There's No Such Thing as Free Health Care

The costly truth about Canada's health care system


President Obama says government will make health care cheaper and better. But there's no free lunch.

In England, health care is "free"—as long as you don't mind waiting. People wait so long for dentist appointments that some pull their own teeth. At any one time, half a million people are waiting to get into a British hospital. A British paper reports that one hospital tried to save money by not changing bedsheets. Instead of washing sheets, the staff was encouraged to just turn them over.

Obama insists he is not "trying to bring about government-run healthcare."

"But government management does the same thing," says Sally Pipes of the Pacific Research Institute. "To reduce costs they'll have to ration—deny—care."

"People line up for care, some of them die. That's what happens," says Canadian doctor David Gratzer, author of The Cure. He liked Canada's government health care until he started treating patients.

"The more time I spent in the Canadian system, the more I came across people waiting for radiation therapy, waiting for the knee replacement so they could finally walk up to the second floor of their house." "You want to see your neurologist because of your stress headache? No problem! Just wait six months. You want an MRI? No problem! Free as the air! Just wait six months."

Polls show most Canadians like their free health care, but most people aren't sick when the poll-taker calls. Canadian doctors told us the system is cracking. One complained that he can't get heart-attack victims into the ICU.

In America, people wait in emergency rooms, too, but it's much worse in Canada. If you're sick enough to be admitted, the average wait is 23 hours.

"We can't send these patients to other hospitals. Dr. Eric Letovsky told us. "Every other emergency department in the country is just as packed as we are."

More than a million and a half Canadians say they can't find a family doctor. Some towns hold lotteries to determine who gets a doctor. In Norwood, Ontario, 20/20 videotaped a town clerk pulling the names of the lucky winners out of a lottery box. The losers must wait to see a doctor.

Shirley Healy, like many sick Canadians, came to America for surgery. Her doctor in British Columbia told her she had only a few weeks to live because a blocked artery kept her from digesting food. Yet Canadian officials called her surgery "elective."

"The only thing elective about this surgery was I elected to live," she said.

It's true that America's partly profit-driven, partly bureaucratic system is expensive, and sometimes wasteful, but the pursuit of profit reduces waste and costs and gives the world the improvements in medicine that ease pain and save lives.

"[America] is the country of medical innovation. This is where people come when they need treatment," Dr. Gratzer says.

"Literally we're surrounded by medical miracles. Death by cardiovascular disease has dropped by two-thirds in the last 50 years. You've got to pay a price for that type of advancement."

Canada and England don't pay the price because they freeload off American innovation. If America adopted their systems, we could worry less about paying for health care, but we'd get 2009-level care—forever. Government monopolies don't innovate. Profit seekers do.

We saw this in Canada, where we did find one area of medicine that offers easy access to cutting-edge technology—CT scan, endoscopy, thoracoscopy, laparoscopy, etc. It was open 24/7. Patients didn't have to wait.

But you have to bark or meow to get that kind of treatment. Animal care is the one area of medicine that hasn't been taken over by the government. Dogs can get a CT scan in one day. For people, the waiting list is a month.

John Stossel is co-anchor of ABC News' 20/20 and the author of Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity.


NEXT: Cheap Health Care Not So Cheap After All

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  1. But what is the cost of DOING NOTHING?!?

  2. The Euth Centers will be a welcome option.

  3. As a public service, I will preempt the healthcare trolls that swamp this blog every time a story about the absurdity of a government health system is posted:

    “But you guys, in the current system, some people can’t even AFFORD to get substandard care!”

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled comment thread.

  4. But…but…but…Obama promised that we could keep our private insurance. He’s good for that promise, right?

  5. Pulling their own teeth in England? That explains so much.

  6. But what is the cost of DOING NOTHING?!?

    Shouldn’t this become a drinking phrase? I certainly feel the need to get shitfaced drunk when I hear read it.

    For the retarded, allowing economic freedom isn’t “doing nothing”. It is actually allowing human liberty to work. While certainly hated by the wanna-be tyrants, it actually works much better.

    The cost of “doing nothing” is actually miniscule when compared to the government “doing something wrong. What is so difficult to understand about “the government doesn’t fix shit”?

    1. I’ll drink to that! =)

  7. The President: “It’s about providing patients and doctors with the information they need to make the best medical decisions.”

    What about providing them the legality to implement those decisions? Many educated people self-treat to the best of their ability, that is, until the law *requires* them to see a physician. Guess we’re not ready for *that* much change.

  8. ya know, I’m really sick of these fuckers who don’t have health insurance. Fuck them!

    My plan? Kill the sick who don’t have health insurance. Much cheaper and probably more humane than that stupid, piece of shit Canadian system.

  9. Urm,

    My sister (in Canada) had cancer and had prompt surgery (1 week), (immediate) radiation treatment and chemo and is cancer free. I’m not sure what this talk about waiting is about. A fair number of her friends have had similar experiences. I’ve never heard of anyone having to wait for cancer treatment. Of course waiting one day seems like a long time when you have a disease but …… if there were less than 1 week turn around I would say that the system was underutilized. A lot of people sitting around twiddling their thumbs.

    I’ve heard a lot from Americans talk about waiting for medical treatment in Canada. My family has had a fair amount of experience with the medical system in Canada and have never had a “6 months” wait for anything. The max that someone had to wait was 2 months for specialist appointment, once.

    Funny, but it is always a 6 month wait in these stories.

    Hey, I wish the US well with whatever you decide as far as health care goes but don’t do what Americans always seem to do and talk shit about things you know nothing about.

    1. Ahh, but did you family members get medical care thru the government? Or thru the private healthcare thath is STILL available in Canada? (Tho still not as good as American private care?)

      1. Sorry to butt in, but I am a Canadian and I’ve always gone to government run facilities and haven’t had to wait more than a few hours to see a doctor at a hospital and maybe three days at the max to see my family doctor. The thing about the American system not having long wait times is that people who can’t afford to see a doctor will either stay home and possibly die or seek out the few free clinics available. So your privately run hospitals are all free and clear for the people who can afford to live. Congrats.

  10. “until the law *requires* them to see a physician”

    Are you for or against mandatory proctological exams?

  11. Not that I’m trying to defend this charade, but you understand that healthcare is not a government monopoly in the UK? I had to wait behind a desk for about 6 minutes as a girl spoke over the phone while others wandered around meaninglessly just to collect my prescription slip and then wait another 20 minutes for tablets that allow me to live a reasonably normal life, but if I get sick of the six minute wait I can always opt for private health care; it is available in the UK. It’s also worth noting that the long wait for my medication is at the privately run Lloyds pharmacy.

    And to Mr. django above: what part of the US do you live in? I’ll search Google for “cheap Yankee and redneck stereotypes” and get back to you.

  12. qingl78
    Lived & worked in Ontarion for a year and a half. joined the health system…waited constantly even for a primary care initial visit…may work part of the time as in your case, but still sucks as a way to get care to people

  13. Just went to the DMV on Tuesday to get a small matter resolved. Took five hours of my day and it still isn’t resolved – had to come home and spend another three hours on the phone with various gov’t agencies explaining the problem over and over and over and over. About half of the invitations I sent out two weeks ago for a 4th party were lost by the USPS – but ask the USPS about it and you’ll hear crickets. We just found out that 40% of the kids at my son’s school are on free breakfast and lunch programs yet more than 80% of the kids at the school have cell phones. Our city has spent TWICE as much on a “necessary” road construction project than was allocated. Need I go on?

    Don’t worry, though, the gov’t is going to get it all right with health care. All we have to do is BELIEVE!!!!!

  14. One in nine Canadian physicians work in the United States.

    During the past 30 years, about 19,000 physicians trained in Canada have crossed the border into the United States and depleted the Canadian supply of physicians in the process, says the study, which was conducted by the AAFP’s Robert Graham Center, the department of pediatrics at New York University and the department of family medicine at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. According to “The Canadian Contribution to the U.S. Physician Workforce,” in 2006, 8,162 Canadian-educated physicians were providing direct patient care in the United States. That figure accounts for about one in nine Canadian-trained physicians, which is equivalent to having two average-sized Canadian medical schools dedicated entirely to producing physicians for the United States.

    I guess the system up there is just too awesome for them to be able to stand it.

  15. Nice to see someone is not hiding this. Where was ABC, Stossel?!

  16. My OBGYN is Canadian. I asked him at my last visit if he ever thought about returning to his homeland to practice. His response (after he stopped laughing): “I’d rather pay $500,000 in malpractice insurance here.”

  17. My sister (in Canada) had cancer and had prompt surgery (1 week), (immediate) radiation treatment and chemo and is cancer free.

    And I don’t know anybody who voted for Nixon.

  18. As I heard the provincial health minister for Ontario say in an interview, in reality there is a two-tier healthcare system in Canada. There’s the primary care Canadian system, and then there’s the U.S. when you need a real specialist.

  19. Sure I threw gasoline on the fire, but at least I did something!

  20. > Are you for or against mandatory proctological exams?

    Against. You?

  21. I, for one, am in support of mandatory proctological exams. Government shoves things in our ass figuratively enough times, why not actually?

  22. qingl78 | July 2, 2009, 12:38pm | #

    Nothing like anonymous anecdotes posted to the comments section of a blog to refute factual data.

  23. Are you for or against mandatory proctological exams?

    Am I pitching or catching?

  24. I’m in favor of all things mandated.

    True freedom is achieved when one is no longer able to think.

  25. Several years ago, I was working in and around a major trauma center (I’m and I/T guy, not a Doc), and got to know an English intern very well. There was a horrendous automobile accident on a nearby freeway, and on of the most severly injured victims was brought in by LifeFlight helicopter. The girl was so badly messed up they didn’t seem to realize she was female until they had her stripped and in the E.R. IIRC, she was in for about 9 hours of surgery, and had a massive team working on her. Long story short, over coffee, the English Doc told me he was astounded at the efforts to save her life. He told me, “In Britain, that girl would have died. There just isn’t that level of resources for such an effort.”

    BTW: She DID live. Lost and eye and part of a leg, I think. Yeah, yeah.. “Plural of anecdote,” and all.

  26. I have previously posted this elsewhere, but I waited 6 months for surgery to save my eyesight from glaucoma, and I was a “high risk” patient. The delay cost me seventy percent of the vision in my right eye.

    I also waited 18 months for hernia surgery, during which time I had to wear a very uncomfortable truss in order to prevent it from strangulating.

    So I’m not a happy Canadian in that respect.

  27. Healthcare isn’t a right. I don’t know what is worse, not being able to afford healthcare on your own or the pipe dream that the government has a plan for you get the healthcare you ‘need’.

  28. Every time I hear this propaganda it makes my blood boil.

    ANYONE can find someone who fell through the cracks in ANY system. Selectively hoisting them up on the sacrificial altar of impartiality is not journalism.

    I have lived under the Canadian, German, and US medical systems.

    Only one country’s medical system shit all over my credit record because a transcription error between the emergency department and surgery. My fault of course, I should have known better. Emergency room visit stateside? Wait 7 hours with a 103 fever, pass out, wake up later, and spend the next five years sorting it out. Great.

    Lost your job, COBRA crapped out, wife pregnant? Too fucking bad, welcome to America.

    At least my hospital visits in Canada would not be found out about when applying for a credit card.

    Both of my parents died from cancer, in Canada. Only one time did my mom wait for an MRI.

    And for the last time, Canada does not have a NATIONAL system. Each province runs their own. Stupid, badly managed province (say, Ontario), bad system. Good province, say Alberta, they can’t build hospital wings to 2 year old hospitals fast enough to house all the extra MRI and other machines the medical plan ordered, what do they have, like three MRI machines at the hospital in Red Deer? That’s like one for every 3,000 people that live there.

  29. Tulpa,

    Do you want my sister and her friends’ names? Would that help.

    Last I checked, as far as statistical data goes there isn’t that much to choose between most 1st world nations as far as life expectancy, cancer survivor rates, etc. so I’m not sure what your point about statistics is. Do you know something that I don’t know?

    Again. I’m not telling Americans what to do, enjoy your health system. It seems to work for you. I like the Canadian one just fine.


    I’m not sure about you but where do you live, out in the boonies? I know people who have had both glaucoma and hernia surgery within a couple of months and your story sounds like a kind of 6 sigma event.

    I guess you can cherry-pick any story to tell any story you want but I come back to the fact that there really isn’t that much difference between most industrial countries for general health of population.

  30. Every time I hear this propaganda it makes my blood boil.

    Ok, so I assume you are against it…..

    Selectively hoisting them up on the sacrificial altar of impartiality is not journalism.

    Yeah, yeah, got it….

    Lost your job, COBRA crapped out, wife pregnant? Too fucking bad, welcome to America.

    But, you said you didn’t like propaganda?

    At least my hospital visits in Canada would not be found out about when applying for a credit card.

    Ok, so it appears your argument for healthcare centers on credit reporting? If you want to go after THAT, then you have my full backing, guilty till proven innocent fuckwad approach they have, but credit doesn’t equal healthcare.

    Each province runs their own. Stupid, badly managed province (say, Ontario), bad system. Good province, say Alberta, they can’t build hospital wings to 2 year old hospitals fast enough

    A fine statement that can be applied to insurance companies, HMOs, etc, in the USA also.

    I think you might want to clean up your own propaganda before you go after someone else’s.

  31. Good province, say Alberta, they can’t build hospital wings to 2 year old hospitals fast enough to house all the extra MRI and other machines the medical plan ordered, what do they have, like three MRI machines at the hospital in Red Deer? That’s like one for every 3,000 people that live there.

    Good for them:

    The United States spends more on technology than Canada. In a 2004 study on medical imaging in Canada,[77] it was found that Canada had 4.6 MRI scanners per million population while the U.S. had 19.5 per million.

  32. I guess you can cherry-pick any story to tell any story you want but I come back to the fact that there really isn’t that much difference between most industrial countries for general health of population.

    Then why is it so damn urgent to “do” something?

  33. FrBunny,

    Are you calling me a liar?

  34. Fuck Obama that socialist fuck.

    That dickless bitch can move to Canada. The sooner, the better.

  35. Other Matt,

    Did I say that you had to do something?

  36. Yes, although likely impossible to get entirely accurate, I would like to see the economics of innovation in the health market between all offending parties here.

    Those positive externalities might not be quite picked up in “the other” side’s assessment.

  37. Lost your job, COBRA crapped out, wife pregnant? Too fucking bad, welcome to America.

    Hey ain’t it too fuckin’ bad when you can’t get other people to pay for your bad life decisions and misfortunes?

  38. I’m not sure what this talk about waiting is about.

    Uhm, the Canadians and their government are talking about wait times.

    “Despite government promises and the billions of dollars funnelled into the Canadian health-care system, the average patient waited more than 18 weeks in 2007 between seeing their family doctor and receiving the surgery or treatment they required,” said Nadeem Esmail, director of Health System Performance Studies at the Fraser Institute and co-author of the 17th annual edition of Waiting Your Turn: Hospital Waiting Lists in Canada.

  39. Ok, got to take off but…

    Like I’ve said before. I wish the US well with whatever it decides about Healthcare, including doing nothing.

    I just wish that BOTH SIDES would keep Canada out of your discussion, because you invariably fuck up anything you say about it. You guys think that you know so much about Canada but most of you barely know your own national anthem much less anything about Canada.

    You take some woman who “has a blocked artery that prevents her from digesting”. (is that like a lung problem that prevents you from crapping?) as though this is representative and then give a lecture on using anecdotal information “to refute statistical truth” (which wasn’t provided).

    I keep on coming back to wishing you well on what you decide but don’t lecture other countries on how they suck.

    Maybe because I’ve only had experience with BC and Alberta and California healthcare in the 1st world, I’ve never really seen shitty healthcare (except Brasil, Mexico, etc.) and I can’t really tell the difference between them and that colours my impression of this debate.

    Like I said, there isn’t much to choose statistically between France, Germany, UK, Canada, Australia, US, etc. and your system appears to work for you so I say more power to you. Just keep Canada out of it.

  40. It all comes down to do you believe the government is actually capable of solving a problem. Tell me; how’s the War on Poverty and the War on Drugs working out for you? How’s Obama’s pledge of ending the Washington culture of corruption working out for you? How’s the stimulus working out for you?

    Oh Yes – Please let’s put more under the Federal governments control.

  41. Again. I’m not telling Americans what to do, enjoy your health system. It seems to work for you. I like the Canadian one just fine.

    What a coinkidink, the Canadians with immediate life-threatening injuries really like our system just fine, too.

    British Columbia has sent four patients with spine injuries to Washington State hospitals for care from May to September, 2007, though the recruitment of more staff and opening of new beds have helped alleviate the problem. Saskatchewan has sent patients to neighbouring provinces – such as Alberta, which is working at maximum capacity – for specialized neurosurgical services.

    And what this story doesn’t report, but I know to be a fact is that a lot of infants needing neonatal care are sent to U.S. Hospitals. Often, the toughest cases. And… AND, if that weren’t enough, the Canadian government doesn’t provide or arrange for transportation back to Canada for the infants or their families. Entire families are literally being dumped in American cities with no place to stay and no transportation options back. Their accomodations and transportation gets paid for by someone… I wonder who that might be… So yes, we’re paying for your healthcare system, too.

  42. I’m not qualified to make an informed decision. That’s why we have a president and a congress. They will do right by us Americans. Yes they will.

  43. I just wish that BOTH SIDES would keep Canada out of your discussion, because you invariably fuck up anything you say about it. You guys think that you know so much about Canada but most of you barely know your own national anthem much less anything about Canada.

