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Commentary

Canada's 'Free' Health Care Has a High Price Tag
John Fund, Wall Street Journal, 8-12-05

This piece, by John Fund, also focuses on Canada's anguished debate over the future of its government-run health system. While the Canadian Supreme Court has legalized the sale of private health insurance in Quebec Province, Canadian politicians and the public remain extremely squeamish about private funding—perhaps because Canadian health care is a cornerstone of the national psyche, and is therefore immune to rational critique.

For many Canadians their 37-year-old universal health-care system is the symbol of their national identity. Last November, Canadian Broadcasting held a contest to pick the greatest Canadian ever. The clear winner out of 1.1 million votes cast was Tommy Douglas, a politician known as the "father" of Canada's nationalized medicine.

But last June, a majority of Canada's Supreme Court struck down a Quebec law that banned private health insurance and held that the public system inflicted cruel and unusual punishment on many of its patients. The Fraser Institute has found it takes an average of 17.9 weeks between the time a patient makes an appointment to see a general practitioner and when he can then see a specialist. …

In Canada, the ban on private insurance results in truly loopy law. Dr. Sheldon Elman, the personal physician for Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin, says the system is "disastrously terrible" in key areas. "You can buy an MRI for your dog and you cannot buy it for your daughter," he told the Montreal Gazette.

Apparently in the Canadian system Fido gets to jump the queue while human patients must sit, and make do.



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