The Right Coast

October 24, 2004
Canadistan health care
By Tom Smith

Mark Steyn gives us this little nugget:

So this is no time to vote for Europhile delusions. The Continental health and welfare systems John Kerry so admires are, in fact, part of the reason those societies are dying. As for Canada, yes, under socialized health care, prescription drugs are cheaper, medical treatment's cheaper, life is cheaper. After much stonewalling, the Province of Quebec's Health Department announced this week that in the last year some 600 Quebecers had died from C. difficile, a bacterium acquired in hospital. In other words, if, say, Bill Clinton had gone for his heart bypass to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal, he would have had the surgery, woken up the next day swimming in diarrhea and then died. It's a bacterium caused by inattention to hygiene -- by unionized, unsackable cleaners who don't clean properly; by harassed overstretched hospital staff who don't bother washing their hands as often as they should. So 600 people have been killed by the filthy squalor of disease-ridden government hospitals. That's the official number. Unofficially, if you're over 65, the hospitals will save face and attribute your death at their hands to "old age" or some such and then "lose" the relevant medical records. Quebec's health system is a lot less healthy than, for example, Iraq's.

Just so you know, 600 people dying of infections contracted in the hospitals of a single province, especially when the real number is probably a lot higher, is a lot.

Let's put it this way. If you are an American, and traveling to Canada, you should get medical evacuation insurance, just like you should if you are traveling to Liberia. When I took my young 'uns and pregnant wife to Peru summer before last to commune with the rainforest critters, I bought a gold-plated medical evacuation policy that would have covered private jet ambulance and the whole bit. Two hundred bucks for a month and every penny worth it. While we were there, my then 9 year old fell off a fence in the Cathedral Square in Lima, cracked his head on a cobblestone and bled like crazy. My lovely physician wife Jeanne elected to apply pressure and forgoe stitches at the local infirmary, which she didn't want to see, let alone take her child into. Yes, I'm sure there are good doctors in Peru and Canada as well and that with the right combination of contacts and cash you can actually get good medical care. Or you can wrap your kerchief tight and head for Americuh.

I'm not to worried about US medical care. Maybe I should be. In the unfortunate event M. Kerry is elected, there is no way his stupid medical plan will get through Congress. The insurance companies and the drug companies will kill it like the baccilus it is. Like we need our chemo therapy being rationed by the same sort of people that run the DMV. You'd having a better shot bringing back prohibition.

I'm sure rural Arkansas is no bargain, but in any decent sized American city, you can get medical care of amazingly high quality. It helps to have insurance, but you can also just show up at an emergency room. Health care financing in this country is very messed up, but the quality of care in your average American town, is, I would bet, better than all but the quite wealthy get in France or Germany. In Canada, you probably just drive south. So why don't Americans live longer? Because we are so fat and get so little exercise. Take away our health care, and we'd really be in trouble.