Issues & Insights
Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

Bernie Sanders Should Be Grateful We Don’t Have ‘Medicare for All’

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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  • c’mon we all know medicare for all doesn’t include the leftists masters. they will continue to get their usual top of the line healthcare while we, the unwashed masses, wait day, weeks and even months to get our healthcare.

    as the masters are so much more important than anyone else so we can understand why. we can’t live without their wisdom to guide through all the tough times they have created for us.

    • Walter Reed hospital is pretty much reserved for government patients and their families.
      Under medicare for all they will hire the best for themselves.

  • This article is false. I’m Canadian, and I needed heart surgery. There wasn’t a wait. Two decades ago, I had a bad bicycle accident – shattered several bones in my leg – and need reconstructive surgery from a Orthopedic surgeon or I could have lost the leg. Surgery happened that day. Anecdotes are not data, but long delays for critical surgery are not common.

    Also, the stats you quote come from one guy, working on his own, 6 years ago, which even the article you cite says “were not peer reviewed,” nor was the data he collected on his own validated/ Might as well go with ” a guy I know says”. To make this claim, you need betters sources. If he had been right, there would be multiple studies and versions of this data, supporting it.

    No health system is perfect, but Bernie would have gotten great care up here, as would anyone else.

    • It depends on how old you are – in both the Canadian and Australian systems, need/procedures is/are prioritized based on age.

    • I have no doubt that I would receive excellent health care in Canada. I’ve never heard anyone say that health care is bad in Canada. However, I have a friend who is Canadian and she most certainly comes to the states to have specialized appointments, xrays and lab tests done. She uses the Canadian system for big things like rehab or surgeries. While she has to pay when using services in the states she says it is worth it in terms of wait time for an appointment and the convenience of making an appointment for labs and x-rays at her convenience instead of being assigned whatever time slot is available (including middle of the night far from her home). I’m glad you are happy with your excellent health care system, Mark. I suspect you are not getting on in years because it is those patients that get pushed into middle of the night appointments. It comes down to money, sadly. My husband and I could have free health care since he is retired US Army. But, that care has gone the Canadian way. We get free if we want to travel 50 or more miles to a clinic to be seen by a nurse who will video-conference with a doctor if needed and we get free if we travel several hundred miles to a military or civilian contract hospital for surgery but then we’d pay for transportation, lodging and incidentals while being away from home. Also, they assign appointments at their convenience including middle of the night far away from home. No thanks. We use TriCare, Medicare and a 3rd policy Social Security gave us no option of refusing. 9 years we’ve paid for that 3rd policy and I don’t even know the name of the insurance company because the 1st 2 policies pay the medical bills. We call that 3rd policy a tax because we don’t want or need it and we have to pay to be able to get our Social Security – which we paid into by the way. Perhaps your system in Canada is wonderful for you. That is great. But, I’m here to tell you that I know of 3 Canadians who use a combination of Canada/US medical care and it is not as suggested by Mr. Fast below – on vacation and need care.

  • Older Canadians wintering in the South go to hospitals when they get sick, like everyone else. That doesn’t mean they came to the US seeking treatment.

    Canada and the UK have had conservative governments for much of their modern histories, but no Prime Minister of either country has ever suggested adopting a version of the US health system. Why is that?

    • Why is that? Because they have a good thing going by sponging off the drugs, technology and procedures created in the US.

  • When Bernie gets back on the campaign trail, he will praise the high quality, expeditious emergency care he received. Then he will tells us that only under his Medicare for all plan will each and every American be assured of comparable care under comparable circumstances. It’s no use talking to Sanders about the shortages and wait times inherent in single-payer, command healthcare systems. He blocks out all that as a matter of course. If we were to be charitable to the daft, hoary socialist, we might say he truly believes that despite all the evidence to the contrary, it’s merely a matter of “doing it right.” But to my mind, that would just render him and his inane ideas even more foolhardy.

  • Bernie I’m sure was covered under Medicare – maybe not Medicare for all but medical care paid for by the Government. I might not agree with people not having a choice of private insurance but how about a public option to buy into Medicare? The government spends far less on administering Medicare than private insurance companies spend on their administration costs and exorbitant grotesque executive salaries. My bet would be that many corporations would quickly abandon private insurance and pay employees to allow them to buy into Medicare. This would set up a much more competitive market.
    Medicare for all does not need to be socialized medicine where the government owns hospitals and doctors work for the government – it can simply mean that the government pays private hospitals and professional care givers.

    • A system that is managed by the government never results in “a much more competitive market.” Medicare only seems to achieve good results in the US because the cost of care is subsidized by the private market. Same for the VA system.

  • Since Sanders has made ‘Medicare for All’ a central component of his current campaign it would be an appropriate question to ask if Sanders used Private Insurance for his stent. A related question would be to ask if Sanders gets a Social Security payment each month.

    If you take a monthly Social Security payment you must enroll in Medicare Part A. Although it is legal to have private insurance and Medicare there is a “coordination of benefits” which decides which insurer pays first. So, Sen Sanders, do you get Social Security and if so how was you bill paid?
    Because Sen Sanders is running on the basis of National Health Care he should make clear (politically) whether he has private insurance and that he is in compliance with the law.

  • Maybe Bernie should have been forced to abide by the rules his programs would have insisted on. Only until he was ready to acknowledge his error would he receive treatment on a schedule currently in effect. The least he can do know is acknowledge that and that is something I DOUBT he ever will do.

  • AOC has the best interests of non white people, immigrants and most women at heart but not white males. She is a racist in the most obvious way.

  • So if we had had “Medicare for All” when Bernie had his heart attack, he likely would have died? What’s the downside again?

  • This seems to be nonsense. Everyone know that Members of Congress don’t live by the same rules that apply to the rest of us! Sanders as a Senator would have received highly preferential treatment under a government “Medicare for All” program. You need to be honest with your readers.

  • Part of the dishonesty that went along with Obamacare and is also a big part the latest leftist fad, Medicare for All, is the myth that we don’t have healthcare for all. Insurance for all and healthcare for all are two entirely separate things. Our ERs are required to treat everyone who comes in for healthcare, and the cost is passed along to the taxpayers and the premium payers who do have insurance. In addition, thousands of non-profit free community clinics provide medical care to those without insurance or the means to pay for that care themselves. Dishonest politicians, pretending that the lack of insurance equals a lack of healthcare, can generate a river of tears. Telling the truth – not so much.

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