Myth 16. In countries with government-funded health care, people get immediate care in emergencies, though they may have to wait for elective procedures.

The usual response to concerns about the months-long waiting lists for surgery in Canada and Britain is that this is a mere inconvenience, a small price to pay for universal “free” care. If you have a really serious need, you’ll get immediate attention—or so Michael Moore and others tell us.

Although one can surely come up with anecdotes about someone who got good emergency care in a Canadian or British hospital—especially if the person is a prominent journalist—this is not the norm.

The average wait in Canadian emergency rooms is 23 hours, stated John Stossel on ABC’s 20/20.

Once admitted, a Canadian patient may wait three days in the emergency department for a bed (Michael A. Platokov, “A Temple for Human Sacrifice,” Western Standard 12/4/06).

Actress Natasha Richardson suffered an epidural hematoma from head trauma while skiing Mont Tremblant in Quebec. Prompt neurosurgical treatment probably would have saved her—but it took 4 hours to get her to a properly equipped hospital after she started to deteriorate and called 911 from her hotel room. Quebec—unlike the U.S.—has no medical helicopters ( 3/21/09).

But the flip side, advocates for the Canadian system say, is that U.S. helicopters are “way overused.” A person with a non-life-threatening injury might get killed in a helicopter crash, as has happened ( 3/27/09).

Because of lack of a single bed in any neonatal intensive care unit in southern Ontario, 10 to 15 babies per year have to be transferred to Buffalo, N.Y. Parents of Ava Isabella Stinson were amazed at the way their daughter was treated—and ended up with a different view of Americans.

“Even the security guards care about how you feel.” And the Ronald McDonald House was “like living in a mansion, said Stinson” (Buffalo News 7/2/09).

Cancer might be considered an emergency by the patient—but not by the Canadian or British health bureaucracy. Those who want prompt surgery generally have to come to the U.S., as Stuart Browning shows in the video A Short Course in Brain Surgery, which has been seen by more than 3 million viewers.

In Britain, the National Health Service is supposed to cover necessary treatment, but people are selling their homes to get cancer care (Daily Express 12/22/2008). One British cancer patient waited for an appointment with a specialist, only to have it cancelled—48 times (David Gratzer, “The Ugly Truth about Canadian Health Care,” City Journal, summer 2007).

Kidney failure is fatal, if you can’t get dialysis. In Britain, you are ineligible for this life-saving treatment once you reach the age of 55. The mother of Beth Ashmore, a past president of the National Association of Health Underwriters, developed kidney failure while visiting England. Treatment was denied because of her mother’s age, so Ashmore arranged for a specially equipped jet to bring her home. The hospital, however, had placed her in a back room to die, alone—and could not locate her! Thus, she died while an aircraft that could have saved her waited on a runway in Atlanta to find out its destination.

Mere pain, no matter how severe or disabling, is not considered life-threatening, so orthopedic surgery that could relieve it is usually long delayed. Dr. Brian Day, former president of the Canadian Medical Association, saw his operating room time reduced from 22 hours to only 5 hours per week, 10 hours less than recommended for minimal competence by the Canadian Orthopaedic Association. He had 450 patients waiting for care (National Post 10/23/07).

Additional information:

9 thoughts on “Myth 16. In countries with government-funded health care, people get immediate care in emergencies, though they may have to wait for elective procedures.


    Present U. S. model-mixed government (46%), insurance (40%), self-pay (14%) Expensive, wasteful, erratic availability because of cost, but best quality. Very satisfactory for great majority. Fairly high consumer choice
    Nationalized -12 countries Less expensive, newest and most effective therapy is extensively rationed, most important care least available. Satisfactory for healthy, unacceptable for medically needy. Access touted but actually poor. Worst systems totally centrally planned, bettter have higher private elements. Minimal consumer choice
    Consumer –directed, HSAs and high-deductible catastrophic – approx 15 million subscribers 2009 Economical, high quality, full access, high satisfaction, maximal consumer control, enlists consumers and providers in cost savings

    Why are we talking?

  2. Dr. Waters makes a good practical argument for private medical care; I will make the moral argument.

    Health care is not a right.

    Rights are a sanction for one to take action within a social context, not to force the actions of others. Rights are necessary only for beings with the faculty of reason, making governments a necessary tool only for the protection of rights, effectively protecting individuals from the force of others and the force of government itself.

    The Obama administration is now making an explicit all out assault on rights by advancing the “public” (government) option to take over the payment system for medical care. It cannot accomplish this without controlling every aspect of where the money is spent, how it is spent, and who will “benefit” from the arbitrary power of government. It accomplishes this by the theft of capital and by regulation of industry based on the violation of the principle of individual rights.

