Americans Fear Canada's Health-Care System, But Not as Much as Canadians Fear America's
Julie Mason has a sharp column in the Ottawa Citizen noting that "for years, Canadians have feared the American health care system; now Americans are being told to fear ours." She does a nice job knocking down Sen. Mitch McConnell's odd characterization of Canadian health care.
The whole exchange reminded me of a fun section from T.R. Reid's book "The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care," which makes clear that Canadians and Britons view the American health-care system with exactly the same mixture of fear and contempt that Americans reserve for the Canadian and British systems:
The American health care system is constantly invoked by politicians all around the world as a dangerous jungle to be avoided at all costs. Whenever some aspect of a nation's health-care system is criticized, the all-purpose response from those in power is "At least we're not as bad as the Americans." I saw this dynamic at work over and over again when we lived in Britain. Each week in the British parliament, the prime minister has to face a barrage of inquiries and insults known as Prime Minister's Questions: Almost every week, somebody from one of the opposition parties complains about the National Health Service: Doctors are underpaid. Hospitals are leaky and crumbling. Patients have to wait months or even years for surgery. Something must be done!
In reply, the prime minister -- both Tony Blair and his successor, Gordon Brown, used this gambit -- goes on the attack. "The honorable gentleman opposite," the PM declares, "clearly hopes to turn our health-care system into a profit-making corporate enterprise as the Americans have done. This we will never do."
As you can see atop this post, however, there is actual survey data on how satisfied various countries are with their health-care system. The numbers behind that graph come from a 2007 poll conducted by the OECD. As you can see, Americans lead the world in hating their patchwork mess of a health-care system. In that, if in nothing else on health care, we are, indeed, number one.
Posted by: _SP_ | July 28, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: lensch | July 28, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: bcfs | July 28, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: steveh46 | July 28, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: pseudonymousinnc | July 29, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.