June 4 2013

Oh, Canada! Affordable Health Care in Action

Vicki E. Alger

As my colleague Charlotte Hays pointed out, Obama’s Affordable Care Act for all is cracking up. Costs are set to soar, while enrollments will likely dive—and that’s before this albatross even takes off.

If those indicators weren’t enough, Canada’s Fraser Institute recently published an analysis estimating that in 2012 alone more than 42,000 patients had to seek treatment outside their universal government-run health care Mecca.

Canadians left seeking treatments relating to ophthalmology (4,600), general surgery (3,800), orthopedic surgery (3,600), internal medicine (3,500), and gynecology (1,900). As author Nadeem Esmail explains, universal coverage does not translate into universal access to quality health care:

Among the consequences of poor access to health care in Canada is the reality that some Canadians will ultimately receive the care they require outside of the country. Some of these patients will have been sent out of country by the public health care system due to a lack of available resources or the fact that some procedures or equipment are not provided in their home jurisdiction. Others will have chosen to leave Canada in response to concerns about quality…; to avoid some of the adverse medical consequences of waiting for care such as worsening of their condition, poorer outcomes following treatment, disability, or death…; or simply to avoid delay.

Oh, and speaking of delays…The Fraser Institute conducts annual “Waiting Your Turn” surveys documenting just how long patients must wait to receive the treatments they need.

The good news is that after decades of this whole government-run health care thing, the bean counters in Ottawa have managed to shorten patients’ average wait time from consultation to treatment down to just 9.3 weeks. Actual doctors, however, think that waiting more than two months is not “clinically ‘reasonable’.”

So if you think you might be feeling ill next year, pack your bags, be sure to arrive at the airport at least three hours early to get through the TSA pat downs, and enjoy the expensive flight to your "affordable" doctor’s appointment.

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