Video: Our “legacy” is all that separates us from Euro-Canada health care

posted at 2:47 pm on March 26, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

If you want a peek at the direction Barack Obama will take health care, or at least where he would like to take it, check out this moment from an otherwise dull, dreary “virtual town hall”.  Obama extols the virtues of single-payer systems in Europe and Canada while lamenting the “legacy” that keeps America from its nationalized destiny:

Obama’s right about the “historical accident” of employer based care, from which Obama obviously drew the wrong lesson.  Government intervention in markets — in this case, the labor market — produces strange and sometimes problematic results.  This was the very issue that John McCain wanted to address in his plans to make employer-financed health insurance taxable income while providing a balancing refundable that would have disconnected insurance from employment and created a new market for individual — and portable — plans.  Obama and the Democrats misrepresented McCain’s plans, and then turned around this month and suggested they might co-opt the McCain approach now.

As for his description of Canada and “England” as places where one just walks in and gets treatment, perhaps Obama should talk to more Canadians and “English”.  Most have to wait months for tests and treatments.  The British have a chronic lack of dentists and transplant surgeons, just to name two specialties, because of the lack of compensation for specializations.  Both have a healthy “health tourism” outflow of patients to countries that allow for free-market health care.  Most people in the systems that Obama hails would laugh outright at the notion that they get health care on demand.

Maybe Obama should do more research on Canada and “England”.


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I’ll buy a cork for my ass also.

LimeyGeek on March 26, 2009 at 3:47 PM

Heh. Well, that’ll be doing everyone a favor.

Esthier on March 26, 2009 at 3:54 PM

not much more to say but the people that really believe in Obama thinks he will bring back the jobs, fill their gas tanks and pay their home loans. If you believe that it isn’t much of a stretch to think he will pay your medical care also.

unseen on March 26, 2009 at 3:57 PM

Do you cons fit in this bracket?

getalife on March 26, 2009 at 3:35 PM

Sorry, you have us confused with all of those liberals who make a living in the entertainment industry.

Just A Grunt on March 26, 2009 at 3:58 PM

Actually, their financial problems may be WORSE than ours. They’ve already reached the point where they can no longer issue debt to cover their massive social spending and “stimulus” programs. We’re months away from that.

hawksruleva on March 26, 2009 at 3:32 PM

I’m not so sure it’ll take that long. Yesterday the Fed auctioned some T-bills, but there were so few interested buyers, they had to raise the interest rates significantly above what they originally priced them at.

Looks like our creditors are starting to catch on.

AZCoyote on March 26, 2009 at 3:59 PM

While talking on the phone with a service technician who was working in British Columbia, Canada, I happened to purvey to her how beautiful the country up there was. Without missing a heartbeat, expecting a hearty “yes sir”, she said “yes, sir, but our socialized medicine sucks!”

Enough said!!!

Before the revolution begins, you may want to take that Obama bumper sticker off your Subaru!

smokey on March 26, 2009 at 4:01 PM

Since a significant portion of medical costs are caused by lawyers and the threat of lawsuit, tort reform would bring costs down precipitously:

Lower malpractice insurance for doctors and hospitals, less money going out in awards, less settlements designed to buy off cases that are frivolous but still cost to defend againstless extravagant and wasteful procedures designed to fend off lawsuits, less money for lawyers being paid to defend care providers, less paperwork, and less burden on the legal system.

Make tort reform a part of any socialist medicine proposal, and you’ll see the financial backing for it disappear. Trial lawyers and their enablers are lusting at the thought of a massive public program with ample teats for them to suckle.

snickelfritz on March 26, 2009 at 4:03 PM

So sick of this dude. Disappear, obama.

ErinF on March 26, 2009 at 4:03 PM

“You just go in and someone treats you”.

Uh huh. Well, not too long ago I made an appointment with my doctor because I had an extremely painful, very immobile shoulder joint. It two weeks to get an appointment (and I’m lucky, because about 15-20 of Ontarians don’t have a family doctor – there aren’t enough to service the population). The prescribed X-ray was fast, but it then took nearly 3 months to get an ultrasound, and another month for my doctor to get the results from the ultrasound. My doctor then wanted to send me to an orthopaedist (you can’t see a specialist without a referral from a family physician), and said it would likely be 8-18 MONTHS before I would be able to get in. Because the problem had begun to improve on its own by then (nearly 5 months after I first called to make the first appointment), I said that if I could get in within 6 months I would go, and if not, then it would likely be pointless.

