Bad medicine *BUMPED*

(I bumped this post, because I ended up attaching a long update. Several new posts I did earlier today follow immediately on the heels of this post.)

I saw Michael Moore with Jay Leno the other day. I was impressed by how very fat he was. He’s not just pleasingly plump, he’s morbidly obese, barely-can-walk fat. Some might think he’s a heart attack waiting to happen. If that were to be the case, he’d be rushed to the hospital in a hi-tech ambulance, be given hi-tech tests, and probably receive hi-tech surgery. All of that made me think about some of the reasons American health care is so expensive, and it’s not just insurance company greed or lawyers.

For starters, American doctors are the best trained in the world. Unlike doctors in most (all?) other countries, who start their medical training right out of high school, American doctors first have to complete their undergraduate education in pre-med courses, where they have to place in the top percentages of their classes to qualify for medical school. Not only does this give them a good practical science education, it means they’re more mature when they finally get to medical school. Medical school, of course, is a four year program. After that, they all have to do a one year internship, which qualifies them to become prison doctors. If they want to go beyond being a prison doctor, they have to continue their training. For the more basic medical practices — internal medicine, pediatrics, etc. — they have to complete a two year residency in their field. However, if they aim higher, after the two year residency, they have to complete either a longer residency (such as surgery), or even go on to a longer fellowship in their chosen medical specialty, such as cardiology or neurosurgery.

In other words, your average American surgeon, after leaving high school, has put in a minimum of twelve years of training. Taking all this into account — their stellar undergraduate grades and their lengthy training — you can’t then pay them Soviet-style wages. We can decide, of course, as a matter of public policy that our doctors are over-trained, and lessen the whole cycle, but we can’t take our current crop of hyper-educated people and reduce them to a secretary’s wages.

The next thing that distinguishes modern American medicine is that it is so high tech. Fifty years ago, for diagnosing patients, your average doctor had a clunky x-ray machine, a few simple blood tests, and his own five senses. If he was able to diagnose something, he had three treatment options: a small arsenal of pills most of which, with the exception of newly discovered antibiotics, were useless; surgery; or doing nothing.

Nowadays, of course, our doctors are science machines. Diagnosis takes place using every type of test and scan scientific ingenuity could create, with the number of tests available growing annually. Treatment involves a panoply of medicines and surgical options unimaginable even thirty years ago. And even putting the fear of lawyers aside, when you have the ability to diagnosis and treat at this level, you’re going to try to do it that way. After all, an EKG is a much better way to find out what’s going on than a stethoscope, and an MRI is better (and safer) than an old-fashioned x-ray. Certainly patients expect that their doctor will use the best equipment, tests and techniques on them. So people who complain about the high cost of medicine, at least when it comes to today’s medical sophistication, are like people who buy a fully equipped SUV and then complain that it’s more expensive than a horse and buggy.

The last thing that distinguishes modern American medicine, not just from treatment in the past, but from treatment elsewhere in the world, is the speed with which treatment is available. I could dig through myriad articles and studies to prove the truth of this statement, but I’m heading out soon, and won’t. I’ll confine myself to citing one article about Canadian medical care (h/t: Earl), and a few anecdotes.

Anecdote 1: When I was living in England, my friend’s mother had a bad hip. She was a candidate for a hip replacement. As you know, in America, that would have happened in days or weeks. My friend’s mother was placed on a list, and spent the last years of her life in a wheelchair, in tremendous pain.

Anecdote 2: Also when I was living in England, I kept hearing people talk about something called BUPA. It sounded like Tupperware, but when I asked, I learned that it was new-fangled medical insurance (this was in the very early 1980s). Inquiry revealed that middle class people who could afford it were buying BUPA and opting out of the national health care system as fast as their wallets would carry them. In other words, given a market choice, they couldn’t escape NHS fast enough.

Anecdote 3: A very wealthy cousin of mine lives in Germany. When she was diagnosed with a major abdominal problem, she was so frightened of the top German doctors who had bungled her care for years, that she hired an ambulance flight to America to have surgery there.

Anecdote 4: Another cousin of mine in Israel was born with congenital eye problems. No one in the regional hospital to which he was assigned was capable of treating them. Nevertheless, the public health care system refused to allow him to obtain treatment in another hospital, which had a staff member who could care for his eyes. His parents ended up spending hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own money to restore and preserve his sight.

