Waiting to Flatline

The first fact of life is that we all die. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, we can move on to the other facts of life. Under the microscope today is the topic of health care.

From the very readable CATO website, comes this interview on Health Care Reform. The piece is informative and well worth reading, but this little piece stood out for me when I read it:

In Canada more than 800,000 patients are currently on waiting lists for medical procedures. As the Canadian Supreme Court noted in striking down the part of Canada’s single-payer law that prohibited private payment for health care, “Access to a waiting list is not access to health care.” The court went on to note that “in some cases patients die as a result of waiting lists for public health care” and “many patients on non-urgent waiting lists are in pain and cannot fully enjoy any real quality of life.”

Given that the current population of Canada is about 34 million that would mean that 2.35% of the entire population is currently on waiting lists for medical procedures. Here in the United States (if we had a comparable rate of waiters) that would mean about 7.2 million people would be waiting for health care.

I do not know the current number of US citizens who are waiting for health care in the US (and have been unable to quickly locate that information). However, based on the general availability of health care–even for those who are not insured, I would have thought that a number anywhere near 7.2 million would have by now absolutely exploded from the news outlets under headlines such as “Millions Wait to Live or Die under Current Health Care Confusion.” Then again, I could be remarkably off.

While I would be glad to admit that our health care system in the US could benefit from a number of overdue changes, I simply cannot bring myself to believe that following in Canada’s footsteps with regard to government-provided health services will help us improve the efficacy and responsive of such care here.

HT: Fastidious

2 thoughts on “Waiting to Flatline

  1. Maybe not exactly what you were looking for but their were 86.7 million people in the US whom at one time or another didn’t have health insurance in 2006-2007. The 2007 census listed 45.7 million without healthcare.

    Either way you look at it, much worse than the Canadian numbers…


  2. BWJunior,

    Not having insurance is better than being unable to get medical care. Here in the US we are regularly able to get crucial medical care without insurance.

    Given the source of the 86.7 million number (a health care advocacy group) with an obvious agenda, I would find it remarkably questionable. The US Census number would seem more supportable, but even then it leaves out the percentage of those people who are willingly without insurance (for example, young people who chose not to get insurance because they were in good health and thought they could handle the risk). In this country, insurance is still a choice and some choose to say no even though they can afford it.

    I would still like to see a number which shows those who are on waiting lists for medical care here in the US. I believe there are about 80,000 presently waiting for organ transplants (for obvious reasons since we cannot just grow livers in test tubes or kill people to get what we need)

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