When John McCain talks about healthcare on the campaign trail, he often
challenges people who point to Canada’s universal healthcare system as
preferable to the U.S. system to “ask the Canadians how much they like
That’s a fair challenge.
After all, we all know of Canadians who cross the border to get a procedure or a test – just like the U.S. citizens who cross the border to get pharmaceuticals at controlled prices.
This sounded like an occasion for some serious primary research into the public impact of universal health care, preferably over a mug of Dark266 at Cameron’s Brewery in Oakville, Ontario (“Beer brewed by a connoisseur, instead of an accountant”). I was already looking up tickets on Kayak.com when, unfortunately, I remembered that someone had already asked the Canadians, and I already have the answers right here.
According to the Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey released in July, 14% of Canadians believe that their system should be rebuilt completely. Looks pretty damning until you look at the next line over – 33% of people in the U.S. have that thought about our system, more than twice the proportion. If you ask the physicians, only 3% of Canadian docs think that the system needs to be rebuilt completely, as opposed to 16% of U.S. docs, more than five times the proportion. Despite their problems and complaints, Canadians like their system far better than U.S. citizens like theirs.
Oh, and there is this detail: in 2004, the CBC conducted an elaborate two stage poll via phone, email, web site, and postal letters, to determine who Canadians believed to be “the greatest Canadian of all time.” The winner? Tommy Douglas, the Saskatchewan Premier who led the first socialist government in North America and introduced universal public healthcare to Canada.
So I guess they kind of like it.