I recognize that American health care has problems. Right now, we have a situation where the majority of people get pretty damn good care, either by comparison to historic precedent or care systems in the rest of the world. However, a significant number, but by no means a majority, can afford only basic care, but gets screwed by insurance company for more expensive care. And a clump of people, about 1/12 of the population, has no regular care at all, and gets by on emergency rooms, which is bad for them and expensive for us. Obviously, it’s not perfect.

But is it any more perfect to be in a system where everyone gets mediocre care from poorly trained doctors, using less sophisticated equipment, in systems so overloaded that even life saving treatments are denied? That’s toddler style medical care, with someone out there making the decision that “If I can’t have it, nobody gets it.”

Given the choices, I’d much prefer to fix our system so that it offers the best care for the greatest number of people, rather than jettison it entirely in favor of the socialized medicine that has proven to give the most mediocre care to the greatest number of people.

UPDATE: It’s been a few days since I wrote the above post, and I have a few updates to offer, in no particular order.

First, a commenter took issue with my claim that about 1/12 (or about 8%) of the population is uninsured. I stand by that number. In an article today about health care (to which I’ll return), the number of uninsured is given as 26 million. According to the useful CIA World Fact book, America’s current population is slightly more than 301 million. My math is primitive, but I’m pretty sure that works out to — 8%.

Second, I spent some time this weekend talking to yet another person who has lived with socialized medicine and he, too, said that this is not the way to go. Better to fix America’s system than to destroy it and remake it in the socialized mold, he said.

Third, the article to which I refer above, in comparing America’s health care to that in other countries, missed a few things, most of which have already been covered in comments. For example, the article raves about French-style health care, which ranks #1 in the world. However, it may rank #1, not because it is true socialized medicine, but because it is much closer to the American model (which gets to my and my friend’s point about fixing the American model, not destroying it):

In Sicko, Moore lumps France in with the socialized systems of Britain, Canada, and Cuba. In fact, the French system is similar enough to the US model that reforms based on France’s experience might work in America. The French can choose their doctors and see any specialist they want. Doctors in France, many of whom are self-employed, are free to prescribe any care they deem medically necessary. “The French approach suggests it is possible to solve the problem of financing universal coverage…[without] reorganizing the entire system,” says Victor G. Rodwin, professor of health policy and management at New York University.

The article also comments, intelligently, on the fact that America’s resources are directed more at treating the sick than on maintaining health. I agree. But one doesn’t need to socialize medicine to fix that problem. Just off the top of my head, insurance could give wellness incentives. As an example, I have very good teeth and good dental health habits. Part of that goes back to the dental insurance policy my dad got through his job in the 1960s. The deal with the policy was that, if you had your teeth cleaned and checked twice a year, the policy would pay for all major dental care. However, if you did not take the time and discomfort to have your teeth checked regularly, your coverage would be drastically reduced. This type of carrot and stick worked well, and it was pure private sector.

The article is honest enough to admit that, while the other countries have strong aspects to their health care systems, still have significant problems, including the fact that many have to grapple more and more with a problem that has long bedeviled America’s health care system — increasing numbers of immigrants who use lots of health care while paying nothing into the system overall.

The article also glosses over the fact, mentioned in comments, that America subsidizes a lot of European health care, by footing all the costs for drug R&D so that socialized medicine countries can then demand discount prices, and by relieving many of this countries of the obligation to use their tax money to fund a meaningful military. England, which has a meaningful military, has a less than stellar health care system, and is increasingly forced to rely on cheap doctors from other countries, some of whom, as Mark Steyn says, are literally bombs waiting to go off:

Does government health care inevitably lead to homicidal doctors who can’t wait to leap into a flaming SUV and drive it through the check-in counter? No. But government health care does lead to a dependence on medical staff imported from other countries.

Some 40 percent of Britain’s practicing doctors were trained overseas – and that percentage will increase, as older native doctors retire, and younger immigrant doctors take their place. According to the BBC, “Over two-thirds of doctors registering to practice in the UK in 2003 were from overseas – the vast majority from non-European countries.” Five of the eight arrested are Arab Muslims, the other three Indian Muslims. Bilal Abdulla, the Wahhabi driver of the incendiary Jeep and a doctor at the Royal Alexandra Hospital near Glasgow, is one of over 2,000 Iraqi doctors working in Britain.

