The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

18 September 2004

Don't get sick in the Great White North

Sally Pipes of the Pacific Research Institute, a group which might be characterized by Big Media as a "conservative think tank" — if it's just a "think tank" with no qualifier, they mean it leans left — has written a book called Miracle Cure: How to Solve America's Health-Care Crisis and Why Canada Isn't the Answer. Some of what she's found out:

In theory, Canadians enjoy an almost ideal system — the government pays for all necessary health care, which is delivered by private practice physicians and independent hospitals. The day-to-day reality is starkly different. When Canadians need care, they face a series of waits: one for access to a primary care doctor, another for access to scarce diagnostic equipment, and another for the necessary procedure.

Between 1993 and 2003, the median waiting time from referral by a general practitioner to treatment increased by 90 percent, from 9.3 weeks to 17.7 weeks, according to an annual survey of physicians by the Vancouver-based Fraser Institute. For cancer patients, the waiting time for medical oncology more than doubled from 2.5 weeks to 6.1 weeks, and the waiting time for radiation oncology increased from 5.3 weeks to 8.1 weeks.

For comparison, I offer the time-frames from my recent illness, which I consider to have begun on the 4th of September, that being the day I decided to seek medical assistance rather than ride it out. The 4th, I note, is a Saturday.

  • Waiting time to see primary physician: 58 minutes

  • Time between referral to specialist and actually being seen by specialist: 18 hours, 45 minutes

  • Time between being seen by specialist and actual surgery: 25 hours, 30 minutes

  • Out-of-pocket expenditure: To be determined, estimated $420

I can see why Canadians might want to spend a few loonies south of the border.

(Via Eternity Road)

Posted at 8:59 AM to Dyssynergy


I have a friend of friend living in Vancouver who developed some sort of minor infection, but his wait to get to a doctor was so long he ended up in the hospital for weeks with something that probably could have been nipped in the bud with one round of perscription antibiotics.

Posted by: Erica at 6:45 PM on 18 September 2004

But but but.. Michael Moore showed that it's free, fast, and easy to get medical care in Canada, so it must be true.

Terkish Payne, no really, he doesn't ever lie, right?

Posted by: Terkish Payne at 3:34 PM on 19 September 2004