Americans would be better off with government-paid healthcare, claims a Canadian doctor, but a fellow Canadian says the wait times may literally kill you.
"I don't recommend it," Canadian health care broker Rick Baker says of Canada's "single payer" healthcare system, which is held up by liberals as a healthcare system for Americans to emulate.
In a USA Today op-ed, hospital administrator Dr. Danielle Martin writes that the Canadian system outperforms the U.S. on quality and access to care despite "nasty rumors" in the U.S. media about the quality of care.
She goes on to acknowledge that Canadians "sometimes wait too long" for non-urgent or elective procedures but claims the Canadian government and healthcare workers are "working hard" to improve access to hip replacements, cataract surgery and other procedures deemed non-urgent.
She goes on to claim that Canadians always receive urgently-needed care and never see a bill.
Baker, who lives in West Vancouver, British Columbia, points out the World Health Organization rates his country poorly among other industrialized nations.
A survey of 11 industrialized countries, in fact, found that Canada's wait times came in dead last, a Canadian newspaper reported in February. One-third of Canadians reported they waited four hours or more for emergency room care and 56 percent said they waited four weeks or longer to see a specialist, also the worst average.
Citing WHO figures, a Canadian healthcare website shows Canada leads the U.S. but still ranks No. 30 worldwide while the U.S. is No. 37.
The quality of a surgical procedure in Canada is "fine" once you go under the knife, says Baker, but most procedures are considered elective with the exception of imminent death or loss of a limb.
"If you're hit by a bus, that's not an elective thing," he explains. "If, however, you have rheumatoid arthritis, and it's attacked your hip joint and you're waiting two years to get surgery as many people do in Canada, in that time the rheumatoid arthritis will be on the hip joint and it'll attack your pelvis and you'll be in a heck of a situation."
That's a situation in Baker is familiar with: His wife has rheumatoid arthritis and got surgery in the United States.
"The soonest that she could get a hip replacement (in Canada) was five months," says Baker. "Her doctor in Phoenix, Arizona told her that if she waited five months, he would have to replace part of her pelvis in addition to your hip joint. But the Canadian system doesn't recognize that."
Meanwhile, a typical Canadian family of four will pay $12,057 for health care this year, an increase of approximately 70 percent over the last 20 years.