Tag Archives: Single-Payer

New study: Angus Reid Institute analyzes Canada’s single payer healthcare system

Price of healthcare per Canadian household (Source: Fraser Institute)
The cost of healthcare for average Canadian households

I found two interesting studies from Canada’s Angus Reid Institute describing single payer health care in Canada. I’m very interested in find out what things are like in countries that have true government-run health care. A typical Canadian family pays $13,000+ per year per household for healthcare, or about $585,000 over their working lives. What are they getting for all that money?

Here is the first Angus Reid article:

The study finds more than 2 million Canadians aged 55 and older face significant barriers when accessing the health care system in their province, such as being unable to find a family doctor or experiencing lengthy wait-times for surgery, diagnostic tests, or specialist visits.

Moreover, most Canadians in this age group have at least some difficulty getting the care they want or need in a timely manner.

The study focuses on the health care experiences of older Canadians, as well as their assessments of the quality of care they receive.

According to the article, 31% of respondents (aged 55 and older) rated access to the government’s healthcare system as “easy”. 48% had “moderate” problems with access, and 21% had “major” problems with access.

Remember: in the Canadian system, you pay your money up front in taxes, and then they decide how much healthcare you will get later – and how soon you will get it. If you worked from ages 20 to age 65, then your household will have paid 45 x $13,000 = $585,000 into the system, in order to get “moderate” problems with accessing healthcare after you’re aged 55.

And the Canadian system DOES NOT cover prescription drugs.

The second Angus Reid article explains:

This second part of the study finds one-in-six Canadians (17%) in the 55-plus age group – a figure that represents upwards of 1.8 million people – say that they or someone else in their household have taken prescription drugs in a way other than prescribed because of cost.

One-in-ten (10%) have decided to simply not fill a prescription because it was too expensive, and a similar number (9%) have decided not to renew one for the same reason. One-in-eight (12%) have taken steps to stretch their prescriptions, such as cutting pills or skipping doses.

Some 17 per cent of Canadians 55 and older have done at least one of these things, and that proportion rises among those who have greater difficulty accessing other aspects of the health care system.

In a previous blog post, I reported on how Canadians have to wait in order to see their GP doctor. If that doctor refers them to a specialist, then they have to wait to see the specialist. And if that specialist schedules surgery, then they have to wait for their surgery appointment. The delays can easily go from weeks to months and even years. The MEDIAN delay from GP referral to treatment is 19.5 weeks.

But remember – they paid into the system FIRST. The decisions about when and if they will be treated are made later, by experts in the government. This is what it means for a government monopoly to run health care. There are no free exchanges of money for service in a competitive free market. Costs are controlled by delaying and withholding treatment. And no one knows this better than elderly Canadians themselves. But by the time they realize how badly they’ve been swindled, it’s too late to get their money back out. You can’t pull your tax money out of government if you are disappointed with the service you receive. There are no refunds. There are no returns.

How well is Canada’s “Medicare for All” health care working for patients?

Wait times in weeks (Source: Maclean's magazine)
Wait times for health care treatment in Canada (Source: Fraser institute)

I get into conversations about politics with my co-workers about who they like in the 2020 election. And I also ask them which particular policies of the candidates they like best. The one they like most is Medicare for All, with “for All” including illegal immigrants. When I ask them which country has got Medicare for All working, they say “Canada”. Let’s take a look at Canada’s health care system.

Here’s a nice article from Mona Charen, posted in TownHall.

She writes:

It’s true that all Canadian citizens and legal residents (though not immigrants there illegally) get “free” health care, but only in the sense that you don’t get a bill after seeing a doctor or visiting a hospital. Medical care is subsidized by taxes, but the price comes in another form as well — rationing. A 2018 report from the Fraser Institute, a Canadian think tank, found that wait times between seeing a general practitioner and a specialist average 19.8 weeks. That’s the average. There are variations among specialties. Those hoping to see an orthopedist wait an average of 39 weeks in Nova Scotia, while those seeking an oncologist wait about 3.8 weeks.

[…]Imagine the anxiety of learning that you need an MRI to find out whether the mass in your breast is anything to worry about and then being told that the next available appointment is in 10 weeks. In addition to the psychic price, Canadians who had to wait for treatment expended an average of $1,822 out of pocket last year, due to lost wages and other costs. The Fraser Institute also calculated the value of the lost productivity of those waiting for treatment — nearly $5,600 per patient, totaling $5.8 billion nationally.

