Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Canadian's Comment on Health Care

Interesting comment from Tom West on a health care post on Megan McCardle's Atlantic blog:

Boy, the more I read, the guiltier I feel about living in Canada. We sort of have the ideal position.

We're large enough that most of us don't see the direct comparison with the American system, (which is nice, but three times the price). America operates as our second tier which is close enough that the rich aren't upset about going there for expensive health-care, but far enough away that the even the moderately well-to-do don't look at it as a serious alternative.

We're insulated enough so that when the doctors say "there's nothing we can do", you can believe it without feeling guilty about not destroying your family's finances to pay for some sliver of hope. We benefit from the American innovations when they're finally brought down to a cost that our bureaucrats consider acceptable1. The doctors don't have to cater to ridiculous demands for unnecessary tests, and have no incentive to give them.

We have a Corolla health-care system as opposed to the American Lexus, but it does a decent job for most of us, and ends up being an element of society that binds most Canadians together rather than becomes a source of resentment and distrust. (Tommy Douglas who introduced our health-care system was recently selected as Greatest Canadian ever by viewing audiences.)

That said, sadly for those few Americans that look at our health-care system as a model, I'm afraid it wouldn't work for you. You'd be missing the one ingredient that helps it work as well as it does... You.

1Tom uses the passive voice here, but Canadian bureaucrats often actively lower drug costs by imposing price controls.


Ross Perot said...

Canadians come to the US to get timely, quality car. Americans do not go to Canada.

We must build walls with barbed wire to keep Mexicans out of the US- Mexico doesn't worry about Americans trying to get into Juarez.

The Berlin Wall was made to keep East Germans captive - not to keep West Germans out.

The superior system is obvious in all cases by the means necessary to restrict access.

Tom said...

Superior outcomes? No doubt. But outcomes are not the only determinant.

If someone gives me either a Lexus or a Corolla, I'll take the Lexus. If I have to *buy* a car, I'll take the Corolla. 90% of the car for 50% of the price.

The unique advantage Canada has is that it geography allows those who really care and can afford it to, when necessary, *rent* the Lexus :-).