Last year, Canadians waited a median of almost 20 weeks to receive specialist treatment after being referred by a general practitioner, according to a new report from The Fraser Institute. In practical terms, that’s the equivalent of getting a referral this week and waiting until May for treatment.
Such waits are endemic to government-run healthcare systems.
Canada’s single-payer system, which prohibits private insurance for medically necessary procedures, is a prime example of the pitfalls of total government control. Twenty weeks of waiting is bad enough. But some areas in Canada fare even worse. The median wait for treatment from a specialist following referral from a GP in New Brunswick is nearly a year.
The story is much the same in the United Kingdom’s government-run healthcare system. As of September, more than 4 million people were waiting for routine treatments. That’s a drastic increase from 2011, when 2.6 million patients were waiting.
These wait times are exacerbated by the nation’s shortage of qualified medical personnel. England is short 11,500 doctors and 42,000 nurses. Some health officials are proposing group appointments, where doctors see up to 15 people at once.
The British doctor shortage is unlikely to improve. Roughly four in ten general practitioners say they’ll likely quit within five years, according to recent research from the University of Manchester.
Some American politicians want to import these waits stateside. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ proposed government-financed healthcare legislation would outlaw private insurance and force everyone into a government-run plan. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., the new chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, recently announced that he is open to holding hearings on government-financed healthcare.
It’s a safe bet that the millions of Canadians and Britons languishing on waiting lists for necessary care won’t be invited by Democrats to testify.
Sally C. Pipes (@sallypipes) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. She is president, CEO, and Thomas W. Smith Fellow in Health Care Policy at the Pacific Research Institute. Her latest book is The False Promise of Single-Payer Health Care (Encounter 2018).