Charity on October 11th, 2007

Five Before Chaos blogger (and GMD front pager) JD Ryan wants to know: Where is this compelling evidence that somehow the private sector (motivated by nothing by profit) always does things better than the public sector?

While looking up some information on a completely unrelated topic, I happened across this article (link opens a PDF) written by a Canadian about the problems with their health care system.

After outlining one of the leading problems with Canada’s health care system,

The average wait time in Quebec is now 16 hours and 18 minutes—half an hour longer than two years ago.

And patients aren’t just waiting in the emergency room. In 1993, Canadians referred by their doctors to specialists waited an average of 9.3 weeks for treatment. By 2006, it was 17.8 weeks.

she goes on to explain one of the root causes.

While [Michael] Moore is correct when he says that the United States is the only western country without universal public care, he fails to mention that Canada is the only country in the developed world where it is forbidden to pay for private care—one of the reasons for our long wait times.

She then concludes by letting us know what is being done about it.

Here in Quebec, the Castonguay Commission is currently conducting hearings into improving our health care system, including specifying the role the private sector can play in increasing access to health care and cutting wait times.

Emphasis mine.

This might not be evidence to you that the private sector always does better, but it sure goes a long way toward explaining why the private sector is needed.

Tell me, how many times does this little socialist experiment have to be tried before y’all fold and admit that it doesn’t work?

21 Responses to “What’s So Great About the Private Sector?”

  1. Tell me, how many times does this little socialist experiment have to be tried before y’all fold and admit that it doesn’t work?

    And where exactly has it ‘failed’? The Europeans seem pretty happy with it. And of course, the ‘it’s so awful in Canada’ rightwing talking point gets really old. I know Canadians that are very happy with it, and I also know it’s not perfect. But I don’t live in Canada, I live here, and our system sucks. Why? Because profit, not health is the bottom line here. And that will always fail.

    Howsabout this? We get the single payer healthcare, and if you still want to pay for your shitty private health plan, so you can feel “free” and put more money in some CEO’s pocket who could care less if your kid lives or dies, go right ahead. Even give you a tax credit or something. Just stop ruining it for the rest of us.

    And you still haven’t answered my question. And let me amend it… how is a system that puts profits over health somehow a better choice?

  2. And Charity, it might help your readers to point out that the article you point out comes from an organization that is yet another ‘free market’ think tank. Howbout something a little less biased? They promote ‘choice, markets, and responsibility’? Responsibility to whom, the shareholders? The whole website is about letting the private sector handle things the government usually does, which is a major part of the problem in the first place.

  3. Hmmm… That’s a pretty selective little bit of information you’ve served up here. How about a few more facts to begin with:

    First, In the US we spend an average of about 6100 dollars per capita per year on health care. In Canada they spend an average of about 3000.

    Second, the Canadians have better outcomes across the board (almost): Longer life spans, lower infant mortality, higher survival rates for most kinds of cancer (the US does have a very good record on breast cancer), better success following organ transplants, and there’s like 11 more things that have names that I don’t understand, so I won’t list them.

    Third, The Canadians cover everybody. E.V.E.R.Y.B.O.D.Y.

    Also, it’s pretty deceptive to complain about the wait times in Canada. Why? Because you are comparing apples and oranges. In Canada, everyone has access to health care. So more people access health care. In the US, wait times are low because lots of people who NEED health care don’t go to the hospital. If I had an easy way to post pictures on this blog I’d post a picture of the gnarly scar on my shoulder from when I cut my shoulder bad while riding my bike under a low hanging tree and sealed the cut with two stitches done by my roomate and some ducttape because I would have had to choose between rent and hospital bills if I went to the hospital. I can also tell you stories about working in restaurants where nobody had health insurance, thats where I learned how to get veterinary amoxicillin (get the stuff meant for fish, not for large animals because it comes measured, where the large animal stuff is powdered and you have to try to dose it yourself), how to get suture kits for stitching up kitchen cuts (also from veterinary suppliers, make sure to throw out the disinfectant that comes with the kits and buy your own iodine because the stuff meant for sheep isn’t good for us), and how to treat pretty bad burns without spending money at the hospital. And it’s not like I’m the only one out there who has done this stuff. These are people who are utilizing the Canadian system, but not the American system.

    So to summarize: The Canadians provide health care to everybody. They do it for half the cost that we do in America. They have better results. They wait a little longer than us (the wait time statistics for US emergency rooms are between 6 and 12 hours depending on location and hospital type).

    The US spends twice what the Canadians do, 1 out of 5 Americans has no health insurance and many others have very poor insurance (of the 50% of bankruptcies that result from medical emergencies, slightly more than half result from health problems that affect people with insurance that doesn’t cover their problem for one reason or another), we have shorter lifespans, more of our babies die, and we are less happy with our health care.