So hey, Mr. President, “you just go in” and THAT IS how they treat you in Canada. Slowly if at all, unless you are obviously in imminent danger of death. And even then, the wait times for radiation treatment, MRIs and other important diagnostic tests are often dangerously long. Not only that, but “universal health care”, which we pay for dearly through high taxes, as poor as it is, doesn’t cover take-home chemotherapy drugs, physiotherapy, prescriptions or prostheses. And to add insult to injury, to get treatment, a patient is often forced to relocate far from home and/or to travel absurdly long distances on a regular basis to get it, and none of the costs associated with that are covered. Nor is any concern given to the fact that it rips people away from their social and emotional support networks when they most need them.

Our system sucks!! It is nothing to aspire to! The only saving grace I can see in the US going toward universal health care is that all the Canadian doctors who take their costly, government-financed medical educations to the US to practice there will have less incentive to do so, so maybe in the long-run, we won’t have sch a serious shortage of doctors here. But more likely, fewer very capable people will want to practice medicine.

ProfessorMiao on March 26, 2009 at 4:04 PM

radiofreevillage on March 26, 2009 at 3:31 PM

One of the biggest problems with our healthcare system is all the regulations on bureaucratic paperwork. Doctors spend a LOT of time on paperwork… which eats into their time, which means fewer patients can be seen. This drives up the price per patient to cover the fixed expenses (like doctor salary, office rent, etc).

dominigan on March 26, 2009 at 4:04 PM

Since a significant portion of medical costs are caused by lawyers and the threat of lawsuit, tort reform would bring costs down precipitously:

I think California has some caps, and it didn’t do anything to reduce the costs.

radiofreevillage on March 26, 2009 at 4:06 PM

The “English”. What a twerp. Probably even “notaclue” knows what’s wrong with that.

I’ve lived in Canada (single payer) and Australia (hybrid). Both were fairly bad, although Australia was an improvement on Canada. I recently gave birth to a kidney stone here in Denton Co. TX. The hospital did an MRI on the spot. In Canada, you wait months for an MRI, if your condition is deemed sufficiently severe to require one at all. Folks in Canada die waiting for their pacemakers.

In Australia, the public hospitals are revolting, the medical attention indifferent and slap-dash. I went into one (in Sydney, a city of 4+ million) after a road accident, and they begged me to stay overnight because they would have received funding from my private insurance, but there was no way I wanted to stay there and get sick. In the ER, they didn’t even attend to my bleeding wounds.

Believe me, we do not want socialized medicine! Been there, done that!

mr.blacksheep on March 26, 2009 at 4:06 PM

0 should ask Liam Neeson about Canada’s wonderful health care system that killed his wife.

rockmom on March 26, 2009 at 4:08 PM

I hope Obama fails.

bluelightbrigade on March 26, 2009 at 4:11 PM

Yeah, if Sarah Palin had said “England” instead of “Britain,” Poptech and all of his ilk in the MSM would be cackling about how stupid she is.

Weight of Glory on March 26, 2009 at 3:08 PM

Something similar happened to a friend of mine. She had minor routine surgery and was double-billed on one item. One bill came to her, the other was sent to the insurance company. This was for the EXACT SAME item; it was an error in the billing department. They charged my friend about a fifth of what they charged the insurance company.

