Monday, June 18, 2007

SF Examiner Article Against Socialized Medicine?

Take prostate cancer, for example. Though American men are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than men in other countries, we are less likely to die of it. Fewer than one in five American men with prostate cancer will die from it, but a quarter of Canadian men will, and even more ominously, 57 percent of British men and nearly half of French and German men will.

Similar results can be found for other cancers, AIDS and heart disease. When former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi needed heart surgery last year, he didn’t go to France, Canada, Cuba or even an Italian hospital — he went to the Cleveland Clinic.

Newsalert (see blogroll at left) pointed to me to the original article, which focuses on Michael Moore-on's new movie. Here's more from the Examiner, most of which should be patently obvious to the most casual observer but apparently needs to be repeated for the ignorant:

As one would expect, Moore refers frequently to the 47 million Americans without health insurance but fails to point out that most of those are uninsured for only brief periods or that millions are already eligible for government programs but fail to apply. Moreover, he implies that people without health insurance don’t receive health care.

In reality, most do. Hospitals are legally obligated to provide care regardless of ability to pay, and while physicians do not face the same legal requirements, few are willing to deny treatment because a patient lacks insurance. Treatment for the uninsured may well mean financial hardship, but by and large they do receive it.

And Moore overlooks the flaws of national health care systems. He downplays waiting lists in Canada, suggesting they are no more than inconveniences. He interviews apparently healthy Canadians who claim they have no problem getting care. Somehow, he couldn’t find any of the nearly 800,000 Canadians who are not so lucky.

Nor apparently did he have time to interview Canadian Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin, who wrote in a 2005 decision striking down part of Canada’s universal care law that many Canadians waiting for treatment suffer chronic pain and “patients die while on the waiting list.”

I've written several posts in that same vein. Click on the socialism label to read them.


allen said...

Not so fast, bucko:

Michael Tanner is director of health and welfare studies at the Cato Institute.

When a regular editorial writer for the SFGate comes out, so to speak, against socialized medicine then we'll start sending warm clothes to hell. A director of the Cato Institute coming writing a piece about the down-side of socialized medicine isn't newsworthy.

Mrs. Bluebird said...

At one point I lived in the upper Midwest and it was common knowledge that many Canadians would come over to Detroit or Toledo to receive medical care because they could actually receive it here. The wait times in Canada were awful. Many of my husband's Canadian customers complained bitterly about how we had much better health care here in the U.S.

sailorman said...

Just a point about this:
hough American men are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than men in other countries, we are less likely to die of it. Fewer than one in five American men with prostate cancer will die from it, but a quarter of Canadian men will....

FYI, the fact that we show a "higher rate" of prostate cancer can be attributed to better detection, AND/OR to a higher rate of false positives.

Problematically, both of those will show up as "improving" the death stats. If we are getting a higher rate of false positives, and if that rate is used in calculating death %age, then it makes us look better.

Also, though I realize you're quoting, you should (editorially) point out the poor language. If you say "one in five" in the US with cancer, you should say "one in four" for Canada. Or you should use one-fifth and one quarter. But don't mix and match.

Anyway, as for survival: the difference with Europe is so big that it's surely related to treatment. The difference with Canada could (may not be; I don't know) related to testing differences.

Parentalcation said...

"And then there is France. After getting almost orgasmic over the quality of French health care, Moore goes on to extol the virtues of paid maternity leave, mandatory minimum vacations, 35-hour workweeks, nearly free day care and, finally, a government service that sends a person to your home twice a week to clean your clothes after you have a baby.

Oblivious to France's economic doldrums, its chronic high unemployment or projections showing that the country's cradle-to-grave social benefits are unsustainable, Moore turns the laundry service into his ideal of civilization at its finest."

While all the authors points about the French social benefits might be correct, he never actually addresses particulars of Frances health care system, even though he did address valid criticisms of the Canadian and British health care system.

Having lived in Europe and New Zealand for over 20 years, I saw a great diversity in Health Care efficiency and quality. There are always trade offs to any system, and its up to the countries electorate to decide what system they want.

I was quite ignorant of the American civilian health care system until the last 2 years (with my Fiance, a nursing student, and her two kids). All I have to say is I am so glad that I am in the military, and that after I retire I will have the VA. The amount of paperwork and the cost of the civilian system is daunting.

Darren said...

Allen: the Examiner published his work.

Parentalcation: do you remember the summer of 2003, when 15,000 people in France died because of a "heat wave" in the 90s? 15 thousand died in a couple of weeks. And that's what we should aspire to?