Wednesday, June 22, 2005

 

Walter E. Williams: Do we want this?

In response to those who think that the Canadian socialized health care system is a good idea...

"I wonder just how many Americans would like to import Canada's healthcare system, which prohibits the purchase of private insurance and private healthcare services. In British Columbia, for example, Bill 82 provides that a physician can be fined up to $20,000 for accepting fees for surgery. In my book, it's medical Naziism for government to prohibit a person who wishes to purchase medical services from doing so. But let's not look down our noses at our northern neighbors, for we too are well along the road toward medical Naziism.

Plaintiffs Jacques Chaoulli, a physician, and his patient, George Zeliotis, launched their legal challenge to the government's monopolized healthcare system after having had to wait a year for hip-replacement surgery. In finding for the plaintiffs, Canada's high court said, "The evidence in this case shows that delays in the public healthcare system are widespread, and that, in some serious cases, patients die as a result of waiting lists for public healthcare. The evidence also demonstrates that the prohibition against private health insurance and its consequence of denying people vital healthcare result in physical and psychological suffering that meets a threshold test of seriousness." Writing for the majority, Justice Marie Deschamps said, "Many patients on non-urgent waiting lists are in pain and cannot fully enjoy any real quality of life. The right to life and to personal inviolability is therefore affected by the waiting times."

The Vancouver, British Columbia-based Fraser Institute keeps track of Canadian waiting times for various medical procedures. According to the Fraser Institute's 14th annual edition of "Waiting Your Turn: Hospital Waiting Lists in Canada (2004)," total waiting time between referral from a general practitioner and treatment, averaged across all 12 specialties and 10 provinces surveyed, rose from 17.7 weeks in 2003 to 17.9 weeks in 2004. For example, depending on which Canadian province, an MRI requires a wait between 7 and 33 weeks. "



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