Of course, I’m not sure if I can exactly blame the hospital in this case. After two years of having to navigate the vagaries of Medicare on behalf of my grandmother, and learning how they nickel and dime and red tape the doctors to death, it’s not surprising that doctors are 1) loath to take on new Medicare patients, and 2) are looking for other ways to make up the shortfall. And just try getting an appointment to see a doctor if you’re on Medicare and don’t already have a PCP. MONTHS, I tell you. And over a year in some places. What choice does a person then have but to go to a woefully overcrowded and understaffed clinic? Or the friggin’ emergency room which was never intended to treat routine ailments but is certainly taken full advantage of by the un- and underinsured. I worked in the billing department of a hospital one summer when I was in college and it was obscene to see the kinds of things people would come to the emergency room for. A simple tension headache might yield a bill of $1000 after the CT scan and the $10 Tylenol tablet. Do we think this would abate by nationalizing healthcare? Hell no! There will simply be even more people seeking out care for frivolous health concerns that could easily be remedied with a $3.00 bottle of aspirin from Wal-Mart. There would be even fewer doctors in understaffed specialties, it would take even LONGER to get in to see one, because now it wouldn’t just be the over 65 crowd we’re competing with for slots but EVERYONE. There’s plenty wrong with how our healthcare system operates, but nationalizing it is not going to solve any of those ills. It’s only going to take us in the opposite direction. It would be a novel idea if there were no insurance at all — state-funded OR private — and people had to pay for it all out of their own pocket. Scandalous, I know. But just like I mentioned about the cost of college in the student loan thread, anytime the government gets in the business of subsidizing something, it makes it MORE expensive and LESS accessible for everyone. If people had to pay for their own routine care, like they have to pay for their own long-term care, costs could be better contained.

And speaking of Wal-Mart, I think it would be a great idea if they got into the healthcare business, and given that they are already offering optical services, and that they will do ANYTHING to keep their employees from unionizing, I don’t think we’re far off from that happening. I welcome it. They would wring every last dime of waste from the system and it might finally become efficient again.

NoLeftTurn on March 26, 2009 at 4:12 PM

Since a significant portion of medical costs are caused by lawyers and the threat of lawsuit, tort reform would bring costs down precipitously:

Lower malpractice insurance for doctors and hospitals, less money going out in awards, less settlements designed to buy off cases that are frivolous but still cost to defend againstless extravagant and wasteful procedures designed to fend off lawsuits, less money for lawyers being paid to defend care providers, less paperwork, and less burden on the legal system.

Make tort reform a part of any socialist medicine proposal, and you’ll see the financial backing for it disappear. Trial lawyers and their enablers are lusting at the thought of a massive public program with ample teats for them to suckle.

snickelfritz on March 26, 2009 at 4:03 PM

I’d like to see any other profession in the world where you have to pay $100,000 a year just for the privelege of practicing.

rockmom on March 26, 2009 at 4:13 PM

How’s this?…

I’m a Canadian disabled Vet, we don’t have anything like the VA up here, so you have to find a doctor willing to take on new patients. Because of my various problems, it took me over 5 years to find a doctor willing to see me, as most didn’t want anything to do with me, because I would have been too much work for them. I got angry the first few times I heard this, but got used to it over the years… Before I managed to find a doctor, I was forced to use emergency services whenever I needed medical attention. This is not ideal, and has resulted in some extreme “wait times” for any kind of care. For example, I once waited 5 and a half months to get an MRI on my neck, and another time it took over 7 months to get a colonoscopy…

Absolutely ridiculous…

My advice to you Yanks would be to resist socialized healthcare to the bitter end. Don’t put your health in the hands of a bureaucrat when you can have a real doctor.

Scarbarian on March 26, 2009 at 4:13 PM

And speaking of Wal-Mart, I think it would be a great idea if they got into the healthcare business, and given that they are already offering optical services, and that they will do ANYTHING to keep their employees from unionizing, I don’t think we’re far off from that happening. I welcome it. They would wring every last dime of waste from the system and it might finally become efficient again.

NoLeftTurn on March 26, 2009 at 4:12 PM

I think there is already a pilot program for Wal-Mart health clinics. I would love to see it work out.

myrenovations on March 26, 2009 at 4:17 PM

Please Mr. Obama, I don’t wanna go
Hey, Mr. Obama, please don’t make me go
I had a dream last night about my comin’ medical care
Somebody said “What you’ll get is Dashle Kennedy Care!’”
And there I stood with a rag in my mouth upon which to bite.

