Thursday, July 03, 2008

Deadly delay

The proponents of incrementally dismantling Canada's public healthcare system have seized on wait lists in recent years. Although the problem has been massively exaggerated, and is actually an argument for more investment in the public system the usual suspects at the Fraser Institute and the Can-West chain think they have a winning argument for abandoning the public model.

Except that wait times are as bad or worse in the American healthcare non-system, disproportionately affect patients based on race and income and are dangerously concentrated in emergency care due to patients not being able to afford the preventative care that would have helped them avoid a visit to an emergency room.

And the 'innovative private sector solutions' the usual suspects promote to solve Canada's wait list problems have been a grotesque, hugely expensive failure everywhere they've been tried. Wait lists increase as doctors cherrypick easy lucrative cases and patient care and access has suffered. Oddly enough, introducing the profit motive into multiple new levels of the healthcare system also ended up drastically increasing costs.

Plus, when have you ever heard this kind of wait list story in Canada?:
Video footage has emerged of an American woman dying on the floor of a New York City hospital as workers failed to help for more than an hour. Esmin Green, 49, who was said to have suffered a mental breakdown, had been waiting to be seen at Kings County Hospital, Brooklyn, for some 24 hours.

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