Physicians for a National Health Program advocate a system similar to Canada's nationalized program. On this plan, the State would slowly eliminate private health insurance by law and receive funding from a further progressive income tax. Many leaders find this plan attractive due to its alleged availability and low-cost.
However, the Fraser Institute of Vancouver reports (Reason, Oct. 89) that the nationalized Canadian system is not as attractive as some declare. Canadian consumers have "fewer facilities and longer waits for diagnostic services and surgical procedures."
The Fraser Institute found that Canadian patients have extremely limited access to CAT scanners, magnetic-resonance imaging machines (there are more in Michigan than in all of Canada!), etc.
Moreover, patients must often wait two months for a CAT scan, two-and-a-half for a mammogram, and three for bone scans.
Hip replacements may take six to ten months and coronary bypass surgery may be delayed as much as a year. Six heart patients died last year waiting for surgery at Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre. Two more died in Toronto.
The list goes on. Such waiting lists always emerge under nationalized systems, whether the product is bread, shoes, or medical care, because there are no market set prices to allocate services. Moreover, consumers cannot force providers to meet their demands of quality because they are not the purchasers of the service. The providers have no incentive to satisfy patients as they would under a market system.
Though we should reject implementing the Canadian system here, the American system faces other problems. U.S. medical care may provide adequate technology and immediate service, but health care costs are skyrocketing.
Much of the blame for these high costs must be placed on occupational licensing regulations. These require-ments grant monopoly privileges to doctors and radically restrict the influx of new doctors. Such an artificial restriction on the supply of doctors naturally forces prices up, much to the joy of those already in the business.
Medical associations readily ask for such "protective" regulations since doctors, not consumers, reap the benefits.