Dr. Gray's Straight Talk

Honest and blunt healthcare discussion and advice.

Sick In America – Part Three

Posted by Dr. Gray on Friday, October 10, 2008

And, now a further examination of so-called “free” health care in Europe and Canada.

Advertisements

2 Responses to “Sick In America – Part Three”

  1. drdebbie said

    As someone who lives and works in health care in Canada, I feel well positioned to comment on our system. Yes, we do have longer wait times for elective and non-emergent surgeries. But if you are suffering from a life threatening problem you’re in the door right away. I’ve also witnessed the system in action for people with cancer. As soon as you’re diagnosed, the BC Cancer Agency is quick and efficient in providing both treatment and other supportive services (counseling, support groups etc.). Yes, we do have our problems and in my opinion, most stem from mis-allocation of funds and not inadequate funding. But I’d rather have to tweak a strong universal system than to worry about whether or not I can afford treatment if I am unlucky enough to have health problems down the road. Right now, Canada is in the midst of finding a balance between public and private health delivery and I think that the ideal situation has a bit of both. But I also think most Canadians would be very adamant in holding onto universal health care above all else. There is no point in throwing the baby our with the bath water.

  2. Dr. Gray said

    Dr. Debbie:

    Thank you for commenting. Although you point out some benefits of the Canadian system, I would counter that they are all readily available in the US also. Whether a person can “afford it” or not, those services are available to all. When there is a true financial hardship, all of the benefits you’ve mentioned are available, there’s just more paperwork to do… and a little effort on the part of the patient or their representative.

    Point-for-point to your post:
    1) You stated most of your problems are from mis-allocation of funds as opposed to lack of funds. This is a direct result of removing the decision process from those who are affected by those decisions. You’ve agreed to allow a politician to determine what you pay, how you pay, and for what you pay… regardless of what is best for your individual situation. In this country, the same problems are arising from “managed care.”

    2) “But I’d rather have to tweak a strong universal system than to worry about whether or not I can afford treatment if I am unlucky enough to have health problems down the road.” Although this statement sounds logical, it is an emotional play that makes an unsupported implication. Everyone will have health problems down the road. Everyone. Therefore, you can plan ahead and take responsibility, or you can sit back and wait for someone else to decide what’s important for you. However, it’s not really what’s important for you that’s decided then, is it? No… it’s what is important for society and the system.

    3) “Canada is in the midst of finding a balance between public and private health delivery and I think that the ideal situation has a bit of both.” Isn’t that what America has right now? A balance between public and private health care? Our biggest weakness is the total expenditures regarding health care. There are two reasons for this. The first is that the general public has been removed from the decision process, therefore, competition in the market place is absent. Instead, the insurance companies are in control and the hospitals attempt to game the system in order to maximize reimbursement. The patients never see this dynamic therefore they are not encouraged to demand more for less. The second reason for our out-of-control health care spending is directly related to the irresponsible lifestyle decisions by the people. The diet and exercise habits of the American people are atrocious. Obesity is pandemic, and it’s nearly impossible to get good nutrition in the grocery stores. A drive-thru on every corner and an XBOX in every home.

    4) “Most Canadians would be very adamant in holding onto universal health care above all else.” That’s disappointing if true, but I disagree. Once they see how much control they have, and how much better the care can be, they would see the benefit of local control. When individual patients are making their own health care decisions… and involved in the payment for such, the market will begin to offer options and price wars. Better facilities and more advanced treatment options will be offered at lesser fees in order to compete for that business. However, once you establish a dependency, it’s difficult to change public perception.

    5) “There is no point in throwing the baby our with the bath water.” Unfortuanately, you’ve come to think of the Universal Coverage system as the “baby.” You want to clean things up, but retain the system. Instead… consider the baby to be the patient, and the system is the bath water. When the water gets too dirty, it’s time to flush and do what’s right for the baby.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: