The Canadian Menace!

Excellent post on the reality of the Canadian healthcare system (warts and all), as opposed to the typical Right Wing Noise Machine hype. I have been convinced for years that the only realistic solution to the crisis in health care in America (both for the uninsured and those at the mercy of HMO’s) is a Canadian-style single-payer system, administered by the States (as the Canadian system is managed by the individual provinces).
H/T to “Groggie” at Something Awful for this shocking footage of our way of life being threatened by the Forces of Evil.
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Published in: on February 6, 2008 at 10:45 am  Comments (10)  

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  1. I don’t like monopolies, and think that replacing the existing health care system with an even less accountable monopoly is a bad idea.

    Solving structural problems (allowing foreing drug imports from Canada and getting rid of fraud, health-care unions, “non-profit” hospital profiteers, and frivolous lawsuits), along with more generous health-care related welfare for the poor would go a long way toward solving the problems.

  2. I have to disagree with your basic premise: we have little to no effective competition now. Employers, for the most part, pick the HMO, not the employee and you are not free to quit one HMO and move to another b/c you don’t like the service. Moreover, what competition we do have has not prevented us from having the most expensive healthcare system in the developed world. Also, I would argue that healthcare, like education, is something too important to leave to the whims of the “free” market. And “frivolous lawsuits”? Puh-leez! What that really means is a system whereby dangerously incompetent doctors are allowed to continue practicing with no oversight whatsoever and no consequences for their malfeasance. How is that system competitive, especially since State medical associations routinely restrict access to complaint records?

  3. Oh, and before I forget: “getting rid of…health-care unions”? So the market is only free for employers, not employees who want to organize and bargain collectively for better wages and benefits? That doesn’t very “free” or “competitive.” And how about Texas, famously described by the late great Molly Ivins as the national laboratory for bad government? Our unions are ALL toothless because this is a “right-to-work” state and recent tort “reform” has eliminated most med-mal suits, yet our healthcare costs are as high as anywhere else in the country.

  4. There is competition. I had to shop around for health plans recently, and I recall 3 or 4 choices. That’s a lot more than one choice.

    You have a good point on bad doctors. I should have had them in my list. It’s a very good point: information on bad doctors should be public knowledge. Frivolous lawsuits are a bad reality all over, including in medicine. I recall the situation where someone filed a frivolous lawsuit against na OB-GYN over a child’s birth defects…. Does this sound outrageous? Not really… until you realize that the child’s birth defects were genetic.

    “Right to work” does not leave unions toothless. It puts them on the same level as the ACLU, Right to Life, Common Cause and other groups: none of which force even one person to join them.

    As for the last part, in my area I saw a nurse’s union wage a war against a hospital, and actually appeared happy when the truggle harmed patient care at the place. Organizations that fight to do as little work and as bad work as possible while being paid the most for it can only damage institutions such as health care, education, etc.

    As for free market, nobody forces employers into unions either. It makes things much more free and fair and competitive when workers are given the power, given the choice of whether or not to join a union. Each worker.

  5. I didn’t mean to imply there was NO competition, only that there wasn’t very much. “Right to work” laws renders unions impotent due to the Free Rider problem, also expressed as “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk through the fence for free?” Plus, I think you vastly overestimate the prevalence of closed shops in non “Right to Work” states. And if your argument is that unions sometime engage in anti-competitive tactics, employers do that on a regular basis. Indeed, eliminating competition through any means fair or foul has been Wal-Marts policy for the last 35 years. Would you also ban organizations that fight to pay as low wages as possible, keep workplaces as dangerous as possible and making products as shoddy/cheap as possible? If so, you have a bigger problem with the free market than you think. If not, then are applying one standard to labor and another to capital.

  6. “I recall the situation where someone filed a frivolous lawsuit against na OB-GYN over a child’s birth defects…. Does this sound outrageous? Not really… until you realize that the child’s birth defects were genetic.”

    Hard for me to respond to anecdotes. It could’ve been a “failure to diagnose” case. But in any event the court system, like the free market or democracy, is self-correcting. “Frivolous” lawsuits (which seems to mean “any lawsuit in which the plaintiff prevails”) get thrown out by trial courts or reversed on appeal (the Texas Supreme Court, for example, rules against plaintiffs about 95% of the time). The per capita number of lawsuits filed every year has been more or less steady for 50 years, with most suits being suits between corporations. Slamming the courthouse door shut in the face of injured parties because SOMETIMES frivolous lawsuits get filed would be like abolishing democracy because sometimes idiots get elected.

  7. “”Right to work” laws renders unions impotent due to the Free Rider problem, also expressed as “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk through the fence for free?” “

    If the “free rider” problem applies to unions, then it must apply to the ACLU. The ACLU fights for civil liberties of all of is, even if we are not members. So I guess we should be forced to join.