    It appears we have a pot/kettle situation here when it comes to national stereotypes, eh?

    and that colours my impression of this debate.

    Learn to spell “colors,” ya hoser.

  44. I live in the US. I had a back problem and needed to see a doctor for the first time in about 5 years. I had to wait 6 weeks to get in because the one doctor I could find who was taking new patients was full until then.

    I don’t know what you guys are comparing other countries’ wait times to. It’s pretty bad here, it seems to me.

  45. Who – exactly – said Canadian health care is free? It’s not. Nobody says it is. That’s a lovely straw man argument, there, REASON magazine.

  46. This article tells me nothing about Michael Jackson.

  47. my wife waited 6 months to see a neurologist in the united states

  48. They really should shut sown these comment sites. Hey Ray Butlers – way to add to the discussion. Hey Obey the Fist – thanks for the nice story, tell it again.

  49. Ray Butlers, you are about as worthless as a sack of hammers. You’ll hear everyone talk about how “free” health care is when it is government-controlled. Please spare me the parsimonious bullshit. If you don’t have anything to contribute, please fuck off.

  50. qing178

    I live in Victoria.

    It’s the f*****g capital of British Columbia, so I would not call it “the boonies”, at least as far as Canada is concerned.

    If I couldn’t get prompt care here, where the f**k am I going to get it?

    BTW, the hernia surgeon used to do the procedure in his office within 2 weeks of diagnosis on Saturdays at a cost of $1,200. Then the Chretien government threatened to pull funding out of any province that didn’t ban such practices. So, not only did I wait 18 months, but the Canadian Taxpayer wound up footing a bill from Vic General for $3,500, being their chargeout for day surgery. (Actually, even at 18 months, I was lucky. A new surgeon happened to join the practice of the original surgeon and had to start filling his allotted OR times. If I hadn’t been willing to change surgeons, the stats are that I would have waited another year.)

  51. Who – exactly – said Canadian health care is free? It’s not. Nobody says it is. That’s a lovely straw man argument, there, REASON magazine.

    Ray is absolutely right. We should be saying that Canadian health care is “free.” That’s better.

  52. No regular on this board calls Canadian Healthcare Free. We consider it quite expensive.

  53. “to refute statistical truth” (which wasn’t provided)

    Statistical proof WAS provided for much of what Stossel said… You just didn’t bother to check the links:

    Try this one (from the article itself) – Wait Time Alliance (of Canada) June 2009 Report Card

    Also – incidentally I was just in a discussion the other day where a Spanish guy repeatedly called his country’s health care “free”. Ray Butler being a douchebag troll aside, it’s not a strawman.

  54. Things you learn on Hit and Run.

    Canada has socialized medicine. (If you have no clue what the word socialized means)

  55. As a Canadian I question our healthcare system all the time. I have a mother, a mother in-law and a couple of friends who have been let down by our system in the last couple of years alone.
    That being said this article could use some serious work. The “23 hour average wait” stat is especially uninformed. In Winnipeg, where I am from, we recently had a death in an Emergency room that took place after the patient waited over 30 hours for help. As sad as it is, that is the only case I have heard of where wait times where so atrocious.

  56. What’s that saying again? Oh, right: “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.”

    I am also reminded of the saying “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” Well, just imagine that medical procedure is a sandwich and your prescription is a bag of chips.

  57. FrBunny,

    Are you calling me a liar?

    Huh? I’m assuming the Nixon reference went right over your canucklehead. No worries; I probably wouldn’t get your cultural references to Rick Moranis either.

  58. The Euth Centers will be a welcome option.

    Futurama got it right in the first episode: we need suicide booths. Badly.

  59. Pulling their own teeth in England? That explains so much.

    How often do you brush your teeth?
    Three times a day, sir!
    Ralph… why must you turn my office into a house of lies!?
    I don’t brush! I do-on’t brush! Wah!
    Let’s have a look at the Big Book of British Smiles…

  60. My sister (in Canada) had cancer and had prompt surgery (1 week), (immediate) radiation treatment and chemo and is cancer free.

    And I don’t know anybody who voted for Nixon.

    FrBunny, for the win!

  61. People complain about the high cost of American health care but you get what you pay for. We don’t cut costs to the extent they do in countries with socialized medicine. Brett Skinner of the Canadian think tank, Fraser Institute found that “while Americans spend 55% more than Canadians for health care as a percentage of their national economy, the US has 327% more MRI units and 183% more CT scanners per capita than Canada. Doctors in the US perform twice as many inpatient surgical procedures than Canadian doctors. There are 14% more physicians and 19% more nurses in the US per capita than in Canada.” The study also found that the average waiting between the time patients first saw their family physician and the time they actually got treated is now 18.3 weeks. In 1993 it was 9.3 weeks. Only 44% of new drugs approved by the Canadian government in 2004 were covered by the government insurance program in October 2007. To get them, you had to wait for a year on average. There was a total of 1.7 million Canadians that couldn’t access a family physician in 2007. Four years ago, the average waiting time for nonurgent cardiac surgery in Manitoba was 19 days, now it’s 77.

    Regarding the claim that medical care is about the same in all 1st world countries, 41% of colon cancer cases in Canada prove fatal vs. 34% in the US. The US leads the world in treating cancer. The survival rate after 5 years in the US for breast cancer is 83.9%, for women in Britain, it’s 69.7%. The survival rate for prostrate cancer in the US is 91.9%, but only 73.7% in France and only 51.1% in Britain. Americans are 35% more likely to survive colon cancer than Brits. Much of this success in the US is due to cancer screening of which the US leads the world.

    More than one million Brits are currently waiting for hospital admission. Another 200,000 are waiting to get on a waiting list. Each year, 100,000 operations are cancelled.

    Swedish patients in need of heart surgery are often forced to wait as long as 25 weeks

  62. Remember everyone, when a pinkbot calls for socialized medicine, treat him like the misanthropic little shit that he is.


  63. > Are you for or against mandatory proctological exams?

    OK, all this discussion has changed my mind.

    It depends on the asshole. 😉

  64. How about this… we get Canada and all other countries to stop using ANY medicine, procedure or device that was invented by American healthcare system. You know, that horrible system that needs to be fixed.

    Take away EVERYTHING that this bad American wasteful invested. Everything.

    Then, … then we’ll see how great Canadian or English healthcare is.

    That would be a sight to see.


    “I guess the system up there is just too awesome for them to be able to stand it.”

    Best line of the day. Thx.

  65. “The US leads the world in treating cancer. The survival rate after 5 years in the US for breast cancer is 83.9%, for women in Britain, it’s 69.7%.”

    You also have to factor in that a LOT of cancer patients around the world also come HERE for their treatment. Our system is not only better, but also treats more people.

  66. Lost your job, COBRA crapped out, wife pregnant? Too fucking bad Pay cash, no problem


  67. He told me, “In Britain, that girl would have died. There just isn’t that level of resources for such an effort.”

    That’s why I wonder about the Michael Moore story in Sicko about the guy who cut of the tips of two of his fingers with a power saw. Apparently he paid $12K to get one reattached but couldn’t raise the $65K to get the other one done.

    First of all, it strikes me that the fact that it cast over five times as much to reattach the second finger indicates it was likely a really difficult procedure compared to the other (possibly way more damage?).

    I don’t know for sure, but I kinda suspect that if he had gone to an NHS hospital in Britain they would have said, “we’re sorry, but we can’t reattach your fingers.”

    I fully admit I could be wrong.

  68. The son of a college prof of mine cut off a number of his fingers in a kibbutz in Israel. They were reattached at Jewish hospital in Louisville, KY.

    This occurred late 80s/early 90s. AFAIK, if you cut off an appendage ANYWHERE in the world, ask to be flown to Louisville and go to Jewish. They were and probably still are the leaders in reattaching things (probably due to the high local rate of “Hey yall, watch this” moments).

  69. It may only be hands. If you cut off a leg, you might want to go somewhere else.

  70. robc

    I know a guy who had his hand cut off at the wrist in a construiction accident in the eighties. They reattached it at the Mayo Clinic (I think) in Jacksonville. To get the whole thing functional took several operations over about a year and a half.

    Now losing a hand is a serious impairment. I can see where someone could say it is “life threatening” in the sense that one’s lifestyle, employment and general enjoyment of life are affected in a negative way.

    I can see where attempting to reattach a limb like that would probably be done under a public system.

    I just really think MM picked a piss poor example. Of course, no one can challenge him and prove that the NHS would not have done the reattachment surgery.

    But that’s pretty much MM’s MO.

  71. I find it interesting that the only government run healthcare system they EVER talk about is Canada? You can guarantee if someone is writing an article about something they are against they are going to use the worse data possible. If we are going to compare “socialized” health care, what about the other countries they never mention? We are Americans though, if there is a way to fuck something up, we will do it. Won’t even take us long. Essentially we are a bunch of sheep that have stopped thinking, just nodding at whatever the TV is telling us. It is easier not to think.

    “It’s true that America’s partly profit-driven, partly bureaucratic system is expensive, and sometimes wasteful”

    PARTLY? I guess you really don’ know about the profit driven part if you have good medical insurance through ABC or whatever news organization you work for.

  72. They were and probably still are the leaders in reattaching things (probably due to the high local rate of “Hey yall, watch this” moments).

    I do not believe that is region specific. Generally, garages across America are a place of tomfoolery with intermittent successful task completion. Fingers get in the way of innovation.

  73. Isn’t it possible that the American statistics on waiting are skewed because (according to a Commonwealth Fund study,) 25% of Americans skip going to the doctor at all because they can’t afford it, as compared to 4% of Canadians?

  74. I guess I should expect a magazine with a title like “REASON” to consider possible distortions in statistics though…

  75. Correction: Judging by REASONS content, I “should NOT expect a magazine…”

  76. And for the last time, Canada does not have a NATIONAL system. Each province runs their own.

    It is a national system to the extent that it is a federal mandate that every province and territory must have a medicare plan.

    The provinces must follow the federal mandates (universal coverage of certain practices and procedures, no private alternatives, no copays or deductables etc). They have little flexibility and few options, and certainly not the option to not participate.

    The only options they have in essence are to spend more of their own money over and above the federal grants and to provide wider coverage than the federal minimum.

    It is more than likely that better management in any province over others is pure luck and just as likely to change with the next election.

  77. I’m an American currently living in Canada. No serious health problems myself but I know people who use the medical system a lot, and like anything else, experiences vary. I’m of the school that a private system or a public system can be decent; my philosophical preferences for one don’t blind me to the realization that, in practice, the philosophically more objectionable system might work better in at least some cases.

    I note also, with the existence of medicare/medicaid and VA medical treatment, the health-care system in the U.S. is NOT private, it is a hybrid, with some of the worst aspects of both systems (I think a more purely private, OR a more purely public, health care system would be a lot better than the current U.S. mishmash).

    Arguing by anecdote is ridiculous. There are Canadians denied treatment by provincial government health plans or with long waits or who face malpractice. Just like there are Americans who are denied treatment (or denied the best treatment) by private insurers or medicare/medicaid etc. Individual examples are not reasonable indictments of entire systems.

    As for Canadian-trained doctors moving to the U.S., there’s a motivation called, “I can earn more money in the U.S.”. That’s the same reason why many foreign-trained doctors from other countries or foreign-trained nurses or foreign-trained lawyers may choose to go to the U.S. (at least until the current economic problems, a number of major NY law firms did recruiting at some Canadian law schools, they offered significantly more money). The desire to earn more money does not necessarily mean that the medical system is better.

    There are some medical conditions where, if I got sick, I would rather be in the U.S. if I had good insurance. There are others where, especially if it was VA medical “care” or medicare/medicaid or “bad” private insurance, I’d rather be in Canada. Individual anecdotes or examples about specific conditions aren’t terribly helpful to understanding, nor are they terribly persuasive.

  78. It’s also sadly not surprising to see that no one put the “brain drain” problem of physicians leaving Canada together with the wait time problem –

    though, I’m happy someone finally pointed out that we refuse to compare America with the many excellent examples of socialized medicine.

  79. Spoke before I did, David – and did a better job of it, too.

  80. 25% of Americans skip going to the doctor at all because they can’t afford it

    [Citation needed] I find it difficult to believe that a quarter of Americans can’t afford a $15-$50 copay.

  81. It’s also sadly not surprising to see that no one put the “brain drain” problem of physicians leaving Canada together with the wait time problem –

    Um, so what’s your point? Either way, the long wait times are a result of the system. Most of us would consider a healthcare system that drives away doctors not to be something to emulate.

  82. What, zoltan, your Googling abilities are malfunctioning?–Adults-Health-Care-Experiences-in-Seven-Countries–2007.aspx

    Jordan, my point is that doctors might not be “driven away” by a bad system so much as wanting to make money in a US system – it’s called “brain drain” and it happens all over the world – intellectuals leaving their country to go to America instead of staying and helping improve the country. Long waits are a result of a system, as well as not going to see a doctor at all, like in the US.

  83. Jordan, my point is that doctors might not be “driven away” by a bad system so much as wanting to make money in a US system – it’s called “brain drain” and it happens all over the world – intellectuals leaving their country to go to America instead of staying and helping improve the country.

    Oookay. So once there’s nowhere else to run to, you think they’ll just resign themselves to this? How many people do you think are going to be willing to put up with 8-12 years of higher education, crushing debt, and 80-100 hour workweeks for almost nothing in return (especially after malpractice insurance is included)?

  84. Jordan – the dream of America is not fulfilled in its reality, as you’ve just pointed out. But, Doctors in this country do great – they make lots of money. Why wouldn’t they want to come here?

  85. Jordan – the dream of America is not fulfilled in its reality, as you’ve just pointed out. But, Doctors in this country do great – they make lots of money. Why wouldn’t they want to come here?

    Yeah, that’s kind of why they are coming here. Of course, once socialized medicine takes over that won’t be the case anymore, (which was the entire point of my previous comment…). Let’s take a look at how the Massachusetts public healthcare plan has turned out:

    Small businesses with more than 10 employees were required to provide health insurance or pay an extra fee to subsidize uninsured low-income residents, yet the overall costs of the program increased more than $400 million – 85 percent higher than original projections. To make up the difference, payments to health care providers were slashed, so many doctors and dentists in Massachusetts began refusing to take on new patients. In the state with the highest physician/patient ratio in the nation, some people now have to wait more than a year for a simple physical exam.

    So, just one year of existence the program was $400 million overbudget, wait times had skyrocketed, and the cost of care had increased by 56%. Yeah, I’m sure the federal government can do better. You know, the same government that claimed Medicare would pay for itself and proceeded to rack up unfunded liabilities greater than the economic output of the entire world.

  86. You’re doing what many people do, which is confuse correlation with causation – did the Massachusetts plan *cause* rising health costs? I think, probably not, as that is uniform throughout the country. Wait times skyrocketed, probably because many people tried to use the system – which is probably because they couldn’t afford the private system. My “probably”s are much better than your uncited “skyrocketed”s and such. So, since we already pay twice the rest of the world for such shitty coverage, why do Medicare costs bother you? I’m having trouble understanding this – a study I cited on another thread showed that based on our GDP, we should be paying 40% less than what we do pay. This relation between GDP and health-cost is in comparison to the rest of the world, of course – but who said comparisons were good in the first place, right?

  87. Wait times skyrocketed, probably because many people tried to use the system – which is probably because they couldn’t afford the private system.

    No. Once again: “To make up the difference, payments to health care providers were slashed, so many doctors and dentists in Massachusetts began refusing to take on new patients.”

    So, since we already pay twice the rest of the world for such shitty coverage, why do Medicare costs bother you?

    What kind of logic is this? It’s like saying since I’m already $20,000 in debt, I shouldn’t worry about putting a Ferrari on my credit card.

    I’m having trouble understanding this – a study I cited on another thread showed that based on our GDP, we should be paying 40% less than what we do pay.

    Thanks in large part to the fact that the government already picks up 50% of the tab. We’re seeing the same effect with college tuition. Eliminate all insurance mandates, repeal medical licensing laws, remove employer-provided health insurance tax credits, and allow insurance companies to offer coverage across state lines so that for once we actually have a free market in health care and watch prices fall (ask yourself why veterinary medicine is so much cheaper and service so much quicker). Offer public insurance to those who are refused private coverage.

  88. Canada is a “special case”. Three out of four Canadians live within 200 miles of the American border. Their entire economy is based on skimming the cream off the top of the American economy. Look at this chart. Most of the top income countries, with the exception of the US, are small or lightly populated countries which have economies based on being trading centers with larger economies. Most are culturally homogeneous. Canada is a bad example to compare our health system to. Just because they can afford a single-payer system does not mean the US will come close to affording it. And the resulting loss of innovation and efficiency may lead to negative consequences around the world. Seriously, if Canadians knew what was in store for them if the U.S. lost its free market in health care, they would be very afraid.

    France is a more comparable country and they are now facing very hard choices with their health system. I wouldn’t want to be in their position.

  89. Damn I miss joe and his hilarious fucking claims that the Cuban health care system is better than that of the United States. You can always count on some Single Payer asshole to shoot himself in the foot by claiming a communist hellhole has super duper awesome medical care. And in Cuba, it is practically free. I say practically, because the only cost was all of their civil liberties and basic freedoms.

  90. “You take some woman who “has a blocked artery that prevents her from digesting”. (is that like a lung problem that prevents you from crapping?)”

    Arteries are what supply the smooth muscle in your gut, which creates peristalsis so you can digest.

  91. “To make up the difference, payments to health care providers were slashed, so many doctors and dentists in Massachusetts began refusing to take on new patients.”
    – This does not *necessarily* mean that you can blame the public plan for the rising costs – since you like the word “again,” I will repeat, again, that if your idea were true not only would we see a significantly higher cost of health care in Massachusetts (care to provide the data?), we would also see other countries with BOTH public and private options exhibiting the same economic struggles that you claim will happen to us – wait, in every other of the 30 OECD countries, not one exhibits these claims. So much for evidence.

  92. When I lived in Canada (Alberta, mid-90s) a small town in British Columbia raised its own money to buy an MRI. When they raised the money, the Feds came in and said “no no, that would be unfair, you shouldn’t be more privileged just because you raised the money” and took it away.
    At that time, there was a thriving MRI business in Sweetgrass, Montana, just minutes over the Alberta/Montana border servicing Canadians who needed MRIs.
    I could go on with similar stories, but it’s quite simple–to save money on Health Care, you deny people services. That’s it. Of course, old people are the easiest targets, and thus they are denied services more often than younger people. So, Gov’t Healthcare will be fantastic–just don’t get old, or don’t get VERY old and you’ll be just fine.
    As far as the US system goes, There are 1300 insurance providers in the US currently–does anyone think they’re all not doing whatever they can to minimize costs and maximize profit??? And a government system unconcerned with profit will drive most of them out of business, and the cost will rise astronomically when every sniffle results in a doctor’s appointment.
    The whole argument is absurd. But, in the Age of Entitlement and Envy, this is what the people want, and this is what they will get.

    Good Luck America.

  93. See, quite often people who get sick die. Now some of this is due to the fact that nothing anyone can do can help them and sometimes it’s due to the fact that what they need to help them is simply not available due to the fact that due to scarcity there is not enough of anything to make sure that everything everyone needs is available to help them.

    This is of course sad, and of course, especially sad if it’s happening to you or someone that you love.

    So you see sometimes people die even though they could be cured.

    Now some people think it’s more just that some bureaucrat decides who lives and dies and others think that those who can afford it should get the treatments they can pay for and those that can’t have to rely on the voluntary charity of others.

    But either way, some people are going to die because scarcity determines that there is never enough to furnish everything that everyone needs.

  94. I am going to Canada with a veterinarian and a hand full of doctors. I’ll set up a “veterinary” clinic and let my group of real doctors practice on humans under free market style.

    Im gonna get fuckin rich!

  95. Whether or not it is more effective, any government plan is against the letter and spirit of our Constitution. End of story.

  96. “Damn I miss joe and his hilarious fucking claims that the Cuban health care system is better than that of the United States. You can always count on some Single Payer asshole to shoot himself in the foot by claiming a communist hellhole has super duper awesome medical care.”

    You can tell that a debate is devolving when people stop sticking to rational arguments and start up with the personal attacks.

    Let’s read the name of the website we’re posting on, shall we?

  97. Lauren… this is all also just basic economics.

    Please spare me the idiocy of health care being a good that doesn’t obey the laws of economics. It does. Everything does.

    If you impose price & wage controls, you get shortages and unemployment. Doesn’t matter the industry… We used to have 26 companies making flu vaccine, as government involvement has increased and they have taken over the majority of pay, we’ve gone down to 2.

    This isn’t just an issue of confusing causation and correlation, the causation part is extremely clear – if you are looking at the health care system with a functioning knowledge of economic principles.

    For whatever reason people have a hard time recognizing that – I’m not really sure what that’s about… I have a feeling it’s the nagging desire of people to believe that medicine in the US is expensive for oversimplified reasons like “greed” and because they have a magic-based conception of the alternative as being all-good and “free”.

    The results in MA are exactly what I (and most of us around here) would have expected them to be. There’s no special crystal ball we have here, it’s just a bit of logic stemming from the premises that incentives matter and that people are autonomous and primarily self-motivated.

    As for your issue about other countries, country to country is really hard to compare on this issue because every one sets up different incentive structures and operates their systems differently. A government system doesn’t *necessarily* have to set price or wage controls, and they may or may not allow more or less competition, they may limit access to the government part more or less… Etc. So your burden of evidence, without delving really specifically case to case is rather thin. If you’re interested at all in the history of US Health care, you might start here:


    In summary, USA spends more money than any other developed country but has shorter lifespans, fewer doctor visits, higher prices for health care commodities, higher mortality rates, ETC.

    In short, US healthcare sucks! Socialized medicine works BETTER (statistially) for most other developed countries!

    Read and weep, libertarians. Whatever socialized medicines’ shortcomings, it’s a fuckload better than what we got right now.

  99. John… Umm…. you really don’t like very deep thinking, huh?

    Aside from the fact that mortality rates have little to nothing to do with the health care system and a hell of a lot more to do with the population and other factors such as diet, climate, exercise, race, and a dozen other factors – and that those metrics are meaningless as an aggregate. E.g. Infant mortality rates are higher in the US because we actually are able to have thousands of premature babies born that no other country even attempts to keep alive – but ya know, within the first year a lot of those premature babies die – that skews our number up. Also skewing some other countries’ numbers down is simple differences in methodology. Many nations don’t count babies which die within the first few hours of birth as having ever been born. We do.

    Ok, so inconsistent methodology and ridiculous data aside, which proves next to nothing “statistically”, you also don’t address a lot of the basic stuff like the fact that the US is responsible for the vast majority of all new developments in the medical industry.

    We create more life-saving procedures, drugs and technologies than anywhere else and the rest of the world gets to free-ride off those innovations.

    Further, when we have a single-payer government system accounting for some 60% of medical care in the US, I think you’re missing the parts that went wrong.

    But hey – if it’s cool with you that you don’t even understand the metrics you’re using as “proof”, that’s fine.

  100. My understanding (I could be wrong on this) is that Canada’s healthcare system is an exception, not the norm, around the world. Governments are involved in healthcare in varying degrees, but not to the point they pay for the whole thing.

    I’m told by cousins and friends who live in Asia that their healthcare can be dysfunctional in it’s own way, although general care is cheaper compared to the United States. Incompetent doctors can be a problem.

    On another note – Reasontv (which I don’t always agree with) isn’t wrong about getting healthcare for around 100 dollars. My dad got one for an year, although it’s restricted to 5,6 nearby hospitals and he has to pay a fee when he visit a doctor.

  101. Sean W. Malone: Please prove that the rest of the world is “free riding off our inventions”. That’s just a hypothesis I really haven’t heard anyone prove. From how I think things work, the rest of the world pays good money for our technology.

    The most important metric addressed in the links I provided,, here, is that America pays around 60% more (as a percentage of GDP) for similar or shittier care. It also claims that administrative overheard is also much higher in the USA. This statistic is a slap in the face for people who believe our freer market system is more efficient than socialized medicine. Clearly, our system is not more efficient.

    Please read that link, I think its a pretty unbiased analysis of our healthcare system. The bottom line is that our health care system is both expensive, does not offer full coverage, and is not noticeably superior to other developed countries’ systems.

  102. oh and let me add:

    Sean W. Malone: A lot of your other arguments are clearly addressed in the paper.

    Infant mortality: the paper did a comparison with countries that performed similar statistic upkeeping as the USA and we were still outperformed.

    Diet, climate, exercise, etc: That is a valid point, which the paper does address. However, they compare 20+ countries all with different climates an cultures and we still end up as the most expensive. I admit that our culture may have a significant impact on our health, but it still doesn’t completely explain our incredibly inefficient system.

    I’m sure glad I found a paper that brought some numbers into the debate instead of talking points.

  103. Numbers like this:

    > 41% of colon cancer cases in Canada prove
    > fatal vs. 34% in the US … survival rate
    > after 5 years in the US for breast cancer
    > is 83.9%, for women in Britain, it’s 69.7%.
    > The survival rate for prostrate cancer
    > in the US is 91.9%, but only 73.7% in
    > France and only 51.1% in Britain. Americans
    > are 35% more likely to survive colon cancer than
    > Brits.

    are almost always comparing apples to oranges. When screening programs are expanded, more patents with “the condition” are found. Consider someone whose prostate cancer is noticed four years earlier than it would have been with less screening, and who dies another two years after that. With less screening, this counts as “two year survival”, with more as “six year survival.” Same patient, same death. But the effect can be even more skewed: screening may catch someone who has a condition which, untreated, either grows so slowly as to never result in fatality (something unrelated kills them first) or even reverses itself.

    So you cannot just compare simple percentages like that. You need to correct for the above statistical artifacts. When you do, you find that early screening sometimes really doesn’t help so much, in fact sometimes it increases the death rate (because chemo, radiation, surgery are not risk free); and that differences in treatment regime do not always favour the US. (E.g., beta blockers after heart attacks turn out to increase the death rate. Oops!)

  104. “I have a feeling it’s the nagging desire of people to believe that medicine in the US is expensive for oversimplified reasons like “greed” and because they have a magic-based conception of the alternative as being all-good and “free”.”
    – Well, Sean, I’m not sure of all of the reasons why we have such expensive medicine, but I know that A: It has something to do with the structure of our health system. B: We have FAR more expensive medicine than anyone else in the world. C: For that high price, we have the lowest quality care of any developed country, and the least amount of access to it.

    “The results in MA are exactly what I (and most of us around here) would have expected them to be.”
    – Funny, because the results of health care quality in South America, where I lived, and Europe, where most of these statistics above these posts are from, are exactly what I (and most sensible, reasoning people) would have expected them to be – better than the United States.

    “As for your issue about other countries, country to country is really hard to compare on this issue because every one sets up different incentive structures and operates their systems differently. A government system doesn’t *necessarily* have to set price or wage controls, and they may or may not allow more or less competition, they may limit access to the government part more or less”
    – The link John posted to that NPR health care profile was wonderfully informative on this subject, not that there aren’t other great sources out there. Just incase you missed it, it really is worth comparing some other countries with us – funny, because, when you do, the other countries with a more similar health system to us happen to spend the most on health care as well – interesting how that works… but then again, I’m just using real-world examples here, I don’t think a magazine like REASON would be interested in something like examples… theories, and Massachusetts, are just as good – right, libertarians?

  105. 23 hours? That seems a bit exaggerated… the longest I’ve ever had to wait was about 4 or 5, and that has only happened a couple times.

  106. Canada is such a horrible place to live because of their healthcare?

    I’ll just leave this here:


  108. What a poorly written, and researched article. John Stossel, I will now abandon ABC and any other news outlet you contribute to.

  109. Hrm. I am Canadian.

    I have never waited 23 hours in an emergency room. I did go in once, needing stitches for a very not serious cut on my finger… I was told the wait would be about 6 hours, but I got into “triage” within 45 mins. They bandaged it, I went home.

    My 6 month pregnant sister went in with a cut needing stitches.. and got in right away. Same with when she brings in her kids.

    My mother died of cancer. Did she die because we had to wait for treatment or diagnosis? No. That was all fast, we had every treatment, including some new ones… it was just a type of cancer people don’t really survive.

    And hey, my family didn’t owe hundreds of thousands of dollars after about two years of that hell.

    Gotta be worth something

  110. i was in england last fall and had to go to the ER. I expected to spend most of my day there, being that there are plenty of articles like this floating around spreading falsehoods. I was literally in and out in about 15-20 minutes tops. and the cost, as a US citizen for an ER visit in another country – $0. I recently had to go to the ER in the US. Mind you, I have health insurance, and the visit still managed to cost me $250 when it was all said and done. I don’t know where these people get their facts and figures but in my personal experience, socialized medicine sure beats any of the privatization we currently have. the health care industry has proven time and time again they are unable to regulate themselves and do the right thing so maybe it is time for the government, even with all it’s flaws, to step in…

    1. I was literally in and out in about 15-20 minutes tops. and the cost, as a US citizen for an ER visit in another country – $0.

      Bullshit, the NHS has billed non-residents since for fucking ever.

  111. Whatever!!! that is all I have to say. I am not sure about the people that did any research on this, or even the doctor they interviewed, but my experience and that of my family has been far from that. My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer on December 14th, by January 8th she was already starting her chemotherapy. The biggest cause of waiting room delays is the amount of morons that visit emergency rooms with the sniffles or a twisted ankle.

  112. If you believe that your neighbor is responsible for your life, of course “national” or “single payer” health insurance makes complete sense. When you are a child, you don’t take personal responsibility for your actions, regardless of how old of a child you are.

    There is real self-denial and/or ignorance in the issue of profit. It doesn’t matter in what field you work. If someone can come to your door and demand that you work for them, or demand that you pay for something for them, or have the government do it for them, they would be making a fucking profit!! The only difference is between earning it and stealing it.

    From each according to his ability and to each according to his need has the blood of a hundred million people on it hands, but if it makes it possible for you to rent a couple extra videos this week, who gives a shit?

  113. I call bullshit. I’ve been to emerg (in Ontario and Nova Scotia) all too frequently over the past three years, for myself and waiting with others and I’ve never waited more than 3.5 hours. That’s a long time… but for non-serious illness/injury (i.e. bladder infection). and not 23 hours.

  114. As a Canadian reading this article, this may be the funniest thing I’ve read in a while.

    I’ve been sick here. My family has been sick here. My friends have been sick here.

    Didn’t cost any of us a penny. We’re all happy with the treatment we got and healthy now.

    Sorry folks, but this guy is so far wrong he can’t even see right from where he’s standing.

  115. As for the authors comments about Canadian’s ‘riding off american innovation’. Well how about you americans stop useing Bone Marror compatability tests, useing Electron Microscopes, Heart Pacemakers, or Insulin for anyone who is diabetic. These are all innovations in the medical field invented by Canadaians.

  116. Waah Americans get better treatment, waah socialized medicine is an idiotic system, waah screw the poor let them die!

    Everytime I hear something almost amusing like this just makes my head spin that some people can be so idiotic. If the Canadian system didn’t work, we would change it. If the Britain system didn’t work, they would change it. The only country thats currently changing it is…hmm the States? That MUST be because its working so well right?

    Choke on this next time you compare the two healthcare systems:

    Every system has its flaws, this blogger is just can’t seem to realize that.

  117. all those American innovations being used “for free” are they? well, as a Canadian we’ll take penicillin back then…

    FYI the discussion on FARK is much more intelligent than what’s going on over here at “Reason”.

  118. Probably the most biased article on health care that I’ve seen.

    As a Canadian who has had two parents recently treated with Cancer; plus two grandparents who are frequently hospitalized, please take my word for it that the Canadian system is nowhere near as dysfunctional as this article implies. Also please remember that you can’t decide policy based on isolated incidents – you need to find the general trend.

    I hope to find tangible facts in coming articles, supported by statistics, or unbiased findings.

    When my U.S. former employer “Agere” was recently cutting health benefits for U.S. employees, the president announced in an all employees meeting that:

    1) the U.S. spends twice as much (as a proportion of GDP) on health care as the U.K., and about 40% more when compared with Canada.

    2) the U.S. has half as many hospital beds per unit of population as the U.K., and a similar amount to Canada.

    3) that private health care in the U.S. constituted “an unfair tax upon business, and a distinct competitive disadvantage”. This was ascribed to the employer’s obligation to provide health insurance as a benefit.

  119. Canada has a lower incident and mortality rate for all cancers combined. This article has more info, but this Stossel piece is just typical fear-mongering, and doesn’t mention the uninsured.

  120. The fact remains that Canadians are eventually able to get the medical treatment they need.

    Americans have to wait until they’re in the upper middle class, which for a growing majority of US citizens just never happens.

  121. This is the WORST researched article I’ve ever read, shame on you John Stossel! You call yourself a journalist?!?!

    My grandmother just spent 8 days in the hospital for a respiratory infection. She was given the best care imaginable; recieved ever test needed and was released once her condition improved to a point that it could be managed by her GP. I can’t imagine being sick and without medical insurance or on some half-baked HMO in the U.S. My grandparents would be broke now if they lived in the U.S.

    There are problems with our system but you can’t tell me with a straight face that the U.S. system is any better.

    Just look at the treatments for austic children in any U.S. state versus in the province of Alberta. Tell me that an average American family would be able to pay for that kind of treatment out of their own pockets. Psht!

  122. Is reason suddenly getting a lot of health care industry support?
    It seems to have gone from promoting liberty to manufacturing noise to hide the fact Americans pay far more 17% GDP vs 10% for far less as measured objectively by life expectancy.

    Actual Canadians laugh at the suckers who think this sort of nonsense is true and it is some kind of maple syrup magic that allows us to live longer and better for far less money.

  123. I’m a Canadian citizen and this is bullshit. Average waiting times are nowhere NEAR 23 hours. I was diagnosed with pneumonia and the moment I was diagnosed I was admitted, I didn’t have to go home and wait 23 hours in order to receive care. We may have waiting times in Canada that are a little longer than American, but “worse comes first” not who has the most money to pay the best doctors.

  124. You can always tell when an article about healthcare is written by someone who opposes a public option because it will always focus on the English and Canadian systems. Those countries do have long waits for public care. What about France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Norway…heck, even Venezuela. Those countries have publicly financed healthcare systems that work, cost less and don’t have long waits. Why should the US remain a third-world country? Anyway, thanks for the propaganda, and I look forward to an increase in the level of misinformation as we get closer to dragging ourselves out of the nineteenth century.

  125. OK guys… The free-rider thing is about the easiest damn thing in the world to prove, so here ya go, starting with Greg (10:58am):

    It doesn’t matter what nationality the inventors were from, but what country they traveled to to do the work, as it happens, you’re simply wrong about the inventions you list.

