Canada's 'universal' health care

We finally have good operating understanding of "universal" health care: somewhere in the universe there may be a place for you to get treatment. And if you are lucky enough to live near the United States before Hillary Care II takes hold, you may even get treated.

Canada welcomes the birth of the newest set of quadruplets born to proud Canadian parents. Karen and J.P. Jepp. However, the Jepp quads will be eligible to run for the presidency of the United States when they reach the age of 35, having been born in Benefis Hospital in Great Falls, Montana, 325 miles from their home in Calgary, capital of the Canadian oil industry.

The precious gift of American citizenship comes to the Jepp Quads because there were no hospital facilities anywhere in Canada able to handle 4 neonatal intensive care babies. Not in Calgary, a city of over a million people, the wealthiest in Canada, or anywhere else in Canada.  Local officials looked.

However, Great Falls, a city of well under one hundred thousand people, apparently had no problem with unusual demand for such facilities.

As Don Surber points out, the United States functions as Canada's back-up medical system, enabling it to run with less investment in facilities. America's evil, heartless private medical care system saved the day. In any capital-intensive field, whether it be electric power generation or medicine, gearing up for peak demand costs a lot of money. California discovered this a few years ago when it started to experience rolling blackouts in the wake of bungled partial deregulation of power.

America spends significantly more on medical care than Canada. Socialized medicine advocates frequently claim that this shows we are getting a bad deal: less care for more money. But the fact is that illegal alien mothers walk into hospital emergency rooms and give birth to babies requiring intensive neonatal care costing hundreds of thousands of dollars on a regular basis, and it makes no headlines. We do not send them over the border to Canada or Mexico and use their medical systems as a back-up, even when the mother might be a citizen of that country. We treat them, and pick-up the bill, too, without so much as a citizenship check or a call to immigration officials. Calgary's health care agency picked up the six figure hospital bill and the cost of the medivac flight, too, as is routine. After all, they need continuing access to American medical facilities. The Great Fall Tribune noted:
Jepp was the fifth Alberta woman sent to Benefis this year because of NICU shortages in Canada.
Steven M. Warshawsky demonstrates today on AT that there is no such thing as "free" medical care. Having the government pay means having other people pay your medical bills, and that leads to endless demand, which leads to rationing, which leads to insufficient capacity to handle peak demands, like, say, the birth of quadruplets.

If and when Hillary Care II comes, of course there will be no back-up capacity available for Americans (unless you believe Michael Moore and think Cuba's medical system can provide anything to anyone).

Canada's vaunted socialized medical system depends on America for more than peak capacity back-up, of course. When was the last time you heard about a new drug being developed by a Canadian pharmaceutical company? Under the price control system in Canada it makes no sense to develop drugs there. Canada lets the United States bear the major burden of drug development (and so does the rest of the world). Our high drug prices and federal research subsidize the world's medical R&D.

Hat tip: Larwyn

Thomas Lifson is editor and publisher of American Thinker.
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