Many of these imported medical staff have never practiced in their own countries. As soon as they complete their training, they move to a Western world hungry for doctors to prop up their understaffed health systems: Dr. Abdulla got his medical qualification in Baghdad in 2004 and was practicing in Britain by 2006. His co-plotter, Mohammed Asha, a neurosurgeon, graduated in Jordan in 2004 and came to England the same year.

When the president talks about needing immigrants to do “the jobs Americans won’t do,” most of us assume he means seasonal fruit pickers and the maid who turns down your hotel bed and leaves the little chocolate on it. But in the United Kingdom the jobs Britons won’t do has somehow come to encompass the medical profession.

Aneurin Bevan, the socialist who created the National Health Service after World War II, was once asked to explain how he’d talked the country’s doctors into agreeing to become state employees: “I stuffed their mouths with gold,” he crowed. Sixty years later, no amount of gold can persuade Britons to spend their working lives in the country’s dirty, decrepit hospitals (they spend enough of their nonworking lives there, waiting to be seen, waiting for beds, waiting for operations). According to a report in the British Medical Journal, white males comprise 43.5 percent of the population but now account for less than a quarter of students at UK medical schools. In other words, being a doctor is no longer an attractive middle-class career proposition. That’s quite a monument to six decades of Michael Moore-style socialist health care.

This point, of course, circles back around to my original point, which is that American doctors are amongst are smartest citizens and are the best trained doctors in the world.

UPDATE II: Don Quixote told me that, per United States Census Bureau information, revised 2005 figures show that, in that year, 44.8 million people had no health insurance, as opposed to the 26 million figure in the article from which I quoted. This does raise the number of uninsured from the 8% number on which I relied to almost 15%. It does not, however, alter my substantive discussion of the issue.

UPDATE IIILarry Elder, who has actually studied the numbers, hews to my side on the “numbers of uninsured” argument, pointing out that the numbers vary based on the time of day you’re examining them and the population you include.


35 Responses

  1. As to other reasons our care is more expensive you would have to include the cost of free care to illegals, the huge costs of litigation, and the R&D costs to research firms that cannot recover their expenses and make a profit because of socialized medicine in other countries. When a country such as Canada dictates to a manufacturer how much they will pay for a pill,regardless of true cost, we Americans subsidize their system. Foreign countries routinely threaten to ignore patents to medicines and manufacture the pills themselves, leaving the original manufacturer little choice but to comply.
    In a perfect world we would purchase our health insurance like we purchase our automobile insurance. The policy would be mine no matter where I was employed.

  2. I will also say that you are far braver than me to be able to watch Moore. I think that is the highest form of torture.

  3. I tried watching Bowling for Columbine but couldn’t last five minutes listening to Moore’s snide, juvenile narration. As you point out, BW, faux populists like Moore will never actually have to endure the socialized system they recommend for the masses; he has the means of simply paying his way. It’s not that hard to put the health system under a microscope and find inequities and horror stories, and to give a one-sided glowing endorsement of the public health systems in France, Canada and even Cuba (Moore neglected to ask the political prisoners about their health care); that’s propaganda, pure and simple; to borrow Camille Paglia’s phrase, much of what the left foists upon the public is self-canonizing propaganda, like the plays by Tony Kushner, or the sanctified vaginas of Eve Ensler or those plays and HBO movies about the martyred Matthew Shepard. Even the liberals who know better love this stuff because it plays to their prejudices and their vanity. It’s hard to find more smug and complacent audiences than prosperous, middle class progressives, which is why I often refer to them as Stepford liberals.

  4. […] [Discuss this article with Bookworm over at Bookworm Room…] Share Article Michael Moore, Jay Leno, medicine    Sphere: Related Content | Trackback URL […]

  5. I was impressed by how very fat he was.


    He’s not just pleasingly plump, he’s morbidly obese, barely-can-walk fat.

    Hollywood and the Left has never given the world a good impression of American power; or rather a good impression of a lack of power.

    We can decide, of course, as a matter of public policy that our doctors are over-trained, and lessen the whole cycle, but we can’t take our current crop of hyper-educated people and reduce them to a secretary’s wages.

    And if you did, where would you get talented doctors that would put themselves through a decade of waste? Teacher’s Unions have figured that problem out in a way.

    Nowadays, of course, our doctors are science machines. Diagnosis takes place using every type of test and scan scientific ingenuity could create, with the number of tests available growing annually.

