May 21, 2016

Canadian health care: The elephant in the (waiting) room

Bryan KapitzaRebel Blogger

For some incomprehensible reason, Canadians are unwilling to have a serious discussion about health care reform.

Health care is the largest combined expenditure of our provincial and federal governments. Compared to other nations, Canadian health services have the longest wait times, are among the costliest, and least efficient and effective of developed nations.

And still, despite all this evidence, there are powerful ideological groups that insist Canada has the best health care the world and any change would precipitate some sort of catastrophic social calamity.

We hear that "Canadians do not want an American style system." We're told that our system is superior because it covers everyone. But that argument is hardly convincing. Russia has a universal health care system, but it is by no means superior to that of the United States. Universality does not make our health care system better, just different.

Canadians must wake up to the fact that we do not have a public health care system. We have a publicly funded health care system. (The Liberals at least are not confused about this difference as the NDP are).

In Canada, doctors are private contractors. Hospitals are not government run. Dentists, chiropractors, pharmacists all work in the private sector. Canada, just like our neighbor to the south, has a mix of public and private insurers that cover different services. In Canada the government covers your doctor and hospital bills and private insurers cover your dental and pharmaceutical costs. In the US, the least advantaged and the elderly have Medicare while others can choose from a variety of insurers.

Why is the American system more expensive? Primarily because it captures opportunity costs. In Canada, you need to wait months or years for a knee replacement. What price do we assign to that wait time? Zero. In the US, you can have your surgery within weeks.  You can also get whatever test you want, or see whatever specialist you want, when you want. The catch is that you pay for it, or more precisely, that you can choose to pay for it. In Canada, that choice does not exist.

Then there is the specter that private insurance may lead to a two-tier system of rich versus poor. Well, we already have that. Canadians with money don’t wait for elective surgery. They travel abroad. We need only ask ourselves if we want to keep their dollars in Canada to pay Canadian specialists or have all three (patient, money and specialist) leave the country?

Ultimately, the Canadian/American health care diatribe that occupies so much time at the national level is an opportunity for socialists to ridicule the free market. It contributes nothing to solving our health care crisis. It blocks discussion.

The fear mongering must stop.

What Canadians need to ask is how a German citizen can receive medical, dental, optometry and pharmaceutical coverage, and experience no wait times for elective surgery, while a Canadian receives only medical coverage and long wait times for the same dollar spent? What is it that Germany is doing right and that we are doing so very wrong? Less centralization? Specialization of facilities? A public/private insurance and delivery mix that encourages competition for clients and funding? The way resources are allocated and utilized? Most likely it is a combination of all or these factors.

The Liberal government has promised Canadians a new health accord. Will everything be on the table? Probably not.  According to the Liberals:

“Canada’s publicly-funded universal health care system is a source of pride for Canadians – and a source of economic security for the middle class and those working hard to join it.”

As long as certain politicians continue to hold the position that we have the best, when the facts say otherwise, Canadians will continue to be burdened with something less than mediocrity.

Besides, we have something more important to talk about: electoral reform...


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commented 2016-05-25 12:54:13 -0400
Michael: “I realize it’s not free and that I pay for it through taxes.”
“What I do notice though is the excellent healthcare that I have received and no medical bills.”

Link these thoughts together. There is no benefit to this system that Americans already have and have better.
commented 2016-05-25 12:41:48 -0400
“What makes our system great is that at the end of that line the poorest will be treated with the same excellence as the richest. This is the jewel.”

Until you run out the rich’s money.

But why would a socialist think that far ahead? Money grows on trees!
commented 2016-05-24 18:05:13 -0400
From a policy perspective we have a rationed system. Period. Here in BC, the BC Liberals have capped budget increases at 3%. That is insane. 3% will barely keep up with population growth in BC. We need at least another 7% to just keep up with the ageing population. The majority of healthcare expenses occur after age 65. By capping it at 3% they have assured rationing. Finding a doctor will become impossible. So called “elective” surgery lists will grow.

Politically it is a death warrant to even suggest a reformed system, so I don’t see anyone touching it.
commented 2016-05-24 00:43:28 -0400
You got it, Liza.
commented 2016-05-24 00:09:17 -0400
The same excellence? More like the same mediocre care. That is what is being sold as the jewel.
Hip and knee replacements don’t produce wait times for urologists, Internal medicine physicians,or oncologists for example.
Al Peterson said, “We have the best critical care clinic in the world. Once you are on death’s this door then the system goes into action. Until then nothing much happens.”
If all you need is a hip or knee replacement or a broken bone set, its the greatest. If you have a disease, not so much.
commented 2016-05-23 12:42:43 -0400
I agree with Al Peterson.

Much of health care costs are used on hip/knee replacements and other ‘quality of life’ procedures, which are the main source of wait times.

What makes our system great is that at the end of that line the poorest will be treated with the same excellence as the richest. This is the jewel.
commented 2016-05-22 14:34:36 -0400
The two sure things in life, death and taxes.
commented 2016-05-22 12:29:23 -0400

No, I am not a civil servant and my taxes pay for my healthcare.
commented 2016-05-22 12:29:07 -0400
“For some incomprehensible reason, Canadians are unwilling to have a serious discussion about health care reform.”

