Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ticking Off The Neighbours

It seems like there's another group getting angry about the ongoing American debate over plans to reform health care - Canadians.

For months now, conservative groups opposing the health care plan have been running ads slamming to the Canadian system as what happens when you turn over the nation's health care over to the government. And now our neighbors to the north are firing back.

"The flaw in the American system," Ontario Health Minister David Caplan said recently, "is that first they check the size of your wallet, not the size of your need." That was a idea I also heard expressed by another Canadian official this weekend on C-Span - Canadians may frustrated over long wait times to see some specialists (one of Canadians biggest complaints about their system), but what they do like is that the wait times are the same for pauper and millionaire alike.

Canadians remain generally happy with their health care system, polls put the satisfaction level at around 80%. And a CBC TV viewer's contest named Tommy Douglas, Saskatchewan's longtime premier who in the late 1940s launched a provincial health care program that would eventually become Canada's national system, history's "Greatest Canadian."

Canadians will admit that their system isn't perfect - they complain that they have to wait too long to see specialists in non-emergency situations (the MSNBC article includes a section refuting a claim by a Canadian woman appearing in a conservative-funded TV ad that she "would have died" while waiting to see a specialist under the Canadian system), and that the costs are rising every year. But what's interesting is that Canada is looking to other socialized medicine systems in Europe for ways to improve, no Canadian politician is seriously arguing that Canada should adopt the American model as a way to fix their health care system.
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