Comment By Don McCanne, M.D.
Each year the Fraser Institute of Canada issues a report claiming that over 40,000 patients leave Canada for medical care. Yet a highly credible study done over a decade ago revealed that many of these supposed patients were merely “phantoms in the snow” and that this is another “zombie idea” that, on logic or evidence, is "intellectually dead" but “can never be laid to rest because (the concept is) useful to some powerful interests.” So it is important to understand the source of the Fraser numbers.
More importantly, the premise of those who use these unreliable numbers of patients exiting Canada for care is that single payer financing results in excessive queues which then triggers this exit. That should not necessarily follow since queues can be tamed if the stewards of the system are attentive to system capacity and queue management. Many nations with comprehensive systems do not have problems with queues.
In contrast, in the United States, the financial barriers to care (that do not exist in Canada) are so great that tens of millions who need care do not even gain a place in the queue - rationing based on ability to pay. Only a fool would recommend our callous system over Canada’s egalitarian single payer system.
Warning: click here for the wonkish calculations and the full article.