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Take it from a Canadian: Hillary's dream will be your nightmare!

By Rachel Marsden
web posted January 27, 2003

Walk up to a Canadian and ask him what sets his country apart from the USA, and he'll likely reply with one of five things: Gun control; a less hawkish, more diplomatic approach to world affairs; a collective preoccupation with adverse weather patterns; a burning passion for hockey; and a socialized health care system. Canada's health care system is its touchstone. Canadians are literally brainwashed into believing that Canada wouldn't be the great country it is without its health care program. According to Canadian lore, America is full of people who are paying through the eye-teeth for medical treatment, and if you're not wealthy, you either don't get the treatment you need, or you declare bankruptcy.

Being a Canadian myself, I grew up hearing all about these nightmarish tales of the "evil American health care system". All the while, I was having to go to the doctor three days in a row, only to be turned away each time because the doctor had seen his maximum allowable government-funded quota of patients for the day. In my home province of British Columbia, 24 people died in one year while waiting for heart surgery. On the other side of the country, kids in desperate need of heart surgery at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto were being sent home. At Moncton Hospital in New Brunswick, patients were being kept in hallways and closets because of a lack of beds. In some cases, ambulance workers spoke of how they would drive dying patients from one emergency room to another in search of available beds or adequate equipment.

Despite all these horror stories, Canadians somehow remain convinced that medical care in Canada is preferable to that in the US. The reality is that socialized medicine is an abysmal failure. Under this system, everyone is supposed to receive equal access to health care, but what really ends up happening is that no one receives any care at all. But at least we're all in the same sinking boat, eh?

Under the Canadian system, anyone who wants to escape this disaster of Titanic proportions has no choice but to look elsewhere for health care. This, in effect, creates the two-tier system of which Canadians are so deathly afraid. Those with money are going to the USA for treatment while everyone else is stuck dealing with the inexpensive-but totally ineffective-Canadian system.

Note to Hillary Clinton and others like her who want to bring socialized health care to the USA: When people in a country that has such a program are turning to one that doesn't in order to get the treatment they require, that should be a bit of a hint for you.

A citizen of the USA is twice as likely to have open heart surgery as a Canadian. Seattle, Washington -- with a population of roughly half a million people -- has more CAT scanners than the entire province of British Columbia, which has a population of 3 million. There are more MRI scanners in Washington state than in all of Canada. Why such a shortage of diagnostic equipment? Because in Canada, there is only one, single, giant "HMO", and it's run by the government. The government decides where to allocate resources and where to cut costs. And if you don't like your government-run HMO in Canada, there are no competing HMOs you can turn to in order to obtain better treatment. The only alternatives you have are to whine and complain, or to fork out some money to get treatment in the USA.

Hillary's dream is to have a socialized health care system in the USA, along with a Patient's Bill of Rights that would allow for people to sue their HMO. What you'd effectively have then is people suing the government for not providing them with the care they require. I hope Hillary has borrowed Al Gore's "lock box" to save up those pennies, because if Canada's socialized health system is any indication, she'd better get ready for the mother of all class action suits against her proposed "government-run HMO".

Rachel Marsden is a director of the Free Congress Foundation.

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