    Non-invasive diagnosis and treatment abilities are the Holy Grail of medicine. To both know and understand a problem as well as cure it from a remote distance is as much a step above current medicine as current medicine is a step up from medieval bleeding, humours, and leeches. Back when Star Trek first came out, McCoy’s little diagnostic probe was still fantasy to medicine. It wasn’t long until the MRI came out though and some people think it was influenced in part because of seeing Star Trek.

    So people who complain about the high cost of medicine, at least when it comes to today’s medical sophistication, are like people who buy a fully equipped SUV and then complain that it’s more expensive than a horse and buggy.

    Expense is always relative according to supply, Book. Since the simple antibiotic would be priceless in 900 AD as would be gunpowder rifles in 27 BC. A supply of large but limited amounts is still valuable, a supply of one or none is beyond price. And then if the supply gets as great as MACDonalds and fries, then you have something else going on compared to the complaints over other things about its high price. There are 3 primary complaints in the human condition as I see it. Not enough of it, too much of it, and not any of it around.

    Humanity tends to cycle through all 3 eventually, because otherwise we would get bored and lose our edge.

    Given the choices, I’d much prefer to fix our system so that it offers the best care for the greatest number of people, rather than jettison it entirely in favor of the socialized medicine that has proven to give the most mediocre care to the greatest number of people.

    Most of the socialized care support comes from the riches and most wealthy sectors of society. This is because according to aristocratic tradition, anyone under your employ is being patronized by you the aristo. A patron gives the patronee basic food and care, with no market salary, and the patronee returns the care with works of art or industry or some such skill use.

    In America, the aristos already get the best care money can buy on this planet. This is because they have the freedom of mobility and of political support backed up by American military power so that nobody comes and steals their stash. It is a small price to pay in money to patronize the serfs in return for perpetual political power and thus the connections to grab wealth.

    I once saw Michael Moore in front of a small podium giving a speech to a group. Suddenly in the middle of the speech, he grabbed a sock puppet or even a plastic toy and put it on the podium, then he tried vintriloquism. Moore looked quite insane, moving his head from one side of the internal conversation to another; and I couldn’t help get the impression that the room was dead silent not because of awe but because of the incredible shock of seeing a grown man making a fool of himself which nigh almost went hysterical given Moore’s creepy high pitched and whining voice attempting to throw itself around.

    This was CSPAn of course, the regular news would never have the ingenuity to grab such a segment of tape and make some joke of it.

    As a side note, I love propaganda, because I think of it as an Art that is currently underutilized by such as Moore; they are not strong, wise, nor creative enough to exploit the full potential of the Art of Propaganda. As with the Art of War, it is no simple thing nor easy feat to accomplish. As in war also, there are uneven sides and massacres because one side has all the guns and numbers and the other does not. Same in propaganda, but the true level of competency will not be shown unless each side is equal. Moore’s opposition, the blogosphere or even Bush, is simply inadequate to face his massive efforts. Thus Moore gets to take it easy in luxury.

  6. My Liberal/Left friends and family members truly believe that with nationalized (socialized) medicine, they will simply be able to waltz into a doctor’s office for any perceived or real ailment and, presto, treatment will available and “free”.


    Liberals have the minds of children. Socialized medicine is rationed medicine. Like anything the government does, who gets what treatment will depend upon political influence, lobby groups, budgets and government inefficiency. Government control will strip health care of all innovation and incentives to improve. Every country with socialized medicine is a case study in point.

  7. Excellent post, Bookworm.

    This is something that has been on my mind recently. I currently am in nursing school and getting an education in all sorts of surprising things.

    For example: There is endless discussion about how millions of Americans can’t afford health care insurance. These people are always portrayed as good, honest, hard-working, “salt-of-the-earth” Americans. And yes, many of the people who can’t afford health insurance are exactly that. And that IS a problem.

    What is NOT discussed is the number of people who have no health insurance because they are unwilling to get a job. These people ALSO are included in that number of Americans who “can’t afford” health insurance. And yet they are still getting admitted to the hospital and still getting excellent care, way beyond what most people in the world have access to. Do you think they are grateful? Do you think they make the most of it? Think again. Their laziness in life spills into laziness in the hospital. They are more than willing to have staff do things for them that they are perfectly able to do on their own. Their demands far exceed other patients’ requests. When you talk to them, you get the overwhelming sense that they don’t have a whole lot of concern about whatever it is that brought them in there – or even going home – they just want to stay in bed and watch tv. And be fed. The difference between these people and others is stark – everyone else is always very interested in doing what is necessary to get out of the hospital. They try hard to do what they are asked to do to get better. They ask questions about their progress and talk about how excited they are to get home and eat home-cooked food. They rarely complain.