[…]When there’s an artificial shortage of a good or service, a black market usually follows. I have heard from several Canadians that paying doctors bribes to jump the line is not uncommon. But Canada has another pressure reliever: Ninety percent of Canadians live within 90 miles of the U.S. border, and medical centers in Buffalo, Chicago, Rochester and elsewhere receive tens of thousands of Canadian patients every year.

Regarding that last point, I’ve written many times about socialist politicians in Canada electing to travel to the United States for care, and that’s because (as you might expect) health care outcomes for Canadians are vastly inferior to health care outcomes for Americans. And keep in mind that the delay from specialist to GP does not take into account the delay to see the GP, or the delay from seeing the specialist to actually getting treatment.

And how much are Canadians spending for the privilege of waiting 19.8 weeks to see a specialist? Well, the average cost of Canadian health care is about $13,000 per household per year, paid through taxes. What that means is that people who work pay for all the health care being provided, including the health care for people who don’t work. But when it’s time to get treatment, those who pay the bills get in line behind those who don’t pay anything.

So how good is American health care? Maybe Canadians are waiting in line because their health care is so much better than ours.

American health care

One of the best health care policy experts writing today is Avik Roy, who writes for Forbes magazine.

Here is a recent column, which I think is useful for helping us all get better at debating health care policy.

Excerpt:

If you really want to measure health outcomes, the best way to do it is at the point of medical intervention. If you have a heart attack, how long do you live in the U.S. vs. another country? If you’re diagnosed with breast cancer? In 2008, a group of investigators conducted a worldwide study of cancer survival rates, called CONCORD. They looked at 5-year survival rates for breast cancer, colon and rectal cancer, and prostate cancer. I compiled their data for the U.S., Canada, Australia, Japan, and western Europe. Guess who came out number one?

The United States came out number one, and you can click here to see the larger graph of the complete results.

Some people like to point out that the United States has a low life expectancy, but there’s a problem with those numbers.

The article continues:

Another point worth making is that people die for other reasons than health. For example, people die because of car accidents and violent crime. A few years back, Robert Ohsfeldt of Texas A&M and John Schneider of the University of Iowa asked the obvious question: what happens if you remove deaths from fatal injuries from the life expectancy tables? Among the 29 members of the OECD, the U.S. vaults from 19th place to…you guessed it…first. Japan, on the same adjustment, drops from first to ninth.

It’s great that the Japanese eat more sushi than we do, and that they settle their arguments more peaceably. But these things don’t have anything to do with socialized medicine.

Finally, U.S. life-expectancy statistics are skewed by the fact that the U.S. doesn’t have one health-care system, but three: Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurance. (A fourth, the Obamacare exchanges, is supposed to go into effect in 2014.) As I have noted in the past, health outcomes for those on government-sponsored insurance are worse than for those on private insurance.

To my knowledge, no one has attempted to segregate U.S. life-expectancy figures by insurance status. But based on the data we have, it’s highly likely that those on private insurance have the best life expectancy, with Medicare patients in the middle, and the uninsured and Medicaid at the bottom.

If we’re going to discuss health care, then let’s discuss facts. We shouldn’t be picking a health care system from the campaign speeches of politicians who tell us that we can keep our doctor, and keep our health plan, and our premiums will go down. We tried electing a charismatic deceiver in 2008, and it didn’t work out. We lost our doctors, lost our health plans, and our premiums went up astronomically. We can do better than single-payer health care. We can do better than socialism.

Can parents with a transgender child expect help from counselors, teachers, doctors and judges?

Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign
Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign

The Stream had an interesting article written by a motherwho explained what happened when she went to experts for help for her a daughter. Her daughter wanted everyone around her to treat her as if she were a boy. The experts didn’t much care what the mother had to say, they just assumed that the child was the authority, and the parents were expected to toe the lie… or else.

She writes:

If you take your child to a clinic to seek help, affirmative care means the therapist must follow the child’s lead. The professionals must accept a child’s professed gender identity. In fact, this is the law in many states.

Under “conversion therapy” bans, questioning a child’s professed gender identity is now illegal.

[…]Parents are encouraged to refer to him as their “daughter” and let him choose a feminine name. Teachers are told to let him use the girls’ bathroom at school. Therapists will reassure parents that social transition is harmless and reversible.

