July 25, 2009

So You Think You Know Universal Health Care

Now is the time at SDA when we juxtapose!

Canadians Only: Can you name a friend, family member, or Canadian politician who has traveled to the US for medical treatment in the past 10 years?
No free polls

Americans Only: Can you name a friend, family member, or American politician who has traveled to Canada for medical treatment in the past 10 years?
No free polls

Posted by Kate at July 25, 2009 12:05 PM

You'd think Canada Customes would be stepping up border security what with our 'free' health care.

Posted by: Eskimo at July 25, 2009 12:24 PM

You'd think more Canadians would have heard of Belinda Stronach.

Posted by: Kate at July 25, 2009 12:27 PM

One story out of many: my brother's friend was experiencing headaches severe enough to need an MRI. Naturally, he could not get one in Canada. He crossed the border, was examined and diagnosed. To my knowledge, he is fine now (this was a few years ago).
I would like to know what we are paying for if we are not getting any services here.

Posted by: Osumashi Kinyobe at July 25, 2009 12:33 PM

Brian Mulroney's mother.

Posted by: set you free at July 25, 2009 12:36 PM

I'm a proponent of privatized health care for Canadians, but I have to wonder how people of average income would respond to a poll (on either side of the border) asking whether people wanted the system in their country, or the system in the other country. Perhaps it's fair to say that both systems need reforming, not that one is better than the other for all people in all circumstances. On our side, more privatization would probably act to reduce waiting times in general by streamlining the market forces just as in any other enterprise. On their side, people need better protection against catastrophic losses that our system addresses. Perhaps there are other countries besides our two which could provide further comparisons in this debate over what kind of health care is best. In any case, the trick on both sides of the border is to stay healthy, that's the only guaranteed affordable option.

Posted by: Peter O'Donnell at July 25, 2009 12:39 PM

Speaking of Belinda Stronach, she has one of the more accurately descriptive anagrams: Rich Blonde Satan.

Also at the times when you can't get down to the States becuase of your busy agenda, its nice to be able to cut into the front of the lineup.

Posted by: ward at July 25, 2009 12:45 PM

And how many of the Yanks that got health care here were on holidays? If I remember correctly,the only reason they came here was for our cheap drugs.

Posted by: Justthinkin at July 25, 2009 12:48 PM

This reminds me of leftists in the West and communism. The leftists would fall all over themselves in admiration of the USSR, China and Cuba, but strangely they never burned a path to move to any of their beloved regimes.

Posted by: Alain at July 25, 2009 1:03 PM


Posted by: dr kill at July 25, 2009 1:18 PM

It is my opinion that the Canadian Health System suffers from excessive "drainage" of funding by the oxymoron of "Wellness Programs" (slush funding of social engineering initiatives). The amount of money spent on primary care is limited by this bureaucratic juggernaut. The idea that wellness saves health costs is nonsense, Charles Krauthammer put it in its proper perspective "Death is Cheaper"

These programs need to qualify & be funded by an independent program, fully disclosed to the taxpayers and not hidden in health care.

If the US avoids the Wellness initiatives, that steal money away from primary care, they could actually have a working system. The bill in congress is full of initiatives like bicycle paths & all the above social engineering (AGW

Posted by: Phillip G. Shaw at July 25, 2009 1:21 PM

Only Liberals care who Belinda Stronach is ;.)
Peter most likely doesn't.

Posted by: Ken at July 25, 2009 1:29 PM

sounding a similar note, I wonder what the ratio is of Canadian doctors moving to the USA vs American doctors moving to Canada ?


Our system isn't a real health system, it is a front for the public sector unions to take extreme advantage of their state sanctioned monopoly so they can feather bed their ranks, hold the system and Canadians hostage for excessive wages and benefits and enrich the their taxpayer backed pot-o-gold pensions.

Posted by: Fred at July 25, 2009 1:37 PM

A major cost and difference U.S., vs. Can. health costs is the significant cost in U.S. of medical mal-practise insurance paid by Doctors annually, - the ambulance chasers (trial lawyers)are greedy there. Also because of the mal-practice concern Doctors request extra and probably extraneous tests all adding to costs.

Posted by: MIkeW at July 25, 2009 1:49 PM

You'll notice that the word "tort" does not pass Obama's lips when he discuses "reform".

