What's Wrong with Healthcare?

Thinking inside and outside of the healthcare box. After 41 years of family practice, what's happened to Canada's healthcare system?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Naomi and the Left Versus Ted Morton

Today I wasn’t going to post, and then I read Naomi Lakritz’s column. I know, haven’t I got anything better to do? I guess my only excuse is that she wrote about healthcare and the leadership candidate’s position on it, and, well, I kind of lost it. I guess she is just one more person criticizing a private care alternative, but not offering ONE suggestion on the present day issues on health care in Alberta, or Canada for that matter. Here are some of her mindless positions taken:
1) Iris Evans dropped the third way because the people didn’t want it. What percentage of Albertans had any idea of how it would work. We should probably pay attention to an informed majority; but the usual clamor from the left drowned out any effort at rational dialog. Personally, I think the people of Louisiana should have listened to the suggestions of evacuation long before they did. It would have saved hundreds of lives. I would preferentially listen to a fireman on how to get out of a burning building than the throng of people below. Sometimes leaders should lead.
2) An AON consultation did not guarantee privatization would save money. Here is a news flash: only an idiot would guarantee savings in health care. I would think any increases in cost would then have to be borne by the consulting company. Besides, there are two significant problems in our health care system at present, increasing costs and long waiting lists. A parallel private system would shorten waiting lists by better utilization of surgeons. Even I don’t think there would necessarily be a cost savings, BUT: a private system with private insurance will provide money from those people wanting to be covered by a private system, and thus take less money out of the governments taxation “pot”.
3) She quotes Ed. Stelmach: “Allowing doctors to practice in both a private and public system will not put more doctors into Alberta communities”. Well Ed. and Naomi, it probably would. WE have lost thousands of doctors and nurses to the U.S. and elsewhere over the last fifteen years. Just maybe, if we offered them more options in their practice, with a recruitment program that showed our appreciation of their contribution to society, we could get many to return to Canada.
4) Apparently she approves of Jim Dinning’s comment: “Albertans have said they don’t want it, so I’m not going there”. Mr. Dinning knows the present system is unsustainable. He also knows that five federal elections and lord knows how many provincial elections, have been won largely with a “status quo” stand on health care, in spite of the fact Canadians want it fixed. I notice, Naomi, that you have not made ONE positive suggestion in your column.
5) She apparently likes Jim’s “allowing doctors to practice in both systems would draw doctors to the city ------“. Now where is the evidence for that? Surgeons, especially orthopedic surgeons, already practice primarily in the large urban centers, and rightly so. This is a blatant scare tactic ploy on Dinning’s part to try to garner some rural votes. Pathetic!
6) She criticizes mandating certain obligations on the part of physicians to spend time to the public system. Congratulations, Naomi, you got one thing right. Forcing people to work where they do not wish to work really is autocratic. Fortunately, only five percent of physician in Canada would prefer to work only in the private system. It does, however, open the door to a viable and active recruiting program that can attract hundreds, and maybe thousands of doctors to Alberta/Canada.
7) She states that there is not a market for private care or more doctors would be in private care already. She states that it’s because the market for people who can afford to pay upward of $30,000.oo out of pocket for a new hip is extremely limited. Duh! Isn’t that precisely why we commoners should have the right to purchase INSURANCE? Even without the insurance, people are dipping into their savings and going to physicians in the U.S., Vancouver, and Montreal. Naomi, the dyke has a huge leak, and will soon burst without some kind of relief.
8) She quotes Dr John Kortbeck, CHR’s regional director of trauma “Countries with a private system have found that the public system still does the bulk of surgery” and he apparently adds “our operating rooms are running at between 90 and 100 percent utilization rates, with some open 24/7 to accommodate a balance of emergency, urgent (cancer surgery), and scheduled (hip replacements, etc). I certainly agree with Dr. Kortbeck’s first statement. My guess would be that only twenty percent of surgeries would occur in an insurance based private system; and this would vary with the type of surgery and the length of waiting lists in the public system. For example, if hip replacement waiting lists are two years or longer, the private system for hip replacements may grow to a 30% market share. If waiting times for hip replacement in the public system shrinks to thee months, the private systems share of hip replacements may shrink to 5%. His second statement underscores the fact that according to him, the system is doing as well as expected. A good question for him, Naomi, would have been: “Why don’t we run more of the surgery theaters 24/7 and shorten some of those waiting lists for cancer and hip surgery?”. Do you suppose his answer may have been “lack of money and staff?”.
So that is the sum of it; an opinion column on health care that had one purpose only, to slam Ted Morton as a leadership candidate. Her opinion is most noteworthy by the lack of knowledge of the subject matter demonstrated by the writer and the obvious bias. But then, it was only an opinion, and like arse holes, everybody’s has one (but only proctologists are happy about that fact).
Tomorrow, I will attempt to explain in detail how a parallel system would work, what it would do and wouldn’t do, and how the two systems could complement each other. Yes, I know, the human brain will reject anything that causes conflict or stress (cognitive dissonance), so I will be wasting my time with Naomi and the like; however, for those simply looking for information, it may well be worth the time.


