The Alan Katz Health Care Reform Blog

Health Care Reform From One Person's Perspective

Canada’s Health Care System: One Doctor’s View

Posted by Alan on August 15, 2007


Proponents of a single payer system cite Canada as a role model for America. Bruce Benton, Regional VP for the National Association of Health Underwriters, recently forwarded me a column which appeared in Investors Business Daily. It was written by a Canadian doctor David Gratzer and describes his disillusionment with the system.  [Edit 8/17/07: the link to this article is no longer valid. Fortunately, Dr. Gratzer wrote an even more detailed article for City Journal Magazine which covers much of the same ground.]

The column also takes on some of the urban legends surrounding both the Canadian and American health care systems. For example, every single payer advocate cites the true statistics that the average life expectancy of Americans is less than that of Canadians and Europeans, except for Portugal. Dr. Gratzer points out that a life can end due to murder, a car accident or a fall. He then cites a study which factors out intentional and unintentional injuries from life-expectancy statistics. The result: “Americans who don’t die in car crashes or homicides outlive people in any other Western country.”

Dr. Gratzer’s is an opinion worth considering, especially by those in California supporting Senate Bill 840 (Keuhl), which would establish a Canadian-style system in the state.

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