Posted by: Kate at July 25, 2009 1:51 PM

I don't understand why people think that travelling to the US for care is some how a sign that the Canadian health system is fatally flawed.

The fact is that any public health system needs parallel private system to deal with things that the public system does not provide. In Canada, the US provides our parallel private system. If the US did not allow us access to that system then politicians would have been forced to allow private clinics to open in Canada.

The US system is a nightmare that only provides good care to those that can pay. Those who cannot pay are much worse off than the average Canadian even if that Canadian has to travel to US for some care.

Posted by: Raven at July 25, 2009 1:52 PM

Former Quebec PM and now deceased Robert Bourassa went to the National Cancer Institute in Maryland for some of his skin cancer treatments. Paid out of his own pocket with your tax dollars too.

Posted by: Mississauga Matt at July 25, 2009 2:00 PM

I often wonder about the incidence of health care fraud. If an American crosses the border, and has a friend/relative with a health care card, one would think it's pretty easy to access Canadian health care for "free" without detection, save for catastrophic illness

Posted by: Erik Larsen at July 25, 2009 2:08 PM

It is not the health care in the US that is the problem. The care is some of the best - if not the best - in the world. It is health insurance that is in need of change. That being said, yes,millions are uninsured. But estimates put 25% of those millions as illegal aliens, millions more are eligible for medicare but have chosen not to sign up and millions are between jobs,moving or waiting for insurance policies to kick in. How about getting people signed up under the existing programs or make health insurance more portable? I am not sure the answer lies in putting the government in charge of health care. I cannot think of any programs they have managed better than the private sector.

Posted by: Jenn at July 25, 2009 2:09 PM

US hospitals are a major component of our system. It will be interesting to see how rationing south of the border affects our system. Canadians should be speaking out against what Obama is trying to do. What will the rest of the world do if the US goes down this path ???

Posted by: erl at July 25, 2009 2:14 PM

Raven: Everyone gets health care in the US - especially illegal aliens. Doctors and hospitals are not allowed to turn you away. They have medicare and medicaid and programs for veterans and seniors and pharmacare, etc, etc etc. One of the goals of Presidebt Owebama's health care reform is to force everyone to get insurance so they cannot freeload on the system.

It is a myth that Americans have a capitalist health care system - it is the most regulated part of the American economy. For a brief overview see Ann Coulter's latest column.

Posted by: Fritz at July 25, 2009 2:19 PM

It is a myth that Americans have a capitalist health care system - it is the most regulated part of the American economy. For a brief overview see Ann Coulter's latest column.

Posted by: Fritz at July 25, 2009 2:20 PM

erl, mayhap we will be motivated to fix our own busted crap when we can't borrow theirs anymore?

Hey, it could happen.

Posted by: The Phantom at July 25, 2009 3:04 PM

John Chretien's kid when he couldn't make a funeral the Liberal plane couldn't fly that far. All the other same model planes could. Florida.

Posted by: speedy at July 25, 2009 3:48 PM

The Empty Suit is working tirelessly to destroy anything good in the US, that it may be replaced with his Buddy Chavez's form of government. Little did they know that they were voting in a Socialist Racist.

Posted by: Pat at July 25, 2009 3:59 PM

You'd think SDA readers would understand about gaming online polls.

Posted by: djb at July 25, 2009 4:04 PM

Canadian hospitals are "block funded".

Each hospital is required to function within that state (government)allotted funding.
Rather than compete for patients hospitals will turn away or delay (ration?) care to patients.
"Shortage of beds" is the mantra.
It's not shortage of beds, the annual allotted budget may be near exhaustion, so good luck if you need a hip or knee replaced or a Cat scan or MRI.
And just like the education system, the health care is in a strangle hold by the unions in the state run ( monopoly) system.
No competition to break the cycle, and no disicentive for user pay up front, after all it's "free", eh?

Posted by: Joe Molnar at July 25, 2009 4:07 PM

jack layton

Posted by: curious_george at July 25, 2009 4:10 PM

Of course, the American system is vastly superior in every respect. So why aren't Steve Harper and Brad Wall breathing a word about this obviously self-evident truth...indeed, why aren't they making the scrapping of the inferior Canadian system and adopting the near perfect US system the major plank in their next campaign?
Hmmm, Kate? Why is that?

