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POLICY: It sucks to be sick and poor in America

While some of my fellow bloggers have seized on the opportunity afforded by the Canadian election to criticize the alleged "monstrosity" of the Canadian health care system, the true "stinking" is emanating from the system for care of the poor here at home. CHCF is out with two new studies which, while not exactly new news, confirm that access to care for uninsured Californians is terrible, access for those on Medi-Cal is not much better, and that those who receive their care at Federally Qualified Health Centers have enormous problems getting to specialist care.

I won’t dwell on this here and you can go read the reports, but suffice it to say that the Fraser Institute’s analysis of what’s wrong with Canada continually omits to tell the truth about the relative difference between the systems. THCB analyzed the actual situation (rather than some Libertarian fantasy) in the "Oh Canada" post last year. The story from exhaustive studies is that all Canadians have to accept some limitations on getting to highly expensive care, but that has no discernable effect on their overall health or real access to necessary care, and no Canadians have real financial problems associated with getting that care. On this side of the border, well insured Americans have more or less immediate access to expensive care, but poorer and even lower-middle class Americans have much worse access than wealthier Americans (as borne out by the recent CHCF studies) and also than poor Canadians. And up to 25% of Americans have significant financial trouble due to health care expenses. If that means that the Canadian system is morally inferior to ours, let me just say that I have a hard time grokking the morality of those who think so.

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