Struggle

Does Canadian Socialized Medicine Suck?

I've been hearing a bit about how terrible socialized medicine is for those who have to "endure" it. After all, if everyone gets health care, everyone has to wait, right? I've heard horror stories of people having to wait for months for basic treatment.

Well, I usually don't turn to Slashdot for commentary, but I found one Canadian's description of Canada's health care system to be very interesting. The comments are short, so it's easy to read and the rest of this won't make as much sense unless you do.

One telling point was that the Canadian health care system might be better off if a nominal fee was charged for emergency room visits (I might extend that to all visits). A great support for this argument is Medicare. Before Medicare was first adopted in the sixties, a sizeable percentage of our elderly did not have adequate medical coverage. However, costs rose dramatically and it was eventually realized that free visits to the doctor were a lousy idea. Many elderly people were lonely and apparently took advantage of this to visit someone.

This was corrected by adding a small fee to each visit and this dramatically lowered the number of visits and made Medicare a ton of money. I don't know about how socialized medicine plans in Canada or the UK are structured, but it does seem like enacting something like that could lower useless demand quite a bit (if it's not done already, though).
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Healthcare
Having lived in the UK for 33 years and the US for 6 I prefer the UK version. In fact the healthcare system in the US is my biggest gripe about this country.

UK Healthcare is paid for by National Insurance which is basically an additional tax that is levied on both the employee and employer. I believe it is currently running at about 9.5% for employees although it is capped. Private schemes exist for those who wish to use them but these do not exclude you from the National Health Service (NHS). A payment is required for filling prescriptions, eye tests and dental work. Some emergency room visits, mainly car accidents, are also billed - last time I checked it was about 20 pounds (about $35 at current rates).

Here are a few general comparisons.

The standard of treatment is a little better in the US.

Treatment is available to all permanent residents in the UK regardless of age, income or employment status. Getting a serious illness will not prevent you from getting healthcare a second time.

Healthcare in the UK is not capped so if your treatment gets expensive it doesn't suddenly stop.

Hospitals in the US are generally nicer places to be than in the UK.

Doctors in the US treat patients as customers. Doctors in the UK tend to treat them as an annoyance.

Navigating the healthcare maze in the US is about a billion times more difficult than the UK.

Waiting lists for some operations in the UK can be as long as 2 years but it is possible to queue jump by going privately.

To summarise you are basically looking at longer queues and a slightly poorer standard of care that is available on demand to everyone compared to quicker response and better care available to those who can afford it.
Estimate
Oh yeh, it's just a generalised statement.

Thinking about it, I've probably pitched a little on the low side.