Urgent care and universal care

I am a Canadian, and have been following the health care discussion initiated by Patrick Poole and Steven M. Warshawsky.  My sister-in-law (also Canadian) was recently referred for an "urgent" MRI because of a headaches and an ambiguous CT scan (i.e. possible brain cancer).  With the "urgent" referral, and with the intervention of a family member who was a doctor and therefore had considerable influence on the system, we were able to arrange to get an MRI in Canada in "only" one and a half months.

Naturally, we did not want to wait that long for the diagnosis, and to begin treatment if necessary, so my wife called a few hospitals in Buffalo, New York.  Within two days (and a two-hour drive each way), we had the results in hand (no cancer, thank G-d) while the other beneficiaries of the much-acclaimed "universal" Canadian health care system were still waiting in line.

While I realize that there are problems with the American system, as a Canadian I would far prefer it to the "universal" Canadian system.

Commenting on the Canadian health-care system, Justice Deschamps of the Supreme Court of Canada said (in a case that split evenly on whether a prohibition on private health care violated the right to "life, liberty and security of the person" under the Canadian Constitution):

"Some patients die as a result of long waits for treatment in the public system when they could have gained prompt access to care in the private sector." (See Chaoulli v.  Quebec (Attorney General), [2005] 1 S.C.R. 791 at paragraph 37)
Speaking from experience, I can see how accurate Justice Deschamps' comments are.  Americans are lucky to have their current health care system, and should do everything in their power to preserve it.

Alex S. Ross, B.A.Sc., LL.B.
Barrister and Solicitor
Registered Canadian Patent Agent
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