    1. “The first physician to perform a successful human bone marrow transplant was Robert A. Good at the University of Minnesota in 1968.”
    2. “The first electron microscope prototype was built in 1931 by the German engineers Ernst Ruska and Max Knoll.[1]

    “Reinhold Rudenberg, the scientific director of Siemens, had patented the electron microscope in 1931, stimulated by family illness to make the poliomyelitis virus particle visible.”
    3. The pacemaker was developed simultaneously by doctors in the US, the UK, Australia, and of course there was John Hopps of Canada as well…
    4.“Nicolae Paulescu, a professor of physiology at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Bucharest, was the first one to isolate insulin, which he called at that time pancrein, and published in 1921 the work that he had carried out in Bucharest.”

    The history of most both insulin and the pacemaker are very complex and it’s pretty damned disingenuous to say that either was invented by a Canadian – AND since insulin was created by the 1920s, and pacemakers by 1950, and Canada didn’t have anything approaching “Universal Care” by then, it doesn’t even remotely count as an example of where socialized medicine has created something useful. Try again.

    AND BESIDES….. Of course there are going to be innovations coming out of other countries, there are doctors all over the world and no one is claiming that American’s have a monopoly of all inventions. Of course we don’t. However…

    To Johnny John John:

    This Ma href=”″>article which is definitely worth looking at, discusses the findings of Victor R. Fuchs and Harold C. Sox, Jr.’s Physicians’ Views Of The Relative Importance Of Thirty Medical Innovations:

    Of the 30 top medical innovations as ranked by physicians, the US was involved in nearly all of them and is either credited or co-credited.

    1. MRI/CT – United States & UK
    2. ACE Inhibitors – United States
    3. Balloon Angioplasty – Switzerland
    4. Statins – United States & Japan
    5. Mammography – “indeterminate”
    6. Coronary by-pass surgery – United States
    7. PPI & H2 Receptor Antagonists (Anti-Ulcer drugs) – Sweden & United States
    8. Anti-depressants – United States
    9. Cataract Extraction/Lens Surgery – United States
    10. Hip & Knee Replacements – UK, Japan and… again, United States

    Most medical technology, like everything has a lot to do with a lot of research being done simultaneously by people all around the world, but there is a reason why even as hampered as our system is, we still have a bigger hand in innovation than anyone else.

    The reasons that health care in the US is more expensive has a lot to do with R&D costs, it has a lot to do with specific insurance costs being born by a third party – which has, over time pushed people to thinking that the “cost” is unimportant as someone else (usually Government or employer) is footing the bill, and of course there are many issues with the high cost of FDA approval (which this magazine has covered in the past – and is up to around $1 Billion per drug) and AMA/Congressional restrictions on the number of doctors trained & licensed in the US, which basically makes doctors a glorified, high-priced union, keeping competition out and supply of service providers low.

    The issues are again, extremely complex. I linked to this before here, but if you want a good overview of the American system (which you all should since you are under the woeful delusion that it’s somehow a private one now), read Health Care in the 20th-C: A history of government interference and protection

    Finally – Lauren: The mere fact that you’d reference South American medical care as even comparable to the United States’ means I cannot take you remotely seriously. Sorry.

  126. You do realize that socialized medicine and government run health insurance are two completely different things, right?

    By ‘You’ I mean anyone who thinks the current proposal is anything like socialized medicine in any way whatsoever.

  127. Sorry one tag-fail:

    10 Surprising Facts about American Health Care

    Also – going back to my first point for one second… The inventions listed in support of the Canadian system that were actually invented largely by Canadians were ALL invented prior to their system becoming “Universal” in the 1950s/60s

    Electron Microscope by 1931
    Insulin by 1920
    Pacemaker by the late 40s/early 50s based on ideas that began in the late 19th Century


    And the last thing is – as bogged down as we get in this debate of supposedly utilitarian figures and statistics that show this or that system working “better”. What’s lost in all this is that everyone is forgetting about the niggling little detail of socialized medicine BEING GODDAMNED SLAVERY!

    Medical tech doesn’t just produce itself ya know – Doctors & scientists spend their lives training and working on these products, and then to serve the needs of “the people” their time and the fruits of their labor will just be confiscated? And yeah, sure it’s “free”… Because you lucky assholes have a few rich people to soak for it all the time.

    One way or another, what all this is about fundamentally is whether or not you dickless jerks have the right to steal from some people or enslave others for your own specific benefit.

    Regardless of whatever government says, you don’t have that right, so the rest of this is ultimately moot. And at some point, those you are enslaving and robbing will come to realize it explicitly or implicitly and then you’re going to have a real problem when they stop allowing themselves to be extorted.

  128. For an article named ‘the costly truth about Canada’s free health care system’ it sure is short on truth. While there are difficulties with Canadian health-care they stem from the government decision to under-fund the system not from the system itself. If Canada spent what the system required all problems would be resolved … and it would still cost less than the US “system”.

  129. Nice propaganda. None of the things stated in this article are true in general. They’ve cherry picked some examples from a small town and worst-case scenarios, or have plain made them up.

    I’ve never spent more than 4 hours in a waiting room, I’ve always had prompt emergency scans.

    Not to say there’s not challenges, there certainly are, but considering we live longer here, in better health. Something to chew on.

    Oh, and my total tax burden here in Alberta is less than most of the USA, and I don’t have to paying ridiculous health premiums nor worry about being denied coverage or going into major debt should I become ill.

    Seems like a winner to me.

  130. Sean, the real important point you highlight, which drives your principles and therefore your stance on this issue, is your idea of “slavery” by the government if you have to (gasp) pay more taxes. Perhaps you’d like to cut out from this system and try your luck elsewhere, because here’s how it works in this country: you trade government services, like public schools, the military, roads, etc, for money, because you are a citizen who utilizes these things and agrees to their importance by means of your paying taxes. Rousseau called it a “social contract,” which obviously not many people at Reason know much about. Your very act of being a citizen means that you can protest legislation all you want, but if a bill passes that legalizes the process of a public plan, well, there’s democracy at work, kid, not slavery.

    And, not only did I reference South America, I happen to have gotten the best medical treatment of my life there – not because it was free, but because it was convenient, quick and efficient – and at a public hospital no less! I saw a doctor (spoke fluent english) three times in an hour, in between two X-rays – and I got two prescriptions afterwards, which cost me no more than 5$ US. All within one hour. Even when I was younger and could afford the best insurance and health care in our state, I never experienced that kind of treatment. Interesting.

  131. By the way, it is refreshing to get some feedback from Canadians about this article and it’s truths, or lack thereof.

  132. Read the “article”.
    Read the “comments”.

    Anyone who believes Stossel and who believes as you put it in your comments deserves the health care system you have.

    The facts of the matter are on public record, contained in World Health reports, UN reports, etc. Look for them, not for some hack who uses fear and selective, out of context facts to put the fear into the sheep.

    We Canadians are taxed (in Total) less than you USA-ians, we spend less per capita on health care, we live longer, with better outcomes.

    We have more lovers, more TV’s per capita than you do. We eat better than you do, we live longer than you do. Our homes are larger (contain more rooms than) yours.

    We have vastly superior health care.

    Now everyone of those statements can be backed up by published study or report, some of them from USA-ian studies even.

    The drivel in the article and in the comments is just opinion and not very well informed opinion.

  133. People in England have to wait? OMG, that is so cruel. Why, they should have the American way and be told immediately that their health insurance doesn’t cover whatever they’d be waiting for in England.

    Some Englishmen are pulling their own teeth? Oh yeah, name three. (Englishmen, not teeth)

    I’m curious, why are people in Canada and England having to wait? Are there not enough doctors to handle the load? Are the people wanting to see a doctor really in need of a doctor, or are they hypochondriacs like most American’s who have been taught by their TVs that they need to rush and see their doctor if they cough more than twice a day? What’s the difference between waiting to see a doctor and not being able to afford the doctor at all? Why is it assumed that changing the system that we have won’t work, but we already know the system we have is broken? Why didn’t the article point out that Americans spend up to 100 times more than Europeans for the same exact drug? This article is propaganda BS emoted by the Health Care Industry and has no truth to it, for all the bombast and BS put out by the HC industry thru TV shows and articles such as this, your American health care is broken, and getting worse.

  134. Well… I suppose that if we were to simply deny care to 10 or 20 percent of the population as the for-profit model does then we could eliminate waiting…

    I’m not sure that’s such a good idea.

    We can hardly deny that many wonderful innovations have come and continue to come from the USA. Keep up the good work!
    It is I think disingenuous or at least very poorly informed to say that Canada does not produce medical innovations.
    How about the artificial hearts? how about the nuclear reactors producing the isotopes that are used across this continent to diagnose cancers?
    Then there’s the AIDS vaccine which is going into phase 1 trials… or if you want to go back a few years, how about insulin?

  135. For those whose Google-fu is lacking.

    Human Development Index (2008), UN “Human Development Indices, a Statistical Update, 2008”

    Statistics Canada, “Survey of Financial Security”, 2008.

    US Federal Reserve, “”Recent Changes in US Family Finances”. (Q4 data adjusted using OECD PPP rate)

    Financial net worth data from Haver Analytics (original sourcing from Statistics Canada, US Federal Reserve, UK Office for National Statistics)

    House size from Euromonitor.

    Our (Canadian) life expectancy is 81.25 years. The US is 78.11. That is from the CIA Factbook.

    Our healthy life expectancy is 73 years, US is 70. (World Health Organization’s World Health Statistics 2009)

    And, according to Durex, who did a survey, we also beat you by a large margin in the amount of time we engage in foreplay and intercourse. By two minutes. But just ask your women…those two minutes are critical, eh?

  136. I’m Canadian. Is our health system perfect? No. Is it cheap…yes. I’m in my early 30’s and in good health. I have never had serious health issues, but family members have. While I’m sure there are well documented cases where people had to wait weeks/months for tests or treatment, most don’t.

    A family friend had an aneurysm detected, and got an MRI within in days. In contrast to Stossel’s report, CT, MRI’s and all sorts of other tests are operated around the clock.

    The way I look at it, I’m healthy (and so is my family) and my quality of life is great. The reason: health care. I’ve never thought twice about seeing my doctor if I’m ill. If I was sick I wouldn’t blink an eye to get treatment or surgery. And then I don’t have to worry about going into massive debt for that.

    Did you know 60% of U.S. bankruptcies are medically related? Is that fair? And while Stossel says one woman’s “elective” surgery wasn’t covered by the government– is that so different from all the HMO’s that screw people over?

    The New York Times had an interesting observation from an American living and working in Canada. She had a minor stroke, was immediately helped by a hospital in BC, and received therapy and the likes when she was recovering. The cost: Nada.

    The same woman went to Southern California to visit family and fainted. While there were no serious medical issues for that, it still cost her over $8K. And she wasn’t even admited. She also says if she had to return to the US she would be unable to afford health care, because her premiums would be too high.

    But, for those of you against universal health care, enjoy your for profit, money gouging system where they famously charge you $9 bucks for aspirin.

  137. “Rousseau called it a “social contract,” which obviously not many people at Reason know much about.”

    Lauren, the people over here know far more about the idea of social contract than you seem to realize. In fact, the very notion that you have that we actually *HAVE* a social contract is laughable at best.

    You are in the process of arguing for something that conscripts our children & grandchildren to massive debt and tax burdens for the foreseeable future.

    Further, the idea that you don’t recognize the concept of tyranny of the majority means you need to spend sometime actually thinking about philosophy and learn your civics a bit better. First off, we are not, and shouldn’t be a “democracy”, we are a representative republic, and we have – or are supposed to have – *guaranteed rights*

    Those rights are immutable, self-evident (as Jefferson put it) and are not subject to the whims of the majority. As for the higher taxes point, currently, I’m in a tax bracket that would assuredly mean I pay no higher taxes – it has nothing what-so-ever to do with my personal situation. But taxes are theft, one way or another – because you ostensibly get something in return from the thief doesn’t make it any more or less voluntary since I didn’t ask for their services and don’t appreciate having guns backing their desire to take money. And that, frankly, is why your canard of the “social contract” is bullshit.

    I was born here, and unlike what Thomas Jefferson often discussed and proposed, the laws of this nation don’t all disappear each generation so that a true social contract can emerge voluntarily. The right of people to determine their own government is long gone in the US and virtually everywhere else around the world.

    And regardless, your logic works vastly better in reverse!!

    If you think South American health care is so great, GO MOVE THERE! There is no where on the planet that freedom-loving individuals can really point to as a safe haven anymore. And there are a thousand places where you can go to live under some soma-induced torpor and get “free” stuff from your government at the expense of productive individuals.

    There’s a gigantic disconnect with most people posting here.


    Health Care ain’t free guys, not here, not in Canada, not in New Zealand, not in Ecuador. Resources are finite, not everyone is capable or has the desire to become doctors so supplies and talent are extremely limited. And absurdly, instead of supporting a productive system where we get increases in supply and productivity, you leach from other sectors of the economy that are still productive in order to afford increasingly expensive health care. That’s ridiculous.

    2. Price-signaling, Suppy & Demand laws and other economic principles don’t disappear just cause the good being discussed is “medicine”

    3. Price controls don’t work, they cause shortages. Wage controls don’t work, they cause unemployment.


    4. When you run out of people to tax, then the only thing left is outright theft of remaining supplies or outright slavery. At some point, you will have bled the producers so much that they will die off (view Venezuela for a fun current example), and then you will be faced with this choice: Force doctors to work for free, or start stealing supplies from anyone and everyone still producing.

    That’s the end of the line for your ideas Lauren. I hope you understand that. It saddens me that anyone would think that that was an ok direction to take, but history and rational logic dictates that that’s the direction you’re headed.

  138. “Bankruptcies due to medical bills increased by nearly 50 percent in a six-year period, from 46 percent in 2001 to 62 percent in 2007, and most of those who filed for bankruptcy were middle-class, well-educated homeowners, according to a report that will be published in the August issue of The American Journal of Medicine.”

    Another fascinating point that you don’t hear much about on REASON. Here’s where that quote came from:

  139. Canada’s life expectancy is two yrs ahead of U.S, for 2008. Canada has had gov’t paid health care for at least 10 yrs. Why isn’t Canada’s expectancy down?

  140. It really doesn’t help ones argument if it’s bolstered by inaccurate propaganda. But it is all simply a distraction. What is being repeatedly missed in this discussion is that the US government has no authority to do what they propose to do.

  141. To those of you who have no understanding of libertarianism I give you this quote:

    “Libertarianism is the radical notion that you don’t own other people.”

    Doctors aren’t my slaves, rich people don’t exist to be hosts for parasites. You guys are playing with 50,000 year old fire and it’s burned humanity an innumerable amount of times.

    For rather important reading material, anyone who thinks this shit is a good idea needs to first fully understand what they’re doing:

    Philosophy of Liberty (produced by ISIL)

    and… Economics in One Lesson

    From the introduction:

    “In this lies the whole difference between good economics and bad. The bad economist sees only what immediately strikes the eye; the good economist also looks beyond. The bad economist sees only the direct consequences of a proposed course; the good economist looks also at the longer and indirect consequences. The bad economist sees only what the effect of a given policy has been or will be on one particular group; the good economist inquires also what the effect of the policy will be on all groups.”

    While you all blather on about the “seen”, you are missing the countless crimes which are going unseen and are falling into some of the most egregious economic fallacies that have plagued mankind. It’s already a problem now, and it’s only going to get much, much, much worse. And when the havok has been wreaked on humanity – I hope you all realize that it was your doing, and not ours (libertarians).

  142. Wow, what a horrible article. My MRI took about 20 minutes to get into. My mother just had nerve tests done after her personal doctor referred her. She had an appointment setup before she got home from the office. It took less than 2 days to get into the appointment. Before you write put something like this up, and it gets farked, please do some actual research. Don’t just talk to some lunatic doctor who doesn’t actually know how the system works. He clearly doesn’t, and neither do you.

    3 months…. wow…. really not that bright.

  143. Ideas don’t have lines, my friend, and they do not end – in fact, it is best, I think, to question our beliefs, ideas, values, assumptions, and so on, rather than letting them come to “the end of the line.”

    “The right of the people to determine their own government is long gone in the US and virtually everywhere else around the world.”
    – This sounds borderline conspiratorial, or paranoiac. If you really believe this, you must be one of those people who sits in a bomb-shelter basement, watching FOX news and waiting for the secession of the south or something like that. I mean, if you *really* think that you’ve lost the ability to protest, run for office, or even just speak out about an issue and have it be addressed by legislation; if you really think you’ve lost the ability to do any of this then you, my friend, are the one not meeting with reality.

  144. Right… because anyone who thinks that government has run amok in the US.

    Anyone who might, for example, think that representatives bailing out private banks when the vast majority of the public opposed the action, or continuing a trillion dollar war in Iraq when some 80% thinks we shouldn’t, and that this might mean that people aren’t being very well represented by their government MUST live in a bunker watching Fox.

    Thanks for the retarded straw man. Perhaps you’ve confused me for a Republican.

    My POINT, however, was that we have no such thing as a social contract, because that requires the public to actually decide and agree on it. There was no consent, thus there is no contract. It’s that simple. If I came up to you with a contract signed by your grandfather that you were to be my personal valet for the rest of your life, would you view that as valid?

    I’m guessing no.

    Why? Because you didn’t agree. The social contract theory is great, if there actually is one. There isn’t… so for our purposes here, it’s a bullshit distraction at best and a depressing modern commentary at worst.

  145. Should read: Right… because anyone who thinks that government has run amok in the US is a conspiratorial Fox News fan.

