With socialized medicine, legalized euthanasia goes exactly as you'd expect

Canada has had socialized medicine since 1968.  As of 2016, long wait times for care in Canada saw tens of thousands of them streaming across the border into America.*  Also in 2016, Canada legalized euthanasia.  Currently, euthanasia has become the sixth leading cause of death in Canada.  Hmm.  I wonder if there's a connection.

It's difficult to find statistics about the quality of medical care in countries with socialized medicine.  A long time ago, Scott Atlas wrote a brilliant article on just that subject for Commentary Magazine entitled "The Worst Study Ever?"  (Commentary claims it's available online but the link, sadly, goes nowhere.)  Atlas's article examined the World Health Organization's World Health Report 2000, which was basically a giant slam at the American health care system.  I'm exaggerating only a little when I say America came in last behind countries like North Korea and Mugabe's Zimbabwe.

Leftists, of course, instantly announced that the WHO study practically mandated that we socialize our medical system so that we, too, could have the fine medicine available in the rest of the civilized world.  Atlas, though, looked beyond the study's headlines and discovered something interesting about the WHO's analysis: it wasn't interested in health care outcomes.  Instead, if I recall correctly, 25% of the score WHO awarded to a nation's health care system was based upon whether people had "access" to "medical care."  The fact that the treatment they received was terrible, the waits long, and the outcomes bad, especially compared to America, was irrelevant.

Image: Sick patient using up a hospital bed (edited).

I believe Canada ranked well in that WHO study.  In terms of outcomes, though, other metrics signal problems.  In 2005, the Canadian Supreme Court held that wait times were so long that Canada's law forbidding people to augment their socialized medicine with private medical insurance to offset those wait times violated Canadians' human rights.  That was still a problem just last year when the Fraser Institute found that it took almost half a year for patients to see a specialist after a referral.  (Hat tip: Possum Reviews.)

Those wait times may help explain why euthanasia is now one of the leading causes of death in Canada:

Euthanasia is now a leading cause of death in Canada only a few years after being legalized.


Now, any adult with a serious disease or a mental health reason can seek euthanasia, according to the AP. The policy is also creeping forward to encompass the mentally ill, poor, and soon children, with some experts saying the law is going too far.


Other countries where euthanasia is legal have certain safeguards, such as prohibiting doctors from mentioning it as a treatment option for patients or requiring them to exhaust all other treatment options before turning to euthanasia as a last resort. Canada has no such guardrails, according to AP.

The broad eligibility has led to more than 10,000 Canadians being euthanized in the most recent year for which data is available, making it the sixth leading cause of death in the country, the AP reported.

Matthew Yglesias's tweet sums up the human tragedy behind the Canadian system:

The AP article notes that Trudeau's Canada is planning to make euthanasia even easier to obtain next year.  (It's a very sad article that never questions the wisdom of socialized medicine, which is behind all countries that have euthanasia.)

One of my friends also pointed out something interesting, which is that euthanasia is on the rise, even as the pushback against illegal opioids means that people with terminal illnesses or chronic pain are finding it harder to get the medicines they need to function.  I knew a medical student back in the early 1990s and learned from him that one of the most important things students were taught was that a large part of care for terminally ill patients was pain relief.

Twenty-five later, I spoke with a California doctor whose specialty was caring for patients with chronic pain.  He was furious that laws cracking down on opioids meant that he was unable to help his patients.  Anyone who has experienced severe pain knows that, at a certain point, if there's no relief in sight, death seems like a good option — and here's Canada promising a legal death that is, ironically enough, without pain.

Over the decades, the free market has made extraordinary strides in the medical field.  Where it is unencumbered by insurance (which drastically warps prices) or by government, prices drop dramatically.  Just think of plastic surgery and vision correction surgery.

However, the more the government is involved, the worse medical care gets.  The government makes no profit from you (and profit is an incentive to give good care in the private sector), and it doesn't love you (and love is why families will bankrupt themselves to keep someone alive).  As Canada demonstrates, you're just a line item on a spreadsheet, and the numbers on the sheet look a whole lot better when you're encouraged to die.


* "Crossing the Border for Care: Frustrated by long waits, some Canadians are heading to the U.S. for medical treatment."

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