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Friday, July 17, 2009


Is Canada the best example of a nation's regard for its citizenry (this side of Great Britain), or is it the bumbling bureaucracy portrayed by FOX News?

Which Canada is the truer picture?

Today, after another stupid encounter with a patient's insurance company (the group number on the card was not actually the group number), I conversed a bit with the rather patient patient. Turns out she's a nurse and has little regard for insurance. She said that she didn't know what the answer is to our predicament in this country. Not being shy about my own particular views I shared with her my own views. The only good answer is single-payer. She said that that might be good, but not if it produced the lines in Canada that her friends see there.

I said that that wasn't due to any single-payer plan, but simply to a lack of doctors. Massachusetts has the same problem now that they've mandated insurance coverage for everyone (except legal immigrants!).

Americans seem to regard the Canadian system as proof that single-payer cannot work. According to some there are lines around hospitals at the border of desperate Canadians pleading to be let into a modern fully staffed emergency room. "Please, sir, let us in!?"

And yet if you talk to Canadians, and I've tweeted some Canadian pharmacists on this, they all love their system. Wouldn't they rather have the sweet private complexities of the US? Um, no thank you come the responses.

And who can blame them? In a recent finding by Harvard researchers (see http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Insurance/InsureYourHealth/whats-most-likely-to-bankrupt-you.aspx) almost 80% of all bankruptcies in the US are due to health causes. Get sick in the US and hope for the best, I guess. And note how many of these bankruptcies were by people with private coverage--60.3%! What does that tell you? I tells me that private insurance companies are there to protect shareholders, not those with "coverage." And in the US we definitely need those quotes around "coverage."

We Yanks, I guess we just like spending more and getting less.

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