Be Careful What You Ask For

Published January 1, 2005

The major candidates in Canada’s recent national election agreed the Canadian health care system is failing.

On this side of the border, presidential candidate Senator John Kerry is promoting the Canadian health care system to U.S. voters, in hopes no one will read a Canadian newspaper and get a dose of the facts. The truth is that while every Canadian has health insurance, not every Canadian gets timely health care.

The Canadian press reports the Canadian medical system is bleeding citizens of their hard-earned tax dollars while denying them access to medical care. Canadians have no options. If the government says it provides a particular medical service, it is illegal for a Canadian citizen to pay for and obtain that service privately.

Fifty percent of Canadian hospital administrators said the average waiting time for a 65-year-old man requiring a hip replacement is more than six months. The average waiting time in America is less than three weeks.

America’s health care system already has too much Canadian-style bureaucracy. Medicare and Medicaid are slow to embrace new medical procedures and are bogged down in paperwork; reimbursements to providers are below actual cost in many instances.

Fixing the flaws in our own system would seem to be a better approach than following the idea offered by Senator Kerry. Government control of health care is the problem–not the solution.

IT’S YOUR HEALTH is written by Conrad Meier, senior fellow in health policy at The Heartland Institute. This program is produced as a public service by Radio America. Meier passed away unexpectedly on March 18, 2005.