As the Obama administration tries to get a new national health plan through Congress, there are a lot of people with fears that it would make things worse for people. Canada is often held up as a poor, or good example, of socialized health care. It just depends upon who you talk with. I found this well-written article, by a Canadian who seems to thing the system works for them. She addresses most of the issues involved in a national health care system that does work.
From Common Dreams...
Debunking Canadian Health Care Myths
by Rhonda Hackett
As a Canadian living in the United States for the past 17 years, I am frequently asked by Americans and Canadians alike to declare one health care system as the better one.
Often I'll avoid answering, regardless of the questioner's nationality. To choose one or the other system usually translates into a heated discussion of each one's merits, pitfalls, and an intense recitation of commonly cited statistical comparisons of the two systems.
Because if the only way we compared the two systems was with statistics, there is a clear victor. It is becoming increasingly more difficult to dispute the fact that Canada spends less money on health care to get better outcomes.
Yet, the debate rages on. Indeed, it has reached a fever pitch since President Barack Obama took office, with Americans either dreading or hoping for the dawn of a single-payer health care system. Opponents of such a system cite Canada as the best example of what not to do, while proponents laud that very same Canadian system as the answer to all of America's health care problems. Frankly, both sides often get things wrong when trotting out Canada to further their respective arguments.
As America comes to grips with the reality that changes are desperately needed within its health care infrastructure, it might prove useful to first debunk some myths about the Canadian system.
Myth: Taxes in Canada are extremely high, mostly because of national health care.
In actuality, taxes are nearly equal on both sides of the border. Overall, Canada's taxes are slightly higher than those in the U.S. However, Canadians are afforded many benefits for their tax dollars, even beyond health care (e.g., tax credits, family allowance, cheaper higher education), so the end result is a wash. At the end of the day, the average after-tax income of Canadian workers is equal to about 82 percent of their gross pay. In the U.S., that average is 81.9 percent.
Myth: Canada's health care system is a cumbersome bureaucracy.
The U.S. has the most bureaucratic health care system in the world. More than 31 percent of every dollar spent on health care in the U.S. goes to paperwork, overhead, CEO salaries, profits, etc. The provincial single-payer system in Canada operates with just a 1 percent overhead. Think about it. It is not necessary to spend a huge amount of money to decide who gets care and who doesn't when everybody is covered.
Myth: The Canadian system is significantly more expensive than that of the U.S.
Ten percent of Canada's GDP is spent on health care for 100 percent of the population. The U.S. spends 17 percent of its GDP but 15 percent of its population has no coverage whatsoever and millions of others have inadequate coverage. In essence, the U.S. system is considerably more expensive than Canada's. Part of the reason for this is uninsured and underinsured people in the U.S. still get sick and eventually seek care. People who cannot afford care wait until advanced stages of an illness to see a doctor and then do so through emergency rooms, which cost considerably more than primary care services.
What the American taxpayer may not realize is that such care costs about $45 billion per year, and someone has to pay it. This is why insurance premiums increase every year for insured patients while co-pays and deductibles also rise rapidly.
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