Saturday, June 11, 2005
What are medicare worshippers so afraid of?
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Question: if people think our health care system is so great, why are they afraid of private insurance entering the equation?
If the public system was doing its job, nobody would fork over the money to buy private insurance, would they? Well, I guess some folks, especially rich folks, would. But the overwhelming majority of Canadians would stay with the free and universally available program. The system as we know it would stay intact, wouldn't it?
The fear some people have of introducing competition into the system suggests to me they don't think our system can compete. They would prefer all of us get stuck with an inadequate public system instead of some of us opting for something better - if it's available.
The one sure way of keeping private insurers at bay, or private health care at bay, is for the public system to work the way its advocates keep telling us it's supposed to work.
Indeed, the decision by the Supreme Court of Canada should be seen as a challenge to the worshippers of medicare. Get our current system to work, or get out of the way. Sick people need medical treatment. They can't wait forever to see the public system heal itself.
This provides all the political parties an opportunity. My guess is they will all somehow make the argument I'm trying to make here. A strong and healthy public health care system that is accessible to all Canadians need not be put at risk by private interests. It just needs to get fixed. And it needs to get fixed fast. The differences might lie in the extent to which the parties would outlaw private health care. But a strong public system would do what no law or regulation could. It would save the public system all Canadians have access to.
The fact that this won't be good enough for some of the medicare gurus makes one wonder why they're so afraid of having our current system put to the test.
UPDATE (Sun. June 12, 11:24 pm): Well, here is an argument being made by one of the worshippers right now.
I would have more time for people like Walkom if they didn't so readily dismiss debate on topics such as medicare. He calls people who entertain private involvement in our health care system "zombie masters".
Now, I use the term "worshippers" myself to describe people like Walkom. Ain't I just as bad as he is? Well, I'm open to debating topics of importance in Canadian society. He doesn't seem to be. So, I think that makes him a worshipper. I don't think it makes me a "zombie master". Quite the opposite, in fact.
He spends about the first half of his article discussing the political popularity of medicare in this country. In other words, he gets all emotional on us without dealing with the issue of the viability of medicare alongside private competition.
Then, when he finally gets to the topic, he mentions the fact that most advanced countries have a so-called two-tier system, but does nothing to tell us why those systems are so bad for Canada. He just cites more studies, most of them as politically motivated as Walkom is.
It's this single-minded worship of our health care system which makes you wonder if things like medicare have become a pseudo-religion to some.
Just one more thing. If our health care system is so great, why are there no other countries in the world trying to emulate it? Instead of being a world leader, we seem to be a world pariah when it comes to health care. Why is that?