Thursday, September 27, 2018

September, 2018,Part 2, The Unfolding Disaster That Is Obama Care: Comparing The U.S. And Canadian Health Care Systems

Every month for years now we have had to discuss how bad Obama Care is turning out to be under the continuing theme, “the unfolding disaster that is Obama Care.” This month is no different. As the legislation continues to march through America, driving up health care and health insurance prices as it serves as dead weight on economic growth, it cements its rightful place as the worst piece of legislation Washington has ever produced.

It never had a chance to be successful since it really never addressed the underlying root causes of our ever increasing health costs in the country:
  • Americans eat too much of the wrong kind of food, resulting in obscenely high obesity rates for the country.
  • Our food chain is infested with overdoses of high fructose corn syrup, salt, sugar, and other unhealthy additives.
  • Americans smoke too much.
  • Americans do not exercise enough.
  • The country is in serious need of health care tort reform.
  • Barriers to insurance company competition across state lines need to come down.
  • Obama Care never “followed the money” to find out who is actually profiting from the ever escalating healthcare costs in this country and how to get those factors under control.
  • Obama Care never got the immense amount of fraud and abuse in current government healthcare programs, Medicare and Medicaid, under control in order to save money to efficiently fund other government health care initiatives.
  • Obama Care never put serious research money towards curing the major diseases that drive high healthcare costs such as high frequency cancers and dementia type diseases.
You cannot resolve any problem unless you understand and address the underlying root causes. No difference here: Obama Care legislation never addressed these listed root causes and thus, has no chance of ever being successful.

But it is not just missing the root causes of our healthcare costs that makes Obama Care so horrible. It resulted in millions of Americans losing access to their favored doctors, hospitals, and insurance policies. It has caused insurance premiums, deductibles and copays to escalate substantially. It will likely add trillions of dollars to the national debt. It has exposed millions of Americans to higher than necessary identity theft chances. It has created government bureaucracies that are wastefully spending taxpayer wealth and being exploited by criminal elements. It has stifled economic growth and job creation.

These are just a sample of the types of idiocy that we have been reviewing for the past several years in this blog relative to Obama Care., To read those past posts, just enter the phrase, “the unfolding disaster,” in the search box above.

Today we will just focus on the highlights of a recent article by Carlin Becker from September 18, 20918 that appeared on the Independent Journal Review website. The article took a great, in-depth look at whether ot not the current U.S. approach to health care was worse or better than the long term single payer system that Canada has lived under for years and years. 

