ChristianGovernance eletter – August 16, 2012
How do we get real health care reform?
An Ontario woman is fighting for patients’ rights, arguing that age, illness or disability should not preclude the best possible medical care. As an Ottawa Citizen article this week reports, she’s the daughter of an Ottawa man who died last month after a doctor at the Ottawa Hospital won the right to withhold life-prolonging treatment.
The article reports: “Diana Ford’s father, a Holocaust survivor, died July 11, 10 days short of his 90th birthday at Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital, where she had transferred him a week earlier. Prior to that, he’d spent 19 months in the Ottawa Hospital after suffering head and spinal cord injuries in a November 2010 car accident. On June 24, Ontario’s Con-sent and Capacity Board – over Ford’s objections – ruled that her father’s doctor, who testified that his patient was in a persistent vegetative state with no chance of making a meaningful recovery, could withhold procedures and tests that might prolong his life but cause pain and discomfort. Ford says her father’s case and others like it show that changes are needed to explicitly protect vulnerable patients.”
According to polls, most Canadians are smart enough to want to roll back the role of the state in our medical system, to give patients more choice in their own health care decisions. Unfortunately, we have not yet broken through the threshold necessary to get politicians to act. That’s unfortunate because there are few if any better ways to destroy health care than putting bureaucrats and politicians between a patient (client) and his or her doctor (service provider). It’s insanity, and clear-thinking analysts of our medical system and its outcomes can see how much misery this strategy has caused.
Adults take responsibility and manage risk. Children curl up in the safety of a cocoon or their mother’s lap. The battle over how to balance safety/security with freedom/risk has been with us for thousands of years. The Judeo-Christian worldview nurtures a stronger, more confident citizen who is willing to manage risk at the expense of security. On the other hand, Canada’s medical system has been based on the mentality that the safety and security of access to a waiting line should ALWAYS trump the risk, however small, of not being able to pay for your own health care.
We live in a democratic society so we have only ourselves to blame for not changing this unethical system. Meanwhile the Fraser Institute has recently reported on the growing number of Canadians seeking health care in other countries. They are also doing a series of articles (the first is on Switzerland) on the superior medical outcomes in other countries where the state dominated the medical system, but where they diverge from North Korea and Canada by allowing mechanisms of competition, free markets and private property to better allocate resources and improve access to quality health care.
In a country where we have a growing proportion of vulnerable older people, we need to pursue free market reforms sooner than later in order to give patients greater control over their and their family members’ medical decisions, to flood the system with additional private sector investment funds, and to de-monopolize our bureaucrat-and-politician-controlled system. Governments have access to far less money than private investors do. Also government-based economic models necessarily see every new client as an expense or cost, rather than a benefit. Governmental systems are, therefore, driven by an agenda to cap access to the system. They can’t expand the size of the pie in order to provide better access to more people. You will, therefore, always see screening take place to weed out those deemed less able to benefit from medical treatment. Those who think they can effectively combat this tendency WITHIN a government-controlled system should, frankly, be banned from further reform panels. Their ideology should be deemed too dangerous to the health of patients.