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July 23 2009

Policy Brief #24: National Health Care in Canada: Lessons in Rationing

Carrie L. Lukas

Executive Summary
President Obama and the Democratic leaders in Congress intend to greatly expand government's involvement in the U.S. health care sector by creating a "public option" for health insurance. This would move the country toward the liberal goal of a single-payer, government-run health insurance system.

The American public wants reform of the health care sector and is concerned about the millions of Americans who do not currently have insurance. Yet before Congress moves ahead with dramatic changes that would expand government's control over health care, the public should consider the experiences that other countries have had with government-run health care.

One place to look is to Canada. While many champions of single-payer systems point to Canada as a model for making health services available to all, Canada also exposes the downsides of government-

run health care, which is rationing resulting in long wait times. In 2008, the average waiting time for surgical or another therapeutic treatment after receiving a referral from a general practitioner was about four months (more than 17 weeks). In addition, some Canadians are denied services that they feel are medically necessary. 

"There are better ways to improve the American health care system than to follow the Canadian model of turning more control of health care
to the government."


There are better ways to improve the American health care system than to follow the Canadian model of turning more control of health care to the government. Instead of allowing policymakers to make the government the health insurance provider for most Americans, the American people should urge Congress to adopt reforms that encourage a more robust health care marketplace and give individuals greater ability to purchase private health insurance or to pay for health care on their own.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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