What happened to free healthcare?

As my friends in the US consider their massive House and Senate healthcare bills, intended to provide everyone with access to healthcare, I thought I should provide this missive from today’s news about the state of healthcare in Canada:

Ontario residents should expect to pay upfront for more health-care services and endure longer lineups if the Liberal government makes good on its threat to freeze funding for hospitals next year, critics said Thursday.

Health Minister Deb Matthews is warning hospitals to brace for a possible budget freeze this spring because the province is grappling with a $24.7-billion deficit – the largest in its history.

The most hospitals can hope for is an increase below last year’s 2.1 per cent boost – less than inflation – which critics say is so meagre it has already forced hospitals to close beds and cut services. [Emphasis mine.]

Americans are often told that healthcare is free in Canada and that treatment is prompt and efficient. It is true that you won’t go bankrupt as a result of medical treatment in Canada. And you will receive excellent treatment for critical life-threatening medical situations such as heart attacks or cancer. However, as this article states, long waits are common and everything is not free.

But when the government deficits increase, healthcare is one of the first things to be sacrificed. No matter what the government tells you, having them takeover healthcare will not lower the deficit. Increasing the cost and controlling access clearly will though.

Sadly, hospitals in Ontario, Canada, are faced with the saddest Catch-22 of all. Annual block funding levels are determined by government bureaucrats with little concern for actual local hospital demand by patients, while hospitals are forbidden by law from running deficits regardless of their individual situations. Thus hospitals located in growing communities with increasing medical needs and doctor shortages are unable to keep their heads above water.

That is the true result of government-run healthcare. It’s not about medical outcomes; it’s about controlling costs.

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2 thoughts on “What happened to free healthcare?

  1. This isn’t the “true result of government-run healthcare.”

    It is the result of malice and incompetence in government — doling out handouts (“stimulus”) to a few inefficient manufacturing companies, while starving essential public services and infrastructure that benefit everyone.

  2. Jason, you’ve merely proven my point. I didn’t comment on how government got to this point, and I do agree pretty much with your analysis on how we got here.

    However, regardless of where it is malice, incompetence, or stupidity on the government’s part, the result of government-run healthcare is that the actual healthcare suffers as a result.

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