December 21, 2017

Canada's Sub Quality Socialized Medicine

Timothy Birdnow

Think Canada's healthcare system is great? Think again.

Jeff Jacoby gives us a rundown on the long wait times imposed by Canadian socialized medicine. From the article:

"And so Canadians wait. In the Commonwealth Fund survey, only 43 percent of Canadians said they were able to get a same- or next-day appointment to see a doctor or nurse the last time they were sick. That put Canada dead last among the 11 nations studied.

Communication with doctors is harder in Canada too. When you contact your primary care physician’s office with a medical concern, patients were asked, do you generally get an answer the same day? Only 59 percent of Canadians said yes — again placing last among the countries surveyed.

And when they need to consult or be treated by a specialist, the picture is even bleaker. Most Canadian patients, 56 percent, have to wait longer than four weeks for an appointment to open up. The international average is 36 percent. The average is even lower in the United States: Only 24 percent of U.S. patients must wait so long to see a specialist.

Meanwhile, the Vancouver-based Fraser Institute has released "Waiting Your Turn,” its annual study of Canadian health care wait times, based on a survey of physicians in 12 medical specialties. The institute found significant variations among provinces and medical fields, but the overall picture was grim. The median waiting time for medically necessary diagnostic or surgical procedures is now 21.2 weeks. That is the longest wait ever recorded in the survey’s 24-year history — 128 percent longer than in 1993, when the wait for specialist care was just 9.3 weeks. Canadians even wait for weeks to get an MRI or CAT scan — something Americans can usually access within days." End excerpt.

The article points otu that Canada's system is successful because Canadians - most of whom live withing a few hours drive of the U.S. border - can always go to their semi-free markiet neighbor to the south. This gives Canada a huge safety valve, allowing the truly sick to receive treatment right away. In other words, the U.S. has been subsidizing teh Canadian socialized system for years.

Healthcare skyrocketed in cost because of government interference with the free market. Starting with Franklin Roosevelt the government has had a hand in it - and that hand has grown fatter and more intrusive every decade. The creation of Medicare pulled a huge amount of resources away from the free market system and also allowed government to set prices - a quasi socialized system. That price fixing runs over into the free system too, because insurance companies will not pay more for the private market and if government won't pay it then the price is defacto fixed. When you fix prices you ultimately either reduce supply or, as in the case here, drive prices up across the board.

Ted Kennedy helped create the HMO to fix the problem, which then drove up prices even more. And then old Ted railed against HMO's as if they were a Republican idea.

Question; is it cheaper today to go to the movie theater to see a film or has it grown more expensive? Bear in mind, there are now more outlets than ever to see movies, and logic would dictate that the theater would see a decline in price. But we haven't; rather, the prices have gone up and so has the ancilliary prices (popcorn, soda, candy, etc.) See, the very fact that there are now DVD's and Netflix has made the theater industry obsolete in many ways, but they retain a fixed cost, so prices rise. There is still a demand for their product, as people still enjoy seeing first-run movies on the big screen, but there is less demand and the theater either has to charge more or drop below their profit margin, so they charge more. The end result is fewer theaters but higher prices. Competition from the home industry forced them to become a specialty markiet. There is a certain amount of demand that is fixed, so they can charge more for a service that should logically be dropping in price.

That is why there are almost no drive in movies anymore. Drive ins were jolly fun, but they couldn't justify tying up a wad of money on land that could be turned into a strip mall or whatnot. Drive-ins couldn't charge enough to make up for their costs.

The whole thing in the theater business hinges on first run movies. Nobody would pay to see a film that is months old when they can get it on Netflix.

This is rather analagous to the healthcare business, only healtcare is not a volitional product. Government flooded the market with Medicare and Medicaid, and at the same time they cut into the profit margin of the doctors by imposing draconian regulations, record keeping and certifications and whatnot. Being a doctor became less profitable even while prices were rising, and the medical industry had to do more to stay in place. Fans of socialized medicine think the answer is more of what did the damage in the first place.

Look at it another way. The old '90's sitcom Roseanne once had a scene where the new manager of the restaurant Roseanne worked at told her to cut the chitchat with the customers "the purpose of this restaurant in the middle of a department store is to keep hungry customers from leaving, but it is intended to feed them and get them back out shopping." Roseanne objected it would cut into their tips, to which Leon replied "you'll make that up with volume". She pointed out that they were going to have to work harder to make them same amount of money. She was right.

And the flaw in Leon's argument was that it WOULDN'T be made up in volume; the restaurant was not a destination in itself, and would only move so many diners through. The chitchat may have been bad for the department store, but it was beneficial to the restaurant - and the employees.

this is the healthcare dilemma in a nutshell. Over the last few decades doctors have been forced to work harder for less pay, thansks to overgenerous medical benefits on the one hand and government provided benefits on the other. But, like the restaurant in Roseanne, there is a limit to how much can be provided by any one doctor or staff, and increasing volume only increases paperwork and costs, not profits. At a certain point it fails.

The only answer is to charge more across the board, and ALL medical people do it because it is the only way to make up for what they are losing. My brother had foot surgery and he had no insurance. The original bill was somewhere north of twenty grand - and he settled it for just a couple of thousand when they realized he didn't have insurance but was paying out of pocket. They didn't do that out of the goodness of their hearts; they charged what the surgery was actually worth, not the inflated amount they charge insurance companies to cover what they get cheated out of in the long haul. If you know you are going to get thirty cents on the dollar you charge three times as much as the service is worth so you come up even. That is the essence of modern Health care in America.

Get the government out, and the prices will drop. Increase their involvement and prices will rise - or services will drop. That is the choice. But sadly too many think the key is to subsidize the services.

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at 09:15 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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