    “Would you also ban organizations…”

    Who said anything about banning any organization? Certainly not me. Preventing an organization from forcing people to join certain does not “ban” it. Look at the NRA, NAACP, and AARP. They operate under this, and are not “banned”.

    As “Wal-Marts policy for the last 35 years”, there is nothing wrong with not wanting to overpay people and it is not a bad “anti-competitive” policy to sell things at a good price in contrast to overcharging competitors trying to rip you off. Shoddy? The iPod you get there is the same iPod you get at an Apple store.

    “If not, then are applying one standard to labor and another to capital.”

    There is really little difference between the two.

    Frivolous lawsuits = meaning any lawsuit in which someone does something themself, and then they have lawyers work up convincing false tales in court in order to get the blameless to pay. Like when someone spills hot coffee on themself or jumps off a ladder.

    These casea are no-brainers: yet they somehow make it into the court system. Then insurance rates and prices go up.

  8. ‘If the “free rider” problem applies to unions, then it must apply to the ACLU.’

    Nope. That’s, at best, an indirect benefit. If you work in a unionized shop in a “right to work” state, you get a direct benefit (more time off, better bennies, etc.). That’s the “free rider” problem.

    “Who said anything about banning any organization?”

    The person who said, “…getting rid of …health-care unions…” That sounded like banning to me.

    “it is not a bad ‘anti-competitive’ policy to sell things at a good price in contrast to overcharging competitors trying to rip you off.”

    No, but it is anti-competitive to deliberately sell things at a less and force your vendors to sell only to you in an effort to eliminate your competitors.

    “These casea are no-brainers: yet they somehow make it into the court system.”

    Again, you are offering anectodates, not actual cases. I can’t respond to anecdotes, particularly the kind churned by the US Chamber of Commerce and other tort “reform” groups. If you meant the case where the woman suffered third degree burns from McDonald’s coffee, let me assure that there is MUCH more to that case. If you want a system where “frivolous” lawsuits cannot even be FILED, then you do not want a just court system. That’s like saying you want a guarantee that innocent people will never be charged with a crime. You can either have a system where everyone who has been wronged has the ability to seek redress, or you can have a system where cases you think are “no brainers” cannot even be filed, let alone brought to trial and sustained on appeal. You can’t have both.

  9. “Nope. That’s, at best, an indirect benefit. If you work in a unionized shop in a “right to work” state, you get a direct benefit (more time off, better bennies, etc.). That’s the “free rider” problem.”

    Workers manage to do this without unions, by being better workers. Gaining more skill and experience. They actual move ahead the old fashioned way; by earning it.

    You also forget the “Direct benefit” of when unions steal members’ money to use for political campaigns, and do all they can to encourage the company to close the factory.

    Getting rid of health-care unions? Although they have a damaging effect on health care when they are pitted against non-profit hospitals, that was indeed a poor choice of words by me. I’d reduce their power to something that legitimtely represents the workers.; make them legitimate by only haveing members that want to be in.

    I don’t have anything against any worker choosing to give money (or not give money) to any union.

    Wal-Mart does not force vendors only to sell to them.

    Yes, the McDonalds case, where the woman bought the same coffee at the same place that she had drank before (Same temperature, too). Only this time, she did something stupid with it, and used the court system in an entirely frivolous manner to get the blameless to pay for her mistake.

    I want a system where “everyone who has been wronged has the ability to seek redress”. The McDonald’s case clearly does not count: the woman wronged herself. IT would be justice if the plaintiffs and lawyers who filed these frivolous suits were fined.

    All actual cases are anecdotes.

  10. “Workers manage to do this without unions, by being better workers. Gaining more skill and experience. They actual move ahead the old fashioned way; by earning it.”

    American workers are some of the most productive in the world, beating even Japan, and yet they have less job security. And, uh, union workers don’t work? And given that unions are VASTLY more powerful in, among other places, Europe, how do you explain their economic power?

    “Wal-Mart does not force vendors only to sell to them.”

    Ask Toys-R-Us about that.

    “The McDonald’s case clearly does not count: the woman wronged herself.”

    Uhm, no. Actually, that’s not the facts of that case at all. Not even close. And it’ll take too long in a comments section. Maybe I should do a whole post on that.

    “All actual cases are anecdotes.”

    No, actual cases are the OPPOSITE of anecdotes. An anecdote is something you heard somebody say. An actual case is something you can cite for me. And the only actual case you alluded to is the McDonald’s coffee case and you got the facts wrong.

    By the way, if I haven’t mentioned it before, I appreciate your comments. It’s great to have someone on here who disagrees with me. Way more fun.


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