Thomas Sowell
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This is an emergency book review.

Before you do anything else, make a note to read "The Top Ten Myths of American Health Care" by Sally C. Pipes. It might literally save your life, by checking the political stampede toward a government-controlled medical profession-- usually presented politically as "universal health care."

It is one of the painful signs of our times that millions of people are so easily swayed by rhetoric that they show virtually no interest at all in finding out the hard facts. Any number of other countries already have government-controlled medical professions. Yet few Americans show any interest in what actually happens to medical care in those countries.

Instead, we are being lured into a one-way process-- much like entering a Venus fly trap-- by the oldest of all confidence rackets, the promise of something for nothing.

Fortunately, Sally C. Pipes is one of the few who has explored the reality of government-controlled medical treatment in Canada and other countries. Among the things she discovered is that new life-saving medications that go immediately into the market in the United States take a much longer time to become available to Canadian patients-- if they ever get approved by the bureaucrats.

No doubt that lowers the cost of medications-- if you count costs solely in money terms, rather than in terms of how many people literally pay with their lives when the bureaucrats are reluctant to buy new pharmaceutical drugs, while they can continue to approve obsolete and cheaper drugs for the same illnesses.

Cancer survival rates are higher in the United States than in Europe. A recent report by the Fraser Institute in Vancouver estimates that annually tens of thousands of Canadians seek medical treatment outside of Canada, even though treatment is free inside Canada and they have to pay themselves for treatment elsewhere.

Other studies show that waiting times for surgery are months longer in Canada, Britain and Australia-- all countries with government-controlled medical care-- than in the United States.

Among the many issues explained in plain English in "The Top Ten Myths of American Health Care" are why pharmaceutical drugs cost so much, why it is misleading to talk about uninsured Americans as if they do not get medical care, and how politicians make existing insurance more expensive by blithely mandating coverage that people would not voluntarily pay for with their own money, if it was left up to them.

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Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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