INTERNATIONAL/POLICY: Canadian health care must be better!

If I was David Gratzer or John Graham’s alter egos I’d be using these two stories to good effect.

The first one one proves that Canadians are getting healthier and living longer than before they had a universal single payer system. And this one shows that your typical heart transplant patient from Canada ends up so healthy that he climbs huge mountains in Antarctica, and the only reason he didn’t get to the top is that the two doctors escorting him up couldn’t keep up the pace!

So by extrapolation the Canadian system must be perfect! With evidence like that, I should write a few op-eds saying so!

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  1. I agree Canada’s healthcare system has a history of being world class. Nonetheless, I’d say no national health system is perfect. Further, its also dangerous to rest on one’s laurels. In 2006, according to the Fraser Insititue, the average wait time to see a general practitioner in Canada was 18 days and average waits to get from GP to treatment of specialties was for example plastic surgery (35.4 wks), orthopedics (40.3 wks), neuro surgery (31.7wks), and cardiovascular sugery (8wks). Since wait times are increasing and budgets will be decreasing in Western countries more generally with aging populations (fewer people will be working to support the aged), we need foresight to revise the system and devise strategies to maintain high quality care we can afford and accept. Otherwise, health tourism will continue to redefine the global landscape. Cost and unacceptable waits already cause people to draw money away from Western economies and to transform traditionally developing ones. This can be a positive thing, and its slowly changing what used to be key advantages within specific national borders.

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