    Another fun fact that didn’t fit in anywhere:
    Canada spends 9% of it’s GDP on health care for the whole nation.
    The US spends 14% of it’s GDP on health care for only 80% of the nation.

    So there’s your effing private sector. I really hope that by the time that our nation is ready to address this problem, you and the rest like you are sufficiently humiliated and marginalized that you sit in your hovels and refrain from injecting your amoral idiocy into the serious debate that we will need to have.

  4. Excellent points, Rediculous. Care to address them, point by point, Charity?

  5. Where is this compelling evidence that somehow the private sector (motivated by nothing by profit) always does things better than the public sector?

    Well, the answer is Blackwater USA, of course. As private security contractors in Iraq, they’ve done a much better job than our government run socialist military. See the Army and Marines have silly liberal things like “rules of engagement” and a “code of justice” that prevent them from being cost effective like Blackwater Secutity. Get a clue JD!

    (In other news, there are no such things as “free markets.”)

  6. I do not even know where to start responding to Rediculous. Obviously, you have a history of not having health insurance, so you want someone else to pay for it. I cannot even begin to untangle that logic.

    You had a choice. You said so yourself. Hospitals accept payment plans, even if you can only pay a little at a time. You decided that it was in your best interest to do it yourself.

    That little anecdote is no more a valid reason to enact a government health insurance system than any case I could find of a person dying on a wait list in Canada would be for not doing it.

    I don’t care how little per person Canada pays for people to wait for care. I would rather have a system where the care is there when we need it and is of good quality.

    No, people do not wait “a little longer” in Canada. You conveniently are only addressing the ER wait times. The wait for a specialist is 17.8 weeks.

    No thanks.

    You are missing the big point here: “Access to a waiting list is not the same thing as access to health care.” So says the Canadian Supreme Court, which is why they are looking at letting the private sector into their system.

  7. JD said, “it might help your readers to point out that the article you point out comes from an organization that is yet another ‘free market’ think tank”

    JD, I did say where the article came from by linking to the site. Why wouldn’t I use info from a think tank that has the same philosophy I do? They have already done the research for me. I call that resourceful.

    Now do you find fault with their facts? Or just that they don’t agree with your world view?

  8. Charity- What if your husband lost his job? It’s been known to happen, even to good workers. Your kids would be on Dr. Dynosaur in three seconds flat. Don’t even try to front. I won’t buy it. We had this conversation two years ago.

  9. I have waited 6-8 weeks to get an appointment with a specialist right here in Vt, and members of my family have waited longer. I have waited 3 hours in the Fletcher Allen ER, and that was on a slow night and me with a chip of steel in my eyeball. So it is a matter of degree.

    One class of people in the U.S. wait far longer than Canadians for specialists. People without health insurance are on the “forever” waiting list. About 18,000 uninsured people die every year due to lack of treatment.

    What happens in countries with socialized medicine is that budgets get cut and wait times extend. Then there is a stink, they get more funding, and wait times shorten. We could go single payer, dramatically cut our costs, and still spend enough more than Canada per person to have shorter wait times.

  10. JD, I did say where the article came from by linking to the site. Why wouldn’t I use info from a think tank that has the same philosophy I do?

    Charity, as far as I can tell, your ‘philosphy’ consists of regurgitating right-wing talking points with zero critical analysis.

  11. “Charity, as far as I can tell, your ‘philosphy’ consists of regurgitating right-wing talking points with zero critical analysis”

    Well then, I guess I need to do some posts about my philosophy then.

  12. I’m not sure you have what it takes to grasp the larger point here:
    Wait times to see a specialist are longer in Canada than in the United States because everyone has access to specialists. You are (again) comparing apples and oranges and acting oh so proud of yourself when you prove that an orange tastes more like an orange than an apple does…

    Onto another of the few points you decided to address:
    “Obviously, you have a history of not having health insurance, so you want someone else to pay for it. I cannot even begin to untangle that logic.”

    Apparently untangling logic is not your strong suit, so let me help you:

    I think that the only civilized thing that the greatest nation in the western world can do is make sure that it’s citizens have health care. It’s a moral issue. Right now I have health care, I pay for it, and I’m doing quite a lot better (financially) than I was in the bad old days. If there were any sort of single payer system in place, I would be one of the ones paying in far more than I would be getting out. So don’t try to paint me with your (retarded) “looking for a free lunch” brush.

    People, you, me, or anyone else, shouldn’t have to decide between paying rent and paying for stitches. Right now they do. That’s wrong.

    I don’t know where the vindictive spite that you people spew comes from, I’m sure we all have some of it in us, and I suppose I shouldn’t be so outraged that some people can’t hold it in… It just irks me when people like you choose issues as important as this to use as targets for your ignorant hatred of everyone who doesn’t share your prissy egocentrism…

  13. Hmmm… Did my post from last night get deleted, or did I not post it correctly… I hope it was the latter rather than the former… I wouldn’t be surprised if I hit the wrong button, or closed down the computer before it had finished posting, I would be pretty disappointed if you’re deleting my posts…

  14. Ooh… It came back…

  15. It was caught in the spam folder. I’m glad you left a comment asking, or I might not have realized it.

  16. I don’t know where the vindictive spite that you people spew comes from, I’m sure we all have some of it in us, and I suppose I shouldn’t be so outraged that some people can’t hold it in…

    Can you please point out to me where this vindictive spite is?

