the White House because BEWARE!
    In Canada we need to make the politicians accountable- we elected them. The health minister George Smitherman wouldn’t see me and now he wants to run for mayor- what a joke.

    We have good professionals and the system needs an overhaul.
    We need to make our voices heard- life is precious.

  3. movingforwellness

    August 12, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    I just hope that we can learn the lessons of socialized medicine before we apply it. From what I hear, Europe has really embraced homeopathic alternatives because of their failing system.

  4. totaltransformation

    July 16, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    I would be happy if I could just get a tax credit for my private insurance costs. It amazes me that with all the deductions and tax credits in the U.S. tax code that a citizens can’t deduct (or get a credit for) moneys spent on private health insurance.

  5. Matt Jones

    July 14, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    Never said it could not work, only that with the way our government is working and heading full steam too, it’s not going to work.

    Maybe there are some good things about single payer systems, but I don’t see how not having competition could be better, and I don’t know how you can have any checks and balances as to whether things are kept fair for the consumers if there is only one voice telling you. Also it’s a slippery slope once the government gets in involved, look at our current czar farm and how it’s growing with reckless abandon.

    I have a friend in DK, actually several friends, but one friend in particular who is not a doctor but is taxed at over 60% of his wages and he does not make that much money in the grand scheme of things (maybe $100k). He also has to essentially pay twice the cost of a car when he purchases one because of the additional taxes. Another friend there had been on their welfare system for most of his life until recently and had almost the same standard of living because there isn’t much of a paycheck left after taxes. That’s the type of country I fear the most, no reason to work hard, no reason to try to excel. And don’t doubt there is not corruption in that as well, “everyone is equal, but some are more equal then others” is a great phrase. I’d much rather rely on myself for success rather than hope my government can take care of me and here in the US the playing field is wide open. Besides we are not all the same person so there is no one size fits all plan that is fair to everyone simultaneously EXCEPT for the one YOU choose.

    -Matt

  6. mjlaye

    July 14, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    Why would I want a company that is for-profit to make a health care decision for me? The CEO is accountable to Wall Street not the public or the insurance policy holder. Do you think they even care about the individual when they deny life saving treatments or jack up premiums? Why do you think they have 19-30% overhead versus 3% for Medicare?

    Why as the share of for-profit insurance companies have increased has the cost of healthcare (even normalized for GDP) gone up? Shouldn’t the competition have brought down costs? Obviously, the free-market has failed us before (see banking) and government is not totally inept in doing essential tasks such as education and the military. To me health care is a RIGHT for every person. We should not have to fear going bankrupt just because we get sick.

    We should be penalized for owning a small business, or fear starting a business because we can’t afford the health care costs. That stifles innovation.

    A single payer system could be put in place for a 4% tax on incomes, and a 8% tax on businesses, both of which would be less than they are currently paying in the for profit system.

    The current proposal is going to cost way to much though. Why increase costs when we could lower them. I say either reform it, or leave it be, but don’t create some crazy hybrid monster where there is a government mandate for insurance, but that mandate is to be filled by for profit insurance companies.

  7. alex

    July 14, 2009 at 9:10 am

    Your comparison is interesting but if you put on the table just the poor people and low middle class, I believe that the canadian health care it will performe much better and that’s why a public health system is important because we, as a country, have to think what’s going to bennefit most of people, but hey we’re in north america and here who cares what poor people want to say, right?

  8. Matt Jones

    July 14, 2009 at 12:27 am

    I agree with Steve:

    The first problem with a government takeover here in the US is that our government essentially cannot run anything well. Lobbyists get their whims taken care of before the people, but the politicians have gotten really good at covering that up or diverting attention. Something like 40% of every dollar spent by our government is wasted on bureaucracy, which is especially terrible considering that we are borrowing 50 cents of every dollar spent THIS year (and printing money on the presses as fast as we can and not even talking about it being bad or good). I know our healthcare system now is not the best and could use work, but I don’t see how we can fund it. Europe has a lot of the same problems, and look at our most “socialist” state California, its bankrupt and doesn’t have a clue how to fix it. You can “raise taxes on the rich” but all that will end up doing is making the rich leave, not consume, or not invest which ends up hurting people like you and me that work for people that are richer then us. I have heard someone say that they could confiscate every dollar over $70k made here in the US and we still could not afford the debt load we have taken on just THIS year alone. And once they realize the rich cannot pay for this alone it becomes the middle class, and eventually the working poor that are required to carry the burden. Personally I would much rather work with my own $ then have some politician take it from me and then dictate how it is spent, low taxes for all  On top of this raising taxes stifles the desire to work hard, innovate, and get ahead in life. Who wants to double their income only to receive a fraction of it back in actual return because they hit a new tax bracket? It becomes a game of finding the least amount of effort to live as comfortable as you can, rather than working hard to obtain that comfort you settle for the easier path. That hurts the country because we essentially become lazy drones, more so then we already are…

    The second problem is if we try and it fails utterly we are stuck with it. Once people get dependant on things here in the US, they are willing to riot if they are taken away.

