Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Canadian Health Care

The New York Times reports on a lack of doctors in Canada, along with a rise in Canadians using emergency rooms to replace family doctors. (Use BugMeNot if you don’t want to register.)

The basic problem is economic. Doctors are much better paid in the US than in Canada, and doctors can easily move. Its also harder for a doctor to be entrepreneurial in Canada, not only because of the extra paperwork, but some things that they may want to do are actually banned. For example, a doctor can’t open a private surgery with the plan to sell overnight stays, even if people want to pay for it. The slur against that is it would ‘create a two-tier system.’ Similarly, the supplemental health insurance I had while working in Montreal would pay for a private hospital room, but there were either none or very few, reserved for senior politicians and the otherwise well-connected. Apparently a private room counts as two-tier.

Of course, there is a two-tier system now. A well-off friend once flew to the US for treatment he needed. It seems that Canada could do a better job of providing base care while still providing the base level of health care which they do. And another friend, just to balance the anecdotes, has gotten good long-term care for an unusual and life-threatening condition. He’d be long bankrupt in the US.