    I admit that I have not been as pleasant as possible with you, but let me provide you with a sampling from your first comment ever on my blog: “complete nutcase,” “so painfully ignorant and ill-informed that it makes your teeth hurt,” and “deceitful and amoral to the point that it makes me sick.”

    Excuse me if you are not on my favorite commenter list. However, I fail to see where this vindictive spite is.

    Though admittedly my comment was poorly worded, I was not under the impression that you still have no health insurance, since your comments were in the past tense. What I was trying to say was that obviously due to your past experience you think that everyone else should pay to make sure no one else goes through that. As a result, you want to give everyone an inefficient government system. I think that is a foolish solution based on an emotional response.

    If you want to help someone who is in the position that you were in, support a charity, start one, support a free clinic, start one, go up to some guy who works in a restaurant and offer to buy him health insurance. Whatever. I just think it is foolhardy to base national policy on the personal past hardships of Rediculous.

    This is exactly why JD Ryan cannot comprehend why I support policies that “go against my self-interest,” as the libs like to say. It’s not about me. It’s about what system works best and I do not agree that a publicly funded system works best.

    You don’t have to agree. Neither does JD.

  17. It’s about what system works best and I do not agree that a publicly funded system works best.

    Ok so Medicaid operates infinitely more efficiently than the private sector, which is failing people miserably. So what’s this system you thing works best, and considering we have given private health a chance and not a broader public healthcare system a chance, how can you say it doesn’t work best?

  18. My dearest spiteful vindictive nutcase-
    I will try to address a few things but will certainly not get to all of them. I will try to be brief.

    First: Vindictive Spite. I was surprised you raised this, perhaps I made it too confusing. You see, vindictive and spiteful are (almost) synonymous. In general, they both refer to an unreasonable or irrational desire to do harm or extract unreasonable revenge. Some examples of your vindictive spite (In some cases I am using you to point to you personally, in others I will be referring to the right-wing in general.)

    The Democrats (in an admittedly cheesy move) use a sick twelve-year old kid to make a valid point about the veto of SCHIP money. The Republicans attack the sick child in a particularly vicious manner. They lie about the family’s financial situation, their employment history, the availability of health care, etc… And, even after every single claim had been clearly disproved, you go and quote it on your silly little website. That’s spite.

    When a handful of soldiers take a position on the policies of our nation in regards to the war in Iraq, a position which the American people support nearly two to one, Rush Limbaugh attacks their service overseas. When he his called out on what can only be characterized as “vindictive spite,” he mocks the entire episode. And what do you do? You copy-and-paste his arrogant hatred with the tagline “this is just too funny.” That’s spite.

    As I said that I would try to keep this brief, I will move on. But if you want me to keep going on how you and a large part of the right wing are vindictively spiteful, let me know and I’ll keep going.

    Moving on, you, hilariously, insinuate that your position on health health care is based, to some degree or another, on efficiency. After all that’s been discussed here, I’m not sure how you can possibly claim that a “government-run system” is less efficient than, well, anything else.

    You say now that you do not agree that a publicly funded system works best. That’s fine. I understand that, and I don’t think anyone’s going to open, much less change your mind. What is not fine is that you lie (or omit relevant facts), over and over again, in order to try to come up with some sort of rational basis to support what is an inherently irrational position. What is a real shame is that so many people seem to take you seriously.

  19. Who takes Charity seriously?

  20. While their system is certainly not perfect (according even to friends of mine that live in Canada), I don’t think anyone in Canada would trade their health care system for ours in the USA. I think it’s fair to say that many on the left view health care as a human right (a point which I’m sure we’ll disagree on), and any extrapolations about having a “right” to universal shelter or food really aren’t appropriate in my mind, since it appears to me that no one outside of the right tends to bring them up. It’s like the minimum wage issue…no one on the left talks about paying everyone $100/hour….only people on the right that aren’t in favor of a minimum wage at all in the first place bring it up. But I digress, a single payer health care system implemented by any one of the 50 States would save that state a heck of a lot of money in administration costs, which would cause every other state to say, “Hey, why do they get to save all that money and not us?” (kind of like what happened with the Canadian provinces a while back). Ever waited at a doctor’s office or at home for an medical appoitment? Well, you’ll do the same thing under a different (but fairer) health care system. The UK has some pretty good incentives for steady performance improvment in its health care system BTW. I agree that the private sector health insurance industry can’t just be banned period…how would all the rich people pay for their health care then? :)

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