Blogger Procrastinatrix said...

I'm not completely opposed to some privatization, and I know that at present SOMETHING needs to be done, however, there is something that makes me feel yucky about people profiting off sickness.

I do agree with your arguments that there should be more choice. Nova Scotia just turned down a proposal to add Avastin (3000$ per month) to its "list" of covered drugs. But not only does it mean its not covered, but it also means you can't get it here, so people opting to use it have to travel elsewhere. I don't understand why they can't change regulations somehow to offer it for those who want to pay for it. Maybe they think it would be unfair to those who couldn't afford it but wanted it-thus propagating that whole "two-tier" idea? I attended a seminar on healthcare economics (and I only heard probably the tip of the iceberg) but there seems to be a lot of conflict with the allocation of funds for lifesaving procedures vs. life prolonging procedures. I am fairly glad I'm not in that decision-making position.

30/11/06 3:21 PM  
Blogger Al said...

I guess, as a physician, I should feel bad that I profited from people being ill; looking after them and receiving pay for that was my livelihood.If a legitamate service is provided at a reasonable price, we should all be grateful for the availability of that service. Teachers profit from kids being stupid, farmers profit from people being hungry, builders profit from people needing shelter, etc. People have organized into various organizations so as to better provide services, sometimes at less cost, and in some cases make additional revenue. If this organization is usefull, people will avail themselves of that service and should be allowed to do so in a free society.
The discussions regarding life saving versus life prolonging are not simply discussions at this time. This is actively being practiced and drives me crazy. The fact is we do not "save" anyones life; we all die. So whatever is done always is a question of prolonging life. The "powers that be" start putting a price tag on what is one year of life worth (they phrase it to read "how many people do we need to treat to prevent one death?"). Honestly, do you want someone to make that decision for you?
A previous patient of mine was diagnosed with cancer last October and was given 6 months to live. The Cancer Clinic in Calgary basically told him they could only keep him comfortable. I arranged for him to see the Anderson Clinic in Houston. He has had two surgeries and now has been given four to five years to live. The cancer clinic did not refer him, I would presume, because his situation was deemed not to be "life saving", and the Alberta government would have had to pick up the tab if he had been referred (I would presume the tab would approach $100,000.oo or about $20,000.oo a year). He at present is 63 years old, is 99% cancer free and at present enjoying his added years. He has given me permission to put his case on my blog and I suppose one day I will do that.

30/11/06 9:49 PM  
Anonymous Mark said...

Ted Morton is a scumbag. Leadership, PLEASE!!! He can not even lead a straight path in his life. Complete loser, ask the people who are forced to work with him.

27/6/12 9:00 AM  

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