Good examples to examine

The American wealthy would experience a small ding to their pocketbooks from Universal Medicare, but they would muddle through just like the wealthy in other developed nations, all of which possess a form of socialized (pardon the profanity) medicine or insurance. Medicare-for-all for the average citizen appears to be an obvious improvement over the existing system. But, that shouldn’t be merely assumed.

Instead of simply speculating about such a system, it is more instructive to draw from the experiences of other nations with systems of universal government insurance. We have a handy example in our northern neighbor, Canada, which enacted its system in 1984 and has over 30 years of experience. (Sources are Wikipedia.com, Canadian-healthcare.com, www.huffingtonpost.com/nadeen-esmail/canada.free-healthcare).

The Canadian system establishes government insurance for all essential healthcare and is paid for with income taxes. Non-essential care like dental or vision services are excluded but may be covered by separately purchased private insurance. So, we have a Canadian system nearly identical to the proposed Universal Medicare and the initial task will be to sort out conservative distortions which have sought to poison the American mind and convince us that it is a failure.

First, our neighbors like their system. Polls show that 86 percent support their system; 91 percent prefer it to ours; 52 percent of them say they are satisfied with quality compared to 48 percent of Americans, and 57 percent say they are satisfied with availability versus 25 percent of Americans. Although Americans may not respect Canadians (apparently, since we twice (1775 and 1812) invaded them without provocation), the fact that they like their system and overwhelmingly prefer it to ours bespeaks some underlying merit.

Criticism of the Canadian system mainly consists in allegations of egregiously long wait times resulting in hordes of Canucks flocking to America for treatment. It is true, Canadian wait times to receive emergency room treatment or see a specialist are worse than that of the US and other developed nations although the government has been infusing money to deal with the problem. On the other hand, only about 1/4 of 1 percent of Canadians come here for treatment. A government survey showed that of 18,000 Canadians, only 20 came here expressly for treatment. Far more than that percentage of Americans go to Canada for their drugs.

The idea is not to exchange our system for Canada’s, or any other nations’, but to reform ours and incorporate the best features from other countries. Since we spend twice as much money per person as Canada, one would expect our system to have some advantages, although overall the Canadian system is rated higher than ours. Next, will be a look at the actual pros and cons and a final summation.

Patrick Radcliff

Vienna

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