Hidden costs of Canadian health care system. Por Brett J. Skinner.
In a pivotal scene in ’’Sicko,’’ filmmaker Michael Moore marvels at Canada’s single-payer health system, suggesting that it is a medical utopia. ’’It’s really a fabulous system,’’ explains one healthy Canadian, ’’for making sure that the least of us and the best of us are taken care of.’’
But healthy people don’t use much health care. If Moore had interviewed ill Canadians, he would have gotten a whole different story.
In reality, Canada’s health care system is not the paradise Moore presents.
I should know: I live there.
Consider Canada’s notorious waiting lists. In 1993, Canadians referred by their doctors to specialists waited an average of 9.3 weeks for treatment. By 2006, it was 17.8 weeks — almost twice what’s considered clinically reasonable.
Canada’s cost advantage is also an illusion. True, Canada spends less per GDP on medical care than America — but so does Ethiopia. Such comparisons are meaningless without considering value for money. And compared to Americans, Canadians get relatively little in return for the money they spend. Canada’s single-payer system does not cover many of the advanced medical treatments and technologies that are commonplace in America, and Canadians have access to fewer doctors, fewer treatments and fewer new drugs.
Yet in Canada, public spending on health care is still growing faster than the ability of the government to pay for it. As of 2006, public health spending in six out of 10 Canadian provinces was on pace to consume more than half of total revenue from all sources by the year 2020 — without even taking into account the added pressures from an aging population. As of 2003, the growing unfunded liabilities for health care reached 46 percent of Canada’s total economic output.
These are the hidden costs of Canada’s health system, and they’re far worse than the monetary price of U.S. medical care. But Michael Moore is not interested in such facts. He makes fictional films.