    I am more than willing to care for folks, even if they don’t have insurance, as long as they show a desire to get better and get back to being productive citizens – whatever that may be. I need to know that I’m not investing my time and energy into someone who can’t be bothered to participate in making themselves better patients and citizens, particularly when I know that I’m the one who is footing their bill!


  8. A society is only as good as the people in it. Punish the good and reward the bad, and eventually you won’t have a society at all.

  9. My hometown hospital has a hospice wing which includes a lounge with some cooking facilities and sofas for napping for family members. Retirees volunteer and provide all sorts of little services for the patients.

    Ronald McDonald houses are an American idea. There seems to be a lot of nonmedical innovation in America that I doubt is possible in top-down systems.

  10. Great points, Deana. How do you help — and is it right to try to help — people who refuse to help themselves? Personally, I think it’s wrong to try.

    In my retirement, I work with people to help them get their finances back into sound condition. Everyone who cames to me says they want to do it, but far less than half are actually willing to do what it takes. So I have a simple test: at the end of every session I give them homework. To earn my time for the next session, they need to complete their homework. I am saddened by the number of people who fall by the wayside, but I’ve got to face reality: I’m just a human being. I cannot help people who are unwilling to help themselves, and if I tried to, I’d be taking time away from someone who is willing.

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if after each treatment a doc could say, “OK, here’s what you need to do next. Come back and see me when you’ve got it done.”

  11. Hi Highlander –

    You may be right that it’s wrong to try. There is something wrong about expending effort (not to mention money) on people who won’t help themselves simply because it takes resources away from those who, once helped, are willing to go out and contribute to society in some way. And perhaps if help weren’t guaranteed, those who might be inclined to abuse it would think twice.


  12. I’ve heard the same story from both Shrinkwrapped and Dalpymer (sIC)

    The story about people who act psychotic or addicted, trying to get help from the state medical institutions, either because the treatment involves giving them drugs or because they like harassing people.

  13. Great posts, BW. I must agree with Deana. Many times when I treat a patient with Medicaid, I feel I’m being abused. It’s not just that many, not all, such patients don’t listen to my suggestions. They don’t want to listen to my suggestions.
    There have been some excellent essays on the topic over the past few days at American Thinker. Disturbing reading.

  14. Not obeying the doctors proscribed systems of treatment, has led to septic problems, given how people don’t complete their antibacterial regimes. They just stop when the symptoms stop. Nature used to get rid of dumb people that contribute to a species destruction, you know, but that problem has been solved, and replaced, given modern technology.

    And btw, some people after reading that might wish to consider whether Moore would be happier as a woman in Mauritania.

  15. I strongly believe that part of the solution is some sort of universal tax. Every resident of our country should be required to pay part of their personal wealth to the Federal Govt, even if it is a part of their welfare check.

    We are perilously close to a majority of the population paying zero Federal taxes. It’s simply too wonderful to be able to make demands that “other” people have to pay for!

    Implement some sort of universal tax and watch the transformation of the country to “fiscal conservatives” and see the power to buy votes through spending — aka govt giveaways — dry up.

  16. I don’t find anecdotes helpful at all. In a nation of 300 million people, it is impossible for any system to work successfully for everyone. Anecdotes can be chosen to condemn ANY system. Anecdotes are useful only in driving home (emotionally) whatever point it is that is being made.

    I am as certain as I can be that our health care system is slowly decaying, and that overall it is still the best in the world. I am equally certain that socialism ALWAYS destroys innovation, and socialized medicine will destroy the best parts of what is working in our system.

    I guess, the typical American approach would be to provide a limited safety net to ensure that the unlucky, the ignorant, and the self-destructive (three completely different categories of those who suffer in our current system) are in fact guaranteed some measure of response to health care crises and problems. But the current debate seems to demand equal medical treatment for everyone, regardless of any circumstance or cost; and I do not see any way that can be accomplished.

