Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Oy Canada (Again)!

From time to time, we like to take a look at our Neighbors to the North(tm), to get a sense of how well their health care system, so often touted here in the 'States as "health care nirvana," is faring.
Alas, not so good.
When even the president of the American Medical Association (AMA) finds major fault lines, it's time to reevaluate how much stock we should put in that kind of system. Less than a month ago, his Canadian counterpart opined that their "system was built to meet the needs of the underprivileged. It is now failing both them and everyone else, because it has not adapted to the times."
What could have gone so drastically wrong?
Well, for starters, Michael Moore's fantasy about the bullet-proof Canadian health care system turns out to have missed the target, by a wide margin:
"Annual survey data for the past four years indicate that these perceived access problems have worsened or remained about the same, with no significant improvement for any single service. Moreover, about half of the respondents believe that health care services will get somewhat worse (34%) or much worse (15%) during the next two to three years."
That doesn't portend well for a system which stateside advocates fervently wish for us to emulate. In fact, the leadership of the Canadian Medical Association is now on record as recommending "that Canadians be entitled to obtain government-funded treatment outside their home jurisdiction or within the private sector," if those who run the system don't find a way to effectively rectify its many failings, including rationing and excessive waiting times for services.
And for those who think that the future of nationalized health care is all sunshine and flowers, consider this:
"Among the 800 physicians participating online, 39% said that Canada's health care system should allow for an increased role for private financing and delivery of health care services. A rather low 63% said they would recommend medicine as a rewarding career to aspiring young people."
That defines a vicious cycle; is that really the kind of system we want here?
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