Last week I pointed out that Michael Moore, maker of the documentary "Sicko," portrayed the Cuban health-care system as though it were utopia -- until I hit him with some inconvenient facts. So he backed off and said, "Let's stick to Canada and Britain because I think these are legitimate arguments that are made against the film and against the so-called idea of socialized medicine. And I think you should challenge me on these things."
OK, here we go.
One basic problem with nationalized health care is that it makes medical services seem free. That pushes demand beyond supply. Governments deal with that by limiting what's available.
That's why the British National Health Service recently made the pathetic promise to reduce wait times for hospital care to four months.
The wait to see dentists is so long that some Brits pull their own teeth. Dental tools: pliers and vodka.
One hospital tried to save money by not changing bed sheets every day. British papers report that instead of washing them, nurses were encouraged to just turn them over.
Government rationing of health care in Canada is why when Karen Jepp was about to give birth to quadruplets last month, she was told that all the neonatal units she could go to in Canada were too crowded. She flew to Montana to have the babies.
"People line up for care; some of them die. That's what happens," Canadian doctor David Gratzer, author of The Cure, told "20/20". Gratzer thought the Canadian system was great until he started treating patients. "The more time I spent in the Canadian system, the more I came across people waiting. You want to see your neurologist because of your stress headache? No problem! You just have to wait six months. You want an MRI? No problem! Free as the air! You just gotta wait six months."
Michael Moore retorts that Canadians live longer than Americans.
But Canadians' longer lives are unrelated to heath care. Canadians are less likely to get into accidents or be murdered. Take those factors into account, not to mention obesity, and Americans live longer.
Most Canadians like their free health care, but Canadian doctors tell us the system is cracking. More than a million Canadians cannot find a regular family doctor. One town holds a lottery. Once a week the town clerk gets a box out of the closet. Everyone who wants to have a family doctor puts his or her name in it. The clerk pulls out one slip to determine the winner. Others in town have to wait.