Ever hear of Claude Castonguay? Maybe not, but those who follow the health-care debate have certainly heard of his creation. Castonguay fathered the single-payer system in Quebec that locked out private insurance, the one which advocates of nationalized health care in the US love to cite as a success story. However, Castonguay has reached a far different conclusion about his creation:
Back in the 1960s, Castonguay chaired a Canadian government committee studying health reform and recommended that his home province of Quebec — then the largest and most affluent in the country — adopt government-administered health care, covering all citizens through tax levies.
The government followed his advice, leading to his modern-day moniker: “the father of Quebec medicare.” Even this title seems modest; Castonguay’s work triggered a domino effect across the country, until eventually his ideas were implemented from coast to coast.
Four decades later, as the chairman of a government committee reviewing Quebec health care this year, Castonguay concluded that the system is in “crisis.”
“We thought we could resolve the system’s problems by rationing services or injecting massive amounts of new money into it,” says Castonguay. But now he prescribes a radical overhaul: “We are proposing to give a greater role to the private sector so that people can exercise freedom of choice.”
Castonguay has realized — a little late — that socializing medicine creates a shortage-management system. It limits the resources available, which drives down the level and the quality of service. Without free-market competition and under a burdensome regulatory scheme, there are no incentives for investment, and not even “massive” amounts of government spending can solve those core problems.
What does Castonguay suggest for Canada? He wants the immediate legalization of private insurance. Since the government now owns all caregiving facilities, Castonguay recommends that they lease space to entrepeneurial physicians and care-giving companies to get more services available to Canadians. Right now, the Canadians actually pay Americans to see their citizens, those whose urgent needs cannot be addressed in a timely manner. Not only is that a gigantic hypocrisy — the state system paying private-sector providers in another country — but it also sends money outside of Canada that would remain in Canada if they had private sector health-care options.
IBD walks through a couple of the horror stories that Castonguay has seen his brainchild produce, but the bottom line is that the Canadian experiment has failed so badly that even its creator recognizes it. Castonguay’s epiphany should serve as a warning to America, and those who oppose the nationalization of health care should make themselves familiar with his new efforts to reform the Canadian system while nationalization advocates hail it as a shining example.
Update: Fixed spelling of “Canadian”. I’m trying to save pixels by rationing A’s. Or something like that.