  146. You know, I happen to agree with you on a lot of points about the big bad ol govt – they fuck up, a lot, and I am very, very much against the wars, our arms dealings, and so on. But, I also still retain the confidence (or, from your p.o.v., the illusion) that I can still have an affect on the direction of this country, this government, and our culture. It just sounds way too conspiratorial to assume that the song-and-dance of Congress, the courts, elections, international relations, all of this is just a big lie, and they just *let* us think the government is still answerable to the people.

    So, I’m curious, since you are so free and all, do you just obey the laws you agree with? Do you not consider it “obeying” but rather “agreeing” maybe? Or is there a better term for libertarians who might get arrested for smoking pot or something? I mean, where do you draw the line between your freedom and the power of society to detain you if you do something this country considers illegal? Maybe you don’t think there is a line, and no government can tell you what to do, and on and on. I mean, is that true of your beliefs?

  147. Most people who read reason are probably free market believers.

    The American health system has worse outcomes for far more money than other systems.

    Maybe it just isn’t a free market.

    Maybe the domination by large players has given it the characteristics of a cartel.

    Medicine and health insurance are vastly complicated.

    Whether or not you actually need, or will be covered for, a given treatment, is unknown due to the chance element of need and the probability an insurance company will do everything they can to cheat you and/or drop coverage when you are vulnerable.

    Maybe there is an inherent lack of transparency that cause what should be a free market to fail so badly.

    Maybe Government intervention in the form of licensing professionals and approving medicines etc is to blame and a half free system combines the worst of all worlds.

    Maybe the tax code tying health care to employment is a problem because it limits choice in such an obvious way.

    I don’t know the answers but I do know the question: Why is American health care so expensive for such a poor result?

    Rather than repeating free market platitudes and homilies,that I suspect most of us agree with, why don’t we examine why the evidence says they don’t apply?

  148. A truly free market is an ideal that can no longer be accomplished, because there are government regulations that benefit the public in the case of health – I am not opposed to strict licensing laws, and loosening them could increase the number of malpractices. I am not opposed to strict FDA regulations – if these are not strict we can see dangerous and/or useless drugs out on the market and people buying them before the bad effects are realized.

  149. The joke is Lauren, this stuff won’t benefit the public.

    This is maybe the cosmic humor played on libertarians, but we are strong supporters of free markets often primarily because very few of us believe that businesses are to be trusted. And nobody should be trusted with the power to rule over other men, and certainly not to the extent that they now do. The case for freedom is actually really simple and it works equally well from both sides of your potential view of humanity.

    1. If you think people are suspect and not to be trusted, then why in the world would you give a tiny handful of them the power to make decisions for a whole population?
    2. If people are capable of making their own decisions effectively, then no government is particularly necessary. Voltaire’s “Candide” makes this point far better than I…

    In either case, there are inherent limits to human knowledge that make it flat out impossible for any top-down solution to be “best” for most people when every individual has individual values and needs and no one person can simultaneously know what they all are – much less plan for them effectively.

    That said, and as counter-intuitive as this may seem, you notice how Wal-Mart is already on board with mandates for employer provided health care?

    Shouldn’t you ask yourself why??

    Did Wal-Mart suddenly turn into a benevolent company that just wants what’s good for the American worker? No… of course not. But due to their already massive size, they will have no problem complying with the new rules – whereas their competition most assuredly will struggle and many of the smaller competitors will go out of business as a result. So while you are happily swallowing the feel-good rhetoric of politicians about how this stuff reins in businesses and is good for American workers (higher labor costs, incidentally, have never been a “good thing” for American production – and won’t be as long as companies are free to move out of the country as they have been for 3 decades) – the truth is, the biggest multi-national companies are the ones who will laugh their way to the bank on these deals.

    I don’t think it’s a conspiracy, I think it’s a natural consequence of bad ideas and a mediocre system, but I do find it ironic the number of people who consistently support the very policies that result in the ever tightening grip of corporations & government against the people. Especially since mostly those same people blame massive corporations for all our problems.

    Lauren, there are many studies that have shown the FDA’s “strict” regulations cost far more lives than they save – assuming that Drug X exists for 8 years before it’s approved, and it is perfectly safe and for example, had been shown to be effective after 2 years of clinical study, when the FDA finally approves it that’s 6 years worth of lives that could have been saved that now aren’t. Further, due to the testing requirements, it pushes the cost of creating and developing drugs into a realm where ONLY gigantic monsters like Pfizer (or Wal-Mart) can afford the risk.

    As I noted earlier, due to the regulations and costs, we’ve gone from 26 manufactures of flu vaccine down to 2… I’m not sure we can take another loss.

  150. An ex-boss of mine needed hip replacement. It took 16 months of run-around; first, to discover the pins in his leg (30 years of one leg too short will do in the hip); then to schedule the surgery to remove those pins first; then to go back to the bottom of the list for the hip. OTOH, my grandfather-in-law fell and had his shattered hip replaced the same day at age 80. In Canada if you need smething, you will get it; if it can be put off, it will be a while – but not horribly long.

    My wife needed gall-bladder surgery; first, there was a 3 month delay to get ultrasound; can’t schedule surgery for that excruciating pain until the diagnosis is confirmed. yelling got past that. Then, “we don’t have an anesthetist, cll us to get on the list in 3 months when we have one” (Not, we’ll statr a list so we’re ready when they arrive). A doctor got her in another city’s hospital, and she had her surgery within 2 months. A month after surgery, our hospital called to ask her about scheduling the surgery.

    The system is not great, but nobody has a $50,000 bill at the end of things, and nobody gets denied normal treatment, and nobody worries about losing coverage if they switch or lose jobs. It’s like an HMO without the hassle.

    It’s a comedy of errors because the people running the system (not the doctors) have no incentive to make it work; so they do what looks good. Get rid of the line-ups? Sorry, you can’t join the line until diagnosis is confirmed.

    The American system works great if you can afford the thousands and thousands real health care costs, or if you are one of those prominent socialized medicine critics who can affor to pay almost any surgery out of pocket. For the average guy who has to choose between groceries and his children’s health – Canada is pretty good.

  151. John Stossel is a lying fear-monger. Always has been. He also doesn’t have to worry about health care in the U.S. as it stands because he’s richer than most people. Articles like this will only further serve to push the rich-white-male agenda here in Canada for a more U.S. based health-care system, which would be an ENORMOUS step backwards for my country.

    So thanks a heap, you know-nothing loudmouth.

  152. donkey cock

  153. The problem with free-market health care? It’s like gasoline – it costs the same no matter who you are. You pay the same for a gallon whether you’re a Hummer or a moped.

    The only way to save on health-care is to not use it, or not be allowed to use it. So, most Americans save by either not going to the doctor, or not being allowed by their HMO. I suppose that’s not too bad if you’re in the first triage (survive anyway), or even in the third triage (gonna die anyway). For them, it’s some discomfort with a finite end.

    For those who need the care to survice, the middle triage, the rich do well, the poor suffer, and the middle class struggle. I suppose if health care doesn’t fit in any of the categories life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness… then this is OK. If you believe that some aspects of life should not be reduced to free market terms, then socialized medicine makes sense.

    Yes, we pay much higher taxes in Canada, but if you added in US health care premiums, it probably works out to the same rate as middle class Americans. The difference -there’s no denied claims or extra bills, no pre-existing conditions.

  154. “1. If you think people are suspect and not to be trusted, then why in the world would you give a tiny handful of them the power to make decisions for a whole population?
    2. If people are capable of making their own decisions effectively, then no government is particularly necessary. Voltaire’s “Candide” makes this point far better than I…”

    – This is very interesting. Do we, as a country, *want* people to be capable of making their own decisions? Our set-up of government seems to indicate it – while we don’t have a direct democracy in the literal sense (effectively canceling your fears of the populist “tyranny of the masses”), we do have mandatory public education, k-12. Why would we do that? It seemed that the founders of this system considered an educated public to be of value to the nation. I wonder why? Maybe so they were able to make informed decisions for themselves.
    The decisions we are talking about here require more focus. There are smaller, community decisions, for instance, which affect only a community, city or region, and which are decided and carried out at that level of local government. Then there are state decisions, which health care falls under. Then, of course, federal ones. So we are not talking about the same kinds of decisions, and therefore these levels of decisions require different levels of capability – a fisherman in my region has full capability to give his input on a decision being made here concerning fishing legislation, but he is not able to make a decision that concerns North Korea’s nuclear threat. Hence, my city council invites him to the discussion, and the president does not. So we can’t group decisions together.
    Now, the power of our nation lies in it’s design, which I don’t have to describe to you if you already mistrust it. But our founders really did do quite an amazing job, utilizing the free market system in economics, and leaving government as flexible as possible and as open to change as possible, in order to adapt well to circumstances they couldn’t imagine. I do have a great mistrust of government, but for these reasons, I still think it is susceptible to influence and change from citizens – whereas, the only way we can influence corporations is *through* the judicial branch of the government – lawsuits. So, do you just place your trust in some aspects of government, not others? Or do you scorn even the local city council and the court rooms that end up leading to strict regulations on chemical plants?

    I was aware, by the way, of the Wal-Mart thing – and it makes sense in a way, they seem to want to jump on the bandwagon and get some credit benefits for it. But, the issue of employer coverage is difficult, and I don’t know where to stand on that. In some respects, like a free-market advocate, I like choices more than anything else: I want to choose whether or not I want my employer’s coverage – maybe I don’t, maybe I want to shop around and find a better insurer in my state. Maybe I want to save money and use the public plan for a few years, then when I’m more stable economically, I can find a good private plan. Maybe I want some more damn choices besides the only one, buying insurance from a private company, which I literally can not afford (no job, just like millions of others), and going without health insurance SUCKS.

  155. I’m Canadian and this article is pure propaganda. The 23 hour average wait time is from presentation to an in-patient bed. That means a room of your own. In the meantime you’re being treated. Your use of that is TOTALLY misleading.

    The longest I’ve waited is 40 minutes. If you have a condition requiring immediate attention, you get it. Those of us showing up with a bad flu have to wait for a bit.

    Yes, elective surgery has a waiting list. That’s what happens when you have the same amount of doctors but everyone has access to them. The alternative in the US is that only those with private health care (that decides they will cover their elective surgery!) gets it done at all, so there’s less wait.

    My wife recently had surgery for an annoying (though not life-threatening) condition, and it took about a month to get it. At the end, there was no $25,000 bill for it which there would have been in the US.

    Yes, finding a family doctor is difficult. Most doctors prefer to run clinics so they don’t work 14 hours days. This isn’t a symptom of our health care system, but of the realities of the medical profession.

    I’ve looked for “Shirley Healy” online but have found no mention of her aside from other articles quoting this one (or this one quoting those, I’m not going to read them all — they all use the exact same phrasing). I’m calling BS on that until we get a source. No Canadian doctor would call surgery for a life-threatening condition “elective”. I suspect that if she even exists there was a perfectly fine non-surgical solution to her problem that she refused and decided to pay for the elective solution. Sources, please.

    Your claim we “leech off of US innovation” is pure bunk. In fact, the CT Scan was invented in England! There is still a place for profit (and therefor your profit-driven innovation) with government-run health care. Doctors are still being paid, equipment is still purchased, medicine is still required.

    In fact, Canada is a world leader in medical research –

    For a more balanced view, check out this article:

  156. “Is reason suddenly getting a lot of health care industry support?”

    Ease up on the ad hominem attacks, pilgrim.

    I’ve lived and worked in both Canada and the U.S. and I found the health care systems, which I used a lot btw, were roughly a wash for me. Canada has way better primary care, but in the U.S. my insurer covered seeing a shrink!!! I paid about the same amount in both California and Alberta in terms of premiums, etc.

    Ironically, I have more choice up here in terms of what doctor I want to see. I can see any doctor who’s taking on patients, and there are also clinics open every day for non-life threatening things. Also, I had to go to an emergency room recently and had to wait a few hours for a non-life threatening issue.

    In California, I could only see doctors that were with my specific insurer. I could go on and on about pros and cons of each system… they’re both pretty good. Of course once I got laid off the U.S. definitely was a LOT worse, since I had to pay the full premiums myself under COBRA…

    I also lived and worked in Vietnam for a couple years or so and the health care system there SUCKED. I don’t buy what people are selling when they insist that communist countries have superior health care. They obviously have never lived in a communist country, and are what Lenin called, “useful idiots.”

  157. Medical decisions seem like the most local of all possible decisions.

    Anyway, I actually have to seriously go do some things today, but I also wanted to take this back to the beginning anyway… Which is that ultimately, discussions of Canada, the UK, Sweden and wherever else you might want to point are moot.

    This is the US. The system we have here will not necessarily resemble the ones adopted by other nations (which again, is why an across the board comparison is kind of silly). What are the individual incentives going to be like and what will be the checks against abuse, fraud, overconsumption, under-payment (causing shortages), bad price-signaling, etc.?

    I don’t know for sure but Obama has talked a lot about Massachusetts as a model for their “universal” coverage… I’m working on a larger piece about this topic, as I’ve said, as are others, and my man at the PoliticalMath blog had something to say about that just today: Obama Health Reform

    In either case, you’re deluding yourselves if you think that a government run system is remotely sustainable. The cracks are clearly forming in systems around the world, and the last 30 years of Medicaid and HMOs (which were created by the HMO Act of 1973 in case you’re unaware of the fact that government invented that gem and not “the market”) should have proven beyond a doubt that it’s not, especially the way the USA is likely to implement something like this.

    The thing is, I actually feel really sorry for a lot of the people who so desperately want “free” Health Care. Most of it comes out of real legitimate need and personal tragedy. A friend has a “pre-existing condition” which is causing her own nightmare with the insurance system now… But her support of universal health care is mostly based on poor logic, bad economic thinking and almost total ignorance of the history of American health care…

    That ignorance, I think is unfortunately shared by most people posting here.

    I get the fear and the feeling that anything would be better than a system where some sick people just aren’t covered, but sound economic reasoning says + some knowledge of US history (imo) definitively shows that some things can get a lot worse.

  158. DM:”The problem with free-market health care? It’s like gasoline – it costs the same no matter who you are. You pay the same for a gallon whether you’re a Hummer or a moped.”

    Thats a bad thing?

    Anyway, I know everyone likes debating the ideal system, but shouldn’t we also be arguing over the best feasible option?
    I’d like to hear other’s thoughts on a public/private two-tiered system, ala England.
    The two-tiered system keeps our american ed system from completely failing, so perhaps it will do the same for health care.
    BTW, I am not as knowledgeable about public vs. private health care, I work/have worked in public and private middle school/high school, and I can tell you the public system is a true abomination. It truly demonstrates what happens when you pretend that govt options can ignore the realities of the market that manifest themselves in every other human transaction.
    I don’t see how healthcare can be better in this regard, but again, I am no expert.

  159. “I’d like to hear other’s thoughts on a public/private two-tiered system, ala England.”

    England and Canada are pretty much single-payer systems, while France, Germany and Switzerland are two-tiered. The top ranked health care systems in the world? France, Germany and Switzerland.

    Systems like England and Canada rank a lot lower than those three countries, but both still rank higher than the U.S. system overall.

    The New Republic a while back ran a series of discussions on health care in different countries. You may want to go to their site and do a search.

  160. Now that article isn’t very true.

    I’m in Canada. I broke my hand and waited in emergency at 11pm for about 3 hours. A few months later, I went to emerg with chest pains and was hooked up to several machines within a minute.

    My Dad needed a triple bypass, but needed to lose some weight. He scheduled it for 4 months down the road. It turned out to have complications and he spent over 4 months in cardiac ICU. Do you know what that must have cost?

    My step mother needed a new knee. Yes, she waited for several months, but it’s her knee! She was fine until the operation. I knew someone who couldn’t walk or wait, so they got bumped up and only waited a few weeks.

    MRI’s are a wait, true, but it also depends on the urgency. I had an ongoing problem with a sporadic nerve pinch and waited a few months. I lived! My fatherinlaw had a brain tumour and got an MRI the next day. So please, let’s get real here.

    My system isn’t free. I pay taxes for it. As a Canadian, the top rate is about 48 percent, I’m in the 28 percent bracket. However, I have no monthly insurance premiums. Maybe I net more than the average American.

    Are you going to find Canadians that want to complain? Sure. Will you find doctors willing to complain? Of course. I will tell you, everyone is covered, and everyone shares that burden. If you are critical, you go to the front of the line. If you can wait, you do. It’s called being civilized.

    Maybe Mr. Stossel wants a system to treats rich people faster than poor? I would be ashamed to be a part of that kind of society.

  161. I live in a small Ontario town and don’t get sick too often, but I’ve never waited more than an hour at my local hospital, even for minor problems like an ear infection. It is true that some Canadians go to the States for specialized treatment, but that has less to do with the wait times in our hospitals and more to do with the fact that our best specialists can’t help but be lured to hospitals in the States, by the promise of the big paycheck. There are still plenty of excellent doctors in Canada who feel they are paid well (they are), but more often than not, greed becomes a factor. I’m sure when someone in the US offers you millions more than you make up here, it’s hard to turn down, even if you’re in one of the best paid professions in Canada. But that may also explain why lower-middle class Americans are turned away at US hospitals. They can’t afford to help pay the enormous salaries that Doctors are demanding along with the ridiculous markups that for-profit hospitals place on everything from food to hospital beds. I’ll never be denied good health care in Canada based on my financial situation and that is more than can be said for the current US system. From an outsider looking in, the attitude in the US seems to be that if your rich, you’re welcome, but if not, you don’t deserve healthcare.