Posted by: philboy at July 25, 2009 5:09 PM

In one aspect at least the American system is far superior to the Canadian - no wait times. In Canada my dog had a sore leg, was diagnosed and had surgery within a week. In February of 2008 I noticed a fuzziness in my left eye. 2 weeks to see my eye doctor, 4 months to see an eye surgeon, 12 months for my surgery which I just got last Monday because they had a cancellation and I could no longer drive or read anything except the computer screen.

Both health systems have flaws but if its a choice between one or the other my guess is that most people would choose the American. Especially the over 4 million Canadians with no doctor.

Posted by: Fritz at July 25, 2009 6:02 PM

A work colleague has :mouse shoulder" and needs physiotherapy. But, he wants a diagnosis. A visit to his doctor tells him he should get an ultra-sound to see what damage has been done. 6 months. He figures for $100, he can go to hthe local "private" MRI clinic in Hull, Quebec (we are in Ottawa, Ontario) and get in pretty quick. His doctor says he can get him a CAT scan more quickly.

He doesn't even need the ultra-sound but this should be readily accessible, it is so low tech. The MRI is the quickest, but it is "private" cash money. I know what I would do.

Posted by: RW at July 25, 2009 6:10 PM

What I would do; what I DID do in a similar circumstance, was go straight to the physio. I knew what my problem was, it didn't take a doctor to determine the problem. It cost money; I chose a sports physio clinic, so I knew they knew this type of injury. Yes, it cost me ready cash, but I got fixed good in three months.

Sod the Government Motors of health care.

Only thing that pisses me off is that I am still forced to pay the Government Motors health care insurance. I can do a better job myself, but I am not allowed to in this Stalinist system.

Be very aware, Americans.

Posted by: RW at July 25, 2009 6:15 PM

Hmmm, Kate? Why is that?

philboy at July 25, 2009 5:09 PM

Because of liberal knee-jerkers like you, Philboy.

Posted by: RW at July 25, 2009 6:17 PM

The US Medicare program is a racist plan to inject steroids into the "Affirmative Action" programs. It's not rocket science, just read the pages in the 880's. They're talking preference, not just quotas and then there's serious money to Acorn for God knows what.

It bloody stinks and if I get hurt or sick, there won't be a US for me to go to to get good and fast medical help.

Posted by: Pat at July 25, 2009 6:18 PM

To discuss this in a little more meaningful way, there are two issues here:

1) How to keep health care affordable;
2) How to make it accessable for all

1) Health care is ultimately not affordable; with today's state of knowledge and technology, we can spend an infinite amount of money on health care, and we will still get sick and die. That may change in 10,000 years, but until then, health care must be rationed.

2) Given that it must be rationed (see (1)), it can be made accessible through money or bureaucratic dictat. The latter is triage by age group, political connection or money. The former is triage by money.

Now, in the US, they could reduce the price of health care insurance by controlling Medical Malpractice Lawsuites. The Dems don't mention this as they are sponsored, in part, by malpractice lawyers. The need to protect from malpractice lawsuites results in multyiple, unnecessary tests, thus higher costs, and higher insurance premiums.

In Canada, the state monopoly and control of the health care system results in fewer tests and less desire to treat less favored groups, such as the old.

Posted by: RW at July 25, 2009 6:25 PM

Another distortion about the US health care system: "50 million people don't have heaklth care in surance". True; but of those 50 million, how many need health care? And, should they need it, they do get serviced through medicaid. Yes, they can break a leg and get screwed for a few hudnred bucks, but, they pay for it. That's what credit cards are for - emergencies. Doesn't the risk of illness also encourage healthy behavior?

Posted by: RW at July 25, 2009 6:31 PM

Lets play a game, name the Liberals, NDP, and Bloc politicians who have gone to the states for medical care.I'll start:

Jean Chretien, ex-Prime Minister

Posted by: the rat at July 25, 2009 7:09 PM

Did I read this in the latest National Review? According to the New York Times (of all papers) 77% of Americans are content with their healthcare. There are approx. 45 millions Americans who aren't covered by health insurance. 1/5 of these aren't Americans, 1/5 of them are covered my Medicare for the poor, which is a form of insurance, 2/5 are young, mobile and seemingly, immortal, and the other 1/5 make more than $75,000 per household, and therefore pay as they go.

