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Letters to the Editor
Canada Is No Model
Psychiatric News
Volume 40 Number 19 page 30-30

APA members who favor a universal coverage, single-payer health care plan received a long-overdue reality check from the Canadian Supreme Court on June 9, as described in an article in the August 5 issue. Canada's highly overidealized health care system was ruled woefully inadequate, and the ban on private medical insurance was declared unconstitutional.

The Canadian health care service has slowly tortured Canadians for years. With no alternative to the government-run, single-payer plan, Canadians, except those able to travel to the United States, experienced limited access to cutting-edge medical technologies, limited referrals to specialists, limited drug formularies, and very long waits for treatment. Canadian Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin wrote, "Access to a waiting list is not access to health care."

A review of the health system in Canada and other countries with government-run, single-payer systems reveals that declaring health care a" right" and raising taxes produces only rationed care and wasteful bureaucracies.

The best chance a nation has to provide quality health care to its citizens is through a market economy. It is a common misconception that our health care system is shaped by free-market forces. Unfortunately, the U.S. medical field is one of the most heavily government-regulated industries. Through a variety of avenues that include the tax code, sale of insurance, and its own payer systems (Medicare and Medicaid), our government has inadvertently escalated the cost of care. The key to increased access and improved affordability is through less government intervention, not more.

The Canadian Supreme Court has provided us with a cautionary tale about socialized medicine. For the well-being of our citizens, let's not remain obstinate about considering a single-payer system to solve our health care problems. Let us focus on what a free market can do to provide the best health care possible for the most people.

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