  162. “In America, people wait in emergency rooms, too, but it’s much worse in Canada. If you’re sick enough to be admitted, the average wait is 23 hours.”

    I call BS!! Making up statistics is dishonest. Show your source – and a legitimate one, not one you pulled out of the air. . .

  163. “Canada and England don’t pay the price because they freeload off American innovation.”

    Amazing. Who provided the world with penicillin, and especially insulin?


    Who provided the world with a culture that has permeated, and necessitated the increasing need for insulin?


    This entire excrement-throwing article is highlighting some extremely important issues.

    In Canada, cancer patients are treated immediately, with a great deal of home-grown technology. They are diagnosed, treated, and sent home to friends and family.

    Total cost: $0.00

    In the USA you always have the option to die because you can’t afford medical treatment unless you’re under some kind of plan.


    If you could take even a fraction of the money that you spend invading sovereign nations halfway around the world, you could have universal healthcare.

    What are your priorities, anyway?

  164. we do have mandatory public education, k-12. Why would we do that?

    I don’t know, you tell me. Give me a single good reason why children should be incarcerated like prisoners in public institutions, that more and more resemble prisons, for twelve years of their lives. I certainly doesn’t have anything to do with making them into “an educated public to be of value to the nation”. Since the more “we” spend on public education the more we seem to get an ignorant public, why do you think spending more on health care will produce a healthier one.

    It seemed that the founders of this system considered an educated public to be of value to the nation.

    For real, the current cockup called “public education has absolutely nothing to do with anything the founders wanted.

    Seriously, girl, you need to shut your self-absorbed, self-centered yap for a while and read all the threads on this blog (ie not just the ones talking about the problems of having other people pay your medical bills) and see what the denizens of the den of iniquity really believe.

    Of course if you did, your head might assplode.

  165. Amazing. Who provided the world with penicillin, and especially insulin?

    As mentioned elsewhere insulin was developed in the 1920s over thirty-five years before Canada’s first universal health plan.

    And penicillin was not one of Canada’s gifts to the world.


    Seriously if the numbers in this paper aren’t lying, the US medical system is definitely the shittier exception in comparison to other developed countries.

    IF you study this paper, its conclusions are clear: The USA spends more for less than any other developed country.

    The paper is 60 pages long and a lot more thorough than some of the half baked reasoning I’ve been reading in the posts.

    Open your mind to the mere possibility that socialized medicine can work, at least in other countries. They have yet to succumb to apocalypse. You know, there are many schools of thoughts to how to structure society, among them libertarianism. But it is foolish to rigidly stick to a single belief structure, and expect everyone else to believe in that belief too. It’s analogous to demanding that everyone else believe in your religion.

  167. Postscript,

    You are being driven by Big Pharma, and Big Medico to reject the concept of universal health care, because it would (potentially, though I doubt it) reduce their profit margins.

    As we all know, a universal system versus user or insurance plan-pay would continue to pump vast amounts of money into these industries – and they are industries. There is no doubt about it.

    I’m afraid that the American government is either too afraid of pissing off these huge structures, or too many senators/congressmen have massive investments and other interests in these corporations.

    Okay. Let’s say that you decide (maybe in the next century) that universal health care is a priority for the Amercan public. Are the Big Pharma, and Big Medico companies going to fold their tents and go … umm … somewhere else?


  168. I have lived in 4 different provinces in canada over the last 35 years and I can assure the average wait time in our hospitals is more like 2-3 hours not 23. Our health care system is fantastic. After reading this incredible inaccurate article I feel that its quite possibly its author is either getting paid to write these inaccuracies as truth or is just an idiot

  169. In 2004, in a Nationwide Contest, Canadians voted Tommy Douglas, the Father of Canadian Healthcare…..Canada’s Greatest Canadian.

    ’nuff said.


  170. This article ridiculous, just two weeks ago i asked for an MRI because i have headaches and was not at all an urgent matter yet i went in for my appointment last Friday. I live in Canada and i never heard of anyone having to wait 6 months, or not having a family doctor.

  171. Right … because none of this EVER happens in America.

    Instead of waiting for long periods of time to see the dentist, a 12 year-old Maryland boy died, because he couldn’t see a dentist AT ALL.

    Instead of cutting costs by flipping sheets and pillows, Blue Cross gives doctors incentives to RESTRICT TREATMENT.

    Instead of having a lack of doctors … oh wait, we have that problem too.

    You see, I too can provide a whole host of anecdotal evidence that doesn’t prove anything.

    Perhaps some reading is in order.

    I realize that libertarians have a philosophical opposition to government-run anything, but what you’re essentially saying is, “I would rather have other human beings go without medical treatment than pay higher taxes.” Nevermind the fact that your insurance costs are higher, because hospitals are having to charge more to treat the uninsured free of cost.

    What’s sad is that you’re trying to convince everyone that Canadian and British health care is so abhorrent, that it’s worth letting people go without health care to avoid. Deep down in your heart of hearts, you know that isn’t true. Have some compassion.

  172. I must say that most of this article is complete BS. I live in Canada(Ontario) and I have NEVER, EVER waited 23 hours in an emergency room.
    Sure an hour or two wait, but nothing like what this article represents.

  173. a number of you are making good arguments for the possible advantages of canadian or western european models of healthcare over the american one. but its kinda silly to say that the us has a free market health care system. its a cartel system. opec is not a free market, neither is us healthcare.

    you’re essentially saying is, “I would rather have other human beings go without medical treatment than pay higher taxes.”

    some people might think that, but you are a fool if you think that is the crux of the libertarian position. serious libertarian problems with “govt run anything” stems from the fact that govt cant predict what people need or want. the best way to do that is to let market forces determine incentives. its pretty simple. if there were a govt program that could accurate divine market forces, and incentivize innovation, i would be all for it.
    im not sure what the best healthcare system would be, but encouraging the consumers of healthcare to ignore costs, encouraging the providers of healthcare to not compete for customers, and having the payer of healthcare determine prices seems like a straightforward disaster to me.

  174. From:

    Kevin Smith | July 3, 2009, 6:34pm | #
    Right … because none of this EVER happens in America.

    Instead of waiting for long periods of time to see the dentist, a 12 year-old Maryland boy died, because he couldn’t see a dentist AT ALL.

    “A routine, $80 tooth extraction might have saved him.”

    Oh, yeah, right, the poor people were so fucking poor they couldn’t raise eighty motherfucking semollions to get their kids tooth pulled.

    I wonder what kind of shit the family had just spend four eagles on in the last few months.

    I’m calling a motherfucking bullshit, because as sad a case as this is this is exactly the kind of thing that happens all over the world in countries with generous welfare systems because racial and ethnic minorities don’t know how to game the system.

  175. Blake,

    I’m not saying that it’s the crux of libertarian thinking. What I’m saying is that libertarians are using their philosophical objection to government involvement in the market to justify their denial of government run health care to people who desperately want it … because it comes down to the cost.

    Sure, government-run health care would naturally be more inefficient than private care. But no one will force you to give up your health care, so your private insurance can go on being as efficient as it always is.

    But we’re not talking about you. We’re talking about people who have nothing at all. It makes no sense whatsoever to say that you don’t want someone else to waste their money. But it does make sense to say that you don’t want the government to waste your money. I get that.

    So what it comes down to, is, again, that people don’t want to pay higher taxes, so others can get health care.

    If it’s not, then maybe we should set up a fund, so people can donate money, and the fund can be spent on buying the uninsured private insurance? Somehow, I don’t see that happening.

  176. Kreel,

    My point exactly. Stossel’s use of one case of a British man pulling his own teeth offers as much proof of a failed British system as a boy dying from an untreated abscess does of a failed U.S. system.

    I agree that “this is exactly the kind of thing that happens all over the world” but I disagree with your premises.

  177. Sean Malone, thanks fighting the good fight. Unfortunately, too many equate needs with rights.

  178. Thanks David…

    I just popped in for a minute, but seriously, how come the same arguments keep coming back when I clearly refuted them earlier?

    The medical innovations that Canada has contributed to the world – the big ones that have been listed, like insulin, were all BEFORE the imposition of their national system. Further, insulin – as I already noted, was a highly international project. So, you don’t get to claim them as credits to “socialized medicine”. And thus, as yet, there has still been nothing even remotely resembling a rebuttal to the free-rider problem or the lack of significant innovation coming out of the socialized nations – especially without some American influence.

    End of story.

    Anyway, I do need to address one other thing though.

    The “libertarian” position isn’t about the costs. It’s about the morality of forcing other people to pay for your health and your life.

    Everyone, please think through this chain. Earned money represents value of your labor or investments. In essence, it represents the life and time of another human being. Taking that money from them by force is what we call theft, regardless if the state “legitimizes” it and calls it taxation. But don’t think of the theft in monetary terms think about it in terms of the hours that person spent working productively.

    EG: If you make $20/hr, and you work 40 hrs a week, then you’ve made $41,600 for the year – now, suppose someone takes 40% of that. Now, suddenly you’ve only made $24,960 for the year, right? Well the problem is – for many of you – there’s a serious disconnect between realizing that money and “working/productive hours” is a synonymous measurement. This means you didn’t simply take nearly half of someone else’s “money”, you took nearly half their time as well. This means that they spent a little over 31 WEEKS, working to support someone else – not voluntarily, but on threat of punishment and ultimately physical force.

    If this were a more transparent abuse (i.e. if instead of a yearly IRS bill, there was simply a master with a whip at your back 40% of the time), you would rightly recognize it as slavery. It’s obfuscated by the veneer of legitimacy provided by government and their various edifices… So you think that it’s legitimate. Fundamentally it’s not.

    That is the essence of the libertarian opposition.

    Most of us accept that we live in society as it is, and that some government is necessary for the overall protection of liberties – police, courts, national defense, etc. – and I won’t bore you with the various well-thought-out ideas of paying for those services voluntarily rather than through coercion, but the point is to minimize, not maximize the amount of slavery we impose on other people.

    You people need to be far less cavalier about demanding that other people toil and earn a productive living to fund your lives.

    It is the height of narcissism and solipsistic evil. And because the slave-master is wearing a suit and no one complains too much, you wind up thinking it’s ok. It isn’t.

    NOW… THAT was the “libertarian” moral point. Again, it is:

    “The radical notion that you don’t own other people.”

    That is quite apart from the sufficiently robust economic problems with the idea.

    The economic point I’ve already expressed dozens of times. The fact is any government-run system is based on fundamentally unsound economics and really really bad math. If you can’t recognize that, then I encourage you to think harder. If not, then I can help try to explain… I am happy to do so – but to be quite honest, it really doesn’t matter.

    We’re already bankrupt and no matter what wishful, magical thinking exists to support “universal health care”, we simply cannot afford it.

    At any rate, one should note that slavery economics are a net drag on society – which is where the moral and the practical meet. But it’s a combination of both things that make up the full oppositional arguments.

  179. And PS.

    Kevin Smith:

    You are distressingly naive if you believe that the private system isn’t affected by a single payer public system. What do you think would happen, as an analogy, if you were on a baseball team and the opposing team’s coach was also the umpire, had the ability to redefine the rules of the game at any point and if he so desired, forcibly remove your bats & gloves… We know who’s going to win, but is it just, is it good, and was the winner the “best” player? Probably not.

    ANNNND Spud:

    Big Phrama and Big Medico are going to SUPPORT these bills ultimately, because they will be the ones who’s competition is destroyed by it.

    I made this point earlier if you’d read it – but it’s a joke you’re playing on yourself if you think that the big companies wouldn’t benefit the most from a government-run system. The winners of that battle will have 0 competition, a legal monopoly on supply and a virtually unlimited funding source. The sooner you learn that big corporations LOVE big government, the sooner you will drop the delusion of sticking it to asshole CEOs with this stuff. Unless you have a dozen lobbyists, $10,000,000 laying around for political donations and went to Harvard Law with the politicians writing the new laws, my guess is you’re gonna get fucked and they’re going to come out wayyyy, wayyy ahead.

    All you’re doing is screwing the smaller companies who might have been cost reducing/quality raising competitors.


  180. Sean Malone: How can you ignore the evidence of every other fucking country in the world??? Their systems work, and they’re not overrun by monopoly and 0 competition. You are deluding yourself that a socialized system will not work. It works, and 20 other countries prove it!!

    We ALL admit that socialized medicine will have problems that we don’t have now. But looking at the other countries, we can see that socialized medicine can solve many other problems. Beyond that, gov’t needs to perform a ton of fat cutting operations on healthcare. The current system is a money drain and needs to be fixed.

    Stop presuming that the only thing government can do is increase waste. It doesn’t always happen that way.

  181. I am a Canadian living in the US. My family (living in Western Canada) sadly, has been riddled with cancers, serious athsma, heart disease, you name it. NOT ONCE have they had to wait for any of their care (beyond what is considered normal here in California, anyway). They have received top notch healthcare in all cases. Better yet, not once did the family have to worry about how they were going to pay for it all or whether or not they were going to be denied by insurance companies. Here in the US there seems to be a deep rooted fear that, despite having good insurance, all it takes is one serious illness to push a hardworking family over the edge into poverty. How can Americans really consider themselves free if they are so scared about something so elemental all the time? I don’t get it, but then again I guess I have never had to because I come from a place where health care is considered a right, not a privilege… Wishing my US friends a healthy and happy 4th!

  182. johnny:

    France, Sweden, the UK, and Canada ALL are facing seriously hard choices – already.

    France’s PM got skewered recently for even suggesting that they were going to have to reduce health care services because they can’t afford it.

    I’m not the one ignoring evidence.

    I’m also not blind enough to think that government accounting of this stuff is remotely on the up and up. AND… I’m certainly not short-sighted enough to only see things as they are today.

    I’ve already made the case that innovation tanks – and it does. I’ve made the case here and elsewhere that through regulation, supply restrictions, price & wage controls, these systems pressure many companies out of business, leading to shortages and rationing – and they do/have. And much more importantly, there is the irrefutable and disturbing point that the very nature of it conscripts and enslaves people, regardless of how “humane” it appears on the surface.

    Frankly Johnny, your “evidence” is barely there, and you’re omitting a TON of mitigating factors – you assume that they’re all financially solvent when really none are. You assume that there is private competition that is as robust and as high quality as possible, when that is inherently not the case. You assume that government’s accounting of these things isn’t completely fictitious – which, if you look at “intergovernmental borrowing” in the US, you’d know that the accounting practices of the US Federal government put Enron’s to shame – and we remain one of the “better” ones in that department around the world.

    AND… You’ve still ignored the free-rider problem which I think is pretty goddamn incontrovertible.

    When other countries benefit so much from the US’ massive spending on health care, and they produce very little in the way of world-class hospitals or innovative technological developments, destroying the engine of production here might make you think twice. For better or worse, they still need us in that department.

    So… Let me summarize:

    1. Most of metrics that cover how much “better” other nations’ systems are compared to the US are bullshit.
    2. Other nations free ride off the US in a dozen different ways regarding health care (but also of course, regarding their economies and their military protection as well) – and if you kill the “golden goose” (which is what you’re talking about it, whether you believe it or not), then we’ll be fucked and so will they.
    3. The writing is already on the wall for the other socialized systems – Remember, it took 70 years for the USSR to eat itself alive entirely and that was a massive, incredibly wealthy empire to start off with, and in the process people spent hours and hours a day waiting in lines for everything from bread to clothing to medicine, and most of the time they just starved. For that matter, North Korea and Cuba are both still kicking despite starving populations and 50 years of complete stagnation. It will take some time…


    4. The US is already, as I said, bankrupt. So regardless of what fancy plan you want to adopt, we absolutely cannot afford it. I wrote this the other day, but perhaps it’s worth noting here as well:

    “Just throwing this out there: The federal budget is now $3,550,000,000,000… For a little perspective. If you spent $100 million *a DAY*, it would take you 97 YEARS to spend it all. Alternatively… That’s roughly $11,833,333 per PERSON living in the United States, for one year. What would you do with ~$12 million dollars a year? Think you could afford roads & schools and even armed security guards?”

    You need to learn how big our debt and deficits really are before you go proposing tacking on another trillion. Think I’m cruel if you wish, but cost does matter, and we’ve fleeced the rich enough in this country already that many, if not most are fleeing the country – if not personally, then with their businesses and investment capital.

    OHHHHH oh oh oh…. AND…

    5. Something we haven’t even talked about much – the metrics on the “uninsured” that get thrown about in the media are complete bullshit too! The real number of honest-to-goodness uninsured with no ability to afford it and no eligibility for existing programs or medicare is incredibly small – I believe around 5% or less.

    Conclusion: Destroy the country’s finances further, push producers and the wealthy out of the country, punish hard work and innovation, stifle competition, conscript people into what amounts to a palatable form of indentured servitude and in return get what?? 20 years, AT BEST, of coverage for a very small population of people who’ve fallen through the cracks, before the whole thing comes apart at the seams? Again… Genius.

  183. Sorry about the html tag fail, knew I should have previewed.

  184. Prayer is free so I pray to Obama. I don’t pray for Obama, I pray TO Obama. I pray that he keeps the world ice cold, that he keeps a Chevy in every pot and that all the little children, who are our future, get free health insurance and welfare dentistry. I pray that soon Obama will give all the hungry children free food and gym memberships — free cigarettes too — if they join the Union. I pray that teachers get big raises and that more than 10% of Detroit’s public school students graduate from the free GED school. I also pray for a middle class tax cut even though I’m rich because I will soon be middle class.

    I pray for lots of stuff. Prayer changes things.

