Reason TV on why Canadians come to US for surgery

posted at 12:30 pm on December 8, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Why does Cheryl Baxter’s story sound so familiar? Baxter needed a hip-replacement surgery, but since she lived in Canada, she had no choice but to wait for a surgical date that never came. Instead of curing her problem with the common surgery, Canadian doctors just gave her painkillers while she waited … and waited … and waited. Finally, as Reason TV reports, Baxter decided to head south for some free-market medicine and an actual cure:

The Canadian approach sounds familiar because it mirrors what Dr. Barack Obama offered five months ago in an ABC town-hall forum on ObamaCare:

Jane Sturm told the story of her nearly 100-year-old mother, who was originally denied a pacemaker because of her age. She eventually got one, but only after seeking out another doctor.

“Outside the medical criteria,” Sturm asked, “is there a consideration that can be given for a certain spirit … and quality of life?”

“I don’t think that we can make judgments based on peoples’ spirit,” Obama said. … “Maybe you’re better off not having the surgery, but taking painkillers.“

That sounds exactly how Baxter was treated by the Canadian single-payer system, for all practical purposes. As long as Baxter swallowed those painkillers, her hip replacement was not a priority.

This shows the true path of reform and cost reduction in the American health-care system: free market principles, pricing mechanisms, and the elimination of third-party payers on all but catastrophic medical care. An expansion of third-party payer decisions, especially to the government, means more of these kinds of outcomes in the US, not less — and fewer options for Canadians, too.


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They wouldn’t talk about AIDS treatments this way. If Obamacare passes, AIDS patients will suffer. Will the gay community care as much as DADT, or hate crimes legislation, or gay marriage?

ThackerAgency on December 8, 2009 at 12:40 PM

If you like your pain pills you can keep your pain pills.—— Barry Hussein Oboobi

SHARPTOOTH on December 8, 2009 at 12:41 PM

That’s got to be the most insensitive non-answer to a question.

Let me be clear Obama, you’re an ASS

Kini on December 8, 2009 at 12:43 PM

Are prices have been lower than anyone else’s since the day we opened. We have no bureaucracy.

How long until this type of practice is illegal in the US? It’s been illegal in Canada for decades. Just a quick point: Are the Canadians crossing the border for health care committing a crime under Canadian law? Will they be prosecuted when they return home?

Tommy_G on December 8, 2009 at 12:44 PM

“…but taking the painkiller.“

Do us all a favor and polish off a bottle of them, chump.

Shy Guy on December 8, 2009 at 12:45 PM

Trolls tell us how wonderful socialism is and horrible capitalism — quoting Michael Moore documentaries, of course — is in three, two, one….

amerpundit on December 8, 2009 at 12:46 PM

I’m gonna start pitching a trade name for a painkiller to pharmaceutical companies now that universal health-care is on its way: Soma.

What do ya’ll think?

darclon on December 8, 2009 at 12:46 PM

Free market solutions, who can argue?

fourdeucer on December 8, 2009 at 12:48 PM

Reason has some of the best stuff. Wish there were more like them.

Dash on December 8, 2009 at 12:49 PM

tommy_g: they aren’t prosecuted but they will be treated like traitors. It just shows you how shallow Canadians are. They have all the best things in the world but are never happy.

KillerKane on December 8, 2009 at 12:50 PM

They wouldn’t talk about AIDS treatments this way. If Obamacare passes, AIDS patients will suffer. Will the gay community care as much as DADT, or hate crimes legislation, or gay marriage?

ThackerAgency on December 8, 2009 at 12:40 PM

Oh yeah they would. Politicized medicine (which is what Obamacare is) would transfer billions of dollars to “treat the epidemic” while short changing cancer and other surgeries because, y’know, that’s just stuff that happens and we shouldn’t be trying to prevent the inevitable. Maybe if you didn’t smoke and eat meat you wouldn’t have gotten yourself into that predicament.

Skywise on December 8, 2009 at 12:53 PM

Sounds like the VA and my knee replacements. “Here just keep taking these cheap government pain pills, we will get to you eventually.” Meanwhile they get about 200 vets a year hooked on narcotics and then they have to treat that aspect of it.

If anyone seriously thinks this will not happen if something even watered down is passed in the Senate, I have some nice beach front property for sale in Arizona.

