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.