    The third problem is anywhere from 38% to 50% (depending on who’s numbers you use) of Americans don’t even pay federal taxes or have it all refunded back to them, so they would essentially be getting free healthcare. I am all for helping people get on their feet, but I am MUCH more for people helping themselves. I find that things given freely are often taken advantage of, but things earned are generally respected. The US is the most open playing field for advancing yourself, if you don’t have healthcare and are not dependant on others due to disabilities it is not so difficult to try to get ahead far enough to afford healthcare or to get a job that provides it. On top of that once some people have free healthcare it completes their basic needs, welfare/disability/etc to take care of their bills and food, and then healthcare is free, there is little incentive to get out there and contribute to society. I know that in the UK they have entire generations of people living “on the dole” because all of their needs are taken care of there is no need to do anything to change it. They will even move them to another part of town if they want, or buy them new furniture they think it is dated, I would like to avoid this if at all possible in the US.

    -Matt

  9. Steve Parker, M.D.

    July 13, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    Random thoughts on a complex subject :

    1) When politicians are in charge of healthcare, you have to be politically connected to get the best healthcare.

    2) When you have a choice, do you choose a public restroom or a private one? Public transportation or private?

    3) I’ve written about reasons the U.S. ranks poorly on global health measures such as longevity. Actual healthcare contributes only about 10% to health status and premature death. Behavioral patterns, social circumstances, genetics, and environmental exposure contribute the lion’s share. Details are here:
    http://advancedmediterraneandiet.com/blog/?p=125

    4) The U.S. healthcare system is already about 40% socialized. It’s called Medicare and Medicaid.

    5) Greater government involvement always translates into less personal freedom.

    6) Most politicians couldn’t run a hot-dog stand. They are not our best and brightest. Seriously. I don’t want them in charge of my healthcare any more than I want them in charge of my food, housing, employment, and transportation.

    7) The U.S healthcare system has problems, no doubt. But there are better solutions than a government take-over.

  10. BeagleSmuggler

    July 13, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Good comparison. One of the small advantages to the Canadian system (and I do mean small advantage) is that if you are pro-active and advocate for yourself (child, parent, friend) you can get the timely MRI, PET scan, whatever you really need and it will be a hassle, but it won’t bankrupt you.

  11. rambodoc

    July 13, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    Very smartly put comparison! What good is an x-ray for a herniated disc, I wonder? After her disc settles, you gotta get her deadlifting to help prevent this happening again! :-)

  12. DR

    July 13, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    i didn’t see the point of the x-ray either.

    She has starting swimming in the last 2 weeks. I just told her about your deadlift suggestion and she thought you were kidding…lord knows, she doesn’t listen to me when I suggest such a thing

  13. DR

    July 14, 2009 at 7:41 am

    Hi Matt,

    Awesome subject for debate, isn’t it?

    I agree with you that gov’t services often leave something to be desired. But then again, private companies aren’t much better – Enron, US automakers, Goldman Sachs…

    Incompetence/indifference/illegality exists in both the private & public sectors. It’s our collective decision to put up with it. isn’t that why Americans have the right to bear arms. So that their gov’ts won’t try and screw them over? Once again, I come back to the fact that we’re a bunch of sheep who let our tax dollars be wasted.

    Hell, if Republicans wanted to get rid of the pork in gov’t, they could have elected Libertarian Ron Paul

    Re; Problem Two – I agree. Why not a trial program? Obama could go to a state that is struggling fiscally and offer them fiscal guarantees in return for being the test subject for the new system. If it doesn’t work, the feds guarantee to clean up the mess.

    Probably won’t work, but at least the damage would be limited to one state, 5 years, 1/50th the potential cost…

    Third point – A hand up is one thing, but a hand out is another. Telling the difference between the two sometimes gets a little blurry, but I agree with you that there are a lot of stupid gov’t programs run by people in the hand-out industry (social workers) that only serve to justify their continued employment.

    In Toronto, we give bums free booze & cigarettes…seriously…WTF!!!

  14. DR

    July 14, 2009 at 7:21 am

    Hi Steve,

    Complex subject is 100% right.

