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Blupete's Weekly Commentary

April 25th - May 2nd, 1999.

"A Right To Medical Care."

My weekly commentary, "A Right To A House & Food" of March 21st, 1999, was precipitated as the result of a certain report to the Canadian government in respect to the strengthening of the Canadian union, "Social and Economic Union." I continue this week and comment on that same report which sets forth, as a policy objective that government, we, collectively, should provide, among other things "a health care system that is comprehensive, universal, portable, publicly administered and accessible."

I think I might get the mass majority of my fellow Canadians to agree that the importance of health is, right up there with food and housing, - I believe proper medical care is terribly important, and that's why I am dead against it being publicly administered. What I take issue with is the implicit conclusion by those who drew The Report that governments (provincials at that) are best equipped to deliver health care that is comprehensive, universal, portable, and accessible; throughout the country; to all.

A look at recent world history should convince most people that a collectivist approach to things does not work; but if you are not convinced then I beg you to look at the state of our existing, publicly administered health care system. Now, I think you might agree with me, considering the quantum leaps in medical technology, that it can hardly be expected that any system will provide to all people: comprehensive, universal, portable, and accessible health care. Certainly a publicly administered health care system cannot, as can be easily demonstrated.1

According to a survey carried out by the Fraser Institute (for a link to it, go to my links page), if you need corrective surgery for Hollus Valgus (Hammer Toe) you are going to have to wait 31 weeks, here, in Nova Scotia. Now as painful as Hammer Toe might be, I suppose one can live with it. But how about the need for a Coronary Artery Bypass; - you are going to have to wait for 26 weeks! -- Get out your rosary beads. Have you had any blood work done lately, -- Take a Number! Here in my community, if you are trucked into the emergency department, after a quick triage by an overworked nurse, you might expect to lie on a gurney in a hallway, for hours. The point is, in a publicly administered health care system, - waiting is a method of rationing2 and some of us would prefer not to wait, and a lot of us do not wait, we die.

Certainly you should not believe that our politicians have much interest in the notion that a publicly administered health care system is the best, - well maybe for the rest of us, but not for them. For starters, federal politicians do not have to join the same health care waiting lineups that the rest of us have to join. Michael Walker of the Fraser Institute tells us:

"... Members of Parliament and top civil servants have access to a special medical clinic located at the Defence Department hospital in Ottawa. While that has always been true, recently the hospital hired Dr. Mark Walter, who specializes in stress-related illness, to cater to the 1,200 senior bureaucrats and politicians eligible for the service. In an interview with Canadian Press, Dr. Walter indicated that 'any high profile character gets better care, whether it's a movie star or a politician' as a justification of this special care for senior politicians and bureaucrats."

And, of course, if the wealthy among us really get concerned with what ails them; -- why, then, they take a flip down to "The States" to see a free market doctor, one whose income is a function of his reputation. Immediate and expert medical attention is not available within the Canadian system. It is available, however, in a number of specialized clinics in the United States. When the powerful and the rich of Canada (indeed, of the world) are ailing they go to the United States. The reason they go to the United States is because the free market is allowed to operate (in conjunction with a socialized system) and the result is, -- as is always the case for any product or service when people are left to work things out for themselves, without the expensive and bungling administrative overlay -- the best and most advanced medical services, immediately available, and given in a friendly and efficient way.



1 I am not so much against a publicly administered health care system as I am for seeing that the sick (generally, easily identifiable) are given the "tagged funds" for access to a medical care system free of government bureaucrats, and which responds singularly to the demands of the sick (viz., the market). For those who do not know: we have here in Canada a complete socialized system which is currently in a tail spin and will go down in flames with much unidentified misery; as have all socialized systems. Canada implemented the system thirty plus years ago and in its implementation effectively outlawed any doctor who determines to work outside the system.

2 This, as Dr. Wm. E. Goodman, a Toronto doctor, says in the Family Practice, a Canadian weekly paper for doctors, is just one of the ways in which rationing can manifest itself, "Rationing by the Queue", there are others: "Rationing by Inconvenience;" "Rationing by Inability to Pay;" "Rationing by Age;" "Rationing by Diagnosis;" and "Rationing by Geography."

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Peter Landry

April, 1999 (2019)