17 January 2007

What Is It with Canadians & Knee Surgery?

Jesse Thiessan, a transplanted Canadian, writes “Caring Is Creepy” for the Portland State University’s paper The Vanguard.

The headline writer got the head from her lede:

“Like the creepy guy who falls asleep next to you on the late-night bus, the breakdown of our health care system is getting harder and harder to ignore.”

Even student journalists rarely write the headlines that go over their stories. It's not Thiessan's fault.

Like most other critics of the Canadian National Health System, Thiessan targets knee surgery waits to show that Canada isn’t perfect. Leaving me wondering: What is it with knee surgery in Canada? Why do so many Canadians need knee surgery? And why doesn’t the Canadian National Health System deal with it?

Thiessan has this nice connection:

The United States ranks lowest in the G8 for the amount of health care paid by the government (44.6 percent). Yet paradoxically, we rank highest for the percentage of government revenue that goes towards health care (17.6 percent). In other words, we shell out the most tax dollars for the least amount of care.

How do anti-single-payer folks explain that — even to themselves?

Thiessan’s solution is a two-tier system:

“All developed nations-with the exception of the United States and my maple-syrup-swilling homeland-have some variation of a universal health care system along with a private system, akin to our system of private/public schooling.”

Fair enough.

Former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber’s group, the Archimedes Project, takes as one of its assumptions for reform that:

Those with more disposable income will always be able to purchase
more health care than those who depend solely on public resources.

I doubt that will assuage the fears of people who want to be afraid of single-payer or universal healthcare.

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