Saturday, October 18, 2008

More Shortcomings of Universal Healthcare

While we’ve heard many arguments for private healthcare vs. single-payer or socialized medicine, few people hear about the darker side of Canada’s healthcare system.

As president, Barak Obama intends to establish universal healthcare. But to see what universal healthcare promises beyond 40 percent taxation, it’s important to get the real story about how it works in places like Canada, where physicians are now holding lotteries to decide who gets access to care.

Few people understand the dark side of Canada’s healthcare system than Lee Kurisko, MD, a physician who moved to the United States after attending medical school and working as a physician in Canada. In his recent interview with Peter Nelson for the Center of the American Experiment, Dr. Kurisko explains the darker side of socialized healthcare.

When they’re generally healthy, I think most Canadians are probably happy with the idea they’re not necessarily paying for health care, and they think they have access to it. On the other hand, I suspect that their tune changes when they actually have a problem and realize that they may have to wait literally years to have the problem addressed, whether it is a hip replacement, diagnostic imaging, a consultation with a specialist, or whatever…

When I finished all my medical training and specialist training, I had absolutely no inclination whatsoever to move to the United States. It was the farthest thing from my mind. Yet when I took my job as radiologist at Thunder Bay Regional Hospital, fairly quickly I became director of the department and was faced with the realities of trying to deliver high quality care. I was confronted with things like budget shortages, shortages of manpower, decrepit equipment, and to
some degree incompetence on the part of people that normally in a marketplace would have been culled out…

I’ve been in America for almost six years, and I’ve yet to see anybody who’s been turned away for health care—at least in Minnesota. Whereas, the reality is that Canadians are turned away for health care in many different ways—through waiting lists for access. There are also huge inequities in the availability of health care throughout Canada. For example, in Newfoundland they have a waiting list of two-and-a-half years for a diagnostic MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). In some places in the country the waiting list could conceivably be as low as six weeks. If you live in the Yukon Territory or the Northwest Territories, you’re not going to have immediate access to a neurosurgeon. Your level of access is going to be far greater if you happen to live in a place like Toronto…

Complete transcript here.