    For years & years Canadians have been debating making changes to our healthcare system as it eats up an increasingly larger percentage of our gov’t budgets. We sneer at the American model, secretly admire some of the European models and then, in true Canadian fashion, tell ourselves that our system is the best in the world and that it doesn’t need changing…yay Tommy Douglas!!!

    And I think that America is going to be very disappointed with their “new” healthcare system for 2 reasons

    1. Obama is moving way too fast on this. This issue is far too complex to have come up with an effective solution in 6 months. There needs to be more study of other healthcare model, followed by large scale trial projects before attempting to roll this out on a national scale.
    2. Political compromise – Even if Obama’s brain trust has come up with the perfect healthcare program for he USA, all of the political BS going on in congress is going to transform that plan into an unworkable, lobby group ass-kising, partisan pork barrel fiasco. Wait & see.

    But, back to your comments

    1. I never understand this argument. While I agree that the medical community, the ultra-rich and the political elite can pull strings to get the fastest service, the “best” healthcare still depends on the skill of the doctors involved. In the Canadian system, the best doctors work in the public system. And while I agree that high level politicians, other doctors & the uber-rich can get faster service than the great unwashed, is that really any different in the US private system? In fact, I would argue that in the US, not only do doctors, politicians & the very rich get to jump the queue, but we need to add in those connected to the higher levels of the insurance industry. And the truth is, if I had connections that would help a loved one, I would use them as well.

    2. I would choose the better one based upon quality of service & price. That doesn’t necessarily mean private is better than public or vice versa. If I want to get across town during rush hour, the subway is a better choice than my car. It depends on the context.

    For example, in Toronto, the public workers (garbage, construction permits, city run daycares, etc..) are on strike. During this recession and summer heat, our garbage sits festering in public parks so that the union can bank 19 “sick days” a year. This means if they’re not sick, they get paid a days salary for not being sick WTF…In this case, most Torontonians agree that the union can go FU*K itself. In this case, public service sucks. Privatize it.

    It doesn’t have to be this way. But public apathy lets politicians, lobby groups, etc screw up public services. Maybe if we didn’t act like the sheep we are…

    BTW, don’t we all rely on public law enforcement and fire departments? Or would you prefer Blackwater to take over policing America’s cities?

    3. Healthcare should include health promotion / disease prevention, not just the knee-jerk system we have now. Both the US and Canada spend huge amounts of healthcare dollars trying to give very sick people an extra week or two of life while lying in a hospital bed…stupid. Prevent the cancer/diabetes/heart disease in the first place

    4. So why do Americans freak out at the idea of socialized medicine?

    5. And how is the HMO system working for medical choice/freedom?

    6. I agree. it’s too bad. What happened to the Jeffersons and Adamses and Lincolns?

    7. Like what? Not trying to be an ass, but like you said at the start, this is a very complex situation. It’s too bad that the political nature of the discussion forces people to take such polarized positions. On one side, Obama supporters are all for socialized medicine. Republicans/Libertarians/etc are all for private medicine. And no one wants to budge.

    If the goal is for us to live a long, healthy life, should we really care who delivers the services?

    With all of that being said, I still think this is going to end up a big mess and that Obama needs to slow this process down and look at best practices around the world.

  15. Matt Jones

    July 14, 2009 at 9:53 am

    Hey Doug,

    I agree, this is one of the biggest debates of our current time :)

    Private companies do have their issues, the one thing that helps us with private companies is usually (hopefully) there is competition with other companies that will allow us to make a choice where we go and should theoretically keep the companies more in check. Once it is in the government’s hands we only have one choice, and that choice is made by a politician (which we should be able to control but you know how that goes).

    Our right to bear arms was for exactly that purpose, to keep the state afraid of its people so that the state did not disregard the people. Would it ever come to the point of us using that for that purpose? I am not sure, I would like to hope that it never would get close to that, but atm I am having a hard time looking at our future and seeing these plans work. Our debts are unsustainable and the Democrats currently want to add more debt to this so they can give everyone everything, they believe they will be able to tax us and make it sound like an altruistic attempt to “get those greedy rich people” when in fact it will end up hurting us all (cap and trade for example, did you know that a Enron guy came up with this idea first?). If they can win over the lower 50% of the population with rhetoric they think they can lock in their powerbase and by the time the people realize what is really going on it will be too late, we will be socialized from the top down and that’s not just an “easy button” fix.

    I am not Republican personally, I am a registered independent but I am more just simply a conservative. Republicans have lost their way, they spent too much money and got addicted to it. And then they also allowed themselves to be taken in and bullied by the Democrats with the Community Reinvestment act, which has been a huge catalyst to starting the financial downfall we are currently experiencing (Even Bush called for reform on this several times but the Democrats insisted that giving loans to people without income was a good idea and it was working as intended, if you did not agree you must be racist).