INCOMPREHENSIBLE? Are you kidding? Stupidity is “incomprehensible”?

Understandable, explainable, pitiable, pardonable, and maybe, from the prespective of tits like turdo la doo, even preferable, but certainly not incomprehensible.

In any event, the health-care issue is moving slowly towards resolution. First it starts with voluntary right-to-die decisions.
commented 2016-05-22 10:42:26 -0400
We don’t have “the best healthcare system in the world” which we are so often told. We have the best critical care clinic in the world. Once you are on death’s this door then the system goes into action. Until then nothing much happens. I always say the Canadian health system is like a glacier. Its moving. You just can’t tell its moving.
commented 2016-05-22 09:55:34 -0400
Mike W.,

Yes, even when government workers retire, they keep their “platinum” health plan/pension till they die of natural causes. So I guess they’re not expected to sign up for the new euthanasia program. It’ll be the poor schmucks who are working for minimum wage and paying in and who may or may not have health/medical care. And the wealthy will also be funding the goverments platinum program, while they pay cash for their own health care.
commented 2016-05-22 08:15:57 -0400
Michael Mann,

I am guessing you are (or were) a civil servant so my taxes pay for your “private” health care insurance.

40% of Canada’s health care expenses are private and 30% of Canadian don’t have private health insurance…they pay cash.
commented 2016-05-22 02:53:16 -0400

I realize it’s not free and that I pay for it through taxes. I am saying that I was born into this, so it’s always been a part of my life and something that I don’t notice.

What I do notice though is the excellent healthcare that I have received and no medical bills.
commented 2016-05-22 01:50:41 -0400
I’m in BC in the interior and I can’t find a family Dr. within an hours drive who is taking new patients. If I need to see one, its emerg, or a ‘virtual’ visit only on Friday’s with an already overworked Dr. out of the Okanagan. Too ridiculous to even bother with. That is another problem, there don’t seem to be enough doctors to go around, why is that, do they all go to the States or what?
commented 2016-05-22 01:49:12 -0400
At Dan Mancuso,

I don’t watch much tv, so missed that episode on Seinfeld, but yes, once you’re in the system, you’re in there. An excellent book I read regarding being in the queue, for healthcare, was Dr. Sarah Boston’s (veterinarian) book, “Lucky Dog”. She described her own battle with cancer and how she believed it compared with her own experiences being an oncologist veterinarian. She talked about how long it took her to get diagnosed and treated, and the time frame she was able to diagnise and treat a pet. She also mentioned how when she was treated with irradiation pellets, she even had her pets taken out of the house when she was still “radioactive”. Their are people who have been treated with this treatment and then are around young people. Is that safe? Only time and experiences will tell.
commented 2016-05-22 01:38:20 -0400
Here in Alberta the only fast services are family doctors and the privatized services.
commented 2016-05-22 01:37:24 -0400
Andrew Stephenson if the US goes the way of Canada where will hypocrite left wing politicians go to get their fast efficient care while middle class Canadians die waiting?
commented 2016-05-22 01:35:03 -0400
Cameron that is pure BS , the best systems are a public private mix. That is reality.
commented 2016-05-22 01:33:19 -0400
Michael Mann you pay for it with your taxes , it is not free. And your doctor is a private entity, try getting fast service with any public services.
commented 2016-05-22 01:22:29 -0400
Anytime some of us go to the dentist it is a thousand dollars on the Visa.
commented 2016-05-22 01:14:56 -0400
That’s a very scary comment you made there pal…scary because I believe you!
I remember a Seinfeld episode from years ago, when the Elaine character got into some kind of hassle or trouble with a doctor and it kind of followed her around for the rest of the show from doctor to doctor…it was ‘funny’, but creepy, and I never forgot that episode. I usually self censor comments like the one I made below, and for that reason…‘at their mercy’ – we have no idea!
Now orthopedics and trauma repair, wow!
commented 2016-05-22 00:57:15 -0400
My close friend needed an MRI or else the Specialist wouldn ’t see him. He was in Vancouver and was told there was an 8 month wait in the system, but he could go down the hall and pay $1200. and he could get it done immediately. He pulled out his Visa and had it done, then waited 8 months to see the Specialist.
commented 2016-05-22 00:46:21 -0400
At AL Peterson, re: suing a doctor for malpractice.

The 3rd leading cause of death in Canada behind cancer and heart problems is medical errors. Also, I know of a case where a person went to see a lawyer to see what could be done when they lost their daughter. The lawyer told them they would have a mark against their name in the health system and they would regret it. I know of others who have been lost to cancer because of errors getting test results back. We are at their mercy.
commented 2016-05-22 00:04:34 -0400

There are MRI services in Toronto that could have also gotten you an MRI in weeks. It’s unfortunate that you didn’t know about that.
commented 2016-05-22 00:00:28 -0400
I think it depends on where you live in Canada.

