Pandemic reveals crisis in health care

Medical workers treat patients in the isolated intensive care unit at a hospital in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. (Chinatopix via AP)

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown me something about the health care system.  It is not ready to handle a crisis. No one was ready to prepare for what was coming.  China did not warn the world about what they were dealing with.  Yes, they did send the world a print of the coronavirus but they themselves were in panic mode because their health care system was in a huge deficit and totally incapable of handling a pandemic.  The Chinese health care system is not necessarily a universal system but it is sort of a hybrid system. Chinese people do pay something for health care.

On a positive note, there is a bright side to this.  The private sector in the United States has stepped up to manufacture more N95 masks, medical supplies and equipment like ventilators. Scientists and laboratories are in a hurry to create a vaccine for the coronavirus.  Without the private sector and free market system, we would be extremely short on masks and medical supplies and equipment.

This tells us something. We need the private sector in the health care system.  The private sector is the engine that creates a robust health care system.  Ingenuity, passion, education, investment, and competition.  These are factors that propel and create a more robust and dynamic system for health care.

As our population ages, we will increasingly need more medical supplies, equipment, drugs and pharmaceuticals, and anything and everything related to health care. The United States has a robust health care system. Capitalism and the free-market encourage competition.

Despite what Bernie Sanders and his socialists comrades think, the universal health care system is not what they believe it to be.  It is a socialist fantasy that has a huge inherent weakness. Here in Canada, where I live, the universal system is collapsing and bleeding. It cannot sustain itself for much longer. In the next 10-20 years, I predict it will be in ICU mode—critical and near total collapse. Universal health care is not what it’s cracked up to be. It might seem like a benefit to those without medical coverage, but it also has huge weaknesses. It cannot supply health care to all–despite what they might believe.

Wait times for any type of specialists, treatment, or surgery are astoundingly long and are continuing to increase here in Canada.  People who have already been patiently waiting for four to six months for treatment or surgery will have to wait longer, especially now that this pandemic has further delayed their treatment.  There is a huge shortage of family doctors in Canada.  Actually there is a shortage of doctors all across the board.

In the U.S., wait times are much shorter.  Yes, non-essential treatment might be delayed due to our situation, but essential treatment is not necessarily delayed.  However, here in Canada, both non-essential and essential treatment and surgery are delayed. I empathize with those who are in a desperate need for treatment and surgery.  People are suffering here in Canada.  People are diagnosed far too late; and by the time they are diagnosed for cancer or whatever, it’s too late.

I realize there are many people in the United States who do not have health care coverage. It’s very unfortunate.  If they do not work for a company that offers medical benefits, they might be up the creek if a disaster befalls them.  Either they have to sell the farm or house to pay for a life-saving surgery, or they just have to forego medical treatment and wait for the worst.

I realize that there’s no system that’s perfect.  Both the Canadian and American models of health care coverage have their weaknesses.  We need a third way.  There are other countries have different models that work better than the Canadian and American models.  I hope we get there one day.  Once we get past this COVID-19 ordeal, I hope we wake up and come up with another way to deal with the health care crisis.

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