The Globe and Mail
June 7, 2010
A conversation with Howard Dean
By André Picard
On Monday (June 7), a group of prominent American and Canadian physicians (debated), in Toronto, the question: "Be it resolved that I would rather get sick in the U.S. than in Canada." One of the panelists is Howard Dean.
Q. Health-care reform dominated the headlines for a long time. Was it successful?
We didn't pass reform. All we did pass was putting more money into what we already have. It's successful in a sense that 1) we got a major bill passed, which is something for a new administration; 2) we created a system that's going to force reform because of the financial realities; 3) a great many more people are going to have coverage. But this system is still not nearly as effective and efficient as the Canadian system.
Q. What's the single most important lesson that Americans can take from the Canadian system?
It covers everybody with a relative lack of bureaucracy. I know Canadians think there is bureaucracy, but you haven't seen anything until you work in a system with several hundred insurance companies that all do something different. American hospitals have a whole floor occupied by a billing office. You don't have that in Canada.
Q. Conversely, what's the most important lesson Canadians can take from the U.S. health-care system?
I'm afraid I'm not sure there is one. There is more cutting-edge innovative technology, but the cost of that is to pay 70 per cent more than Canadians do for health insurance. Canadians will have to decide if that's a lesson they want to learn.
Q. Bottom line, which system is better for the patient?
I've spent a lot of time in both countries and there is no doubt that you're better off getting sick in Canada.
Q. But don't you have the best health care in the world? We hear that mantra constantly.
We have the best health care in the world for people who can afford it. But Canada has very, very good health care for everybody.
Toronto Debate (almost 2 hours):
"Be it resolved that I would rather get sick in the United States than Canada."
Pro team: William Frist and David Gratzer
Con team: Howard Dean and Robert Bell
http://www.munkdebates.com/debates/Healthcare (Click on "Watch the Debate" for video)
Comment: As Howard Dean states, "We didn't pass reform. All we did pass was putting more money into what we already have." This is precisely why a debate on the Canadian versus the U.S. health care systems is more timely than ever.
If you don't have two hours to watch the full debate, you may want to watch the opening statements, and then slide the time bar forward to catch the closing statements (though I watched the full debate live-streamed, and it was well worth my time).
The importance of this message is that this is a crucial debate that has not gone away in spite of the enactment of PPACA. We should all do our part to see that everyone in the United States becomes fully informed on the true facts.