Canadians Watch U.S. Reform Effort Closely
American health care reform has become a "hot topic north of the border," the Washington Times reports. "If Mr. Obama succeeds, the U.S. could draw even more Canadian doctors and nurses to the U.S., exacerbating a shortage of medical professionals, said Dr. Brian Day, a Canadian health care critic and former head of the Canadian Medical Association. If Mr. Obama fails, perhaps Canada could open its system to "medical tourism" from the U.S., Dr. Day said." Under the Canadian system, everyone is insured and has "access to basic health care without ever seeing a doctor or hospital bill." But 70% of Canadians also have "some form of supplemental health insurance," in part because of long wait times for tests and treatments under the government plan. For Canadian citizens who become ill in the U.S., it is often cheaper to "ride on a private Lear jet back to Canada" than to be treated in a U.S. hospital.
Dr. Robert Ouellet, president of the Canadian Medical Association, says there are real problems in the Canadian system and "suggests that the U.S. look elsewhere for models of universal health care." He suggested that both the U.S. and Canadian governments look to the system in the Netherlands "which provides universal and broader-based health care through a small number of regulated, private health insurers and government funding at a slightly lower cost than in Canada." But others praise the Canadian system, saying it is a more egalitarian way of providing health care. For example, "For Canadian Raymond McEwan, American hospitals are among the best in the world but are focused on making as much money as they can per patient, while in Canada the goal is good medical care for everyone" (Brown, 6/11).