Lose Weight and Save Money with Canadian-Style Healthcare

Thanks to protect_democracy at Buzzflash for this link to a post by Robert Reich that puts the health care mess in terms you don’t have to be an economist to understand…

America spends $30 billion a year fixing medical errors – the worst rate among advanced countries. Why? Among other reasons because we keep patient records on computers that can’t share the data. Patient records are continuously re-written on pieces of paper, and then re-entered into different computers. That spells error.

Meanwhile, administrative costs eat up 15 to 30 percent of all healthcare spending in the United States. That’s twice the rate of most other advanced nations. Where does this money go? Mainly into collecting money: Doctors collect from hospitals and insurers, hospitals collect from insurers, insurers collect from companies or from policy holders.

This rings so true to me. I saw a patient today and spent 3/4 of my time in such tasks as re-writing med lists with my quill and ink well and trying, through scrawled notes and talking to the patient, to figure out what he needed for home care. Next I get to call his insurance and wait on hold. I love being a nurse, I just wish I had gone to secretarial school first.

That’s part of the problem. Part of the solution is to open Medicare to all, enlarge the risk pool, cut administrative costs and also save lives and money by ensuring that a patient’s records are available to their doctors.

Reich mentions that home nursing helps prevent costly re-hospitalization, and that is my job. I spend more of my time filling out paperwork than I think is necessary for patient care, so I see some of the frustrating waste and inefficiency firsthand.

Another side of this that is not much mentioned is the terrible drain on our society by letting people get sick enough to go to the emergency room instead of helping them keep well with primary care. Well people who work and pay taxes are good, but if you talk about investing in health care it’s seen as charity for the unworthy and mindless sentimentality. Well, I’ve got news– there’s nothing pragmatic about letting people suffer– we pay more later.

This is from a recent research article from Open Medicine...

Canadian health care has many well-publicized limitations. Nevertheless, it produces health benefits similar, or perhaps superior, to those of the US health system, but at a much lower cost. Canada’s single-payer system for physician and hospital care yields large administrative efficiencies in comparison with the American multi-payer model.60 Not-for-profit hospital funding results in appreciably lower payments to third-party payers in comparison to for-profit hospitals61 while achieving lower mortality rates.62 Policy debates and decisions regarding the direction of health care in both Canada and the United States should consider the results of our systematic review: Canada’s single-payer system, which relies on not-for-profit delivery, achieves health outcomes that are at least equal to those in the United States at two-thirds the cost.

But let’s get down to the important issues. Americans are 10% more overweight than Canadians. This number takes into account the different ethnic makeup of the populations– with all the adjustments, Canadians can still fit into our old jeans.
Canada is a country where people consider a plate of french-fries sprinkled with cheese and smothered with gravy a light appetizer. Their main export is donuts. It’s freezing up there, and dark eight months of the year, so Canadians have no reason to go outside. Snow shoveling may burn some calories, but Canada is full of old people because their elderly just keep living and living. They just attach a snowblower to their scooter and ride to the Tim Hortons.

After careful analysis, I have to rule out diet and lifestyle

The only possible explanation is that a single payer health care system keeps people slim.

Canadian Rationing

I wonder if Shona Holmes ever met ‘Joe’ the ‘Plumber’ …

WASHINGTON – Shona Holmes is the Harry and Louise of this year’s health care debate, only unlike the fictional folks who memorably trashed the Clinton-era health plan in advocacy ads 15 years ago, Holmes is real.

But her story? It’s not quite the slam-dunk indictment of socialized medicine that’s been portrayed by Republican lawmakers and their allies.

Holmes, a Canadian living under that country’s single-payer system, has said flatly that her brain tumor would have killed her if she’d accepted her fate in Canada — a wait of four months for one specialist and six months for another. Instead she went to the U.S. and had successful surgery.

But she never had cancer — a fact routinely omitted by the advocates who have seized on her case. Technically, she didn’t have a tumor, either. She had a benign cyst that was apparently threatening her eyesight.

So Shona Holmes got the surgery she needed at the time she wanted, and she owes about $100,000. She needs to do a lot of Republican speaking engagements to make that up, and she’s suing Canada. She could have had the surgery there, with no bills, if she’d waited a few months.

I’d sympathize with Holmes’ nervousness if the US was a place where we provided good care to all our citizens with no waiting. In fact, an American with the same condition and no money would probably not get surgery at all.

In a related story, the autopsy on Michael Jackson shows that he was in good health at the time of his death. It seems likely that the drugs were the sole cause. Jackson had lots of money to exercise choice on the free market and hired all the doctors he wanted to do what he wanted. His own privatized, personal doctors. Bad outcome. This is one way in which health care is not just another product or personal service. Your doctor needs to be accountable to some other standard than pleasing the customer, because sometimes the right treatment is no treatment.