Johnnyreb on December 8, 2009 at 12:54 PM

It is really simple, our bureaucrats will do a better job than Canada.

WashJeff on December 8, 2009 at 12:59 PM

With the drugs, you’re an invalid and become an addict.

With the replacement, you are pain free and can perform your regular activities.

Blake on December 8, 2009 at 1:00 PM

How long until this type of practice is illegal in the US? It’s been illegal in Canada for decades. Just a quick point: Are the Canadians crossing the border for health care committing a crime under Canadian law? Will they be prosecuted when they return home?

Tommy_G on December 8, 2009 at 12:44 PM

No, it’s not a crime for Canadians to come to the U.S. (or any other country) for health care. If the patient wants the province to pay for the surgery (each province has its own health insurance program), it must be approved before hand, as sometimes happens when the surgery or treatment isn’t available in Canada (cost efficiencies), or if a prolonged wait may end in the patient’s death. I recently heard that in Ontario, the cost to the province for U.S. treatments last year was approximately $128 million, and expected to be around $160 million this year — and remember, this figure is just for the surgeries approved — who knows what the total figure is when you add in the people who paid privately.

suzeecue on December 8, 2009 at 1:02 PM

This is not unique to Oklahoma.

http://www.nwhc.org/nwhc/content/index.cfm?cm_id=603
-

‘For Our Canadian Friends

When you have a health care need, you want access to services right away. At Northwest Healthcare, we understand that delays in treatment can be disheartening. That’s why we offer an array of health care services that may assist our Canadian neighbors in receiving timely quality treatment.’

diogenes on December 8, 2009 at 1:02 PM

What do ya’ll think?

darclon on December 8, 2009 at 12:46 PM
Since i currently take soma, sounds good to me.

SHARPTOOTH on December 8, 2009 at 1:03 PM

suzeecue on December 8, 2009 at 1:02 PM

Yep – a neighbour of mine had a brain tumour and the Canadian govt paid for her to go to Boston for treatment.

but of course Canadian health care is superior to American! /typical Canadian

CityFish on December 8, 2009 at 1:04 PM

CityFish on December 8, 2009 at 1:04 PM

I meant Ontario govt, of course.

CityFish on December 8, 2009 at 1:05 PM

but of course Canadian health care is superior to American! /typical Canadian

CityFish on December 8, 2009 at 1:04 PM

Every time I get upset about OHIP I just look at Great Britain, and feel so much better…

suzeecue on December 8, 2009 at 1:12 PM

I hear the medical care in Costa Rica is superb and less costly. Thousands of Americans flock there for everything from boob jobs to heart surgery. Combine it with a stay in a recuperation clinic and a later hotel stay to soak up some sun. This is how I will be doing any major surgery when Obamacare stiffs me for what I need. I hope all the US doctors are down here as well. People here are going to be getting medical care from nurse aids.

kens on December 8, 2009 at 1:23 PM

LOL Obama – “We might let them know, maybe you’d be better off with a painkiller than the surgery”. Like when the Godfather makes you an offer you can’t refuse. It would be something more than a “we might let them know”. How ridiculous Obama is.

Paul-Cincy on December 8, 2009 at 1:40 PM

@diogenes: look up the patient manifest at any Texas hospital & you will find many Canadians as well. (And many, MANY expat Canadian docs & RNs on staff!)

I’ll never forget years ago when I was young my Mom & I were taking a sightseeing tour in rural Quebec and the bus driver/guide was merrily smug about the fact that as a Canadian he was entitled to enjoy the superior ‘benefits’ of socialized medicine while we backward Americans were not. And yet not moments before he had told us that the Quebecois Premier (Robert Bourassa, I believe?) had that very morning gone to the US for his ongoing treatment of recurrent skin cancer. Our guide didn’t grasp the irony of the situation no matter how hard my Mom tried to politely underscore it for him, lol.

I remember the exchange vividly cuz it was one of those lightbulb-over-the-head formative moments for the young skull-full-o-mush ultra-radlib precociously anarcho-socialist early teen which I was at the time, and in retrospect, I realize it was the beginning of the end for my naive love affair with the false compassion offered by statist ‘progressivism’.

