Thursday, 8 October 2009

Government Medicine Kills

Let’s compare America’s system with Canada’s and Great Britain’s.

By Deroy Murdock

As the Senate Finance Committee prepares to vote on its Obamacare bill, it would behoove senators to ask themselves why on Earth America should move even one inch closer to the government-driven health-care model that plagues Canadians and Britons. Thankfully, the Finance Committee bill lacks the government option for health insurance that sends liberal salivary glands gushing. Still, the bill is awash in mandates, regulations, subsidies, taxes, and plenty of other potential distortions that help make single-payer medical systems deadly.

That’s right. Deadly.

Compare America’s system with Canada’s and Great Britain’s. The latter are single-payer, universal health-care programs in which medical treatment is free at the point of service (Yay!), although citizens eventually pay for it through higher taxes (Boo!).

According to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development data, there were 26.6 MRI machines in the U.S. per million people in 2004. In Canada, there were 4.9 such devices, while Britain enjoyed 5. For every 100,000 Americans, 2006 saw 436.8 receive angioplasties. Among Canadians, that figure was 135.9, while only 93.2 Britons per 100,000 got that cardiac procedure.

Maybe that’s why, among American men, heart-attack deaths in 2004 stood at 53.8 per 100,000. In Canada, 58.3 men per 100,000 died of cardiac arrest, while coronaries buried 69.5 of every 100,000 British males.

The fatality rate for breast cancer, according to the National Center for Policy Analysis and Lancet Oncology, is 25 percent in the U.S., 28 percent in Canada, and 46 percent in Great Britain.

Among those diagnosed with prostate cancer, 19 percent die of the disease in America. In Canada, 25 percent of such patients succumb to this disease. And in Great Britain — an Anglophone NATO member and America’s closest ally — prostate cancer kills 57 percent of those who contract it. That is triple the American fatality rate.

This chart presents additional examples of how Canadians and Britons needlessly suffer and drop dead, thanks to government medicine:

The Senate Finance Committee should sink Obama-Baucuscare and instead craft a patient-friendly, pro-market, limited-government approach to health-care reform. Perhaps some senators cannot fathom the Hippocratic Oath’s key insight: First, do no harm. If that’s Greek to them, here it is in language they understand: First, don’t kill your voters.

Deroy Murdock is a New York-based columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution.