Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Everything you need to know about Canadian health care

For more than 20 years, I've been hearing about the alleged wonders of Canada's government-run health care system. Advocates tell you how wonderful it is that the government pays for everything and no one is uninsured and care is readily available.

Of course, they never tell you about the long wait times for basic care, the disparities in availability across the country and all the other problems associated with the system, including a shortage of diagnostic equipment and the lack of medical research. You're not going to read too many news stories that begins "Canadian medical researchers discovered...."

But you don't have to believe a cyncial American. Look instead to the example set by the Premier of Newfoundland, one Danny Williams. A year or so ago, Mr. Williams was diagnosed with a leaky heart valve, and was told that it should be monitored, and perhaps surgically repaired "down the road."

Around Christmas, his condition was considered more severe, and surgery was recommended. So what did the head of this Canadian province do? He packed up and headed for Florida to have the surgery performed.

As you can read in this story, Williams told a Newfoundland TV station that the surgery wasn't available in Canada, although that is disputed by a number of Canadian surgeons. But regardless of the facts, Williams says the decision boils down to "It's my health, it's my choice."

The choice, of course, is only available if you have the means to travel to another country and pay for surgery. If you are one of the millions of Canadians without such means, you have no choice. You're sentenced to a bureaucrat-run system that gives you no choices or options and - in this case - would have required a waiting period of several weeks before the surgery was available.

Just a little story to remember next time you hear how wonderful the Canadian system is. Apparently it's good, just not good enough for the people who run it.

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