Posted by: Larry Bennett at July 25, 2009 7:28 PM

Larry Bennett gets it!
The overwhelming, overwhelming majority of Americans - including the desperately poor - can and do receive the medical care they need under the current confused expensive patchwork system.
I am in my 50s, and every single person I know - every single one, who never worked a day in his or her life (for whatever reason: incapacitated, heroine addict, whatever) has gotten healthcare as good as what I have paid for or my employer pays for me, tens of thousand$$$ .
What's more, now, when the insurance companies say "no," you can complain to the government. Under the new regime: who are you going to complain to? The government will be both judge and jury of every aspect of your care and life.

Posted by: ericfromnewyork at July 25, 2009 7:56 PM

This is a brilliant idea, and is pretty indicative of the results of the two systems on the whole. I do wonder what studies they are going by in the USA to reach their conclusions and come up with the "plan." If they would only do a study that answers this question, the warning that the data gives is: let's not rush into anything. Something is working well here and we don't want to destroy that.

Posted by: GreyOne40 at July 25, 2009 8:38 PM

Perhaps some others might be able validate whether this is true, as it was information that recently came up in conversation.

Part of the problem with Canadas system is that hospital budgets are estimated and paid at the beginning of the year. As such each treatment the hospital performs is a drain on that budget.

As such the administrator needs to protect that budget to ensure the hospital does not run out of money, so services get cut, as opposed to the hospital being paid on for services performed on a moving forward basis which does not hobble the hospital or limit the number of services it can perform.

There is no incentives for the hospital to perform services, but they are incentivized to reduce services.

Posted by: ward at July 25, 2009 9:00 PM

Well my wife is in Malaysia right now getting tested, they have a full private and full public system there. An MRI, 6 hrs with a Neurologist, a few days of various tests has cost $600 Canadian so far, to compare the the public system here was not going to see her till Oct with an MRI sometime after that. Our private clincs were going to charge close to $2,000 for an MRI and one visit to the Neurologist.

Posted by: Colin at July 25, 2009 9:12 PM

Posted by: philboy at July 25, 2009 5:09 PM

Because, trollboy, canadians have been programmed from birth to believe that healthcare is a "right" that may only be provided by the state. In fact, canucks are programmed to believe the government is not only expected to take charge of innumerable areas of private life, but (incredibly) can do same more efficiently and cost-effectively than the private sector. The result is that, as a nation, we are much more reliant on the Nanny State to make the big decisions for us, rather than taking the responsibility and accountability on ourselves.

Concerning the poll, I'd be interested in any verifiable data that shows if any Americans make use of Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto. That'd be likely the only canuck hospital that I could imagine would be attractive to americans.

at gmail dot calm

Posted by: mhb at July 25, 2009 9:17 PM

Colin @9:12- best to your wife, I hope she's alright.
I suppose the exchange rate is very good, but still, the idea of a anyone needing to go from Canada to Malaysia for medical treatment is... disconcerting?
A "full private and full public system", together, is, of course, what's needed in any civilized country.

Posted by: Black Mamba at July 25, 2009 9:37 PM

ward....what you heard is the ABSOLUTE truth. Here in Edmonchuk,we have one hospital which has stopped ALL elective surgery due to no money. Three others have reduced their MRI procedures by 25%. Again,no bucks.My wife is now getting her MRI at a private clinic,because her Doc thinks our system sucks,and he will not delay tests because of some screwed up system.BTW. Her MRI is costing the gubermint 3500 dinaros.Way to save money,you effin goofs!

Posted by: Justthinkin at July 25, 2009 9:39 PM

Shut up about healthcare already!

It's just another tax. Gotta tap those young healthy folks who could care less, to pay for those old sick folks that vote so consistently. Oh, and they gotta take care of the AMA, the health insurance industry and the drug companies. And the lawyers. Gotta keep those campaign contributions rollin' in.

Diet and for me.

Posted by: cottus at July 26, 2009 12:27 AM

Off the top of my head: jean chretiens brother, saku koivu, three of my clients, and dozens of others. But then I sell insurance to pay for the trip.

