Letters to the Editor

Our health care system already works

Re July 27 letter by Peter Dewsnap, “National health care works well”

It's hard to take Mr. Dewsnap's personal anecdotal evidence of Canadian health care and the British National Health Service as evidence of an improvement over our present health care system. I like the convenience and quality of U.S. health care. I do not question the good health care that Mr. Dewsnap received for him and his family in Canada and the UK. I also know that there are big problems in health care in the U.S., but if you have insurance or money you can get good timely health care, whether emergency or elective care.

A 2010 report of the Fraser Institute, “Waiting Your Turn,” reports the wait times for procedures in the 10 provinces in Canada. Some highlights: “A total waiting time of 18.2 weeks between referral from a general practitioner and elective treatments in 2010. Patients wait longest to undergo orthopedic surgery (35.6 weeks) and wait least for medical oncology treatment (4.9 weeks). Canadians wait nearly 3 weeks longer than what physicians believe is ‘reasonable’ for elective treatment after an appointment with a specialist.”

According to the National Center for Policy Analysis, a conservative think tank, “Americans have better survival rates than Europeans for common cancers, Americans have lower cancer mortality rates than Canadians, American have better access to treatment for chronic diseases than patients in other developed countries, Americans have better access to preventive cancer screening than Canadians, Americans spend less time waiting for care than patients in Canada and the UK, Americans have much better access to important new technologies like medical imaging than patients in Canada or the UK.” And what I believe is the most important reason for keeping our health care system is the “vast majority of all health care innovations” come from the U.S.: “The top five US hospitals conduct more clinical trials than all the hospitals in any other single developed country.”

The UK’s National Health Service suffers from many of the same problems that other universal care systems suffer from. For brevity I’ll quote Dr. Mark Porter, chairman of the British Medical Association’s consultants committee. “Patients could die because of rising NHS waiting lists for tests and treatment.”

In the conclusion of the Fraser Institute report they state: “This year's survey of specialists also found that an estimated 1%, (44,680), of patients received elective treatment in another country during 2009/10. It is assumed that most of these patients would be seeking elective treatment in the U.S.” I don't know whether they received service in U.S. or not; it’s not important. What is important is a health care system that gives good timely health care. Where do Americans go for good timely health care when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act goes into effect?

The writer lives in Murrells Inlet.