Please Mr. Obama, I don’t wanna go
Listen, Mr. Obama, please don’t make me go
There’s a bureaucrat a’waitin’ out there, just fixin to decide my fate
A complainer I’ve been called cuz I don’t wanna wind up screamin’ or dead

I wonder what the Kenyan word for friend is
Let’s see-friend– kemo sabe, that’s it
KEMO SABE!, HEY OUT THERE-KEMO SABE!
Nope, that itn’t it
Look at them durned socialists
They’re runnin’ around like a bunch of wild Kevorkians-heh, heh, heh

MB4 on March 26, 2009 at 4:21 PM

From Drudge and the NY Post:
Candacare may have killed Natasha

hawksruleva on March 26, 2009 at 3:48 PM

Scary stuff.

mankai on March 26, 2009 at 4:21 PM

Sounds to me like they’re laying the groundwork for the imposition of a FICA-like tax to support national healthcare.

Healthcare is doomed as we know it because of the flood of unintended consequences that are generally not acknowledged by people who are not in the industry.

As someone who has worked in the healthcare industry for nearly 25 years, this will probably cause ERs to be overwhelmed without substantial limitations that regulate who can be seen for what. Under the current system, patients with insurance or self pays are disincentivized from using ER facilities as primary treatment facilities for non emergent care because of the added individual costs associated with treatment. By contrast, medicaid patients tend to abuse the system because there are no disincentives for them not to use ERs as primary treatment facilities.

Against this backdrop ER physicians will continue to over test and treat without significant tort reform or an imposed form of govt rationing. Failure to address these significant problems, we will see an explossion in demand and costs.

These unintended consequences will necessitate more regulations to fix the dislocations and inefficiencies that are bound to happen. What will be sold as nationalized healthcare-lite will require a more comprehensive, top down healthcare system that looks more like a European style of healthcare than the bill of goods which will be sold.

Basically, we’re screwed.

moxie_neanderthal on March 26, 2009 at 4:21 PM

ProfessorMiao on March 26, 2009 at 4:04 PM

At one point a few years ago, I know there were only five MRI machines in all of Canada. You could only get one for a brain or heart scan. I live in a town of 35,000 and there are three of them here. They cost $150,000 which is why the hospitals can’t get them in Canada. Here a doctor can be sued for malpractice if he does not order an MRI.

rockmom on March 26, 2009 at 4:22 PM

Canada Care Story Link

mankai on March 26, 2009 at 4:22 PM

I couple of years ago at Democratic Underground, there was a fierce thread concerning FREE sonogram machines being given to “family planning” clinics in Kansas (I believe). The DU nutjobs openly opposed this access to medical care (with extreme predjudice). Guess why?

Access to health care is, was, and ever shall be a political football kicked around by the Left to achieve their vision of society… which has nothing to do with actual health-related issues.

mankai on March 26, 2009 at 4:27 PM

At one point a few years ago, I know there were only five MRI machines in all of Canada. You could only get one for a brain or heart scan. I live in a town of 35,000 and there are three of them here. They cost $150,000 which is why the hospitals can’t get them in Canada. Here a doctor can be sued for malpractice if he does not order an MRI.

rockmom on March 26, 2009 at 4:22 PM

The best part about the MRI shortage in Canada is that the machines we do have (I think we may be up to 7 now) are used for vetrinary diagnostics in their ‘off hours’. The problem isn’t the cost of the machines but of the radiologists who run them and interpret the images – about 3-4 times per year the cost of actually purchasing a machine.

A doctor here could also be sued for not ordering an MRI. But the doctor can’t be held responsible if the patient is dead before their appointment comes up 6-12 months down the road.

ProfessorMiao on March 26, 2009 at 4:31 PM

A draft of the House tax-and-spending blueprint calls for using “reconciliation” procedures, a maneuver that would allow a health-care overhaul to move through the Senate with a requirement for a simple majority of 51 votes. Under normal Senate debate rules, 60 votes are needed to keep opponents from blocking legislation.

I’ve about had it with Pelosi’s Politburo.

Rae on March 26, 2009 at 5:03 PM

Somebody really should explain to our new president that nothing is free. Not really.

Terrye on March 26, 2009 at 5:13 PM

Under Barry’s plan, we’ll all go to Mexico for our health care. See? Problem solved. Of course all the malpractice attorney’s will be pissed, that’s just their tough luck.

