Americans could enjoy the best health care in the world if they can move beyond the rhetoric of health care reform, write editors from CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) in an editorial.
"America is achieving poor value for money from its health care system, and that is killing Americans," write Drs. Amir Attaran, Matthew Stanbrook and editor-in-chief Dr. Paul Hébert. "The potency of that truth is the reason anti-reform lobbyists are now turning to attack Canada's system."
Several myths need to be corrected as they are grossly misrepresenting the health care system in Canada. A related news article outlines the reactions in Canada and the US to the sometimes outrageous assertions of the anti-health care reform lobby.
"We cannot condemn strongly enough the intellectual dishonesty of the lobbyists and politicians whose distortions of Canada's health system camouflage their appalling rejection of reform for uninsured and underinsured Americans," write the authors of the editorial.
Every Canadian is insured by Canada's health care system, which means they can access health care for free, regardless of their employment situation. Contrast that with the 47 million uninsured Americans and the fact that more than half of all personal bankruptcies in the US are medically related.
In the US, private insurers often refuse to cover people with pre-existing conditions whereas in Canada, no one is denied coverage for pre-existing treatment and people receive coverage and there is no age cut off. Canadians do not die on waiting lists for test and operations; while there are waits - sometimes long waits - for elective surgery, patients are not denied life-saving or emergency surgery. Compared with the American system in which doctors and patients struggle with insurance company bureaucrats, in Canada there is no middleman between patients and doctors.
As well, "freedom-loving Americans who value making their own medical and economic choices ought to be outraged at how the status quo restricts their choice and freedoms," write the authors. Americans who are dependent on their insurance to cover medical costs for themselves or their families may be reluctant to change jobs compared with Canadians who receive universal, consistent medical coverage.
"America has reached an economic tipping point where the "public option" is inevitable, if only because households (read: voters) find the current system's costs unsustainable."