Senator Bernie Sanders and his fellow socialist Democrats like to cite our neighbors to the north — Canada — as an example of first-rate government-run health care. They would like to transform the United States health care system to a single-payer system, something that Canada has had for years.
Bernie is enamored with the supposed wonders of the single-payer system in Canada. Two years ago, he took a trip to Canada to inspect how their system works. At a press conference during the visit, Sanders said, “How is it that here in Canada, they provide quality health care to all people — and I don’t think there is any debate that the quality of care is as good or better than the United States — and they do it for half the cost?”
Actually, Bernie, there is a debate to be had about the quality and cost of the health care system in Canada.
So, let’s have a debate. Here are the facts:
Health care is expensive in Canada. High taxes are required to pay for the system; the demand for health care is a drag on provincial governments in the country.
Even the far-Left Huffington Post acknowledged this point. Writing at Huffpo, Bacchus Barua wrote, “On the supply side, the public system cannot be reasonably expected to expand capacity by spending more money since provincial governments already devote about 40 percent of their budgets to health care.”
In economics, there is a saying that “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” That goes for government-run health care as well. Somebody is paying the bill, and that is the Canadian taxpayer. Everything seems cheap when you don’t get a bill for services.
The less someone has to pay for a good they desire, the more of that good they are going to purchase. That goes for universal health care as well.
The demand for medical care outpaces the supply, this causes long delays and lower quality care. Governments have to ration care because they can’t afford to hire enough doctors and build enough medical facilities to meet the excessive demand for medical care.
Sally Pipes — who is the Thomas W. Smith Fellow in health care policy at the Pacific Research Institute — wrote about the outrageous wait times in Canada.
Last year, she wrote in Forbes that “the only thing Canadian patients are guaranteed is a spot on a waitlist. As the Fraser report notes, in 2017, more than 173,000 patients waited for an ophthalmology procedure. Another 91,000 lined up for some form of general surgery, while more than 40,000 waited for a urology procedure.”
These long wait times are also a drain on the economy.
“The Fraser Institute researchers also calculated the value of all the waking hours that patients lost because they couldn’t fully function. The toll was staggering — almost $5,600 per patient, totaling $5.8 billion nationally. And those calculations ignore the value of uncompensated care provided by family members, who often take time off work of quit their jobs to help ill loved ones.”
The health care costs are hidden to most Canadians. However, the costs are staggering. Canadian taxpayers pay, on average, $10,500 per year for all their health care needs.
What do Canadians get for all this spending?
Answer: Poor quality of care.
A 2014 report by the Commonwealth Fund ranked Canada 10 out of 11 wealthy countries in health care quality, and dead last in timeliness of care. The report showed that 29% of Canadians who fell ill and needed to see a specialist waited two months or longer, and 18% waited four months or longer, compared with 6% and 7% of Americans, respectively.
Unfortunately, Bernie Sanders and the mainstream media will not acknowledge any of the facts that were just highlighted. They will continue to fear monger about the American health care system; they claim that millions will die if America doesn’t switch to a single payer health care system.
When, in fact, a person is far more likely to die waiting for care in Canada, then the United States. That is why many Canadians come to America to have specialty procedures performed on them. Many would have died if it wasn’t for American medical care.
This is what single-payer health care looks like. Remember that the next time Democrats try to tout Canada as a bastion of quality health care.