NY Times Reports on Struggling Canadian Health Care System
While the Canadian health care system has received a great deal of praise from Americans, the tremendous troubles that it has had, and continues to have, seem to be ignored. Hospital closures, long waits, and extreme shortages of doctors, nurses, and even ambulances, are all an unseen part of the taxpayer funded free hospitals in Canada. The Times reports that,
The median wait time between a referral by a family doctor and an appointment with a specialist has increased to 8.3 weeks last year from 3.7 weeks in 1993, according to a recent study by The Fraser Institute, a conservative research group. Meanwhile the median wait between appointment with a specialist and treatment has increased to 9.4 weeks from 5.6 weeks over the same period. Average wait times between referral by a family doctor and treatment range from 5.5 weeks for oncology to 40 weeks for orthopedic surgery, according to the study.These are serious concerns for anyone considering such a system in the US (Such as Gavin Newsom, or Hillary Clinton). The introduction of exclusively government run health care has led to a bumbling, inefficient system, riddled with troubles. However, this is not surprising to me.
What I found most interesting about this article is the statement that "private insurance companies are about to find a gold mine." The Canadian system provides free insurance, so private insurance agencies were left out. They were unnecessary. So, it is somewhat backwards that they would now be poised to bring in huge profits. The development of private clinics, which were just recently allowed to be built, are becoming incredibly popular. Private clinics are able to provide vastly superior care, and are thus, very attractive to patients who don't want to wait nearly a year for their surgery. With the growth of private clinics (nearly one a week) in Canada, insurance agencies are poised to get their share of the market.
These private clinics, however, lead to another, unfortunate outcome. Because the government hospitals and clinics are taxpayer funded (and taxes are quite high in Canada), those who opt out of the free hospital are still paying their share for them. This means that they are paying extra for private treatment. Private treatment, thus, is not yet readily available for a great number of Canadians. Only those who can pay extra (after their taxes) have access. Thus, a tiered system has developed. Those who can afford it receive better health care, while the majority are forced to rely on the poorly-run government hospitals.
But, this tiered system will not continue for long. As more and more private clinics develop, they will become increasingly available to everyone. While the Canadian Socialized health care may be in its death rattle now, it will have to be completely eliminated before this tiered system will be minimized.