  17. The next evolution for human society would be a next gen lie detector. Somebody in R and D needs to kick it concerning brain patterns and a translation of brain electric signals to digital.

  18. The Worm lies because it satisfies her apparatchik impulses to do so. The uninsured population in the US is not 1/12 (8%) but, rather, varies among states from around 11% to nearly 20%. The Worm lies because it’s all she has.

  19. Gee….is Greg back with another name? Sounds a lot like him, anyhow. Go back to sleep, Greg!

    When I began teaching…in the ’70s and in high school…my frustration level grew and grew. I was approaching burnout, until in a conversation with my Mom, she taught me an important lesson — you can’t “care” about student success more than the student does. If you do, you’ll quickly become disillusioned and in a fairly short time, you’ll get depressed and quit.

    It can be painful to allow people to reap the reality results of their free choices, but if we don’t, we infantilize them, and that isn’t good for anyone – not for the “infants” and not for those who are paying the bills.

  20. The percentage of people who do not have health insurance in the U.S. is different based on what report you look at. Honestly, I do not know what the percentage is.

    What must be kept in mind, though, is that a portion of those who don’t have health insurance CHOOSE not to have it.

    A small portion of the people who don’t have health insurance choose not to because they are so wealthy that they do not perceive the need to have health insurance. Needless to say, I am not in that group!

    A much larger portion of the people who don’t have health insurance choose not to purchase health insurance because they want to purchase something else. Example: As I mentioned previously, I currently am in a full-time accelerated nursing program. Those who choose to work can only work about 8-10 hours a week – the program allows for very little “free” time. Although one or two students appear to have significant family money, the rest of the students get by on loans. One of my friends has chosen not to buy health insurance, even though she has some health concerns. Instead, she is getting married in the next year and is spending money on a wedding.

    Student health insurance provided by universities in the U.S. is MUCH cheaper than paying for a wedding.

    I simply point this out because any discussion about the uninsured needs to be done in the correct context. Not everyone who doesn’t have health insurance is in that situation because they truly can’t afford any.


  21. Hi Don Alexander,

    And all you appear to have is an ad hominem attack. How about adding to the discussion with some useful ideas, instead of just calling people names?

  22. Interesting article, BW, though I have to disagree with the assumption that socialized medicine is necessarily substandard.

    I have lived in both Canada and the US, and my family has used the medical system, for fairly serious conditions, in both countries.

    While living in San Diego, my brother, who was 9 years old at the time, came down with a fever, coughing and wheezing. When his fever went over 102, my mother brought him to the hospital emergency room, where he was diagnosed with an ear infection, and given some medicine. We were charged $500.00 for the emergency room visit, and $900.00 for the doctor’s diagnosis. After being given the medicine, he threw up for 2 days, and generally got worse. My mother brought him to another doctor, who gave him a chest x-ray, and found that he had pneumonia. After treatment, he recovered fully.

    After we moved back to Canada, several years later, another little brother, (three years old), came down with a wheezing chest, and distended stomach. We brought him to the local clinic, where he was given a chest x-ray, and was found to have cancer. Within one week of the diagnosis, he had started chemotherapy, and was staying in the provincial children’s hospital. To date, he is 10 weeks into his treatment, and has been able to return home. He has had: radiation, surgery, MRI’s, CT scans, x-rays, antibiotics for a chest infection, round-the-clock care in a Children’s Miracle Network hospital, blood tests, blood transfusions, (including two incidents where they flew the blood 400 miles so he could be transfused close to home), blood-building drugs, a Hickman Catheter installed, and a biopsy. All these things are vital, and of all these, we have had to pay about $300.00 CAD, for drugs when he is home, and gas to get into the hospital, (a 4 hour drive).

    We have relatives and friends in the states, and many of them were very concerned about the quality of treatment here. Our doctors agreed to share my brother’s medical information with specialists in the states, who have given their professional opinion that the treatment here is very high quality, and that it is unlikely that he would receive anything better in the States. My family is not wealthy, and if we were in the US, we would most likely not be able to afford health insurance.

    We have had many friends who are doctors over the years, a number of whom have immigrated to Canada and were in the process of being certified as being up to the Canadian medical standard. Quite a few of our Canadian-certified medical friends have now moved to the States to practice. I interpret that to mean that a Canadian doctor has to undergo equivalent training, and be at the same intellectual and technical level as an American physician.

