God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen - Jars of Clay - listen now

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Guv'mint Medicine

Canada is one of the biggest spenders on "socialized" health care and also one of the worst providers:

Even more alarming is that Canada -- one of the biggest spenders among the 30 ranked countries -- provides the worst value for money in health care. This means that Health Canada every year costs Canadian taxpayers billions of dollars without delivering value.

So, what do Canadians say about these assessments?

To start with, the public response to the concept of comparing the publicly funded and governed Canadian system to similar systems around Europe was positive.

The old health policy quarrel between U.S. and Canada is a dead-end; few can deny that comparing Canada to Germany, France or Sweden is more relevant, since these countries share the same values of accessible and efficient health care.

This is where our index begins a new and necessary discussion.

Would it be unreasonable to expect Canada to offer better health care to its citizens than Hungary, Latvia or Greece? And what would such improvements take?

At the same time, this perspective received a defensive but typically Canadian objection at media conferences and lectures: "It is true our waiting is long for treatments and new medicines but the outcomes are anyhow quite good - and that is the most essential thing!"

From a European perspective, such an attitude of low expectations or resigned humility is almost extreme.

It reflects the opinion that you cannot ask for public health care to deliver consistent quality: access might be good, but then outcomes are lousy or the other way around. Few Western Europeans would accept that.

Why do some Americans think government run health care is a good idea? I'll take a market driven health care system any day; and I say that as someone who has recently needed major medical care.

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