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Blupete's Weekly Commentary


March 12th, 2000.

"Medical Services"

We have been repeatedly told, by those with a vested interest in it, that we should take pride in the medical system we have here in Canada. Many in Canada, especially those who have been nowhere near a hospital for awhile dutifully adopted the position and were proud. Lately, hardly anyone has any pride in the medical system in Canada; nor should they; nor can they.

The idealistic objective was that all citizens, alike, were to have access to physicians and hospitals; and, that, the person receiving the treatment would not be asked to directly pay the associated bill. The system was to be set up and run by the government and funded by tax dollars. I suppose it might be described as an insurance plan, by which, everyone is eligible for benefits with the premiums to be paid by the taxpayers. It is a system that has been "operating" in Canada, now, for a number of years. And it is one that we Canadians might well have taken pride in: if only -- it had worked. However, the medical system we have here in Canada: does not work. This is to be more than just merely inferred, the truth may be known by the authentic testimony of those who supply medical services and of those who consume them. More and more average Canadians are becoming increasingly aware of this fact.

When people, governments -- no matter that they maybe well intended -- attempt to run things along socialistic lines, as has been demonstrated time and time again, the objectives are, not only not met, but, worse, on every occasion, the outcome is human misery. Notwithstanding our experiences, we are lured by the Siren's Song: and are sold a bill of goods that collective action, government action, can -- and it is the ultimate in egotism -- can create and run the desired system. No matter the expense, the art, and the toil: it cannot be done by conscious collective action. That we have committed such an important aspect of our lives, our health, to such an ill-begotten system and that we are reluctant to change it: should -- aghast any person who takes the time to think the matter through. (See Essay On Philosophy.)

To achieve any desired objective by means of a socialistic system is to be eschewed, this is particularly so when it comes to providing topflight medical services to people who instinctively believe, each and every one of them, that they have a "right" to live forever, and in good health, no matter the life style which they have adopted. The provision of medical services, no matter the delivery system, must match the insatiable demands of an expectant population, to the supply (the costs) of an exploding medical technology both in diagnostic tools and clinical treatment. What each of us want is a medical system, the fundamental quality or character of which, is, that, there be ready access to qualified physicians and hospitals all of whom employ the latest technological advances. Next, is that the costs of running such a system be kept at a minimum, viz., that, as much as possible, it be all lean and no fat. Such a system: can only be closely arrived through the free market. A socialistic approach -- bureaucratic, top-down-driven -- cannot bring us the desired delivery system of medical services; it cannot (assuming it would be satisfactory) even get us into the approximate neighbourhood.1

And, so it is, the optimum development and timely delivery of topflight medical services, achieved at minimum cost, can only come about and be maintained through the free enterprise of individuals at the root level. Once we have the desired system (which will evolve, like all things, through the forces of competition, if allowed to operate): then, there arises quite a separate question. Who is to have access to these services. Certainly anyone who has the money.2 Voluntary insurance bought directly or through an employer will take care of the vast majority in the middle. If one smokes or more generally leads an unhealthy life style then they will pay for their heavier demands on the system through a rated premium structure. We all have to make choices in life and if a person wants to unnaturally extend their life, then they best make plans for it earlier on by doing without and saving their money. For those who are unwilling or who are unable to find the money for their own medical care (notwithstanding that they might find money for any number of other things) then they would have to apply to their friends and family which of course would be a true test as to how well they have fostered their relationships through the years. For the rest, and it would be a very small lot, they would be identified as charity cases, treated within the system and the bills sent to a government department (just one) which provides for the poor, a department which has full prosecutorial powers and works under legislation which provide some real sanctions for those who abuse the system.3

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NOTES:

1 This is not to say that there shouldn't be licensing regulations. As for standards: the best set are always developed by free market forces; and, always, best enforced by free market forces: hands down.

2 It must be borne in mind, that people who need topflight medical services can immediately get what they want in the larger world wide system as it now exists. If you have money or credit, you need but only check into the Mayo Clinic, or Bethesda, or Stanford -- just to mention a few.

3 Shame, as William Hazlitt had observed, not fear, is the sheet-anchor which keep people on the straight and narrow. Shame: "The painful emotion arising from the consciousness of something dishonouring, ridiculous, or indecorous in one's own conduct or circumstances (or in those of others whose honour or disgrace one regards as one's own), or of being in a situation which offends one's sense of modesty or decency." Now, I would advocate that any individual who does not have the money or the insurance coverage, who needs life sustaining treatment due to a condition which arises through no fault of there own be covered by a "government plan" set up exclusively for them, the admission to which is very carefully controlled.

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Peter Landry

March, 2000 (2011)