Monday, February 17, 2020

While Americans pine for 'Medicare for all,' Canadians look for US-style private insurance

While Americans pine for 'Medicare for all,' Canadians look for US-style private insurance by Sally Pipes
Excerpt: About 56% of people in the United States favor "Medicare for all," according to polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation out last week. That's an increase of 3 percentage points from last November. That majority would be wise to take a look across our northern border. Waits for care in Canada's government-run health insurance system, the closest analog to "Medicare for all" in the world, are spiraling. The remedy for those waits, according to a new report from the Vancouver-based Fraser Institute? A dose of U.S.-style private insurance. Right now, Canada is the only high-income country with universal health coverage that bans its citizens from purchasing private insurance for anything deemed "medically necessary." "Medicare for all" would make the U.S. the second. Supporters of the ban claim it preserves equitable access to care. Wealthy Canadians can't use private insurance to pay for faster access to care. But as a result, everyone must wait their turn for care paid for by the public system. Last year, Canadians faced a median wait of nearly 21 weeks to receive specialist treatment after getting referred by a general practitioner. Certain procedures come with longer waits. End-to-end, patients waited a median of 39 weeks for orthopedic surgery in 2019. (Detroit hosptials always have a contingent of Canadians receiving care there, people who decided they could not wait the months it would take to see a specialist or get a procedure authorized in the public system at home. So they come to the US and pay the money to get what they need when they need it. Maybe there's a lesson there? --Del)

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