GarandFan on March 26, 2009 at 5:21 PM

After suffering congestive heart failure I required heart by-pass surgery which was done only 2 weeks after my condition was detected. If I had to wait 6 months I probably wouldn’t have survived.

docdave on March 26, 2009 at 5:30 PM

Someone tell me again what the exact PROBLEM is with our healthcare system?

I second everything that JAM said above but would add that instead of insurance, what we have now is a pre-paid health plan; mostly paid for by employers except by poor sods like me. My husband and I are forced to buy super expensive plans that cost 10x as much as we would spend on healthcare if we just had a very high deductible plan and paid for our yearly check ups (even if you add in my minor back issue and the fact that the nsaids caused me to be on Nexium for the next few months, it doesn’t add up to the $1550 a month premium we are paying). Alas, New York doesn’t allow for that individual high deductible plans. What NY does force us to have is things like chiropractic care and fertility treatments for women in their 40s. Do even get me started about the state run Healthy New York plan where everyone else gets to pay really low monthly payments subsidizes by yours truly. There are a few good books out on the subject:

The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care

Lives at Risk: Single-Payer National Health Insurance Around the World

Crisis of Abundance: Rethinking How We Pay for Health Care

Ann NY on March 26, 2009 at 5:35 PM

Every person should be responsible for their own health care. If they had to shop for the insurance or shop for price and quality of the Doctor competition would drive the price down and force the quality of service up! Get the employer and government out of areas it doesn’t belong.

LifeTrek on March 26, 2009 at 5:37 PM

I think there is already a pilot program for Wal-Mart health clinics. I would love to see it work out.

myrenovations on March 26, 2009 at 4:17 PM

CVS and Walgreens in my area already have these “minute clinics” or something like that. They are kind of pricey, but really handy. I used the CVS in my hood last year before traveling abroad. I got a hepatitus B shot, a shot for malaria and 3 scripts written for antibiotics, anti-nausea and anti-diaheria meds. Total price, not including the scripts for a grand total of $250.

It sure beat waiting in the doctors office.

Knucklehead on March 26, 2009 at 5:41 PM

The only thing that makes our health care system by far the best in the world is our legacy. Has anyone EVER heard of anyone going without health care in this country? Even illegal aliens get better health care than the rest of the world. Does anyone want to guess where Europeans and Canadians go when they need excellent health care?

Everything our government touches it damages so, by all means, let’s let Obama, Pelosi and Reid mess with health care.

Idiots!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

orlandocajun on March 26, 2009 at 5:41 PM

In an earlier thread I said I expect to leave the country by the end of 2010. Make that the end of 2009.

angryed on March 26, 2009 at 5:50 PM

I worked today you lazy piece of crap and you work for me, So get off of the internet and get to work doing your job. I know that you don’t know what the f@#k you are doing so go in there and learn something you lazy turd.

thomasaur on March 26, 2009 at 6:08 PM

Every person should be responsible for their own health care. If they had to shop for the insurance or shop for price and quality of the Doctor competition would drive the price down and force the quality of service up! Get the employer and government out of areas it doesn’t belong.

LifeTrek on March 26, 2009 at 5:37 PM

The Democrats think that we are all too stupid to choose between insurance policies and they need to do it for us.

myrenovations on March 26, 2009 at 6:15 PM

Maybe Obama should do more research on Canada and “England”.

I’m sure the teleprompter kid can find a DVD set or 2 on the subject…try Wal-Mart

Gohawgs on March 26, 2009 at 6:25 PM

Maybe Obama should do more research on Canada and “England”.

Obama knows Canadacare is garbage. He just doesn’t care.

Kjeil on March 26, 2009 at 6:26 PM

I think California has some caps, and it didn’t do anything to reduce the costs.

radiofreevillage on March 26, 2009 at 4:06 PM

That’s because awards are not the problem. The problem is the risk every healthcare provider has of being sued for failing to be God. The respondent has to pay for their defense, win or lose, frivolous or not, and those costs dwarf even the largest awards. I believe we could handle the whole tort reform problem by making it losing lawyer pays. each lawyer would have to insure his case when filing suit and would have to pay all the hourlys of the winning lawyer if he loses.