  185. Sean,

    If it’s about the morality of forcing people to pay for the life and health of someone else, I choose life and health every time. I cannot ever accept the premise that one person’s health is worth more than another, simply because that person earns more money. It’s a highly utilitarian view of the world and simply unrealistic. But that’s just me.

    If it were about the morality of it, why haven’t you started a health care fund for the uninsured, paid out of your pocket and those of like-minded libertarians who don’t want to force others to pay for it? I’m guessing it’s because you feel like you’re already paying too much for the lives of others. That’s your right.

    But I do have to take issue with some of your statement. You said, “Taking that money from them by force is what we call theft, regardless if the state ‘legitimizes’ it and calls it taxation.” But then you qualified it by saying that there actually are legitimate government expenses such as national defense, police, etc. So which is it? Is it theft, or are there legitimate expenses? If you open the door to one expense, then our disagreement is not about the principle, but the degree. And if it’s about degree, then it’s about cost, disguised as the morality of instituting each new increment.

    The general libertarian principle, as I understand it, is that the government should do no more than protect property. All else is government intrusion on the free market.

    So I take it that you believe that the government should not promote the creation of wealth? You might be thinking, the government couldn’t possibly do that since it’s so inefficient and couldn’t possibly understand the needs, wants and desires of everyone. All I would say is look at public schools. Sure, private schools exist, just as they existed in medieval Europe. But haven’t we all benefited by having an educated population? How many people that went to public universities, who might not have received that education otherwise, have positively impacted your life? Is it moral to pay for public education? Well, I guess that’s for every individual to decide. But to dismiss the taxation for it out of hand as slavery, well, that seems rigidly ideological and a bit much. Slaves don’t receive rewards for their labor. Government expenditures, in this case, are those rewards, however indirect they may be.

    And I never said that the public system doesn’t affect the private system, so I strongly disagree with your characterization of me as “distressingly naive.”

    But, you do bring up another interesting point. To go off your analogy (and perhaps extend it well beyond its usefulness), I would say that the government isn’t changing the rules of the game, but rather adding another team to the league. If the private teams play well, they can charge more for their tickets. Sure, the government team hands out tickets paid for by everyone, but they’re a crappy team. If an individual decides that they’d rather get a free ticket and see a crappy team than pay more to see a good team, isn’t that their choice? Isn’t it an acknowledgment that the government team provides a better value for their entertainment dollar? Isn’t it an acknowledgment that the government is better for some people? Why deny them that choice?

    Maybe it’s because you don’t feel it’s right to make everyone pay to subsidize the government team’s seats, but that, again, is a matter of degree, which is a matter of philosophy not facts. Sure, you may feel that the public good provided by government health care is not good enough to justify forcing others (and yourself) to pay more in taxes. I disagree. That’s my opinion, and that’s my right.

    But to get back to the point of my original post, Stossel didn’t prove anything. He threw out a bunch of anecdotal evidence, which, is no evidence at all.

  186. Sean,

    When it comes to the social contract, perhaps you should take some of your own advice and leave, as you suggested Lauren do when she questioned your obviously brilliant mind.

    The social contract still applies today, even if it you did not explicitly agree to it, because the contract is not between you and the government (that was Hobbes’ theory as put forth in the Leviathan), but rather between you and the other citizens of this nation. You tacitly agreed to participate when you accepted education, roads, police, libraries, etc. but did not leave. If, the people determine that the system is just and within the bounds set forth in the constitution, the contract goes on. If, on the other hand, we decide that the system has become unjust, we are well within our rights to form a new government, per social contract theory.

    So let’s use your example of the valet, but make it consistent with Rousseau’s actual theory. Lauren’s grandfather makes a contract with Grampy Malone so that each of their families pays $2 a month into a fund to provide valet services for each family (they get a better deal if they both use it). Then, both families continue to use the service, even after both grandparents have died. Are the remaining family members on the hook for that $2 a month? Of course they are. If they don’t want to pay it, then they can dissolve the contract.

    Now, let’s extrapolate that to a town. The townsfolk and Lauren’s grandfather get together and decide that they want to form a government. At the outset, they all agree that they will abide by the decisions of the group when it comes to the formation of the contract (constitution). So, the group forms a government and all is well. For many years, the people believe that the system is just, and the government is operating within its boundaries.

    As a new generation comes of age, they have a choice: continue receiving benefits from the other members of the group in exchange for providing benefits or leave. They stay and tacitly agree to be policed for failing to uphold their end of the bargain. And so on, and so on.

    For our purposes, I’m going to assume that your family came to the town after the formation of the government. So, it’s many generations later, and Grampy Malone comes to the town of his own free will. He is in fact, explicitly agreeing to the contract that is already in place.

    But, two generations later, Sean the Wise comes of age and is faced with the same dilemma as previous generations. He feels that the system is unjust and that the government is overstepping the constitution. He brings his concerns to the people, and they are all amazed. A majority of the people agree to dissolve the government and start over. This new and just place is called Sean-Is-Brilliant-Land, and everyone is happy.

    But, of course, that didn’t happen. Sean brought his case to the people and they disagreed with him. They said, pay up or leave. Sean, realizing that as flawed as he felt the system was, it was better than anything else. So he stayed and paid into the system. That’s not slavery, that’s being on the wrong side of the majority, as tyrannical as it may be. But at least they gave Sean the option of leaving.

    Maybe the townsfolk are all just too stupid to see the light. Perhpas Sean the Wise should just leave everyone to their stupidity, and the enlightened ones will bask in the radiance of Sean’s wealth of knowledge in Sean-Is-Brilliant-Land.

    But then again, it’s more fun to call someone a “douchebag troll,” dismiss others as missing a “functioning knowledge of economic principles,” assert that others “don’t like very deep thinking” or “don’t even understand the metrics,” insist that those that disagree with you are “assholes” and “dickless jerks,” and assume that others need “to spend some time actually thinking about philosophy and learn [their] civics a bit better” or are “distressingly naive” on a message board than to accept the fact that others disagree with you about the morality of something.

    Sure, you may believe that a public option is slavery. Others don’t. Whatever the outcome, we’ll all have to accept it and a) move on, b) leave the country, or c) dissolve the government and form a new constitution. Maybe a public option isn’t the best for you or others like you who have wonderful insurance, but surely you can see how it would be the best for others. And if, we the people decide that we will pay higher taxes to help out our fellow citizens, then we all must, your philosophical objections aside.

  187. You definately didn’t read the article I linked. No shit, all metrics don’t tell the complete story about a healthcare system. However, the article uses around 20 to 30 different comparisons of US healthcare to other countries. It’s extremely thourough and telling.

    USA healthcare is more expensive, and by several of their measures, not at all superior to other countries. I’m not gonna reprint the entire 50 page article here; you can go read it if you really want to know about it. It’s clear you haven’t read it from the arguments you’ve been using.

    No where do I claim that other countries have no problems with their systems. OF course there will be problems. But the numbers do not lie. Our system is just too expensive. It’s time to drastically change it.

  188. To all who love socialized medicine, why did Berlusconi come to the US for his heart surgery in 2006? And why did Belinda Stronach (a Canadian MP and staunch defender of Canada’s public health care system) come to California for her breast care treatment in 2007? According to public care’s defenders there is little to no waiting for treatment under such systems. So it would beg the question, why would your leaders come to the US for treatment?

  189. Just a preface.

    How can anyone take John Stossel seriously? I mean he got beat up by a WWF wrestler when he was purporting to do an in depth investigation into whether wrestling was ‘real’ or not.

    John your reporting certainly hasn’t improved with this piece.

    I’m a Canadian and had the misfortune to be ill and injured on several occasions during my brief three and change decades here on planet earth.

    I have never waited anywhere close to 23 hours for anything in a waiting room, in fact I’d say the longest I have ever in my life waited whether it was living in rural Alberta or major cities like Ottawa and Toronto is around 3 and a half hours and that’s when it was just broken bones. Sure there are long wait times on occasion, it’s generally when a nurse has improperly triaged or failed to re-assess an incoming patient.

    I have had many relatives undergo cancer treatment and they’re all still here and none of us have the crippling debt that the US system entails and neither does Canada despite its health care system being administered by each province have anywhere NEAR the colossal level of bureaucracy that the US system of insurance/hmo/private medicine stumbles along with.

    John, maybe you need to go back to the wrestling beat.

  190. “When it comes to the social contract, perhaps you should take some of your own advice and leave, as you suggested Lauren do when she questioned your obviously brilliant mind.”

    TO WHERE!?

    There are HUNDREDS of countries on this planet that have adopted various forms of collectivist bullshit. There are, as have been aptly pointed out OVER AND OVER, an endless supply of nations that have socialized health care, and a host of other issues. If you don’t like to be offended you can move to Canada today and appeal to their lovely “human rights commissions” on “hate speech”.

    If you don’t care very much about liberty you can go ANYWHERE YOU WANT.

    Where the FUCK am I going to go?? America is hardly the land of the free anymore, but compared to Europe or Canada, or Asia or the Middle East?

    You act like there’s just some other place I can pick up and move to, and there isn’t. If there was, I’d probably already be working out a way to do so. If I could just look around the world and find a country that has something similar to the US constitution that’s actually not being used as toilet paper by the government, I would happily just go there. That place doesn’t exist and America, as corporatist as it is, and as many freedoms are gone or are vanishing, is still better on that scale than anywhere else… And hell, I’d like ot think its salvageable.

    Anyway, your twist on my valet example fails in it’s premise sir, the grandfather has no right to make any contract for me what-so-ever. That was what I was pointing out. The social contract idea is a valid idea, provided that each individual can opt out. No one can opt out, so in reality, it’s a very weak concept.

    At any rate, I like how you try to pretend that I’m using ad homs when I’ve linked to sources, and consistently argued the point. That some people are douchebag trolls and not thinking enough is a separate issue.

    And YES johnny john john, it IS time to change our system. But unless you learn the history of our system, the incentives that are in play now and how they got there, then you’re going to miss the point and change it for the worse. No one here is arguing that the status quo is as good as it should be. But you guys keep recommending pushing farther down the road that got us where we are already. It’s madness… Government already pays for some 60% of health care in this country and, while costs have skyrocketed and quality and innovation has declined as government involvement has increased, you all want to increase it some more??

    That’s just insane. And while I get that no one likes history very much, right now is the right time to start paying attention to it.

    “And if, we the people decide that we will pay higher taxes to help out our fellow citizens, then we all must…”

    …I hope you realize that this is exactly the kind of statement that I’m referring to when I say tyranny of the majority. If “we the people” decide that 10% of the population is going to be enslaved, then “we all must go along with it”. If “we the people” decide that the bill of rights isn’t worth shit, then we all must lose our liberties (already happened). If “we the people” decide that it’s cool to aggressively attack a foreign country, then we all must pay for it.

    But so much of the time, it isn’t “all” of us who pay for these things. The costs of socialized medicine aren’t being born by everyone are they? No… A sizable chunk of the US barely pays any taxes at all, but they won’t have to pay for anyone else. It’s not “society” that bears the cost when somebody decides that “we the people” need a new mini-mall built over the top of some guy’s home and the “people” claim eminent domain and level the guy’s place over his objections.

    We live in a republic, you asshole. A republic that is supposed to be accompanied by guaranteed liberties. So YES… My moral objections do trump your bullshit authoritarianism. There are certain things that, according to our own constitution, “We the people” are not allowed to do against others. If you want to change the constitution, then do it… But right now, you’re shitting all over it and pretending that it’s all good cause it’s what a majority wants. Well that’s EXACTLY what the constitution is designed to limit.

    I have three quotes for you:

    “A Bill of Rights is what the people are entitled to against every government, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.”

    “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.”

    “A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned – this is the sum of good government.”

    Know who said all that? Thomas Jefferson.

    Does that seem like the direction you’re pushing? Not so much. So frankly, that you think it’s even remotely valid for you to invoke the words, “we the people” just pisses me off. These schemes of conscription and taxation are the complete opposite of what the writers were talking about.

    So happy Independence Day everybody.

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

    The slow shift of our government away from its original idea – all for light and transient causes – and without any attempt at an honest revision of the Constitution itself, pushes us towards the tyranny this nation was founded to escape.

  191. This article is as misleading as the anti-vaccine campaign. All health care in Canada is run by the provinces, which means that there is a great difference from place to place how patients are treated.

    In Alberta, where I live, it is a system fast becoming a version of the profit and insurance run mess that is in the US. Services are routinely cut, hospitals are threatened with closure and around 250,000 people in Calgary (population over 1 million) have no family doctor. Wait times in ERs are usually over 12 hours and if you want a CT scan of other “exotic” test, the wait can be over 1 year.

    In Manitoba, on the other hand, a friend who moved there this year has found a family doctor, did not have to wait more than one week for a CAT scan and the price for parking was 42 cents at the hospital.

    Everything depends on the provincial governments, not the federal government which has washed its hands of the entire affair to play nursemaid to big corporations. That is the main reason this article is irrelevant and misleading.

  192. The libertarian flag-waving is great and all, but thank god for public education so that the “majority rule” is smart enough to know that libertarianism is not what we want – hence 3/4 of the country want public health care.
    Is the mob always right? No. 99 Senators voted in the Patriot Act, which STILL has yet to “sunset” away. Is the majority always followed? No, or else it would have taken a shorter amount of time for civil liberty rights to pass in Congress.
    With any great change to the structure of our society, there will be the outliers, in this case libertarians, and other far-right thinkers, who will adamantly oppose change in favor of the status quo, usually in which they are doing well. So I expect these kinds of struggles with the universal health care debate to go on for a while, with some pretty red-faced opposition and ideological flag-waving, but reality will sink in soon, and the country will continue to chug on as it should.
    And, by the way Sean, if we are so great and innovative and the rest of the world relies on us, it doesn’t make much sense to say afterwards that our country’s government has been hijacked by majority rule and that it is destroying us. You are directly contradicting yourself – our markets are not entirely free, and instead of restricting the potentials of free trade, gov’t policy restricts the potentials of corruption and monopoly.
    And while innovation is great, we can’t expect innovation from a small percentage of our population – we want people to have basic education and good health so that our Einsteins and other geniuses can rise to the top using their productivity in mind and body, instead of wasting that productivity on getting an education and taking care of medical bills. Hence, government steps in to level the playing field – and if you’re rich, yea, that means you get brought back to the median a little bit. A country with a big middle class is better than a country with a blossoming poor class and shriveling rich class with a high concentration of wealth.

  193. Sean,

    “At any rate, I like how you try to pretend that I’m using ad homs when I’ve linked to sources, and consistently argued the point. … you asshole.”

    I never said you didn’t link to sources, but you did resort to ad hominem attacks. The two are completely unrelated. Just because you did one, doesn’t mean you can’t do the other. For example, I could say, “Here are some appropriate links to the discussion we’re having, you sanctimonious prick.” But I wouldn’t do that, because I’d like to have an amicable discussion about the theories of government.

    You’re conflating social contract theory with the Constitution of the United States. Social contract theory is an agreement to come together and form a government, based on the majority opinion, regardless of the ultimate form the government takes–not an agreement to form a republic. If a majority of people in Britian believe that they should have a constitutional monarchy, it is their right until they choose to abolish the government and form another. If a majority of people in Germany decide that they want to form a federal republic, it is their right until they choose to abolish the government and form another. Get it?

    A majority of the delegates ot the Philadelphia Convention decided that a republic was an appropriate form of government for the United States. That republic shall remain in place until the people of the United States choose to abolish it and form another. To use the words of Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence that you provided:

    That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

    What’s ironic about all the quotations you provided is that Thomas Jefferson, as the newly appointed minister to France, had no hand in drafting the framework for the Republic that you insist I am “shitting all over” and “pretending that it’s all good cause it’s what a majority wants.” In fact, he opposed the formation of an executive branch but ultimately became the third President of the United States, because the majority of the people instituted it as part of their chosen form of government.

    I understand that you believe the government is overstepping those bounds set forth in the Constitution. However, it is then your duty, as Jefferson said and you pointed out, “to abolish it, and to institute new Government.” If a majority disagree that the government is overstepping those bounds, then it is their right to keep the current government in place.

    I still believe that the valet example is valid, because you do have the option of opting out by leaving. The grandfather is not making a contract for you. The grandfather is making a contract that you have the choice of participating in or not.

    I’m sorry if you disagree with the decision that the town is making, but you’ve run a cost-benefit analysis and concluded that it is better to be a slave (in your terms) here than be a slave anywhere else. It is your right to believe that you are a slave, but you do not have the right to refuse to uphold your end of the bargain, because you disagree with a decision that the group made.

    I have done a similar analysis. I believe that the war in Iraq was unconstitutional. Does that mean I can quit paying my taxes? No, because I have the power to choose my representatives who can then hold the government to the constitution. If they don’t, then I can advocate that we reform the government. If the majority decides that we should not, then I must accept it or leave.

    This is the essence of social contract theory. I’m sorry we don’t all have our own pieces of land, so we can form our own governments. In fact the prospect of 6 billion governments is well outside the bounds of plausible.

    “I hope you realize that this is exactly the kind of statement that I’m referring to when I say tyranny of the majority. If “we the people” decide that 10% of the population is going to be enslaved, then “we all must go along with it”. If “we the people” decide that the bill of rights isn’t worth shit, then we all must lose our liberties (already happened). If “we the people” decide that it’s cool to aggressively attack a foreign country, then we all must pay for it.

    You are exactly correct. In fact, we did enslave ten percent of the population, and it was even written into the Constitution! We the people decided to ammend it based on the powers we granted ourselves when a majority of the delegates wrote it into the Constitution and a super-majority of the states ratified it. This is especially ironic when you consider, Mr. “all men are created equal” owned slaves and impregnated at least one of them. And yes, if we the people decide that the “bill of rights isn’t worth shit,” then we must either abolish the government, leave or abide.

