Sunday, January 16, 2005
On this day:

Curing Health Care

Townhall: Greedy or ignorant by Walter E. Williams
The recently published "Miracle Cure," by Sally Pipes, president of the San Francisco-based Pacific Research Institute, exposes health-care myths while explaining why the sometimes-touted Canadian style health care isn't the answer. Myth: Uninsured individuals have no access to medical care. Fact: It turns out that in 2004 uninsured Americans received $125 billion of health care, of which $41 billion was provided totally free of charge. Myth: Skyrocketing prescription drugs are driving health-care spending up. Fact: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as a whole, Americans spend about 1 percent of their income on drugs. Seniors spend about 3 percent on drugs, less than the amount they spend on entertainment. Spending on drugs, as a percent of total health-care spending, was 10 percent in 1960. It's roughly the same today. [...] Is Canada better? In her book, Sally Pipes reports the case of 58-year-old Canadian Don Cerniz, who noticed blood in his urine. It took three weeks to get his first test and another month for an MRI, and treatment for his cancer didn't begin until six months later. According to the Vancouver, British Columbia-based Fraser Institute's yearly survey of medical waiting times, Cerniz was lucky: "The median wait for an MRI across Canada was 12.6 weeks. Patients in Prince Edward Island experienced the shortest wait for an MRI (six weeks), while Newfoundland residents waited longest (33.5 weeks)." Overall, Canada's total waiting time between referral from a general practitioner to treatment averaged about 18 weeks in 2004.