    A trial would be better than a complete revamp I agree, there may be some lessons to learn from it and it may be a worthwhile experience, however it will not work this way. It will be all or nothing, and my projection is that if Obama gets what he wants it will be the downfall of the US as a super power. We can’t pay our bills now, healthcare costs a ton of money but it is going to cost more when everyone can go to the doctors at will for free. Try an experiment at work some day, buy a couple of dozen of donuts and place them in some area and mark them FREE and count how many are gone in an hour. The next time charge 25 cents for each one and enforce the price and count how many are gone in 1 hour. I would bet the FREE ones are all or nearly all gone in 1hr whereas you will have a lot more left over if you charge people for them.

    Our assistance programs should be geared to force you back into the workplace, motivating you to try to improve your life. We should not be enabling people to continue their destructive lives by paying for their basic needs. I have known people that think disability is the lotto they can keep playing and hopefully one day they will win, rather than trying to find and keep a job they apply for it over and over…it is sickening. I am horrified that your government pays for cigarettes and alcohol for homeless people but in a way that happens here in the US as well by back channel methods.

    Another method to help others out is via charities, however if you have not heard Obama and the current congress want to dissuade you from donating to them by eliminating some if not all of the tax breaks for donating. I personally believe this is to force more dependence on the government to shore up their power.

    To me healthcare reform would be an emphasis like you have stated on preventing disease, but there is a counter to that argument as well. Preventative medicine does reduce the cost when looked at from the standard methods, but you also have to factor that this better care means the person will continue to be a drain on the system for more time also. They may add 10, 20, heck 30 years to their lives and they may not need as intensive procedures or medications, but you have to consider the cost of those additional years with the whole package as well. I am all for helping people live longer don’t get me wrong, I am just trying to keep a realist view on the subject.

    The only way I will ever feel “right” about giving free healthcare to all is if we mandate mandatory exercise at a government maintained facility where they monitor your biometrics and also provide you with a diet plan that is enforced (somewhat loosely but not too loose). Problem is that they would probably default to inaccurate ways to track you, like BMI, but the goal would be that you had a good nutritional base and exercise base so that any ailments or disease you contract along the way we at least know it was not simply due to inactivity or malnutrition. Still, that’s a scary though aye? The government monitoring your body like they monitor everything else.

    -Matt

  16. DR

    July 14, 2009 at 11:03 am

    Alex,

    I believe that you’re being a little disingenuous when you say “hey we’re in north america and here who cares what poor people want to say, right?”

    Like Steve said, 40% of the U.S. healthcare system is already about 40% socialized. And while it can be argued that the medicare/medicaid system is inferior to the private system, it is FREE.

    Imagine if someone came to your house for dinner and proceeded to tell the chef that their food sucked and that the food at that French bistro down the street was way better and that if you truly cared about them (the poor people), you would have had the fancy french bistro cater the dinner…for FREE

    Would you agree to that, or would you boot them out of your house?

  17. DR

    July 14, 2009 at 11:10 am

    Hey Matt,

    You’re wearing me out with your comments…my brain hurts.

    Gotta say that I agree with pretty much everything you wrote. And like you, I would classify myself an independent.

    What I find most sad is that in both of our countries, there is an incredibly high level of apathy when it comes to politics. And as the saying goes – “You get the government that you deserve”

    Politicians no longer represent their constituents, they represent their parties.

    Sad but true.

    BTW, just to play devil’s advocate a little more, if public healthcare is bad, and private healthcare is good, why doesn’t America privatize the military?

  18. Matt Jones

    July 14, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Sorry I tend to go on and on.

    I would go a step further and say “Politicians no longer represent their constituents, they represent their lobbys and special interest groups”.

    Its not so much that public healthcare is bad versus private, its that you cannot run any business like the government wants to run it. If your a world class doctor how would you feel about being told you can only earn a certain amount of money? Thats how the government thinks they can keep costs down, forcing costs down by brute force. Just think of what it would be like in your current job if someone came in and said your making 25% more then the cap for your position nationwide, you will now be taking a pay cut and you will no longer recieve any raises. Would you be more motivated or less motivated to stay at or become “world class”? Same situation with work hours, if your boss told you that you had to put in a mandatory 12hr day to meet the workload your buisness is seeing but you will not be compensated for it how would you feel? Would your work quality raise, lower, or remain the same?

  19. Matt Jones

    July 14, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    Not saying we don’t need reform of our current system, but we also don’t need a butchering of the system.

