Single Fallacies

Obviously the future of health care policy rests on a knife edge. It is a political game of chicken between whether Republicans have the nerve to roll back the egregious features of Obamacare that will necessarily involve creating gaps in insurance coverage, and Democrats who think that they are in the catbird seat because either the eventual collapse of Obamacare or the defects of a Republican reform will set the table for their real goal: Canadian-style single-payer health care. And just as some conservatives are warming to the idea of a “universal basic income,” here and there you hear a few conservatives say, “Oh what the hell: we may as well get used to the inevitability of single-payer health care. I mean, how bad is Canada, really?”

Much worse than you think. Set aside for the moment the salient fact that one reason Canadian single-payer “works” is that it has private medicine in the United States available as a safety value for its own system. (A lot of Canadian doctors actually practice some of the year in the U.S. after they’ve fulfilled their annual quota of work in Canada.) More damning is a report out recently from the Commonwealth Fund that compares health care systems of eleven health care systems. Canada came in ninth.

It’s a dense report with lots of tables and charts. Brian Lee Crowley get to the heart of the matter in Canada’s National Post:

On measure after measure the data belie the boasts that medicare apologists tout as proof we have the best system in the world. When measuring the equity of our system against the others, we come a pitiful ninth out of 11, despite the fact that “fairness” is the argument most frequently trotted out to defend the status quo. Turns out Canadian health care isn’t all that fair.

Ditto for health-care outcomes. Despite being a fairly high spender, we are not able to turn that money into better outcomes for Canadians. Again, we rank ninth out of 11.

But in what must be the bitterest pill, we come 10th in access. That means that among the 11 systems studied, every one of them gives better access to health-care services except one: the United States. Gives a whole new meaning to the sentiment that we don’t want American-style health care here, doesn’t it?

The only thing I want from a single source is my Scotch whisky.


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