U.S. healthcare lies Part I and II - Diane Francis

Diane Francis Bio -American living in Canada. Editor at Large for National Post and writes a column/blog.Also blogs at the Huffington Post on U.S. topics and serves as Visiting Distinguished Professor at Ryerson University and as a director on a number of corporate entities.
These days commutes between Toronto and Manhattan, writes a daily blog about business, news and the people who make both.
Serves on several boards: one public corporation, Aurizon Mines Ltd., listed in both countries; a website called Confabb.com and a healthcare website company.

U.S. health care lies about Canada - Part I
Posted: May 12, 2009, 8:40 AM by Diane Francis
Greed, U.S. Politics, dysfunction

National disgrace: Free health care handed out to Americans last year in an animal pen.

Another American blowhard
Just who is this jerk, Rick Scott of propaganda-mongering Conservatives for Patients’ Rights? He and his group are fabricating negatives about Canada’s health care system and I resent this. I am an American who has lived in Canada for more than 35 years. I can vouch that the system is more than adequate and is not run by civil servants but by doctors who are able to treat everyone, rich or poor.
Mr. Scott, and other conservatives (code for rich) are against universal health care without any justification whatsoever. Their criticisms are in accurate and should not be broadcast.
Where are the ethics in network broadcasting? I saw one of Scott’s ads on CNN recently and wondered why the same curation of content was not imposed on CNN advertising messages as is upheld editorially. If CNN is unwilling to vet content, then where is the FCC?

The real story
Here are the facts as to why Canada’s medical system, far from perfect, is dramatically better than America’s:
1. It is cheaper even though it takes care of the entire population, or 10% of GDP compared with 15% in the U.S.
2. Canada’s health care system which fully looks after 32 million people costs roughly what the private-sector health insurance companies make in profits in the United States looking after less than half the population for excessive premiums.
3. Canada’s health care system is cheaper still if the litigation costs of fighting over medical bills is eliminated as it is when the government is the sole-insurer. Estimates are that court costs and judgments add another 2 to 3% of GDP to the total medical tab.
4. Canada’s health care system enhances economic productivity. Workers diagnosed with illnesses can still change employers and be employable because they are not rejected by employers with health benefits due to pre-conditions.
5. Infant mortality is much lower in Canada and Europe than in the U.S.
6. Outcomes with major illnesses, such as cancer and heart disease, are better than in the United States.
7. Longevity is better in Canada and Europe than in the U.S.
8. No emergency is neglected in Canada.
9. Some elective procedures may take longer if compared to blue-ribbon U.S. health care but that’s no comparing apples with apples. More appropriately, the overall population’s care should be compared and there are tens of millions of Americans who are uninsured or uninsurable.
10. No one in Canada goes broke because of medical bills whereas ARP estimates half of personal bankruptcies are due to unpaid, high medical bills.
11. Canadians are able to choose their own physicians and to seek multiple opinions.
12. Canadian doctors and nurses are better trained than American counterparts and U.S. physicians must study for at least a year in order to qualify to practice in Canada.
13. Drugs made and invented in the United States are cheaper in Canada, Europe and Japan because our communal health care means volume discounts and savings passed along to society. Americans are overpaying.
14. Americans are being cheated by a patchwork quilt system where the highest risk people – veterans, the indigent and elderly – are insured by governments but the “gravy” or young, healthy people are handed over to private insurance companies.

Is Canada’s system perfect? No and nobody said it was. Networks should stop allowing propagandists to tell lies and any arguments about other countries’ practices should be ignored as totally irrelevant.
The United States is a rich and talented nation and it’s very upsetting to me, as an American, that it does not have the world’s best medical care for its citizens instead of one of the worst.
Americans deserve better.

U.S. healthcare lies Part II
Posted: May 13, 2009, 9:30 AM by Diane Francis
Greed, U.S. Politics, dysfunction

Universal health care is a cornerstone of smart economic policy. Take, for example, the effect of guaranteed health care on economic activity, business expansion or the public's sense of wellbeing.

If a worker in Canada or Europe or Japan has lost his or her job this recession, it’s a psychological and financial blow.
But if an American worker loses his or her job, the family faces financial ruin if sickness strikes any member because they are without healthcare coverage. Bridge coverage is available but unaffordable for anyone but the wealthy.
Worse yet, if a major illness is diagnosed during unemployment, a workers becomes unemployable, bringing about a life sentence of poverty.
Little wonder, then, that consumer spending has ground to halt in the United States which makes the economic meltdown that much harder to combat or ever solve.
This underscores the fact that universal health care is not just smart and fair social policy but it is also smart economic policy.

But there are many other economic advantages to universal health care which makes one wonder why the Republicans, conservatives and business interests haven’t been pushing for it. Instead, they are gearing up for a battle against President Obama which is, frankly, acting against their own best long-term interests. Here’s why:
1. The U.S. spent 16.2% of its GDP on health care plus up to 3% more on litigation concerning medical bills while other countries spend 10% and nothing on litigation because bills are paid by everyone. This is America’s number one competitive disadvantage going forward.
2. People with serious illnesses are uninsurable and are stuck in jobs they cannot leave or remain unemployed because they are unemployable.
3. Tens of millions of uninsured people in the U.S. end up with health problems that become a drain on the society and economy in the long run.
4. Doctor, nursing, hospital and drug costs are out of control in the U.S. because of the profit motive, compared to countries where universal health care provides the basic underpinning. (By the way, in Canada only 50% of total healthcare expenditures are covered by governments and the rest by individuals such as eyewear, dental or elective surgeries.) U.S. costs are higher because doctors can over-service those with health insurance, and patients can over-demand. Litigation also leads to over-doctoring (too many tests or too many days in hospitals) as well as high expenses in the form of malpractice insurance, an overhead which, in comparison, is negligible in Canada or Europe.
5. Detroit’s three automobile companies have gone bust in large measure due to “legacy” or gold-plated healthcare promises at America’s excessive prices that made that were unaffordable. This is not unique to the auto sector and has driven many jobs offshore in manufacturing.

Canada has a better health care system than does America. So does Europe and Japan. Even developing nations, such as Ecuador or Mexico, look after all the basic needs of its population better than America looks after its hard-working citizens.
As an American living in Canada, I find it embarrassing that America – rich and smart – has such a mediocre health care system.
I find it embarrassing that even educated and financially astute Americans buy the lies that the AMA and others spew about Canada and other “socialized” medical schemes.
Facts are that governments in the U.S. are suckers. They cover the high-risk populations – indigent, elderly and veterans – and leave the gravy to the private-sector health insurers. These companies, by the way, make profits off their operations which are the same size as Canada’s entire health care tab for 32 million people.
It’s pretty shameful, but delusions persist and the medical myth-makers are girding for battle. But Americans are capable of skepticism and change and deep down most realize that their health care system is sick, maybe terminal, and needs treatment as soon as possible.