    In short, and in sum, if the government advances the cause of formal and total violation of rights, the United States will become the Land of the Slaves, not the Land of the Free.

    The government must be defeated on moral grounds if there is any chance of reclaiming freedom of choice in medicine, and freedom as such.

    Mark A. Hurt, MD
    Creve Coeur, MO

  3. Why are we talking about Obama plan? This is not constructive criticism. At least we need to define what are the givens, before a journey in logical manipulations can begin.
    Start with the fact that our system though has many strong features fails at least 16% of our population. The cost at 16% of GDP is high, specially when rest of the world is keeping it down. How does that affect our international export competitive position is a question a panel of economist can try to answer. There is significant waste in our system. Last I looked at 55 to 60 cents on the Dollar is spent before any health care is delivered. How much of that is necessary for the system to function correctly also can only be answered by economist and systems theorist. All of these answers will be based certain on assumption. So the most important short coming of Obama plan is:
    · Adaptability of the system.
    · Governance of the system , free of political influences.
    Nothing wrong with Obama idea that system needs to cover all, be cost effective and high quality. He needs to add to this that system be rapidly adaptable as the scientific evidence changes and not wait for 40 yrs and 6 presidents to get around to change, and should be free from political manipulations.
    We should work on making sure that the system is science driven and adaptable, which in essence will require an oversight board similar to the characteristics of our Supreme Court.

    What is freedom of choice in medicine, there are Scientific facts or unknowns or Irrational actions. The patient should know where the medical advice is coming from.

    R Dhingra

  4. Obama care means little care. Rationing of services and intrusive governmental control of every aspect of our lives are why they want government control of healthcare. This foundation would allow the government to tax and control everything you do from what you drive to what you eat. Your value would cease to be as a person, it would be based on your economic value as a taxpayer. We would be returning to the “Plantation,” where we have been bought, our teeth have been checked, and our value calculated on how many years we can pay taxes to our “Master.”
    Give me Liberty or give me death!

    S. Replogle, D.O.

  5. Pingback: AAPS: Universal Healthcare Myths « Pursuing Truth In Politics

  6. The Constitution states we have an inalienable right to life. What is the difference between abortion – and denial of care to a person who would have lived had doctors intervened??

    To argue that medical care is not a “right” is immoral and contrary to every tenet of the Bible. The Bible is of greater weight and import than the Constitution. In fact, if any part of the Constitution does not agree wtih the Bible, the Constitution itself is found lacking or in error. The Bible is the rule of all just and sound law in spirit and in truth. The Bible is the Spirit of all just law and effective government.

    Rather, Christians have a RESPONSIBILITY to provide care. Rather than the government forcing Americans into an inefficient system, Christians in the USA would do better to be pro-active and meet the needs of the poor and uninsured in a Christian manner.

    Government solutions are not solutions. However, either Christian solutions are generated or Christians are not behaving as Christians.

    James 2:14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

    I am against Government healthcare. However, the lack of concern for the poor reflected in these comments is unChristian. Our goal should be to meet the needs of the poor through charity. Those are programs that can be controlled by the private sector.

    This is the command of scripture. God is bigger than Government. He should be obeyed without argumentative responses to the responsibility of Christians in the private sector to meet the needs of the poor.

    You say healthcare is not a right. Shame on you. The Christian response is that healthcare, for the poor, is the responsibility of the Christian church in accordance with scripture and the command of God.

    If we call Jesus “Lord” – we should do what He says.


  7. Pingback: Leader promises not to rest until he works miracle. « AAPS News of the Day

  8. I have never heard such rot!! I am Scottish & we are part of the UK NHS. At times, of course, there are waiting times & sometimes mistakes,but on the whole, the NHS is a wonderful service. I have nothing but praise for our Doctors, Nurses & Health Care workers.
    My husband & myself took care of my aged Parents & my Mum needed 24hr care. The Doctors & Health workers gave us wonderful support & help from Nurses & sitters to look after Mum while we went shopping once a week. We were given every piece of equipment I asked for, to help make my Mum more comfortable, as well as free incontinent pads, vitamin drink foods when she was unable to eat & numerous other things. There are too many to list. I have nothing but praise for our Government-funded Health Service. For £38 per year, I can have all the prescriptions I need for a back problem, as well as medicine for a hiatus hernia. My husband is over 60 yrs old & doesn’t pay anything for his prescriptions. Without the NHS we would be in constant pain as we wouldn’t be able to afford the prescriptions we both need. Surely it’s a basic Human right to be given treatment, even -or especially – if you can’t afford it. America, think again!!

  9. I would like to add to what I already wrote; to say that if you can afford private health insurance in Britain then you are free to pay for it if you so wish. So, at least we have the option without having to worry if we’ll get treatment or not if we can’t afford health insurance.

Comments are closed.