  194. While I can’t address the statistics used in the article, as they aren’t backed up, I can give you my personal experiences from living in Canada from birth to now (almost 30 years).

    I’ve had two family doctors. Never a problem seeing them. My current doctor has been mine for 20 years, it’s never an issue to see her (emergency same/next day, apointment in a week or so), although she does get rushed around flu season.

    Hospitals? Here are my family’s experiences:

    Broken arm, xrays 30 min after arrival, cast and out the door with meds and followup apointment 60 min after that. I basically waited for about 5 minutes the whole visit.

    Pneumonia. Arrived delerious with my parents at about 1 am. On IV treatment about 20 minutes later. Feeling almost perfect the next day, followups scheduled for 1-3-7 days.

    My dad had a triple aortic aneurism repair and triple bypass performed over two years. Both times the waiting was less than two weeks from identification of the problems (which came up in regularly scheduled scans and tests of a man his age). He got three days of ICU care, and almost two weeks (combined) in room aftercare. Cost of this treatment (because we checked) in the us would have been roughly 350 thousand dollars without insurance (good luck getting that, as an older overweight smoker – now ex smoker). His treatment from beginning to end was top notch. The nurses and doctors were great, and followup has been superb.

    My mum had a flag raised at a routine feminine checkup a few years ago, a week later she had been through a battery of tests including body scans. Three weeks later they performed surgery to remove the growths on her ovaries, happy ending to that one too.

    Even on busy weekends, I’ve NEVER waited for more than 5 hours in emergency, when I was a moderately ill person compared to the overflowing mess of emergency visitors (and that was when I was there for antibiotics for a fever during a holiday weekend when doctors/clinics were closed)

    Neither myself nor my family have ever encountered the problems I sometimes see written about our ‘public’ (not free, it’s paid for by our taxes) system. It has always worked for us in the manner in which it should.

    I do have a personal story from the US though:

    My aunt in NY recently had a brain tumor diagnosed and removed. She had great insurance, and scans were quicker than here (within 4 hours tests were being run), but when her insurance company got the second round of bills for transport, surgery, and followup chemo (over 100k), they dropped her policy. She ended up paying hundreds of thousands out of pocket to get fast treatment, and will likely get that back from the insurance company, but she shouldn’t have to go through that, and I’m glad for my system where such situations aren’t the norm.

  195. One country vigorously comes together to defend the right to bear arms and kill one another; the other country vigorously comes together to keep one and all’s health paramount.

    Both positions have issues and problems.

    But all in all, I’d rather have my problems, eh?

  196. The interesting thing that you gloss over Kevin, is that our Bill of Rights is still on the books!

    No one abolished it, no one repealed the first 10 amendments, no one openly changed the Constitution…. Yet it has been destroyed all the same.

    That was my main point for referencing all of that. It was changed for light and transient causes – but not legitimately at all, it’s just been steadily ignored. Perhaps you forget the other part of Jefferson’s statement:

    “and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

    I am not so disposed.

    Anyway, you have the sequence of events backward sir. I am not the one wanting to “abolish” our government, you (metaphorically of course) are the one who has already abolished it, and you did so without any direct assault what-so-ever. I want our government to abide by the Constitution. That’s it! In doing so, I believe this nation would be far more prosperous, more free, more innovative and robust, we would return to being the envy of the world and reduce our antagonistic relationship to other nations and we would be stronger as a result. (And, keeping with the theme of the article… there would be far fewer people slipping through the cracks.)

    We are, imo, soon approaching the time where the train of abuses and usurpations will wind up with absolute despotism, and instead of turning back towards liberty now when we have the opportunity to do so peacefully, the only ultimate result will be violent revolution. I’m honestly surprised that more people aren’t concerned about this.

    Frankly, I would much prefer a shift in attitude back towards the values of liberty, and a gradual repeal of the massive government power grabs we’ve seen over the last 80 years to poverty, despotism and civil war.

    The worst part is, the majority has clearly already decided that the Bill of Rights isn’t worth shit and yet you act like it’s me who is the “radical”. It’s laughable to suggest that I’m the one who’s breaking the social contract…

    Ask yourself how many of the first 10 amendments are still applicable. By my count, only 1 (III), and only because it’s socially irrelevant.

    But honestly, I’m tired of discussing this issue. As I’ve said before, the majority – as it does – will win. However, I completely reject your idea that I should be the one to just pack up and leave when A. there is no other place to go, and B. it’s the government that broke the social contract, not me. As such, I also reject the idea that it is my duty to simply acquiesce to majority rule when the laws the majority wants to enact are both immoral and unconstitutional. If you want to change the constitution, fine – actually do it. But I’m under no obligation to people who demand illegal activities from me. Honestly – If you’re familiar with the idea of the Laffer Curve, I think we’re already past the hump, and I think we’ve been past it for quite a while (thus Obama cracking down on foreign “tax shelters”). At some point, you can whine and cajole and blame the rich and say they need to do their “fair share” (which is the most ironic conception of “fairness” I’ve ever heard of), and you can try to force them to stay in the US by making it costlier to leave (i.e. imposing exit taxes as we have), you can make it illegal for them to move businesses overseas, or invest in foreign stocks – but you won’t succeed. And you shouldn’t.

    At any rate, I will remain here until I can afford to leave or until things get to a point that is completely unbearable. In the meantime, I will continue to fight tooth-and-nail for freedom… When I’m 75, I will look back and remain proud of myself, regardless of what happens. Though I hope you re-think your positions, I have a feeling you may look back one day and wonder “what went wrong?”

    I leave you all with this:

    “Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have … The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases.”

  197. What perplexes me is the amount of people pushing for ‘free’ healthcare because it is a basic human right. While I agree that all people have a right to be taken care of when they are sick, I don’t think it’s any more of a right than food, shelter, etc. But nobody in any country expects to get those things for free, so why health care?

    Physicians and other health care professionals make a lot of money, but the average U.S. physician spends 8 years (college + medical school) in post high school academia, plus 3-5 years training for a low salary before they are even allowed to begin practicing on their own. Plus, the average doctor graduates medical school with 150,000+ dollars in student loan debt.

    So if and when the U.S. goes to a ‘socialized’ system, where physicians will probably earn a salary comparable to a waste management worker, you are going to see both a massive shortage of new doctors and a marked decrease in the quality (lack of competitive applicants) in those new physicians.

    Bottom line, the health care may be cheaper (or ‘free’), but by that time, will you even want it?

    Just some food for thought.

    R.I.P. Steve McNair.

  198. In my opinion, the biggest problem with health care in the U.S. is the disconnect between the patient and the physician that has been brought about by big insurance. In years past, patients were billed by their physician for services, and patients paid for these services. Insurance was mainly for very advanced or very expensive procedures and medications.

    The way things have become, most people use their insurance for something as trivial as a routine physical. The only way the insurance companies can make a profit is to reimburse as few things as possible and as little money as possible. The only way for the physician to make a profit is to bill the insurance company for more than the services actually cost with the expectation that they will not be fully reimbursed.

    This creates the unfortunate situation of putting the patient between a physician who is trying to get rightfully paid for the service he or she provides, and the insurance company whose purpose is to pay as little money as possible. The permeation of big insurance into all levels of healthcare has created a sort of lose-lose situation.

    I know quite a few people who work out what is referred to as a ‘self-pay’ setup with their primary care physician, and additionally, only go to the doctor when absolutely necessary. There are very inexpensive insurance plans out there that can cover only high-dollar procedures, sort of a worst-case-scenario plan. As long as the care required is relatively simple, these people choose to pay for healthcare directly out of their own pocket. As an added benefit, the physician usually cuts these people a significant deal on the cost, since they don’t have to worry about being short-changed by the insurance company.

    There are a number of ways that the American system of healthcare can improve, but they will take the concerted effort of the general public and physicians. The government cannot fix these problems, and it’s not their job.

  199. Government has already fucked up the health system enough with regulation in every aspect- insurance companies, employers, drug companies, doctors, hospitals, and now apparently every individual. This is the kind of market manipulation that has raised costs in the first place, it is no where near a free market system. Any socialist health policy implemented in this country will be among the worst performing and most expensive. Fuck this outdated thread and all the progressive scuzbags in it. Why are there so many pinko fuckheads posting on here lately anyway?

    Tommy Douglas is a piece of shit.

  200. “The way things have become, most people use their insurance for something as trivial as a routine physical.”

    This sort of thing is partly a result of government mandates dictating what the insurance companies must cover in their policies. Without such mandates, it would be easier for consumers to shop around for policies that more closely fit their needs. Another thing is tax breaks to employers providing insurance, distorting the market to give insurance companies a more captive market share and making it easier for them to raise costs. Just to give some examples of what kinds of regulation I am talking about.

  201. Sean,

    I think we’ve finally found something we can agree upon. I absolutely support your right to fight anything you feel to be unjust or illegitimate. Just as I have the right to support anything I feel to be just and legitimate.

    You are absolutely correct that the people have glossed over the amendments when it is expedient. It is then our responsibility to fight that, and I will be standing next to you when they do.

    But again, as the quotation you provided from the Declaration states,

    But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

  202. Sorry, the last part got cut off.

    As I’ve said, if the people decide to live under a system that is abusive, that is their right. But, when “a long train of abuses and usurpations … reduce them under absolute despotism,” we will “throw off such Government.”

    What I don’t understand though, is how a public option qualifies as an abuse. Article I Section 8 of the Constitution clearly states:

    The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States

    Regardless of how misguided a public option may be in your opinion, if the people decide to promote the “general welfare” through a public option and “lay and collect taxes” to pay for it, what’s unconstitutional about that?

    And if we disregard the fact that the contract is between you and your fellow citizens, not the government as you’ve incorrectly asserted on several occasions, how is the government “breaking” the contract with you by following the rules we have set forth?

  203. That article is just not true and is obviously written for the big Pharma and the insurance companies. I live in Canada and our medical service has some problems , but I still get treatment and I dont have to worry about being bankrupt by large medical bills. You have millions of people in USA who cannot afford health insurance. People in England do not pull their own teeth, that is a downright lie. My neighbour just got both her knee caps replaced at not cost to her and she did not wait for treatment either.

  204. “Fuck this outdated thread and all the progressive scuzbags in it. Why are there so many pinko fuckheads posting on here lately anyway?”

    I usually check the reason blog because it has interesting, up to date news on the drug war and civil rights topics. However, posts about the US health care issue are driven by purely libertarian/conservative ideology, rather than something libertarians and liberals all agree on, civil rights.

    And calling us “pinko fuckheads” isn’t really helping your libertarian cause. You are turning more people off to libertarianism than gaining allies with that kind of useless name calling.

  205. Am I necessary and proper?

  206. Here’s another story about how no medical innovations would happen without a profit driven system…oh wait.

  207. The General Welfare asks “Am I necessary and proper?”

    The answer is probably “yes.” You may also be justified and ancient, and you roam across the land.

  208. As a newcomer here, I am a little dismayed by the number of potty-mouthed postings, especially on a site called “”

    It seems that they mainly emanate from “libertarians,” who have not yet had to mortgage their houses to pay for trivial medical treatment for themselves or other family members.

    One thing that I don’t understand is this:

    How come so few people get the idea of “shared risk?”

    This is the basis of all insurance. In fact, it’s the only reason that the concept of insurance was developed in the first place.

    Car insurance. If I manage to get through an entire year without an accident or moving violation, I know that my premiums are being applied toward settling matters of other individuals who had less luck than me.

    The number of nasty things that can happen with automobiles is as varied as the number of people with driving licenses. Just having your parking brake let go on a graded driveway can cause enormous damage when a car hits the street, and God knows what else.

    I know that my tax dollars are being applied to my province’s medical system. If I manage to not have a heart attack this year, someone else will. And I’ll be helping to fund the treatment and survival of that person.

    I’m baffled by some of the “Constitutional” arguments against universal health care.

    It’s strange to see a nation that maintains the “right to bear arms” and will spend $1000 on some handgun, or whatever.

    At the same time, others are expected to pony up hundreds of thousands of dollars for cancer treatment, especially when it doesn’t have the desired result (like, survival).

    Curiouser and curiouser …

  209. As an ordinary 58 yr old Cdn male, I can testify that this article is basically a pile of half-truths and misinformation. I have never had to wait for any test or appointments, I get great service from my family doctor, and even the most overcrowded hospital around here will admit you to emergency within an hour or so unless there is some sort of disaster in progress. The physician shortage has more to do with retiring doctors and not enough medical school admissions than how we fund our system. I truly feel sorry for Americans and their overpriced medicine for profit system.

  210. John Stossel’s article was not well researched, as he over generalizes. As one poster mentioned, some Provinces have great medical care with no wait; other are really awful. The physican he quoted was in bad place.

    It is also not true that all the innovation comes from the U.S. President Reagan got German cancer treatment, as some of their innovations are better than ours. Other wealthy Americans have gone to Germany as well.

    This is a typical REASON piece. To promote libertarianism and free markets, the authors over generalize and make statements that are not wholly accurate.

  211. Myths, lies, and downright stupidity, should be the title of this piece of crap.

    As a Canadian with extensive personal experience of the Canadian health system as a patient, and one who does not have to rely on dubious anecdotes, I can tell you that this article gives a completely false and misleading picture. Sure, you might have to wait for a particular treatment but so what? If immediate treatment is necessary you get it; if not, you don’t. The judgment call is a medical one, not one based on your willingness to come up with the cash. If everyone who wants an MRI could get one on demand, there would be hundreds of MRI machines lying around idle waiting for someone to come in the door. That is ridiculous waste and no small factor in America’s inefficient and costly system. Rationing health care is necessary and universal. It exists to the fullest and most immoral degree in the US where access to care is rationed by ones ability to pay, and to pay a premium for instant access. The Canadian system has its problems, all systems do including the one in the US which leaves tens of millions uninsured and astronomical costs for everyone else, but it is not broken. Coverage is universal, and readily available to those who need it. I know: the author of this article doesn’t.

  212. Nice article, but a Boo! would have sufficed.

  213. “How come so few people get the idea of ‘shared risk?'”

    We get the idea of shared risk (which is why most of us have insurance). What we don’t like is forced subsidies of other people’s risks. And I’ve noticed an unusual number of hereto unseen posters claiming to be from Canada and therefore knowing how wonderful it all is.I smell a rat, and it tends toward Michael Moore-style tactics.

  214. And Canada hardly enjoys an advantage in preventive care. Canadians receive mammograms, pap smears, prostate-antigen tests, and colonoscopies at lower rates than Americans,and as a result have a 25% higher mortality rate for breast cancer, an 18% higher mortality for prostate cancer, and a 13% higher mortalitiy for colon cancer.

    Canada’s system is cheaper because it uses its monopsony power to pay doctors and drug companies less.
    Finally, in areas where Canadians compare favorably to Americans (like heart-disease research), the cause is more easily attributable to lifestyle (lower rates of obesity, more exercise, healthier diet) than to the healthcare system.

  215. Okay, “engineer,” you simply take the idea of shared risk out from the constrictions of a subset of the working population, and apply it to the overall working population. Suddenly – more people – more dollars – less strain on the individual.

    It’s not even math – it’s simple arithmetic.

  216. Wow, I am simply amazed at the character of a “journalist” that would well bullshit his way through an article because he is personally offended by the concept that the government has a place in the day to day workings of a just society. As a canadian who has been to the most overworked hospitals in the canadian system (English hospitals in quebec) the longest I have had to wait is four hours to have a sprain examined. The quickest was immediate care for a possible concussion.

    For someone who seems to have a deep concern about profit you don’t seem to mind paying triple the canadian medical bill for a lower average per capita level of care.

  217. 23 hr wait in Canada? Where the hell do you get your information from? Someone who stubbed their toe? Come on..maybe I would take this article seriously if it wasn’t filled with stupid exagerated comments like that.

  218. Pure Hogwash Stossel. Wow I finally found a website run by corporate fascists. I will be coming here often to see what greed can do to people.

  219. I’m a Canadian, and my experiences with our health care system are NOT what you describe.

  220. Hey John here’s some real in depth analysis

    “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of moral crisis, maintain a neutrality.”

  221. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there’s more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I’m not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It’s just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight…the Bible’s books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on…the Bible’s books were written by people with very different mindsets.

  222. This health care program is not for free and we all know that:) indiscutabil

  223. Everybody should have healthcare provided.

  224. HHS Mandate is a TAX is not for FREE..A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.

    1. Sounds like you’d just rather have people who can’t get jobs and can’t pay for themselves, just DIE and decrease the surplus population?!

  225. In Canada and England at least you don’t have to avoid medical care because you don’t want to be drowning in bills you can’t pay that will ruin your credit that has become increasingly the only thing that employers look at when you’re looking for a JOB. I’ve been trying to get a hysterectomy for the past 30 years – in all three countries. I’d rather come back to Canada and wait 6 more months than wait until forever whenever that is, that I have insurance to pay for it in San Francisco. Insurance to pay for it requires a JOB which at this point there ARE none of left. Canada is way better off than the USA when it comes to health care. You don’t wait in the US? – no, you do wait. You wait until you get a JOB that will pay for it before you can get it DONE. For me that’s been 3 decades and counting and now I have high blood pressure and obesity on top of the dysfunctional uterine bleeding.

    1. You wait until you get a JOB that will pay for it before you can get it DONE.

      So you believe you have a right to another person’s labor without compensating them for it?


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