Friday, August 2, 2019

The Cost of Free Health Care

Of course, mad Bernie and tin-eared Lizzie believe fervently that we can have Medicare for all… and that we will have exactly the same health care, paid for by billionaire plutocrats who will happily fork over their income to pay for it all. No one has guessed that anyone who is that rich can easily find ways to avoid taxes… duh! Besides, there isn't enough money, or, more accurately, assets to fund the folly.

Anyway, to remind us of the folly behind it all, Mona Charen reminds us of the reality of the Canadian health care system, the one that leftist Democrats are dying to emulate.

She points out that Canadians receive rationed and delayed health care. If you receive the care in Canada you might have to wait and to wait and to wait. One result, wealthy Canadians travel to the United States and pay out of pocket. Thus, two-tiered health care, one system for the rich and one for the rest.

Anyway, here’s Charen’s reality check on Canadian style health care:

It’s true that all Canadian citizens and legal residents (though not illegal immigrants) get “free” health care, but only in the sense that you don’t get a bill after seeing a doctor or visiting a hospital. Medical care is subsidized by taxes, but the price comes in another form as well — rationing. A 2018 report from the Fraser Institute, a Canadian think tank, found that wait times between seeing a general practitioner and a specialist average 19.8 weeks. That’s the average. There are variations among specialties. Those waiting to see an orthopedist wait an average of 39 weeks, while those seeking an oncologist wait about 3.8 weeks.

Canada has the same modern medical technology that the U.S. offers, but Canadians must wait more than a month for a CT scan, more than ten weeks for an MRI, and almost a month for an ultrasound.

Imagine the anxiety of learning that you need an MRI to find out whether the mass in your breast is anything to worry about and then being told that the next available appointment is in ten weeks. In addition to the psychic price, Canadians who had to wait for treatment expended an average of $1,972.00 out of pocket last year, owing to lost wages and other costs. The Fraser Institute also calculated the value of the lost productivity of those waiting for treatment — nearly $5,600 per patient, totaling $5.8 billion nationally. Wait times to see physicians in the U.S. have been creeping up in recent years — perhaps in response to increased demand following Obamacare — but remain much shorter than those in Canada or other OECD countries with nationalized health services.

When there’s an artificial shortage of a good or service, a black market usually follows. I have heard from several Canadians that paying doctors bribes to jump the line is not uncommon. But Canada has another pressure reliever: 90 percent of Canadians live within 90 miles of the U.S. border, and medical centers in Buffalo, Chicago, Rochester, and elsewhere receive tens of thousands of Canadian patients every year.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch. And there is no such thing as free health care. You might not pay a co-pay or even an insurance premium, but you might just end up paying with your health.

1 comment:

Sam L. said...

And then there's Britain's National Health "Service".