PS) could someone be kind enough to tell me how one creates paragraphs here? I don’t see a button & “p” in brackets doesn’t seem to do the trick, at least it doesn’t seem to in preview.

leilani on December 8, 2009 at 2:12 PM

Aha. Never mind about the paragraphs. I see the tag worked for the actual post.

leilani on December 8, 2009 at 2:13 PM

An expansion of third-party payer decisions, especially to the government, means more of these kinds of outcomes in the US, not less — and fewer options for Canadians, too.

Ah yes, but think how many Mexicans will be getting free (or at least, U.S. taxpayer-subsidized) healthcare in the U.S. under ObamaCare. Millions of those “47 million uninsured ‘Americans’” the Democrats like to whine about are not Americans at all; they are illegal aliens living in the U.S. in violation of U.S. laws. And the Democrats have successfully beaten back every proposed ObamaCare amendment that would have required proof of U.S. citizenship or legal residency before those “uninsured Americans” can avail themselves of taxpayer-subsidized U.S. healthcare.

So yes, if ObamaCare passes it will mean higher prices and lower quality care for millions of middle-class, taxpaying Americans (and fewer opportunities to access U.S. healthcare for paying Canadians too). But it’ll mean more “free” healthcare for millions of Mexicans and other Central American illegal aliens. And it’s so worth destroying our economy and ruining our own healthcare system to achieve that kind of “social justice” — right?

AZCoyote on December 8, 2009 at 2:22 PM

The biggest farce is this is about containing costs. It’s about universal coverage.

Paul-Cincy on December 8, 2009 at 2:26 PM

Friend of mine who is a big time public option advocate routinely gets into debates with me about this. I sit there and try to use these anecdotes of people in Canada that have to come to the states and he just hand waves them aside as “Booger pickers”. Just that one person that wants to raise a stink about everything instead of just pinning there lips shut and does what there told. I told him that he better hope he doesn’t blow out a knee or hip in a sports related injury because likely the doctor that does the surgery will have had lots of experience repairing joints of all the those old booger pickers.

Heftyjo on December 8, 2009 at 2:51 PM

Are the Canadians crossing the border for health care committing a crime under Canadian law? Will they be prosecuted when they return home

Tommy_G on December 8, 2009 at 12:44 PM

What an hilarious question to ask? As someone who works in the N.H.S and reads so many lies and mis-information in the U.S, that takes the biscuit.
Having to even ask that question shows lack of knowledge of other countries health systems

‘they will be treated like traitors’

KillerKane on December 8, 2009 at 12:50 PM

Thats the same as Cheney saying, you would be greeted as liberators

mags on December 8, 2009 at 3:53 PM

The inadequacy of our government-monopoly health care system extends beyond things like hip replacement surgery into what should be more routine care issues. Recently, my sister called for an appointment with her doctor, suspecting that she had a sinus infection. She was unable to get an appointment for a month, by which time the infection is so entrenched that antibiotics may not be able to eradicate it.

ProfessorMiao on December 8, 2009 at 4:48 PM

Yeah, we sure need a governmental agency or panel making health care decisions for us.

Good article, Ed, as always.

molonlabe28 on December 8, 2009 at 5:05 PM

Speaking as someone that would be dead under obamacare, what a jackass.
How could this clueless dolt get past dog catcher. I keep hoping this is just another bad NBC show.
It took three and half years of surgeries, treatments and testing with results being obtained throughout America, before I was diagnosed with the neurological disease I have. There was no time in that three and a half years that I had to wait in any kind of line. When finally diagnosed, I wasn’t expected to live another year. That was six years ago. Obama would keep me drugged up until I die.

oakpack on December 8, 2009 at 5:17 PM

My sister-in-law is a harpist with a major Canadian orchestra.
A few years back her artistic director-who was eighty at the time-slipped off the podium and hit his head.
When he was brought to the clinic or whatever it was he had to wait five hours to get seen.
At the hospital a few minutes from me a person of his age with his injury probably wouldn’t have to wait five
minutes.
Since it’s a Catholic institution, if they start being required to perform abortions, they’ll probably close.

annoyinglittletwerp on December 8, 2009 at 5:18 PM

I messed up the “emphasis”.
Preview is my friend.

annoyinglittletwerp on December 8, 2009 at 5:20 PM