09 February 2008

Canadian urban legends and realities

Every single-payer supporter should take a look at the Urban Legends Reference page on an email that purports to be from a Canadian talking about the problems with the health care system there.
[from the inaccurate viral email]What they don't tell you is how much we pay in taxes to keep the health care system afloat. I am personally in the 55% tax bracket. Yes 55% of my earnings go to taxes.

[in reality...]The highest federal income tax rate in Canada is 29% (for persons with annual taxable income over $120,887), and the highest provincial income tax rate in British Columbia is 14.7% (for those with annual taxable incomes over over $95,909). The typical upper-income level Canadian taxpayer is not in a 55% tax bracket.

By way of comparison, a typical upper-income level American taxpayer residing in California pays a roughly equivalent share of his income in federal and state taxes, even though the U.S. has no national health insurance program.
On the other hand, the Canadian system is not perfect. There are waits, and in a recent Commonwealth Fund report, Canada scored fifth out of six nations in terms of overall system adequacy. (The U.S. came in sixth.)

And so people do have complaints. They rarely take into consideration what the alternative is to guaranteed health care for all, and they get some things just plain wrong, but we need to be aware that Canada is not a panacea. We're not selling snake oil. We're simply arguing for a better way.

U.S. Medicare is already better than Canadian Medicare. There's no reason an expanded U.S. Medicare couldn't also be better.

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