    Health care is going up because obesity and other controllable aspects are going up uP UP. Also costs are going up because we are finding new ways to do things every day, it costs money to research, develop, market, and manufacture drugs, procedures, and new equipment and thus we are getting to a point where we can do things to people that we truly can’t afford to do for all. If I had a nutritionist, chef, masseuse, personal trainer(‘s), and state of the art work out equipment and locations I could be a lot healthier then I am now, does that mean the US government (tax payers) should fit the bill so I can live that sort of life?

    That’s a stretched example but at some point someone has to make a hard decision about what or who will receive which items. A single payer system will break this all down logically based on your perceived value to the state. It’s the only way to do this in a fair manner, if your 60 years old and need heart surgery…well maybe you will get it but only after we prioritize people in their 40’s because they still have 20 years of service (tax paying) yet to come whereas you most likely only have 5. You will be just a number awash in the sea of other numbers.

    I honestly feel that a tax credit to allow us to decide our own healthcare fates would do so much more for us then raising taxes and letting the government decide what is best for us. This helps both individuals and businesses and we don’t have to form 15 different organizations with 3 czars to oversee them. I tend to follow this idea with all things, give us more of our $ and let us decide what to do with it, we are intelligent and don’t need slick politicians making all the decisions. How much easier would it be to afford health care, and everything else, if you could keep more of your own money?

    -Matt

  20. mjlaye

    July 14, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    I don’t agree with your politician point and actual think that is the reason the health care bill might be a complete mistake rather than taking it far enough. After all the extra overhead goes in part into the pockets of lobbyists. By making a public single payer option you have eliminated the influence of that group, which still does not eliminate all the other public interest groups, but it starts.
    Plan and simple, if the free market worked in health care then private insurance would have a lower overhead and be more efficient than Medicare. Health care is not something the free market fixes. Capitalism does not solve all.

    I think you miss the point that the government would not own the hospitals (it does in Canada or Britain for that matter). Those are still private enterprises with incentives to develop technology. Akin to weapons or technology developers that sell to the military. So your actual health care is not “run” be the government, merely paid for.
    The government keeps costs down by less overhead. 400 billion in overhead. A hospital in Toronto has 3 people in billing, a similar one in the US has 300. These are facts. This is real money. The taxes needed would be no higher or slightly higher than what the average person pays for their premiums already. For the company it would be the same as what they part of the insurance they cover. These are facts. These are not raised taxes.

    I would ask our friend to the north or across the Atlantic if they see a drop in doctors or nurses because of their government run programs. Are those people now living uncomfortable or working ridiculous hours. I am guessing that this is not the case at all.

    Although a US citizen I am currently working in Denmark as a post-doc. A lot of the students in the lab are MDs and they all say they will make plenty of money and work your typical 40 hour workweek and get their mandatory 4 weeks of vacation. Doctors right now in the US focus heavily on specialized training because being a primary pays nothing. Specialist charge by the procedure, the a la carte service if you will. So the more they work the more they make, and if they want to make more they do more procedures. However, the more primaries you have around the lower the overall health care costs are. So you can reverse this scenario with government run health care by focusing on increasing primary doctors.

    You are spouting off all these “fear” scenarios that have not played themselves out in other countries. Sure the US is unique, but I think if other countries can make it work we can with a similar level of care.

    There is plenty of data out there in support of single health care: http://www.pnhp.org/single_payer_resources/pnhp_research_the_case_for_a_national_health_program.php
    As a cynic, how do you think these people will make money on a single payer program?

  21. alex

    July 15, 2009 at 10:43 am

    I respect your opinion but I don’t think you can compare health care system with restaurants.

    In my opinion anyone who are against a public health system is because have money to pay the bills for surgery or expensive medical medicine.

    I don’t think the public health system doesn’t have flaws, but ask anyone that are against, if they don’t have enough money to pay the bills, would they prefer to have for free? Or they would accept their destiny and die because they didn’t have enough money?

    I’m not saying that’s going to be the cenario for everything, but it happens.

    Just for curiosity, I have a friend who is a cardiologist and works in Canada, guest how much was his paycheck for the first 15 days of work? 9.000 bucks and this was because we was passing most of the time visiting the hospital then looking for pacients, because despite the fact what people believe the doctors in Canada receive per pacient and not per number of hours work.

    It’s a hot topic and there are many different points of view, hard to get a commom sense.

    Take care.

  22. DR

    July 16, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    Or a credit on fitness equipment, preventative medicine, multi-vitamins, fish oils, gym memberships, etc….or how about rewarding communities that promote physical fitness via city planning, fitness programs, expanded park systems, etc…. or companies that institute effective healthy worker programs and so on and so on…..

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