Sunday, November 17, 2002

"Canada has the best healthcare system on earth – so long as you don’t get sick!" That quote is from David Frum (link thanks to Rob again), who is so right-wing as to have been a speech writer for Bush. Not surprising this article is as much about belittling Gore as about health care. But I did follow his links to the Fraser Institute's study on queues in the Canadian Health Care system.

Queuing is one of only a few ways of rationing a scarce resource. Assuming the supply of angioplastys is not infinite, then a public health care system can ration angioplastys in only a few ways:

  • Queuing
  • Favoritism
  • Bribery
  • Market pricing
  • Central planning

It seems that Canada uses queuing and favoritism (as Frum alleges), and central planning of course was the original idea of a single-payer health care system. But bribery and market pricing are illegal. Of course if queuing becomes bad enough, it becomes impossible to prevent bribery, as shown in any centrally-planned country after enough years. That leaves market pricing as the only tool not used -- which seems vastly unfair.

But as Frum says, as long as I was healthy I was perfectly happy living in the Canadian system.

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