Free Markets, Free People


Canada healthcare – the future of the US?

Guess what folks, Canada’s moon pony and unicorn “what’s wrong with you Americans, you’re so uncivilized to not have national health care” health care system is in serious financial trouble. And, unbelievably, for the very same reason critics of the recent US health care law said would inevitably happen here. I know, I know – just hard to believe, isn’t it?

Go figure.

The crux of the problem? Well lack of money, what else?

Pressured by an aging population and the need to rein in budget deficits, Canada’s provinces are taking tough measures to curb healthcare costs, a trend that could erode the principles of the popular state-funded system.

[...]

“There’s got to be some change to the status quo whether it happens in three years or 10 years,” said Derek Burleton, senior economist at Toronto-Dominion Bank.

“We can’t continually see health spending growing above and beyond the growth rate in the economy because, at some point, it means crowding out of all the other government services.

“At some stage we’re going to hit a breaking point.”

They’re kidding, right? Weren’t we told that once government got involved this stuff would be affordable and would go on forever?

Their first target, of course, is pharmaceutical companies. They want them to slash prices. But at some point, pharma is going to say it can’t anymore. Because pharma isn’t the problem. Central control of health care delivery is. It has no flexibility, or at least not to a level that it can adapt to changes in the market with any nimbleness. That means it continues to hemorrhage money. Health care spending rises at 6% a year by plan. But it is going to, as mentioned above, begin to crowd out all other government services unless the Canadian government gets a handle on it and does so fairly quickly. Anyone know what that means?

But that deal ends in 2013, and the federal government is unlikely to be as generous in future, especially for one-off projects.

“As Ottawa looks to repair its budget balance … one could see these one-time allocations to specific health projects might be curtailed,” said Mary Webb, senior economist at Scotia Capital.

My guess is more than “one-time allocations” might be curtailed. Consider Ontario:

Ontario says healthcare could eat up 70 percent of its budget in 12 years, if all these costs are left unchecked.

“Our objective is to preserve the quality healthcare system we have and indeed to enhance it. But there are difficult decisions ahead and we will continue to make them,” Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan told Reuters.

That’s bureaucratise for “we’re going to have to ration this stuff and do it pretty darn radically” – unless, of course, Ontario would prefer to spend 70% of its budget on health care costs.

I doubt that’s the case.

Here again we have the end game (or at least the results of the game at this point headed to its inevitable end) of where we’re headed.

My favorite line in the story:

Scotia Capital’s Webb said one cost-saving idea may be to make patients aware of how much it costs each time they visit a healthcare professional. “(The public) will use the services more wisely if they know how much it’s costing,” she said.

“If it’s absolutely free with no information on the cost and the information of an alternative that would be have been more practical, then how can we expect the public to wisely use the service?”

No – she really said that. And that’s the type of person who first embraced the moon pony and unicorn promises that were made for the system.

The problem with all of this “reality” suddenly descending on the system? It is pretty apparent to anyone who has studied a welfare state (and the same place we’re now headed):

But change may come slowly. Universal healthcare is central to Canada’s national identity, and decisions are made as much on politics as economics.

“It’s an area that Canadians don’t want to see touched,” said TD’s Burleton. “Essentially it boils down the wishes of the population.

And so it goes, another chapter in the inevitable end of all such programs – over used, broke and headed toward strict rationing. And the moon pony crowd thinks that if they just tell Canadians how much it really costs when they see a doctor, they’ll do it less and save the system.

Heh, yeah, good luck with that.

~McQ

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18 Responses to Canada healthcare – the future of the US?

  • Fast, cheap, right — pick any two.

  • Is the U.S. DOOMED to repeat the multiple models of collapse we see around the world as national health-care systems come face-to-face with reality?
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    Not unless voters are too stupid to elect people who will pledge…AND ACT…to repeal Obamacare, and INSIST on a return to market economics in health care.

  • “Not unless voters are too stupid to elect people who will pledge…AND ACT…to repeal Obamacare, and INSIST on a return to market economics in health care.”
    Rags, 53% of ‘em were stupid enough to believe and elect this guy in the face of all sorts of serious questions. Have they learned a lesson? Are they smart enough to vote for REAL CHANGE?
    Two years ago I would have pointed to MA. in despair.  Now? Let’s hope the scales have fallen from their eyes.

  • Scotia Capital’s Webb said one cost-saving idea may be to make patients aware of how much it costs each time they visit a healthcare professional.Scotia Capital’s Webb said one cost-saving idea may be to make patients aware of how much it costs each time they visit a healthcare professional.

    So, could we say that the plan is basically to guilt-trip people into NOT using the system???  Good luck with that.  The simple fact of the matter is that, peoples’ natural concerns about their own health aside, Canadians have for a few decades now been steeped in the idea that health care OUGHT to be free to them.  Consider:

    Universal healthcare is central to Canada’s national identity, and decisions are made as much on politics as economics.
    “It’s an area that Canadians don’t want to see touched,” said TD’s Burleton.

    In short, Canadians have learned – BEEN TAUGHT – to be a pack of deadbeats.  Their politicians know this and cater to them, or at the very least don’t want to frustrate their desires by telling them – as they should have done years ago – that the system is ultimately unsustainable and that, IF Canadians want some sort of health care safety net at all, they will have to pay whopping taxes and even then the system will have to be quite modest in scope and certainly NOT “universal”.

    And just think: we’re doing the same thing on steroids!

    • It doesn’t take much to learn to be a deadbeat.

