Five percent of Americans wait and six percent of Canadians and Britons are priced out. The numbers mirror each other. The question, in other words, is not whether you ration care, but how you ration it. It also casts our smug attitude towards care access in a new light. If someone can't afford care, we record their waiting time as zero. You don't wait for what you can't have. But a more accurate accounting would record that wait as infinite, or it would record when the patient eventually ends up in the emergency room because the original ailment went untreated.
Research like this raises a simple question: Would you rather wait four months for an elective surgery or be unable to get it altogether? That -- and not whether we ration care -- is the choice between the Canadian and American models. Meanwhile, Germany, Japan, France, England, and other don't have a problem with care affordability, the uninsured, or waiting lines. We've managed to center the debate around two bad options and then trick ourselves into think we've got the better end of the deal. It's no way to conduct a debate. | Ezra K. |