Proponents of government sponsored health care are forever flogging the rest of us with their cheery depictions of how marvelous it is up in the Great White North. Now we can see how well the Canadian experiment is working.
The (very liberal) Supreme Court of Canada last week struck down the law prohibiting private health insurance (see Guardian article). Why? In the face of an average 17.9-week wait for surgery and interminable lines at clinics, the court found that “Access to a waiting list is not access to health care” (see WSJ article). WSJ editors note that these long waits are only as short as they are because medical facilities in the U.S. and illegal private clinics in Canada provide a safety valve.
WSJ Opinion Journal editor James Taranto on his blog lampoons the referenced Guardian article because it says that Canada’s system is one of the fairest in the world, but that it is plagued with multiple shortage and long-wait problems and that people use illegal private clinics to jump to the head of the line. Taranto says, “Other than that, though, it's really fair!”
WSJ editors state:
There are only two ways to allocate any good or service: through prices, as is done in a market economy, or lines dictated by government, as in Canada's system. The socialist claim is that a single-payer system is more equal than one based on prices, but last week's court decision reveals that as an illusion. Or, to put it another way, Canadian health care is equal only in its shared scarcity.
That is something worth considering as the U.S. incrementally slides toward socialized health care.