6.30.2009

Don't Blow Out Your Knee In Canada



The abstract of the report says:
When comparing Canada’s single-payer health insurance system with the pluralistic system in the United States, many people mistakenly assume that Canadians enjoy universal coverage while receiving the same quality and quantity of medical goods and services as Americans, but at lower costs. The reality is that, on average, Americans spend more of their incomes on health care, but get faster access to more and better medical resources in return for the money spent.

In truth, the Canadian health insurance system is not cheap at all: it is actually among the most expensive in the world. Recent statistics show that only three other comparable countries (United States, Iceland, and Switzerland) spend more of their national income on health care than Canada. More importantly, Canadians do not get good value for money from their health system. There are many hidden costs in Canadian health care that are ignored by advocates of single-payer systems. [bold added]
All of this information won't be a surprise to readers of this blog, but the chart Perry included immediately reminded me of my Canadian neighbor and his experience with the two health care systems. Quoting my earlier post, on our discussion about life in Canada versus life here:
“And do you know what’s the most expensive of all?” E. asked? “Free universal health care.”

I laughed and said, “Yup, it’s free, but you can’t get any care, right? Unless you drive across the border for your MRI.”

“Funny you should mention that,” he said. “I injured my knee two years ago and the pain kept bothering me. I saw my doctor [in Canada] and he gave me pain meds and a prescription to get an MRI, as he assumed it was a ligament injury. But he said it was a six month wait, and that in reality, they would just keep pushing my appointment back because I didn’t have a life-threatening problem. So I just didn’t get any treatment at all.

Then I moved here, and a few weeks ago I went to the chiropractor. While I was there I mentioned that my knee was also bothering me. The doctor said that he’d write me a prescription for an MRI, and when I went to the desk for the referral, the receptionist said that there was an MRI clinic about 5 minutes away and they might have an opening for me. I asked when, and she said, ‘Tonight or tomorrow.’ I couldn’t believe it. The next day I went to the clinic, got the MRI, and found out it was a slight tear to the ACL and damage to the meniscus. I have laparoscopic surgery scheduled next month.” [bold added]

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