Emcon and Health Care

Phil Primeau, is a sharp paleoconservative polemicist who I am quite sure will make a mark in the world of political discourse (and in some ways already has). He is a very talented writer, and a good guy to boot. But I am afraid his recent comment responding to my post on Sicko Reviews explaining why the US health system is better than those in Canada or France (etc ...) is woefully shortsighted, and I feel obliged to take it on.

I normally leave these back-and-forth exchanges in the comment section, but the one in question is already buried, and I think a healthy and civil debate how best to reform (or not to reform) our heath care system is one we ought to have, and have often.

So below is his response to my post: The Sicko Reviews Part I. I plan to respond in full to his points on this blog very soon.

Oh please, tens of thousands would still die from inadequate treatment even if we were as socialized as England or Canada. Both systems are bogged down with huge waiting lines; people who need surgery (sometimes of a critical nature) are constantly unable to get them in a timely and professional manner. Socialized medicine is absolutely atrocious, and it will do more to undermine this increasingly fragile republic than almost anything else. (Also, say goodbye to cosmetic niceties, even stuff like braces. We're going to have teeth as ugly as the Brits, shiver. I like that our "mature" ladies can get boob jobs and face lifts on the spot on the spot whenever.)

Let's take a look here: the British have a waiting list of 1m people. The Canadians have 900k. The doctors are hideously overworked and there is minimal personal attention. Canadian and English doctors often see 50% more patients than their American counterparts.

Among people with chronic renal failure, only half as many Canadians as Americans
get dialysis, and only a third as many Britons on a per capita basis. The American rate of coronary bypass surgeries is three or four times what it is in Canada, and five times what it is in Britain. Britain is the country that invented the CAT scanner, back in the 1970s. For a while it exported more than half the CATscanners used in the world. Yet they bought very few for their own citizens. Today, Britain has half the number of CAT scanners per capita as we do in the United States. A similar problem exists in Canada." --A report from Cato (which clearly has an agenda, but the facts are the facts)

Considering the elderly (one of the most important groups when considering public health policy), those who live in America exhibit a much greater amount of satisfaction than those in England and Canada. In the UK, 50% say they have long waits for nonemergency surgery; in Canada it's 40%; in the US it's 7%. In the UK, 13% indicate enduring long waits for serious surgery; in Canada it's 11%; in the US it's only 4%. And so on...

Plus, we hardly have a free market system. There exist many government supported programs (Medicaid, Medicare, etc.). Our mixed style isn't perfect, but it out performs the British and Canadian models like nothing.