Posted by: Gord Tulk at July 26, 2009 12:29 AM

C'mon Kate; if you're going to be fair, question two should be "Do you know anyone in America who has travelled to Canada to obtain prescription drugs?".

Posted by: KevinB at July 26, 2009 1:23 AM

A point that needs to be made more often is that the dramatically higher per capita expenditures by the US for health care and medications subsidize the development of many (maybe most?) of the new therapies used by everyone. If the US healthcare system is fully socialized, that goose will cease to lay golden eggs and improvements to medical technology will dramatically slow.

Posted by: Sadistic Eristic at July 26, 2009 6:02 AM

"The US system is a nightmare that only provides good care to those that can pay"

This is such bullshit. The poor get free medical care which is probably better than Canadian care, as they benefit from the supply created by the private system. There are those who are not poor, who choose to spend their cash on other things than paying into the health care system, then they get stung by their decision. That is true. I don't have a ton of sympathy for them

"Do you know anyone in America who has traveled to Canada to obtain prescription drugs"

Where do those cheap, effective, life prolonging drugs come from, I wonder?

I once asked a Canadian to name a drug developed in Canada, and his example was the cervical cancer vaccine. I said, "wow, what a surprise, the one drug he could name was targeted at a politically protected group." I would rather not have politics come into the decision about where research money goes.

Posted by: tim in vermont at July 26, 2009 6:16 AM

The question is too focused.

The question you should be asking is:

"Americans Only: Can you name a friend, family member, or American politician who has traveled abroad for medical treatment in the past 10 years?"

The simple reason is that Canadian healthcare is very expensive if you are not covered by governemtn insurance. Health tourism numbers to countries like India are rising rapidly because they are more affordable even after the 1500 dollar airfare is factored in.

Not rocket science. Canada is just too expensive if you are paying out of your own pocket. Registering at a hospital in Toronto alone will set you back 400 dollars - nearly 1/3rd the airfare to India. Airfare to Canada costs about 300-400 and so on.

Posted by: wallstone at July 26, 2009 7:33 AM

we should be very concerned about medical care. we have far to many people involved in health care and they don't do a real good job. if 50% of the paperpushers were removed and 50% of the so called managers removed and those who actually deliver medical care were increased we would see wait times and diagnosis improved. oh, and fewer government morons involved in the process. we have to pay no matter which vehicle you use to move the cash.

Posted by: old white guy at July 26, 2009 8:56 AM

Who cares if you have to wait in the emergency ward for 36 hours and even possibly die without anyone noticing.

Who cares if you have to wait 3 years for a new hip or cancer surgery.

Who cares that VIP's like athletes and politicians get bumped to the front of the line for instant care.

Just make sure I don't have to pay anything when i go to the doctore ok, eh?

Oh, and make sure no one can buy their way ahead of me in the line, cause that is just unfair, very uncanadian eh. I'm ok with the hockey players getting fast care, and of course we need our Liberal overlords healed fast because i am too stupid to think for myself and need them to tell me what to do.

Posted by: Average Canadian at July 26, 2009 11:18 AM

Post by: old white guy at July 26, 2009 8:56 AM

Complete agreement with above post. When has anybody heard of a cut-back in the bureaucracy. They will cut back from building maintenance, cleaning staff, nurses, operating rooms, operating support staff, RNs before they touch the money handlers.

Posted by: Merle Underwood at July 26, 2009 12:09 PM

Here is what I don't get. My husband has had 2 MRIs, a few months apart, no waiting (called on Monday, was booked for Friday). He went on Friday nights around 10PM, and both times the technicians mentioned they would maybe see 2 patients until morning even though they run 24/7. I guess no one wants to get up in the middle of the night for possibly life saving diagnostics??? They would rather wait 6 months to go on a Monday afternoon????

Live in Ottawa, MRI's at the old Riverside Hospital (not sure what it's called now).

So what is going on?

Posted by: Anne (not from Cornwall) at July 26, 2009 12:26 PM

If you dare, do a google search for
"Canadian health care opinion poll"
Read some of the poll numbers.
It will surprise you

Posted by: norris hall at July 26, 2009 12:26 PM

Great point.

If our inbred little socialist backwater had the magic bullet for health care you'd think the developed world would be knocking down our doors to get some. But they aren't.

