Friday, August 29, 2008


One of the policy recommendations for the policy guide for the documentary ‘Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?’, is to support guaranteed and culturally competent quality healthcare, access, and treatment for all.

Of all of the inconsistent policy proposals included in the policy guide, this one is probably the most egregious. National healthcare is incompatible with quality, access, and treatment for all but a few people.

Perhaps we could get advice from our neighbors to the north. Transforming broom closets into hospital rooms seems to be their specialty. Even with nationalization, they still seem to be having trouble with people not getting treatment due to cost issues. I thought national health care was supposed to make 'cost' a non issue? I though 'cost' was only an issue with private health care?

The truth is, medical care requires scarce resources, specific information about the circumstances of time and place, and incentives for people to act on that information to produce results. National health care just takes this 'information and coordination' problem out of the hands of markets and individuals and dumps it in the laps of politicians and administrators. Instead of allocating resources by recognizing trade offs based on the knowledge and preferences of millions ( via prices), resources are allocated utilizing the limited knowledge and preferences of a few administrators.

The following headlines are descriptive of how this information and coordination problems is being handled by Canada’s national healthcare plan:

B.C. hospital's bed crunch getting worse
Last Updated: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 | 11:25 AM ET
CBC News
"There are patients that are literally in closets. They're in the nurses' lounge, where the nurses go to have coffee, there are patients in there," said Dr. Bertrand Perey, the hospital's deputy chief of surgery.

A Fraser Health Authority internal estimate predicts that about 200 acute care beds will be eliminated in the coming year because of rising costs.

Wait times for surgery in Canada at all-time high: study
Last Updated: Monday, October 15, 2007 | 10:33 AM ET
The Canadian Press

"It's becoming clearer that Canada's current health-care system cannot meet the needs of Canadians in a timely and efficient manner, unless you consider access to a waiting list timely and efficient," Esmail added.

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