Where Do Those Crazy Health Care “Statistics” Come From?

The health care “debate” in America has become so confusing that I shudder to contemplate the end result. The issues involved are incredibly challenging. And it doesn’t help that everyone seems to have different solutions – and even different “facts.”

I heard someone on television say that Canada has three million people waiting for health care. This guy – I think he was a Republican politician from some backward part of the U.S. – claimed that Canadians are flooding across the border to get American health care. I am sure you know that’s just not true. I have many close relatives in Canada, where I spent much of my life, and I don’t hear any of them complaining about their health care system.

Indeed, my sister Elizabeth and her husband Wendell, who have a home in Florida, spend only a few weeks at a time there, as they don’t want to lose their Canadian health insurance coverage. My brother, Bill, was recently bitten by a feral cat and has been receiving extensive treatment – rabies shots, antibiotic injections, doctor’s visits, and so on. It will not cost him a dime – even though a nurse regularly comes to his home in London, Ontario to give him the antibiotic injections. I can only imagine the response I would receive if I suggested any American health care provider come to my home to treat me!

cartoonI am quite sure that not many people from Ontario are coming to America for medical treatment. I don’t know about the other provinces. But I doubt that British Colombia residents, for example, are going to doctors in Seattle. The idea seems ludicrous. In fact, I think it’s the other way around. Americans have been going to Canada to get cheap prescription drugs.

Meanwhile, the “debate” rages on. And the “statistics” spew forth, numbing the brain. Where do they come from? Who makes them up? Who would believe any of it? Does anyone really believe that Americans have the best health care in the world – even those who can afford health care? The real figures are available on the web, and I think the fact is that U.S. health care ranks somewhere between 30th and 40th in the world.

Ed Schultz (photo below), who has a show on MSNBC, challenged the Republican politician who claimed Canadians were coming to America for health care. Schultz has a sister in Canada, and he knows the guy was making stuff up. But often TV hosts let their guests get away with the most outlandish claims. Meanwhile, special interests that contribute generously to election campaigns are doing everything they can to water down the myriad health care bills floating around Congress.schultz

With so many false “facts” confusing the public and jargon like “single-payer” and “government option” adding to the confusion, no one can tell what’s actually happening. And when you consider that politicians admit they don’t read the legislation they end up voting on, my hope of ever seeing a decent health care system in America grows dimmer by the minute.

I’m sure the Canadian health care system isn’t perfect,  and I understand that many patients there have to wait too long for treatment. In fact, reducing waiting times is currently a primary goal of the provincial governments. But from my own experience, and from what I’ve heard, Canadians are, generally speaking, a lot better off than Americans when it comes to health care. If you really want to know how health care in Canada stacks up against existing conditions in the United States, you can check out Wikipedia at: