Court Faults Canadian Health Care System

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

The Canadian Supreme Court recently dealt a serious blow to the notion that single-payer health care is better than a competitive market system. In a June 9th decision, the Court struck down a law banning private health insurance in Quebec province on the grounds that waiting lists had become so long that they violated patients’ “liberty, safety and security.”

The Court went on to say that “The evidence in this case shows that delays in the public health care system are widespread and that in some serious cases, patients die as a result of waiting lists for public health care.”

The Court made clear that “access to a waiting list is not access to health care.”

Government lawyers argued to keep the private insurance ban on the grounds that the single-payer system is considered “’one of Canada’s finest achievements and a powerful symbol of the national identity.”

Canada’s failure to deliver on its socialized health care promises should serve as fair warning for Americans who believe that we must adopt a similar system. We can already see the shortcomings in such a system here when we look at our Medicare program.

U.S. law makes it almost impossible for Medicare recipients to pay privately for services covered by the program. Let’s hope our courts see what the Canadian court saw, and soon prohibit such unhealthy policies in America. Government monopoly health care should never become a symbol of our “national identity.”

Steve Buckstein is senior policy analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland, Oregon based think tank.

© 2006, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.

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