Within hours of suffering chest pains Tuesday night, Bernie Sanders had stents inserted to relieve the blockage in an artery. He’s lucky. Because if Sanders lived under “Medicare for All,” things likely would not have gone as well.
Sanders, along with every other Democrat pushing “Medicare for All” and its variants, constantly bleats about how the U.S. spends far more on health care but gets worse results than countries such as Canada or the U.K. But the quality measures – infant mortality and longevity – are notoriously unreliable for international comparisons.
Infant mortality rates depend on how countries measure them, and longevity has more to do with things like obesity, crime, and drug abuse than health care.
What Sanders and company never do is look at how countries handle actual health care delivery. That’s because when you do that, socialized medicine starts to look more like Hell than Nirvana.
Canada and the U.K. are plagued with chronic shortages of doctors and nurses, shortages of hospital beds, shortages of the latest diagnostic tools.
The result is treatment delays and outright denials. This grim reality plays out daily in the newspapers of the two countries, stories that Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other single-payer advocates pretend don’t exist.
This is as true for heart patients as anyone else.
A 1995 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that no patients needing an urgent coronary angiography test – used to reveal artery blockages – received one within 24 hours in Canada or the U.K., whereas 65% did in the U.S. Nearly two-thirds of Canadians and 94% of Brits had to wait more than three days.
The same study found that while 80% of urgent coronary bypass operations occurred within 24 hours in the U.S., only 24% did in Canada and 10% in the U.K.
The situation has not improved in either country since then.
A dozen cardiac patients died in Quebec in just the first four months of this year while waiting for surgery. Why the delay? According to the head of the province’s cardiac surgeons association, it’s largely because “of a shortage of operating room nurses and perfusionists — the technicians who operate the heart-lung machine during the surgery” as well as a lack of hospital beds.
Overall wait times for specialist care of any kind has more than doubled in Canada since the 1990s, according to the Fraser Institute, which has been tracking this.
The British regularly see headlines such as “Heath patients die on waiting lists,” and “Patients are dying waiting for heart surgery.” In Wales, 152 patients died waiting for heart surgery in two hospitals over five years. Last year, the NHS reported that wait times for bypass surgery doubled in Wales to 79 days.
A 2013 analysis found that the death rate for patients with congestive heart failure was three times higher in British hospitals than those in the U.S.
Heart patients are hardly the only ones forced to wait for treatments in those countries. In the U.K., shortages of doctors and nurses often force cancer patients to wait so long that their survival rates are now lower than comparable countries, and far below survival rates in the U.S.
Tens of thousands of Canadians come across the border each year and pay out of pocket for health care they can’t get in a timely fashion from their country’s version of “Medicare for All.”
We could go on, and on, and on. The point is that these problems would inevitably emerge here if Sanders, Warren and company were allowed to impose “Medicare for All” on the country. Socialism always leads to shortages and low quality.
We’re glad that Sanders got the care he needed in a timely fashion and hope for a speedy recovery. We just wish he’d embrace the (mostly) private health care system that provided him such excellent care, instead of trying to destroy it with “Medicare for All.”
— Written by John Merline
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