Maybe the whole buzz about Canada's superior public health system is just pure political fabrication. Think that's possible?

Posted by: voltaire's bastard at July 26, 2009 1:13 PM

"I'm ok with the hockey players getting fast care"

That's a red herring. In toronto, pro sports players paid cash for MRI diagnostics that had to be done after hours, as the Ministry didn't have the funds to staff them beyond 1 shift a day. So Mrs. McGillicuddy with her bumb hip wasn't pushed out of line, the healthcare system got a cash infusion, the technician got paid overtime, and the athlete didn't have to go to the US for the same service.

But that was a talking point in liar mcguinty's platform, to make sure "high-paid athletes don't go to the head of the line for healthcare treatment".

What a complete and utter load of BS, and shame on the ignorant ontario sheeple for swallowing it, like the rest of his lies.

at gmail d0t calm

Posted by: mhb at July 26, 2009 1:24 PM

Next you should ask how many Canadians know doctors who have moved to the US to work in the American system. I can personally think of 2.

Posted by: Stevo at July 26, 2009 9:46 PM

Iggy . What about Iggy.

a pseudo American who must have dropped in on a health clinic for at least a via gra pill.

Posted by: cal2 at July 26, 2009 9:55 PM

The truth, of course, is that visiting the emergency room in a medical crisis is no substitute for regular care. Furthermore, while a hospital will treat you whether or not you can pay, it will also bill you — and the bill won’t be waived unless you’re destitute. As a result, uninsured working Americans avoid visiting emergency rooms if at all possible, because they’re terrified by the potential cost: medical expenses are one of the prime causes of personal bankruptcy.

Posted by: Pepster at July 26, 2009 11:32 PM

Tim in Vermont:


Average Canadian:

Who cares if you have to wait 3 years for a new hip or cancer surgery.

In what alternate universe? Cardiac surgery? Just over one month wait time in Ontario. Hip replacement? Less than six months. Cancer? Less than two months. But, please, don't let a simple thing like facts get in the way of your polemic.

Posted by: KevinB at July 27, 2009 12:38 AM

Kevin b:

that's the Average wait time. In northern Ontario it's well over a year. In sk it's eigthteen months for a hip. And that is not longer because of the large number of purchased surgeryies in Calgary.

Currently there is a town in north central ab - population 25000 that has two gps. A third is coming next month and his client list is being pre assembled by drawing names from a drum.

Check into how long it takes to geta colonoscopy - ifyou have no symptoms itcan take over eighteen months. And PET scans are virtually non-existent in Canada. As someone who is familiar with it's value were I or a loved one diagnosed with cancer I would not undergo treatment without getting those scans done as needed.

Posted by: Gord Tulk at July 27, 2009 5:49 AM

Mr. Shaw, too late! We're being "wellness'd" to death in the U. S. already. My company jumped on the bandwagon several years ago and spends hundreds of thousands annually to stage "wellness fairs" and other stuff. They try every bribe they can think of for folks to enter smoking cessation programs; attend rotating Weight Watcher classes; fund a massive and free gym downstairs with a multitude of associated exercise classes.
After teleprompter jesus was elected and my worst fears began to see the light of day, I bought a dog and now walk 2 - 3 miles every afternoon and up to 6 on the weekends. I also bought a bunch of guns and ammo.

Posted by: Mazzuchelli at July 27, 2009 2:59 PM

Although the poll's point is well taken, it's still a stupid poll. Take out "politicians" and you'll get rather dramatically different results, I'll wager.

Posted by: Darrell at July 27, 2009 3:59 PM

Posted by: Darrell at>

"'s still a stupid poll. Take out "politicians" and you'll get rather dramatically different results......"

Ha ha ha.........unbelievable!

Posted by: Knight 99 at July 27, 2009 5:32 PM

So basically you guys can look at the US, see that 40+ million Americans are without health insurance, and that those who do have it still end up getting raked over the coals, and that stats show that Americans are generally more unhealthy, and live shorter lives, and yet SOMEHOW you still think they're better off. Solely because private care is consistent with your ideology.

Man. That's pretty effen stupid. Lucky for you most Canadians are too smart to fall for the propaganda being churned out by the American "healthcare" industry.

Posted by: John at July 28, 2009 2:37 PM