      I know from my own behaviour and experience that is hard to tough up and easy to slack. It is human nature.

    • If I was spending my money, knowing what health-care costs would be fundamental to my decision-making.
      If I am spending YOUR money, I don’t give a fat rip about what it costs.  I want the GOLD PLAN.
       

    • “In short, Canadians have learned – BEEN TAUGHT – to be a pack of deadbeats.”

      {Sigh} {eyes rolling} You dense righties are just completely impervious to moral arguments, aren’t you. I guess since I’ve already established that you are Nazi-like and racist, I shouldn’t be surprised.

      Look, healthcare is a moral right. That’s just all there is to it. We wise leftists decided it, and the proles common citizens agreed with our sophisticated moral thinking.

      Now, you grunt engineer types have the responsibility of making it all work in detail. And I don’t want to hear any of this “against the laws of economics” stuff. We wise leftists have decreed that state-sponsored healthcare is definitely not against the laws of economics. Do you hear? We’ve decreed it! Now get to and make it happen, and stop whining and posting all these sob-stories that are probably only half right anyway.

      This is what you get for refusing to sit down with us and discuss the issue and come to a consensus with us. If you had done that, we would have thrown you some bones, like some stronger weasel words about not paying for abortion, which some of you seem so hopped up about. And you could have felt like you were influencing the process, and I bet you wouldn’t be so angry about all this now. You would have listened to our somber analysis and be like “yes, I see now, healthcare is a moral right” and you would be happy to work with us to make a success for everyone.

      But it’s too late for that now. You tried to obstruct our savior leader while he was doing his best for all of you. He loves you all and he is like a wise parent who sometimes has to go against the wishes of his misguided children. So just shut up about the shady accounting and how the cost estimates were wrong and fudged and all that. How can any of that matter when we’re talking about a moral right?

      Sure, there will be problems along the way, because of unpredictable, low probability quantum events. Some of them will superpose and cause bad things to happen, like that cat dying in a box. That’s just in the nature of reality, as shown by the Hindenburg Uncertainty Principle. But we’ll force collapse of the rave fiction, and as observers we’ll make it all work out. It’s all because of the structure of Dilbert Space, some guy from the physics department told me when I asked about it. I didn’t really see what space on the comics page has to do with it, but that will probably be explained by the next article about quantum physics in Newsweek.

  • I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; health care costs are going to rise no matter who runs it.

    Health care is both capital and labor intensive. Even worse (from an economic point of view),  increased capital investment does not cut costs as it does in other industries, it increases costs. And the labor is not cheap, minimum wage labor, it is expensive skilled labor.

    Is there a ‘solution’? Yeah. If you want more health care, cancel that trip to Disney World and tell the kids they aren’t getting a new Ipod this year.

    • In medical fields where there is a free market, costs do go down as tech improves. Vets, cosmetic surgery, lasic . . .

      The cost problem faced by the socialist and semi-socialist systems is driven by the fact that the patient isn’t paying for most or all of the service at point of service. Hence there is no market demand for lower prices.

      • “costs do go down as tech improves”

        Yes and no. Heart transplants, for example, increased the cost of health care. Instead of relatively cheap end-of-life care we now have expensive surgery and lifelong follow up and drug therapyFormerly untreatable conditions which would have minimal costs, hospice and such, are now treatable with expensive surgeries, drugs, etc. 

        Watch an old movie form the 50′s or earlier. Look at the medical technology available then. Compare it with currently available technology. Which costs more?

  • I have several clients that were Canadian surgeons who now live and work in the US.  Want to guess why they are former Canadian surgeons?  When the government runs health care and starts calling instrument sterilization “overhead” that they won’t pay for, it’s not long.

    Inherent to this entire debate, but not belonging to any particular camp on this issue, is the concept of defensive medicine.  Most countries around the world are shocked at our system where every middle aged man with pain in his left arm – regardless of other risk factors – is automatically worked up with an echo for fear that some expert far away with the benefit of hindsight will assist in suing him.  Until you get that problem fixed, any attempt at reform is futile regardless of its form.

    • TWInherent to this entire debate, but not belonging to any particular camp on this issue, is the concept of defensive medicine.

      I’d say that the reason for that is that it involves a group of people who have a big seat at the table… but aren’t talked about very much at all by the left (and, hence, MiniTru): lawyers.

      O’ course, complaining about lawyers is easy, but they DO serve the purpose of punishing incompetent doctors.  Unfortunately, they also make life hell for the rest, leading to correspondingly high costs foreverybody.  In a more perfect world, this issue wouldn’t be a question of laws (such as tort reform), but rather of smarter juries who are less easily duped by slick lawyers into imposing excessive punitive damages.  But, then again, how would John Edwards pay for his huge mansion in Orange County???

      TW -  When the government runs health care and starts calling instrument sterilization “overhead”…

      !!!!

  • This is an industry that, thankfully, I don’t work in anymore.  Even my patent in this industry has expired.
    Pharmaceutical companies may be the first target, but next will be large capital intensive equipment like MRI, CT, and down the list.  The whole system will degenerate from there.  I see the federal government as the “ultimate proctologist.”

  • Pharm companies may continue to cut their prices in other countries, as long as they can raise prices proportionally here in the States, why wouldn’t they?
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    Yay!  We get to continue funding everyone elses cheaper health care… ugh.

  • How can this be?  I thought we were supposed to break-open the champagne?  You mean they lied to us?  Oh, say it ain’t so!

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