Flimsy Sanity: Another Good Point about Medical Care

Flimsy Sanity

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. - Friedrich Nietzsche

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Another Good Point about Medical Care

The Waiting Game by Paul Krugman

A cross-national survey conducted by the Commonwealth Fund found that America ranks near the bottom among advanced countries in terms of how hard it is to get medical attention on short notice (although Canada was slightly worse), and that America is the worst place in the advanced world if you need care after hours or on a weekend.
We look better when it comes to seeing a specialist or receiving elective surgery. But Germany outperforms us even on those measures — and I suspect that France, which wasn’t included in the study, matches Germany’s performance.
Besides, not all medical delays are created equal. In Canada and Britain, delays are caused by doctors trying to devote limited medical resources to the most urgent cases. In the United States, they’re often caused by insurance companies trying to save money.
On the other hand, it’s true that Americans get hip replacements faster than Canadians. But there’s a funny thing about that example, which is used constantly as an argument for the superiority of private health insurance over a government-run system: the large majority of hip replacements in the United States are paid for by, um, Medicare.
That’s right: the hip-replacement gap is actually a comparison of two government health insurance systems. American Medicare has shorter waits than Canadian Medicare (yes, that’s what they call their system) because it has more lavish funding — end of story. The alleged virtues of private insurance have nothing to do with it.


  • At 9:44 AM, Anonymous sister anan said…

    I think most Canadians call an ambulance and head for emergency if they want immediate attention. There are also walk-in clinics if you need attention right now, and no, you don't have to go to just one doctor. And yes, it's free.

    I'm surprised to hear about Germany; when i was there languishing at death's door with tick fever, i was told i didn't 'deserve' a doctor, because i should have researched all harmful insects before coming over for a visit.

  • At 3:35 PM, Anonymous RJ Adams said…

    The argument for a US National Health Service has been won. Those who would have to pay more to fund it i.e. the wealthy, are the only ones kicking up these old hackneyed cliches against it. My family doctor now has a two month waiting list to see him. I never waited more than three days to see a NHS doctor in Britain - for free!
    Of course, a US NHS won't happen unless the American people make enough fuss. Which they won't.

    As for Sister Anan in Germany - well, fancy going abroad without researching harmful ticks. She really should have known better.

    (I've been all over Europe and never knew there were any harmful ticks in Germany - apart from Angela Merckel, of course!)


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