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The Canadian and British health care systems have received a lot of bad press for their purgatorial waiting lists, and for good reason. But long wait times are not unique to these two countries. They are, in fact, a standard feature of all government-run health care systems.
As David Hogberg points out, patients “Down Under” often die while languishing on the waiting lists that plague the Australian health care system. This article, in the Herald Sun, describes a patient whose experience is all too common:
A pensioner who cares for her invalid husband while hobbling around on crutches faces a three-year wait for ankle surgery.
So, like many trapped in government-run health care systems, the patient decided to look into the private health care market:
The specialist told her she could operate within two weeks. But with the bill expected to hit $4000, Mrs Haffenden was forced to go on the 14-month waiting list to see the same specialist as a public patient.
Even worse, it is quite likely that another 18-month delay is in store for this patient after she endures the initial 14 months. And what sort of response did the Herald Sun get when it attempted to find out what was being done about such outrages?
A government spokesman said significant commitments had been made to reduce waiting lists and speed up service delivery.
Sound familiar? It should. That’s what the apparatchiks of the Canadian and British health care systems have been saying for years. Indeed, they have been saying such things for almost as long as their patients have been waiting for basic medical care.
+ May 2007
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