Other Countries Get Health Care Right

When Canadians hold up their health care system as the world’s finest, as many do despite the typical lengthy waiting for appointments, their assumption is that no country can do better. At least the U.S. cannot do better, unless the American patient pays for the privilege. Canadians think generally that their model needs only the fine tuning of organization or additional funding to achieve the highest productivity in health care. But in both the Netherlands and France, there is a different model. As Jonathan Cohn, writing for the Boston Globe notes:

Most people have long-standing relationships with their primary care doctors. And when they need to see these doctors, they do so without delay or hassle. In a 2008 survey of adults with chronic disease conducted by the Commonwealth Fund – a foundation which financed my own research abroad – 60 percent of Dutch patients and 42 percent of French patients could get same-day appointments. The figure in the US was just 26 percent. The contrast with after-hours care is even more striking. If you live in either Amsterdam or Paris, and get sick after your family physician has gone home, a phone call will typically get you an immediate medical consultation – or even, if necessary, a house call. And if you need the sort of attention available only at a formal medical facility, you can get that, too – without the long waits typical in US emergency rooms.

Canadians needs a respectful, in-depth dialogue about what they want to achieve in health care that begins with experiences other than American.

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