Sunday, September 27, 2009

Canadians Push for 'Private Option'

A great report at today's Los Angeles Times, "In Canada, a Move Toward a Private Healthcare Option":
When the pain in Christina Woodkey's legs became so severe that she could no long hike or cross-country ski, she went to her local health clinic. The Calgary, Canada, resident was told she'd need to see a hip specialist. Because the problem was not life-threatening, however, she'd have to wait about a year.

So wait she did.

In January, the hip doctor told her that a narrowing of the spine was compressing her nerves and causing the pain. She needed a back specialist. The appointment was set for Sept. 30. "When I was given that date, I asked when could I expect to have surgery," said Woodkey, 72. "They said it would be a year and a half after I had seen this doctor."

So this month, she drove across the border into Montana and got the $50,000 surgery done in two days.

"I don't have insurance. We're not allowed to have private health insurance in Canada," Woodkey said. "It's not going to be easy to come up with the money. But I'm happy to say the pain is almost all gone."

Whereas U.S. healthcare is predominantly a private system paid for by private insurers, things in Canada tend toward the other end of the spectrum: A universal, government-funded health system is only beginning to flirt with private-sector medicine.

Hoping to capitalize on patients who might otherwise go to the U.S. for speedier care, a network of technically illegal private clinics and surgical centers has sprung up in British Columbia, echoing a trend in Quebec. In October, the courts will be asked to decide whether the budding system should be sanctioned.

More than 70 private health providers in British Columbia now schedule simple surgeries and tests such as MRIs with waits as short as a week or two, compared with the months it takes for a public surgical suite to become available for nonessential operations.

"What we have in Canada is access to a government, state-mandated wait list," said Brian Day, a former Canadian Medical Assn. director who runs a private surgical center in Vancouver. "You cannot force a citizen in a free and democratic society to simply wait for healthcare, and outlaw their ability to extricate themselves from a wait list."

Read the whole thing, here.

I'm surprised, frankly, that the Times' editors even ran this piece. The paper's been one of the country's biggest journalistic shills for ObamaCare. When I reported on the massive Adam Schiff town hall in August - which was the lead story on that night's local ABC News broadcast - the Times competely ignored the story in the next day's paper. Instead, we saw a tearjerker piece on the massive free healthcare clinic at the L.A. Forum. I'm putting the Los Angeles Times practically in the same category as its New York Times counterpart. See, "The New York Times ACORN Cover-Up; or, How the Right-Roots Brings Down the Old Grey Lady." Once in a while, some fair-minded journalism gets through, like today's piece on Canada above. Otherwise, it's pretty frustrating reading the newspaper in the mornings.


PrivatePigg said...

Great piece. Glad you shared.

Anonymous said...

In Canada the private health insurance available mostly involves hospital accomodation upgrades, supplementary coverage, and drug plans.

The governments control the slots available for doctor training, the number of doctors permitted to practice, and their workload/earnings. Rationing ensures that cost targets are met and GPs must work flat out to see as many patients as possible to make a living while acting as gatekeepers to those needing specialist access. Specialists have penalty caps on any excess earnings and operating room time. Once they hit the barrier they are essentially unemployed for the rest of the fiscal year.

The socialist mindset places priority on having "the rich" waiting in line for treatment with everyone else in the emergency room in the name of equality. Hasn't happened yet while there are other options outside the country but they are still working on it.

shoprat said...

This can only be called sad.

CanadaGirl said...

Another day, another Canadian medical horror story. If push them, most Canadians can tell you something terrible about their own health care or something awful that happened to a friend or relative. And yet it's also true that most Canadians will defend their healthcare system. It's similar to Stockholm Syndrome.

Anonymous said...

haithabu said...

As a Canadian I'm personally for more private clinics in Canada, though I would prefer the health authorities just remove billing caps so that physicians can provide more services within public insurance. There are ways to improve the system and save money by making more room for private providers outside of the unionized public hospitals.

However, I would not in a a million years want to be forced to access all my medical needs through a private insurance company which can screw me through extortionate premiums or refuse coverage for pre-existing health issues.

The single greatest virtue of the Canadian system is guaranteed insured access to quality medical care for the most important 95% of our medical needs. Why would any sane person want to give that up?

I can always buy the other 5% in the US or better yet Mexico. But still it's far better than having to pay 100% as most Americans must.

The Christina of the referenced article is not really a good poster child for the private health insurance cause. If she were to move to the US right now, what would be her chances of being accepted by a private health plan for similar care in the future? Nil, I would say. She's better off to stay right where she is.