[…]The “experts” tell parents that it is harmful to question their children’s beliefs, that they must support their children’s medical transition, which includes a lifetime dependence on hormones, and that if parents do not comply, their children will be at higher risk of suicide.

The medical personnel prescribed hormone altering drugs to the child:

Once the teenage years begin, affirmative care means giving young people cross-sex hormones. Girls as young as 12 are prescribed testosterone for lifetime usage, while boys are given estrogen.

These are serious hormonal treatments that impact brain development, cardiovascular health, and may increase the risk of cancer.

And it’s not just drugs, it’s surgery, too:

For girls, one standard procedure is called “gender-affirming top surgery,” also known as a double mastectomy. They are performed on girls as young as 13 years old — otherwise healthy girls who believe they are transgender.

[…]There are also teenage girls undergoing radical hysterectomies in the name of gender identity.

Now, the first thing that occurred to me when reading this story was: what happens if the parents don’t want to go along with this? And also, how did these pro-transgender non-parent actors even find out about it?

Canada

In Canada, transgender children can approach teachers in the government-run public schools, and medical personnel in the government-run health care system. And then those government workers can take the parents to the government-run courts to get the will of the secular left state imposed on the parents.

The Federalist first reported on the story in the last week of February:

Clark* first found out that his 12-year-old daughter Maxine was being treated as a boy by her school when he saw her new name in her class’s grade seven yearbook. “Quinn” was the new name her counselor had helped her pick out, and Maxine’s school district in Delta, British Columbia, Canada, had decided that “Quinn” should be treated, for all intents and purposes, as a boy.

According to education policy, parents have no right to know their child’s “preferred sex, gender, or name” at school.

More:

Maxine’s counselors at school … referred Maxine and her mother, Sarah, to a “Dr.” Wallace Wong — a psychologist and LGBT activist who predictably decided that Maxine should be referred to a children’s hospital for testosterone injections when she was only 13. Not to be outdone, the children’s hospital asked Maxine’s parents for permission to begin injecting Maxine with testosterone on her very first visit. Clark said no and refused to sign.

From the middle of August until October, the hospital worked Clark over, trying to get his consent. When he finally refused, the hospital dropped a bombshell threat: simply put, they declared that they didn’t need Clark’s or Sarah’s permission for that matter.

The Federalist later reported that the courts had sided with the government-run school and the government-run health care personnel against the parents.

Ohio

You might wonder what happens in America, if parents choose to fight the experts on the secular left.

Here’s a recent example reported at the Daily Wire:

On Friday, Ohio parents were denied custody of their daughter for not being supportive enough of her alleged transgenderism.

The 17-year-old biologically female child identifies as a boy and claims she has suicidal thoughts over her parents’ lack of support for her transgenderism (they won’t, for example, call her by her new chosen male name). The parents were fighting for custody of their daughter back from the state in an effort to stop potential transgender hormone treatment.

The Hamilton County Judge, Sylvia Sieve Hendon, took the child away from the parents, so that the child could get transgender hormon replacement therapy.

I thought this part was very interesting:

The parents’ Christian faith was used against them in the case by Donald Clancy of the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office.

I looked at where Hamilton County is, thinking that it would be in a liberal city like Toledo or Cleveland, or even Columbus. But it’s actually a suburb of Cincinnati, close to Indiana. I assume that the judge, like all government workers, is paid out of the money taken from peope like the parents in taxes. They’re paying this judge to do this to them.

Be careful how you vote

In cases like this, I always like to remind Christians to remember how they vote. Many Christians think that a big secular government should be empowered to hand out welfare, stop global warming, provide free sex changes, free abortions and free contraceptives, etc. But they don’t understand that a big secular government does not care about religious liberty, parental autonomy, or conscience rights. They care about redistributing taxpayer money to buy the votes of people who depend on government.

When the secular leftists control so much of society (the schools, the hospitals, regulations on business, and even regulating free speech!), it’s harder and harder to be a Christian with integrity. Eventually, you’re going to conflict with the secular left, because they’re just everywhere. That’s why Christians should never vote for bigger government. It increases the area of conflict, while simultaneously draining away the money we would need to defend outselves. Because bigger government requires higher taxes, and that means less of what you earn can be used to fight back against the secular leftists.

