The misinformation campaign about Canadian healthcare

Hi, this is Matthew Holt from The Health Care Blog, and I'll be writing a few articles about health care, (which may be somewhat crossposted from my blog) and taking the odd rare opportunity to rant about other subjects of my choosing here too. I will (as instructed by Ezra) be writing later in the week about what really happened to the Clinton's failed health care plan, and what lessons that brings for reform when we next get a chance.

But first I must get at one of my pet peeves, as it came up again this past week.  And that peeve is the situation that allows a combination of fact cherry picking and straight out lies to be told about other nation's health care systems. You all probably know the real story. Basically every other country figured out its way to some level of universal insurance system, with a mix of public and private provision of health care, with usually a centralized budget making sure that the health care monster didn't overwhelm the rest of the economy. Between the early years of the 20th century and 1970 when the Canadians moved to their single payer system, every other nation figured out that putting everyone in a single risk pool enabled both greater (if not complete) equity in health care access, and also the ability to contain the overall costs in the system.

The USA never got to that point for a variety of political reasons that I won't spell out but involve a mixture of special interests and jingoistic politics. And every time something goes wrong with our system and Canada is cited as perhaps being an alternative to look at (even if it's not as appropriate a model for the US as France, Germany, Holland or Japan), a strange sub-sect of the VRWC comes out of the gutter and makes its way onto the nation's op-ed pages. The aim is of course to stop any rational debate about what we ought to replace our provider and insurer-driven system with.