Paul Jacob

Two weeks ago, in my column "About-face up north," I discussed a recent poll of Canadians that showed surprising, majority support for establishing a "two-tiered" medical system, allowing private medicine to work alongside public medicine. This in itself was surprising, since Canadians always appear to be staunchly in favor of their socialized system.

Of course, I took the story as occasion to warn Americans off of the popular panacea of government-run monopoly health care.

I had expected a nasty backlash. I've read quite enough Canadian blogs and letters-to-editors, and am familiar with the venom that some Canadians unleash upon critics of their system. (The stereotype of the milquetoast Canadian does not apply to political partisans!)

But I got none of that. Instead, I got interesting, insightful letters, most of them sympathetic.

Patients Go South

In my article, I suggested that Canadians were lucky to have the American medical system close by. A number of readers concurred:

One could even go so far as to say that the only reason that the Canadian system works at all is because so much of Canada is within fairly easy reach of the U.S. Ask any doctor in border states how many of their patients are Canadian. My brother's family lives near Bellingham, Washington, and my sister-in-law has said that half of the patients in her doctor's waiting room are Canadian. Not just rich ones, either ? just ones that need timely care and have the willingness and ability to pay for it.

I guess it's nice to see Canadians "outsource" their health care needs. But it's unfortunate the lengths they have to go to:

Living in Florida we see, first hand, the number of Canadians that come here for the winter and get all their health issues taken care of while they are here. My understanding is that the Canadian government has to pay for the care they get here.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.