As I said above, I acknowledge that most Canadians know the facts already, but this goes into a deeper issue within this topic, and is quite relevant. In November of 2009, Nanos Research conducted a poll of 1,005 Canadians by telephone to find their opinions of our health care system. It was found that 79.9% give their endorsement of the health care system, while about 10% are still somewhat supportive, amounting to a general ~90% approval rating. The strongest approval rating was 83% in Ontario, my province, while there exists no significant regional variation. Please note, before I continue, that this is the unqualified opinion of Canadian citizens, not professionals in the medical field. We'll get to that later.
This same poll asked a question about the Canadian citizens' opinion of United States President Barack Obama's endorsement and pursuit of a public health care system. 71.3% expressed that they believe Barack Obama is "on the right track," while only 7.3% stated disapproval. The rest were unsure, which is to be expected. Again, the highest rate of approval was found in Ontario.
|So everyone can see the specific results.|
Waiting times are not the only factor that might lead Canadians to come to America to receive health care. Canada is actually behind in terms of new technology for certain procedures, such as cranial tumors or brain injury. Sometimes hospitals are in more convenient locations as well for Canadians living close to the border, and American hospitals, as it seems to me, are generally superior, especially because of the greater numbers in staff.
However, despite these contentions, it doesn't imply that the article linked at the beginning of this post is assuming correctly. In fact, all of the possibilities I listed above have been found to have little-to-no effect on Canadians traveling outside of Canada for medical treatment. A study conducted by Katz et al. in 2002 examined Canadians traveling to the United States for such purposes. They used data from the National Population Health Survey (NPHS) to find survey responses to two questions. The first question asked if the respondent received medical care in the United States during the past twelve months of their response. If the respondent answered "yes," the next question asked if they went to the United States primarily for such services.
They also collected data by contacting, via telephone, all ambulatory care facilities located in the United States close to the Canadian border in densely populated areas. The reason for this was to get the most accurate response, since it is assumed that if Canadians were to go to the United States for medical treatment, they would choose a location close to Canada. They asked key informants within these institutions for the number of Canadians they had seen in the prior year, and to indicate any significant trend.
Lastly, they contacted statewide hospital discharge data from 136 ambulatory care facilities in New York, Michigan and Washington, asking how many Canadians they admitted into the hospital according to admission status (and not by coincidental activity). They also selected for "America's Best Hospitals" to find a relevant trend. The results were as follows:
Approximately 40% of facilities contacted had seen no Canadians in the prior twelve months, 40% had seen fewer than ten, 15% had treated 10 - 25 patients, and 5% reported seeing more than 25 (although none reported seeing more than 100, the number was generally between 25 and 75). If we extrapolate the data, there were 640 Canadians who received treatment for diagnostic radiology services and 270 patients for eye procedures in America over that year. However, in British Columbia over a 5-year period, there were 80,000 and 25,000 procedures respectively, and for Quebec, 375,000 and 44,000 procedures respectively. It is important to note that this comparison is extrapolated, and the comparison is between two five-year periods and the study's one-year period; however, at the same time, we must consider that the comparison is only being made to two regions of Canada.
In the three states observed for hospital discharge data, ~4,500 Canadians received treatment; however, approximately 80% of such treatment was related to pregnancy.
For the NPHS results, of the 18,000 respondents in 1996, only 90 said they had received treatment in the United States, and of those, only 20 stated they went to America expressly to do so.
Some of these visits, notably, were as a result of contract provisions. In October of 1999, Quebec contracted with three radiation centers in Vermont and Maine. In the subsequent year, 1,030 patients were treated. Ontario did the same in March of 1999 with three health care organizations in Michigan, New York and Ohio. Subsequently, 1,416 patients were treated. This already accounts for about 8.5% of prostate and breast cancer patients from Canada during that time frame.
|Robbed from the AARP debunk article.|
For Canada, it's 9.9%, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2004. For the United States, it's 15.3%. This is something intuitively obvious to people familiar with economics. Simply put, the less money people spend on medical services, the more likely they are to be restricted on their access to those services. This same principle applies to many fields.
So, Canadians approve of the health care system, because the waiting times are irrelevant to the type of system. But what of Canadian physicians?
|Sampling and other data.|
Both Canadian citizens and Canadian physicians enjoy the health care system for the most part. This was never anything complicated, but sometimes, it takes some true data to get rid of any misconceptions. When political agendas are in mind, it's very difficult not to make comparisons, and often times, these comparisons are faulty. There are plenty of countries which are satisfied with public health insurance (just look at Scandinavia), and there are plenty which are satisfied with either a combination of public and private, or just private. We can't just dismiss an entire system and say "it doesn't work," because so many variables are involved in whether or not a system works. The system itself isn't always at fault, and even if it were in one country, that says nothing about how it would work for another. This is a vital principle of politics in general -- context.
I've lived in America for most of my life (more than I have in Canada; in fact, I've barely spent more of my life in Canada than Japan). I'm familiar with the politics. It's hard to say whether one system will be better than another, but all I can say is, it just takes honest consideration as opposed to terrorizing buzzwords like "socialism." Things like this are very dangerous, because they divert to simple ideological differences as opposed to arguments over practical application. This is much of the reason why I have dropped any explicit affiliation with a political party (or "faction" if you're an early democratic or a Marxist). I plan to make my next post a work by my father, but in the future, I'll make a post about my views on politics in general.
Until then, thank you for reading.
*If you want to see the AARP's version, which has a lot of the information I used in my post, follow this link.
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