Friday, November 6, 2009

Goldwater Institute: Canadians don't have better access to routine preventative health care

By Tom Patterson
You've undoubtedly heard of the "Happy Canadian." Maybe you know one. These are the Canadian ex-pats who tell us how wonderful the Canadian health care system really is. They were invariably treated without delay, had access to all the finest medical technology and, best of all, it was free.
queueThe problem is, it's just not true. The Fraser Institute, a Canadian think tank, recently published a report indicating that, in spite of the Canadian government's best efforts to address an acknowledged problem, Canadians are still spending huge amounts of time in lines for health care. There is an across-the-board median delay of 16.1 weeks from referral to a specialist until treatment actually begins.

Canadians don't fare any better for routine preventive care. According to the Canadian group Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), 65 percent of Canadian women aged 40 to 64 have had a mammogram within the last five years, that's the same percentage as uninsured American women, but far below the 87 percent of insured American women who have had the procedure. Just 16 percent of Canadian men have been screened for prostate cancer, compared to 31 percent of uninsured American men and 52 percent of insured American men.

Rationing, including with the use of wait times, is one of the ways to control the otherwise infinite demand for services in a country with socialized heath care. As these numbers show, Americans are right to be skeptical of the claimed benefits of socialized health care systems. Canadians with government health care don't have more access to treatment.

Tom Patterson is chairman of the Goldwater Institute and a former state senator.

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