Would Homer Simpson Really Love Canadian Health Care?

I confess that I am a big fan of the humorous and satirical TV series “The Simpson’s.”
In a recent episode, Homer, Marge and the kids hop on an airplane to visit their northern neighbors in Canada. The 1st thing Homer does in the city of Toronto is quite baffling. (Well, maybe not for Homer.) He runs out in the middle of the street in front of a speeding car and gets run over. Marge screams to Homer, “Why did you do that, Homer?” Homer responds quite flippantly, “Health care is free in Canada!”Matt Groening’s writers have satirically portrayed Canadians as a nation with a wonderful and free health care system. However, is health care in Canada really free? Would Homer Simpson actually want to leave his well being to the care of our Canadian health care system?In the newly released book “Squandering Billions,” Don Nixdorf and Gary Bannerman examine the mismanagement and inefficiency of the Canadian Health Care system. The Canadian definition of free universal health care only applies to those services provided by medical doctors and hospitals. If patients choose to get treatment from any other health care provider in Canada, they are asked to pay fully or partially out of their own pocket. ” Despite all of the obstacles placed by the system to divert patients from chiropractors, optometrists, naturopaths, podiatrists, acupuncturists, physiotherapists, for whom the patient or insurer must pay some or all of the fees–as opposed to the “free” medical doctor competition -these professionals demonstrate every day that people will pay for value received. It is high time medical doctors earned the same respect for their “free” medical services to patients. Canada is the only universal access nation in the world that does not have a user fee to encourage responsible behavior by patients and service providers.This book also demonstrates that the absolute power of medical doctors, pharmaceutical companies, health bureaucrats and hospital administrators enshrines mediocrity at the expense of patients. We have many dedicated and skilled doctors and nurses, but mistakes, inefficiency and malpractice in the Canadian health system may be causing 10 times more unnecessary death a year than the toll from traffic accidents and crime. Despite dramatic television footage and newspaper headlines reporting highway tragedies, driving is a much safer activity than hospitalization. A study by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Canadian Institute of Health Information released in 2004 concluded that 185,000 patients out of 2.5 million admitted to acute care hospitals suffer death, disability, or extended hospitalization as a result of adverse effects of treatment. Between, 9,250 and 23,750 of these people die because of preventable errors.Homer would find out in a hurry that our “free” health care system is nothing to write home about. And should we always be relying on the system to keep us healthy or rather should we as a nation and society start taking more responsibility ourselves?

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