It has been our opinion in this blog that the Canadian single payer system, like every other single payer system, provides expensive, low quality, and low quantity health care. But I was willing to have my statistic and reality based conclusions upset if the article could make the case, numerically, that a single payer system is better. So let’s start examining the numbers:
  • In the U.S., 56% of the citizen have private health insurance, 35% are covered with government financed health insurance (i.e. Medicare and Medicaid), and 9% are uninsured.
  • In Canada, the government provides “free” health insurance to 100% of the citizens but 67% of its citizens pay for additional, needed health insurance coverage.
  • The Canadian system while promoted as "universal” does not cover prescription drug costs and dental care costs which leads to a majority of them shelling out additional money to supplement their "free" government insurance.
  • Thus, according to the Canadian Institute for Health and Information, many Canadians go without drug insurance or dental care.
  • According to the the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United States spent 17.2% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on health care in 2016 while Canada, on the other hand, spent less on health care, clocking in at just 10.3% of its GDP in 2016.
  • In 2016, for instance, the average American spent around $10,345 on health care, including insurance premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and other out-of-pocket costs while the average Canadian spent nearly half that, paying about $6,299 that same year.
  • According to a Fraser Institute study, Canadians on average wait 21.2 weeks to see a specialist after a referral from a GP doctor while in the U.S. the average wait time is 24.1 days in metro U.S. areas, according to a Merritt Hawkins study, i.e. it takes about seven times longer to see a medical specialist in Canada than in the U.S.
  • The Fraser study also found that in Canada, patients wait 4.1 weeks on average to get a CT scan, 10.8 weeks for an MRI scan, and 3.9 weeks for an ultrasound scan.
  • These Canadian wait times for basic diagnostics health tools is very, very much longer than in the U.S., long waiting times that could result in far more serious health and pain levels while waiting.
  • The long wait times has led 63,000 Canadians to travel outside of Canada for these basic tests in 2016, travel costs and diagnostic costs that were not covered by their government insurance.
  • According to University of Pennsylvania Wharton School professor , Mark Pauly, a professor of healthcare management, “the wait time for scans [in the U.S.] is minimal":If you are in the ER and need a scan, you will get it right away. There may be some delay in scheduling at a particular facility if you want an elective scan. Though in any large city, I am sure you could find someone who would take you within a few days.”
  • Pauly also pointed out in the article that Canadians patients are more likely to suffer from acute diseases, have less access to specialists, and experience worse health outcomes than in the U.S,. since the Canadian system emphasizes primary care vs. acute care medicine and health care: “If you are a basically healthy person and your needs can be satisfied with primary care, you're probably going to be better off under the Canadian system. On the other hand, if you are sick, and especially if you have a chronic condition, you're going to wait longer in Canada and have to hobble around in pain for a longer period of time than you would in the U.S.”
  • Canadians have the 13th longest life expectancy rate, age 82, while Americans' expected life length at 79 ranks it 45th in the world.
  • Infant mortality rates are also lower in Canada, 4.5 deaths per 1,000 live births vs. 5.9 deaths in the U.S.
  • While about 1.7 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with cancer every year with about 610,000 dying from the disease, according to the Canadian Cancer Society, last year only 206,000 Canadians were diagnosed with cancer with about 80,800 dying from the disease.
  • However, since the U.S. has nine times as many people than Canada, the cancer diagnosis and cancer death rates are a little higher in Canada.
  • Pauly stated in the article that “ordinary people in Canada are healthier than in the U.S., but outcomes for cancer and very serious illnesses are less good there. It's a great place to live as long as you don't get too sick, as one critic put it.”
  • But he also stated that since Canada has many more primary care doctors that can catch bad health trends earlier, which may account for the better ordinary health care and the horrible acute health results.
So, a lot of data but let me summarize: if you are relatively healthy then the Canadian system is better for you. If you do not need specialists, diagnostic scans, prescription drugs, have good, strong healthy teeth, you do not need to travel abroad for basic tests, are willing to risk a slightly higher cancer rate of diagnosis and death, and are willing to wait longer and endure more pain and get sicker and sicker, possibly endangering your life, while waiting to get treated by a specialist for a disease that you do get, than Canada is for you. 

But if you need specialists and need them quickly, your teeth are a problem, you need prescription drugs, you do not have the resources to travel abroad for cheaper care, you want the pain and sickness to go away as soon as possible, but have to pay a higher price the U.S. is for you.

Or the best solution of all: stop treating health care as an insurance problem like the single payer advocates, Obama Care, and Bernie Sanders want to do. 

The health care crisis in this country is a public health issue: Americans eat too much, American eat too much of the wrong kind of food, Americans smoke too much, Americans are too drug and opioid addicted, and Americans do not exercise enough. Fix those problems, and the other root causes listed above, and the American health care costs will go down dramatically while still retaining quick and quality access to scans, specialists, and life saving and pain saving treatments without delay. It is that simple, you cannot resolve a public health crisis with an expensive and eventually ineffective and inefficient insurance solution.

Or as we have said many times before: given that people like Bernie Sanders and his 500 peers in Congress cannot operate an efficient and effective postal system or Amtrak line, tiny, tiny minute industries vs. health care, what in the world makes anyone think that they can handle the health care needs of every American? Absurd to even entertain that idea. Fix the root causes and the costs take care of themselves.

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