Canadian hospital denies man’s requests for assisted care, offers him euthanasia instead

Killing patients is an easy way to keep costs down
How much does “free” health care cost in Canada’s single-payer system?

On this blog, I’ve been consistently opposed to government intervention in health care. I arrived at this position by looking at how health care works in government-run systems like the UK’s NHS and Canada’s single-payer health care system. We’ve already discussed how NHS hospitals were paid bonuses if they got more patients to die. Now Canada is doing it.

This story is from the far-left CTV News, one of Canada’s national television news providers.

Excerpt:

An Ontario man suffering from an incurable neurological disease has provided CTV News with audio recordings that he says are proof that hospital staff offered him medically assisted death, despite his repeated requests to live at home.

Roger Foley, 42, who earlier this year launched a landmark lawsuit against a London hospital, several health agencies, the Ontario government and the federal government, alleges that health officials will not provide him with an assisted home care team of his choosing, instead offering, among other things, medically assisted death.

Foley suffers from cerebellar ataxia, a brain disorder that limits his ability to move his arms and legs, and prevents him from independently performing daily tasks.

In his lawsuit, Foley claims that a government-selected home care provider had previously left him in ill health with injuries and food poisoning. He claims that he has been denied the right to self-directed care, which allows certain patients to take a central role in planning and receiving personal and medical services from the comfort of their own homes.

[…]He is now sharing audio recordings of separate conversations he had with two health care workers at London Health Sciences Centre, where he has been stuck in a hospital bed for more than two years.

In one audio recording from September 2017, Foley is heard speaking to a man about what he has described as attempts at a “forced discharge,” with threats of a hefty hospital bill.

When Foley asks the man how much he’d have to pay to remain in hospital, the man replies, “I don’t know what the exact number is, but it is north of $1,500 a day.”

[…]“Roger, this is not my show,” the man replies. “I told you my piece of this was to talk to you about if you had interest in assisted dying.”

In a separate audio recording from January 2018, another man is heard asking Foley how he’s doing and whether he feels like he wants to harm himself.

Foley tells the man that he’s “always thinking I want to end my life” because of the way he’s being treated at the hospital and because his requests for self-directed care have been denied.

The man is then heard telling Foley that he can “just apply to get an assisted, if you want to end your life, like you know what I mean?”

And how has the government responded to the audio recordings? The same way you would expect any government to respond – with silence:

“I have not received the care that I need to relieve my suffering and have only been offered assisted dying.  I have many severe disabilities and I am fully dependent. With the remaining time I have left, I want to live with dignity and live as independently as possible.”

Lawyers for the hospital were sent the audio excerpts on July 19.  Foley and his lawyer have not received a response.

CTV News also asked the hospital for a statement. The hospital has not responded.

This isn’t the customer service that you would get in a capitalist free market where private sector businesses have to compete on price and quality for your dollars. This is single-payer health care. They have your money already, and they know that you can’t go anywhere else, except to leave the country. The response of the government-run health care system to requests for better care is “go kill yourself, we already have your money”.

And a lot of patients in Canada are being killed.

Wesley J. Smith explains:

Canadian doctors and nurse practitioners have reported that they have killed almost 4,000 (3,714) patients since euthanasia was legalized in Quebec in December 2015 — after which it was legalized throughout the country by Supreme Court fiat — an act of judicial hubris quickly formalized by Parliament.

Nearly 2,000 were killed in 2017, not including a few territories that did not report figures and assuming all euthanasia deaths were reported. All but one of these deaths resulted from a lethal jab — homicide — at the patients’ request.

[…]Note that as is the usual case, the number of doctor-facilitated deaths has increased steadily since legalization. For example, there were more than 200 more such deaths in the last six months of last year than the first.

The recordings help to explain what the phrase “at the patients’ request” really means.

Previously, I blogged about how the lack of money for palliative care is behind Canada’s push to “suggest” euthanasia to patients who ask for better palliative care. Again, what leverage do you have if you already paid them your money in taxes? You have no leverage, and they know that.

This is what happens when government taxes people when they are well, and then decides later who to give health care to, based on the politicians deciding whose votes to buy. Naturally, the young people with less problems are given “health care”, e.g. – contraceptives. abortions, sex changes, IVF, breast enlargements – because they have lots of voting ahead of them. The older people get asked to kill themselves for the good of those running this vote-buying operation.

