Thursday, July 16, 2009

Canada's Medical Care Lottery

So this is what passes as serious commentary on health care reform in the United States of America?

It will be news to all of us on this side of the border, but apparently, Canada has a lottery system to "decide who gets to go see a doctor this month." "That's why people are suing."

Ask Glen Beck - he knows... (at 1:53 of the excruciating video below):

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

UPDATE - July 18, 2009

In response to some of our commenters, surely you are not confusing this unique episode in Gander, Newfoundland with the ordinary operations, nationwide, of Canada's health care system:

In May of this year, the community of Gander, NF elected to hold a 'lottery' style selection of patients for two newly arrived Family Physicians. Although innovative, this approach is unlikely to help in solving a worsening shortage of doctors nationwide.
The problem of physician shortages in remote, small communities such as Gander is a significant one in both Canada and the U.S. This is a real and difficult challenge in public and private health care jurisdictions, alike.

For discussion of physician shortages in "medically under-served" U.S. communities, see NEJM Article Examines U.S. Physician Shortage, a commentary on the New England Journal of Medicine's examination of this problem:

"Given that Medicare beneficiaries and persons with private insurance are reported to have, in general, ready access to care," it is the uninsured "who have a difficult time finding a physician," as well as Medicaid beneficiaries and the 20% of U.S. residents who live in federally designated "medically underserved" areas, Iglehart writes, adding that physician recruitment and retention "presents a challenge for community health centers, the medical operations of the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, community hospitals and even group medical practices."
Also see US: physician shortage growing:

In Physician Shortages and the Medically Underserved, The Council of State Governments says that the shortage of physicians in the United States is growing and will affect not only currently underserved areas, but some places where there are now sufficient doctors. States are trying to solve the shortage in a variety of ways.

As well, see CNN's article today, Family Doctors an endangered breed:

This trend has fueled a growing shortage of primary care doctors in the United States. "On the eve of (health care) reform, we have a very real primary care crisis," said Dr. Ted Epperly, president of AAFP.

Epperly estimates that the health care system will be 40,000 doctors short of where it needs to be in the primary care arena by 2020 to support the demand for medical care.

"We need 150,000 family doctors in total by then," Epperly said.

And last but not least, see this post from Jacob Goldstein at the Wall Street Journal Blogs: In Oregon, Health Insurance by Lottery:

Congratulations, you won the lottery — now you can have access to basic medical care!

A few thousand lucky Oregonians will will win state-subsidized health insurance coverage in a lottery this week, the Associated Press reports. About 80,000 others will lose, and remain uninsured.

-G.J.W

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