Please don’t turn Natasha Richardson’s tragic death into a symbol for why Canadian-style universal health care is bad and the United States is better.
In the last six hours, I’ve seen articles from at least a dozen media outlets asking whether Natasha Richardson would have lived, had her skiing accident occurred in the United States instead of Canada, where the quoted commentators say universal health care means insufficient access to high-tech scans and helicopters.
I’m not advocating for or defending Canada’s single-payer health system. Merely, I ask that journalists considering doing this story ask deeper questions that get beyond the anecdote. Consider asking about the trade-offs that go along with providing seemingly unlimited CT scans and helicopters. Ask what would happen if she were an uninsured U.S. resident.
Richardson’s tragedy may represent a larger problem, but those statistics need to accompany the punditry. While not diminishing the tragedy of Richardson’s untimely death, a sample of one is not a good measure of how well a state or nation’s health system performs.
Anecdotes make great stories and can put a face on a problem, but policy should be based on scientific research that reveals truths about the entire population.