New study: “Medicare For All” would cost $32.6 trillion, but it’s actually more

A Christian friend of mine who is divorced with children surprised me by telling me that she favored single payer health-care. I asked her if she realized that people would have to be taxed to pay for all this free health care, and she seemed to be aware of it. But even I didn’t realize how much it would really cost.

Investor’s Business Daily reports on a couple of recent studies – one from the left, and one from the far-left – that both agreed on the price tag for universal health care.

Excerpt:

Last year, 16 Senators, including three presidential hopefuls, co-sponsored Sanders’ “Medicare for all” bill. And earlier this month, more than 70 Democrats signed on to form a “Medicare for all” caucus. Support for the bill is now something of a litmus test for Democratic hopefuls.

Do they have any idea what they’re endorsing?

A new study out Monday from George Mason University’s Mercatus Center finds that Sanders plan would add to federal spending in its first 10 years, with costs steadily rising from there. That closely matches other studies — including one by the liberal Urban Institute — that looked at Sanders’ plan.

To put this in perspective, “Medicare for all” would the size of the already bloated federal government. Doubling corporate and individual income taxes wouldn’t cover the costs.

Even this is wildly optimistic. To get to this number, author Charles Blahous had to make several completely unrealistic assumptions about savings under Sanders’ hugely disruptive plan.

The first is a massive cut in payments to providers. Sanders wants to apply Medicare’s below-market rates across the board, which would amount to a roughly 40% cut in payments to doctors and hospitals. Blahous figures this will save hundreds of billions of dollars a year.

But cuts of that magnitude would drive doctors out of medicine and hospitals out of business, since the only way providers can afford Medicare’s cut-rate reimbursements today is by charging private payers more.

The study also assumes that shoving everyone into a government health care plan would cut administrative costs by $1.6 trillion over the next decade and prescription drug costs by $846 billion. Neither of those are likely, and wouldn’t make much of a difference in overall spending anyway. Private insurance overhead accounts for about 6% of national health spending, and drugs less than 10%.

There’s also the fact that every other federal health program has seen costs explode “unexpectedly” after they were enacted. The per-enrollee cost of ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion, for example, is almost 49% higher than expected. Medicare itself cost nearly 10 times as much as projected in its first 25 years.

The author of the Mercatus study was nominated Barack Obama to be a member of the Board of Trustees of the Social Security Trust Funds. That might explain his questionable assumptions about costs. And the Urban Institute is even further to the left. There can be no doubt that the true cost of the Sanders health care plan would be much higher than what these two studies calculated it to be.

Now, you might think that we can just tax the people who earn the most money to pay for all this spending.

In 2012, John Stossel wrote this in Forbes:

If the IRS grabbed 100 percent of income over $1 million, the take would be just $616 billion.

In 2011, the Tax Foundation explained that even if you taxed ALL THE DISPOSABLE INCOME from all the people who make $200,000 or more, you would only raise $1.53 trillion dollars:

There’s simply not enough wealth in the community of the rich to erase this country’s problems by waving some magic tax wand.

[…]After everyone making more than $200,000/year has paid taxes, the IRS would need to take every single penny of disposable income they have left. Such an act would raise approximately $1.53 trillion. It may be economically ruinous, but at least this proposal would actually solve the problem.

Taxing the rich isn’t enough to pay for single payer health care. $32.6 trillion over 10 years works out to $3.26 trillion per year. We’re not going to pay that off even with $1.53 trillion a year of additional revenue. And this is assuming that the wealthy would just allow themselves to be made into slaves, and keep working even if the government takes all their money.

Pretty soon, our mandatory expenses will consume all of our tax revenues
Pretty soon, our mandatory expenses will consume all of our tax revenues

Who is going to pay for all the spending we already have scheduled? As the graph above shows, things are going to get worse in the future as the big entitlement programs pay out more than current tax rates take in. I’m sure glad that I’m going to be retiring before 2032, and I’m not going to be stuck with the bill for this. It’s one thing for me to get out of bed every morning to be paid only 75% of what I earn. I certainly wouldn’t want to be working if the tax rates here were more like Europe, so that I’d be taking home less than half of what I earn. No thank you!

By the way, it might be a good idea to think about whether you want to have children or not before you vote. Children are expensive, and if we keep electing the big spenders like Obama, then there isn’t going to be any money left over to run a family and raise kids. Think about it before you vote with your feelings only.