Damage caps are like adding a new paint job to fix a transmission problem. They may look shiny, but they don’t address the issue.

Random Numbers (Brian Epps) on March 26, 2009 at 7:00 PM

You get what you pay for, and right now fewer and fewer of the best and brightest are choosing to go into medicine, for many, many reasons. It will only accelerate under Obama’s planned healthcare. Check out this site regarding patient access to care, http://operationpatientaccess.facs.org

Then imagine how much worse it will get under socialized medicine.

txmomof6 on March 26, 2009 at 7:40 PM

You people just don’t appreciate anything. A talking chimp is discussing health care and you harp on the facts and details? Sheesh, what’s it going to take to entertain you people?

mr1216 on March 26, 2009 at 8:17 PM

“Our legacy” keeps Obama from doing a bunch of stuff he wants to.

Of course, by “our legacy” I mean the U.S. Constitution.

29Victor on March 26, 2009 at 9:42 PM

I had no idea that many Canadians had their winter homes down in Florida.

Knucklehead on March 26, 2009 at 2:55 PM
When the furthest South you can get in Canada is North of North Dakota, gotta go somewhere further South :o)

cntrlfrk on March 26, 2009 at 3:18 PM

oh my…try looking up Point Pelee, Ontario on a map.At least you’re smarter than most,you do know Canada lies to the north.

spareadime on March 26, 2009 at 10:36 PM

As I Brit, I often hear Americans complain that the UK health system is bad, inefficient, etc. I think many of your comments are misguided. Your point of view is reasonable given the diet of negative news you get about our health service, but I put it to you that very few people in the UK would complain about the National Health Service compared to private insurance. Is ht NHS perfect? No. Does it treat immigrants who don’t deserve it? Yes. Is it better than having to pay for private insurance? God, yes.

Most Americans who complain about a nationalised health system are normally quite wealthy, have their own health insurance, and are generally in pretty good health. I don’t see many people suffering from serious, life-threatening illnesses defending the American privatised health system. I would imagine insurance costs for someone like that would be astronomical, and for many unaffordable. And older people, who are far more likely to need help with their health, are very grateful in this country to get that help free and on demand. As for immigrants being treated who don’t contribute, as I understand it something very similar happens on your border with Mexico and immigrants coming from there. Health tourism happens the world over.

A nationalised health system is run for the benefit of the patients, not a private company. Many Americans talk about the rationing and cost-saving measures in national health schemes. But private companies go to extreme lengths to save money, too, just they are very good at keeping it hidden. The NHS is not interested in making a profit out of the patients like a private company, nor is it going to try and find legal loopholes to avoid costly medical treatment for individuals. Yes, some treatments are not offered if they are not cost-effective, but they are open and honest about this and make these judgements on a proven formula. I’d rather have them save money that way than screwing needy patients out their treatment by finding legal loopholes and running profit-making schemes.

The other criticism I often hear is that it takes a long time to get treatment on the NHS. Well, I can see my GP at an appointment time of my arranging within a week, and normally a day or so after phoning. If I need fast help, I can see them within an hour or so. And in a real emergency, I can go to an emergency department and be seen instantly if the problem is genuinely serious by a specialist consultant. Is that so different to your private care?

Specialist treatment is handled by consultants who work in both private and NHS practises. In other words, the same doctors who give private care are the same doctors who work for the NHS, splitting their time between the two. They are not Jackal and Hydes – they are just as effective in their jobs whether working privately or in the NHS.

I often feel that there is a lot of misinformation going around about national health schemes in America. Consrvative Americans compain bitterly about the reporters in the Iraq war who report bad news only. But conservative American’s themselves pounce on the bad news about national health care and ignore the good news.

Ask yourself this: is your private healthcare really such good value? Does it really offer better treatment? And if you get a serious illness, are you really sure you’re healthcare company is going to do all in its power to honour their contract? Or will they do their best to do as little as possible?

I’ve had a lot of help from the NHS, and I’m satisfied with it. That’s the real measure of success, in my opinion. I know I won’t change many minds, but at least you should be open to an alternative system.

dcpolwarth on March 27, 2009 at 7:33 AM

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