I have never been in or near Canada but I have had some experience with the Canadian health care system. In the mid 1980 I worked as a nurse in an alcohol and drug treatment unit in Dana Point, California. If you are going from Disneyland to Mexico, my hospital, called Capistrano by the Sea, is at about the one third mark on the journey to the border. Apparently Canada only had one or two facilities that offered drug and alcohol rehabilitation treatment. So an enterprising company recruited Canadians needing such treatment and flew them to California’s south Orange County and filled up all the empty beds within twenty-five miles of my hospital.
Attempting to treat the Canadian patients was quite an experience. Almost all Canadians that we received were addicts badly in need of treatment. But the attitude of most of them could be summed up as, “You’re getting paid, so do something.” But in this kind of treatment the only things that cause the needed change in the patient are things the patient does. So in in almost all cases we ended up in a Canadian stand off: the patient would not take any action so the patient returned home unchanged. (It is a little more complicated than that. They all had a fatal disease whose suffering would sooner or later demand attention. And we had planted a small seed in the Canadians. They now knew they had lived for weeks without their drug. They had seen and talked to people at the 12 step meetings that had been drug free for years and were plainly happy. Deep inside their twisted addict souls was now a small seed of hope. Not the cheap over the counter crap that Obama talks about but the real and mean life changing thing. That‘s why, as bad a day as I might have had in that job, I could always go home knowing that seeds had been planted that day that might blossom in ways I could not even imagine. No day could ever be labeled a failure since what had been planted might not even blossom outwardly for many years.)
Hundreds of Canadians went through the treatment programs in south Orange County. None of the hospitals ever received the payment supposedly guaranteed by the Canadian system. Some units went under so there were fewer beds available to treat others who needed help. The lesson is that if the US ever has a Canadian style system and someone needs treatment that just isn’t being provided they can always go to America to get treated.
StopThe ACLU has a good post about socialized medicine. One of the founders of Canadian single payer, Claude Castonguay, now wants to get the private sector more involved in Canada’s health care system: ““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 advocates contracting out services to the private sector, going so far as suggesting that public hospitals rent space during off-hours to entrepreneurial doctors. He supports co-pays for patients who want to see physicians. Castonguay, the man who championed public health insurance in Canada, now urges for the legalization of private health insurance”
One of the problems of the Canadian health care is that, if you need care, you might not get any care this year. Rather than admit their failure the Canadian bureaucrats, just keep rationing and bureaucratically withholding care and/or payment, as in this case quoted from Stop the ACLU: “Sick with ovarian cancer, Sylvia de Vires, an Ontario woman afflicted with a 13-inch, fluid-filled tumor weighing 40 pounds, was unable to get timely care in Canada. She crossed the American border to Pontiac, Mich., where a surgeon removed the tumor, estimating she could not have lived longer than a few weeks more.
The Canadian government pays for U.S. medical care in some circumstances, but it declined to do so in de Vires’ case for a bureaucratically perfect, but inhumane, reason: She hadn’t properly filled out a form. At death’s door, de Vires should have done her paperwork better
Elsewhere in socialized medicine, Stop the ACLU has this cherry note about new nontreatment trends in Britain: “The Ministry of Health declared that British patients should get ER care within four hours. The result? At some hospitals, seriously ill patients are kept in ambulances for hours so as not to run afoul of the regulation; at other hospitals, patients are admitted to inappropriate wards.”