    To sum up;
    -If you can afford it, American Heath care is very good, but an awful lot of people can’t afford it.
    -Though I can’t speak for other countries, Canadian healthcare is excellent, while being available to all.
    -Though there are horror stories connected with socialized medicine, the horror stories from privatized medicine tend to be more gut-twistingly awful.

  23. When did health insurance become a right? People used to have to pay cash for medical attention, so they rationed it themselves. Now, with third-payer systems, there is little incentive to self-ration, therefore more people seek medical attention, and the price rises because of the finite resources available.

    Americans have access to the best health care facilities and people in the world. It costs money to maintain such a system, but no one seems to want to pay. Therefore we will probably have some sort of socialized system, with all of the attendant problems. Self-rationing will be replaced with bureaucratic rationing. Bright and talented people will go into other fields, where their earning potential is not artificially limited. Altruism is great, but it doesn’t feed your family.

    Again, when did health insurance become a right?

  24. I think that it would be terribly naive to say that any socialized medical system is “free”. What is the taxation rate that you pay in Canada, a country that spends virtually nothing on defense, thanks to the U.S next door. The statement that Canadians only spend “50%” that Americans spend on healthcare is bogus – it does not include all the hidden costs in government budgets.

    Also consider Canadian drug costs – sure, they are much cheaper but that is only because it is Americans subsidize all the front-end R&D and regulatory work on developing those drugs. Should American drug purchases come under socialized medicine’s price controls, you can pretty much kiss any additional R&D and innovation in the medical field good-bye – take away the profit motive and there is no incentive to innovate.

    Also, when things do go wrong in the Canadian healthcare system (such as the recent massive deaths and illness attributed to unsanitary hospital conditions in Quebec), who do you sue? You are really at the mercy of your government.

    Finally, any government-sponsored health care system will be rationed according to budgetary and political realities. This is how government HAS to work. If you don’t believe me, consider where Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are today.

  25. Here’s a great YouTube insight into how uninsured people value their healthcare:

  26. The brain calluses-over from in-taking conservative propaganda, leaving it a conjunctive, unthinking shell of its former sparking self, coughing painfully, when presented with new information. That is the fate evidenced by the Worm and her enablers. God spare them from the ignorance, stupidity and shallow demands of their own masturbatory judgments. They do not know what they do.

  27. “Here’s a great YouTube insight into how uninsured people value their healthcare:

    Comment by Danny Lemieux | July 9, 2007″

    I rest my case.

  28. Hi Don,

    Just as I feared, you have nothing to offer but name-calling. Shame you can’t put that high-falutin’ language to more constructive use.

  29. Hello “Don” –

    What new information did you provide? Where? Others here – whether they do or do not support socialized medicine – add to the debate by either linking to sites or discussing their personal experiences. You do neither. You never do.

    Why do you fold so quickly when asked to provide evidence?

  30. Danny –

    That video was amazing. I had no idea that the Census Bureau had collected that kind of information about citizens and health care.

    (NB, Don: Danny not only linked to a site, but what he linked to clearly stated the source of information used. It’s the little things . . .)

    If we assume that the Census Bureau collected accurate information, then 17 million Americans without health insurance live in homes where the annual household income is MORE than $50,000.

    My parents have an annual income that is significantly less than $50,000 and yet they have health insurance. They have that health insurance because it is a priority for them – they work for it. For most (not all) of these uninsured folks with the $50k household incomes, they could have it too but they have made a choice to spend their money on other things. (And that should make folks on the left happy because they are all about choice.)

    Jasmine – As an aside, I used to work in the medical immigration field. Our firm helped quite a few Candian doctors immigrate to the U.S. If they were educated in Canada, there was no doubt that they were very good physicians. Most told me that there decision to immigrate was based on their belief that they would have more opportunities to practice in their specialities in the U.S. – I don’t recall any ever expressing overwhelming dissatisfaction with the Canadian health system.

    Out of curiosity, why did your physician friends immigrate from the U.S. to Canada? I don’t mean to pry – I am just wondering if their decision was based on family/personal issues or if they just liked the type of health system that Canada has. What are their thoughts on both systems?


  31. I rest my case.

    Blah, blah, blah. Oh wait, did you stop? Thanks, make sure you renew your public jester license though.

  32. […] truths behind the numbers of uninsured In my earlier post, Bad Medicine, between the post itself and subsequent updates, I went back and forth about the numbers of […]

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