Healthcare for me and my family has been fantastic in Toronto. I can see my doctor whenever I want, haven’t experienced much in wait times and the best part of all – I never get a bill for the excellent healthcare that I have received.

I love our healthcare system.
commented 2016-05-21 23:45:02 -0400
Al Peterson smart move on your part going to the States. It is very competitive and the prices seem to reflect that, as well as the speed and quality. That’s what I’ll be doing, and I know of people who are already. Wait in Canada for nothing, and that is if you last that long. I wish I had taken my husband down south. It was a death sentence in Canada.

Jan, I utilize some alternative medicine available here, and rarely use the system. If I need serious care for anything other than a broken bone I’m heading south. LL Peters, if there were an abundance of private clinics in Canada as there are in the States, aside from taking the pressure off of the system (for those who don’t or can’t pay for private alternatives) a clinic such as Caleo in Calgary would go out of business. What a depressing story LL, there would have to be a way to curtail our government interference or I suppose they would all look like Caleo.
commented 2016-05-21 23:36:36 -0400
The ‘cut-burn-poison’ MO of Western medicine is based on Pasteur’s ‘germ-theory’, which has also saddled us with Big Pharma and friends, or as I like to call it, the MIC, or, the Medical Industrial Complex, which loosely consists internationally of Big Pharma, Big Ag, Big Chem, Big hospital cartels, Big medical equipment manufacturers, and their shills which include, the AMA, FDA, SEC, FTC, and in Canada, CMA, Health Canada, etc., and of course the Media Party.
In regards to the Pasteur/Bernard debate, or the germ theory vs the terrain theory – which most people have never even heard about, including many doctors – Pasteur admitted on his deathbed that he was wrong and that the terrain theory was correct…we got the MIC anyway…that’s why diet, nutrition and healthful living is so important and so effective – not just because the promoted efficacy of chemical poison pharmaceuticals that are designed to alter your body chemistry, only in order to alleviate symptoms, Not heal, Not cure, and are not nearly as efficacious as advertised! But all the nasty side effects you do get – ever read some of those Black-Box-warning labels!
Urban centers are very, very toxic places, your modern sealed up home is one of the most toxic environments…but I guess that all doesn’t matter for a useless eater and old guy like me, when Justin brings in the mandatory assisted suicide and euthanasia policies! Those lefty/progressives will try to get rid of us contrarians and conservatives one way or another…
commented 2016-05-21 22:15:35 -0400
LL Peters.
It is almost impossible to successfully sue a doctor in Canada. They have the Canadian MedicalProtection Fund that pays all a doctors legal expenses in such a situation. The CMPA has something like $5billion of taxpayers money to fund the system.

So if you want to sue a doctor, first you pay his lawyer and then you pay for yours. The doc pays nothing. Also there is no limit on the number of suits covered. They can be sued 100 times and the taxpayer will still be covering the tab. And theses guys don’t play nice. They basically stall and drag the suit out until the plaintiff is bankrupt. Nothing like being screwed with your own money.

Most Canadians don’t realize that the doctors don’t pay most of their own malpractice insurance either. Guess who does? If you said the taxpayer you would be right. We, the gullible taxpayer, pay 80 – 90 % of it depending on the province.

This group should be shut down. All professionals have to pay some kind of malpractice insurance. Only the doctors get it paid for them. When I was a realtor I paid it, not the taxpayer.
commented 2016-05-21 22:06:06 -0400
I’ve been waiting for 7 years to get a diagnosis in Manitoba and have seen something like 9 specialists. I spent 6 months fighting the Medical Appeal board to see a specialist in the US. I estimate that they spent $15,000 to deny me that trip after being denied and then denied again on appeal. The appeal board members get $435 a day each and there are 8 of them. I can assure you they didn’t spend only one day on this. Then they have a lawyer on staff. What does he make? Anyone….anyone? And they have a doctor on the payroll. I’m sure he is getting close to the same as the lawyer. And they have a bureaucrat from Manitoba Labour for some inexplicable reason.

I finally went on my own nickel. For all expenses- even doing touristy things- my total costs were about $1500. In order to go I had to get an MRI done. It was going to take 4 months to get one done in Canuckistan. I found out there is an MRI clinic just over the border in North Dakota. I had it done in 3 days for $400. The guy who runs it said he tried to set it up in Manitoba but the Government refused to let him. Supposedly they wanted to keep health care costs down! No way are they doing MRI’s in Winnipeg for $400.

The MRI technician said that all but one customer has been Canadian. So do we have a two tier system? Absolutely. But it allows the Lefties to do what they do best: feel smug and superior.
commented 2016-05-21 21:48:07 -0400
Health care is the largest combined expenditure of our provincial and federal governments. Compared to other nations, Canadian health services have the longest wait times, are among the costliest, and least efficient and effective of developed nations. -- WRONG. Out of the top 10 nations including the USA we pay less and have faster ER times for middle class and poor people than 8 of the 10 in the world. Post real info.