Friday, October 23, 2009

Canadians Die Waiting for Health Care

The Canadian health care system, which is often touted as the future of medicine, has been the subject of controversy for years. So much so, in fact, that the Canadian government is seriously entertaining privatizing major elements of the system.

The surface of the program should discourage most. It is touted as free, but is funded through taxpayer dollars. We are told it is universal, but the country's own Supreme Court says that is only in its lines. In fact, two Canadian justices wrote three years ago that "access to a waiting list is not access to health care."

The system is overused, there is virtually no consumer incentive to act responsibly regarding it, and the results are huge lines, delayed treatments, and even death.

In spite the government's best efforts of controlling every aspect of Canada's health care system, the market has risen to address the needs of a public that has grown discontent of having to wait on a list. Seventeen weeks from the time a general practitioner says one needs a specialist and one actually sees one, is too long for most Canadians. Responding to the need, the British Columbia Automobile Association recently began offering "waiting-list insurance" to some of its members as part of a pilot program.

Those who buy the coverage receive treatment in a private clinic in British Columbia or the United States if they were placed on a government care waiting list longer than 45 days. 45 days is still too long for most, but it was an improvment. The kind of improvement the government could not handle as it shut it down to investigate if the program was legal.

"This is an example of a company that's actively soliciting for clients that have the ability to pay for the privilege of queue-jumping," said Adrian Dix, a member of B.C.'s Legislative Assembly. "In my view, and in the view of the legal opinion that we obtained, it is illegal, and it violated both provincial and national health legislation." This is one of the many dark sides of socialized health care. Not do its proponents want to put everyone in a collective system, they do not want anyone who can afford to do more (like insurance for waiting lists) to have that opportunity. The idea of any elected official -- or any responsible individual -- being opposed to such a program is beyond comprehesion. What is "fair" and "equal" in the Canadian system is the misery.

Kevin Price is Host of the Price of Business, the longest running show on AM 650 (M-F at 11 am) in Houston, Texas and on AOL Radio. His articles often appear in Chicago Sun Times, Reuters, USA Today, and other national media. Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal calls Price the “best business talk show host in the country.” Find out why and visit his blog at www.BizPlusBlog.com and his show site at www.PriceofBusiness.com. You can also find Price on Strategy Room at FoxNews.com.

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