Canada: health care rationing review

Les incontinents en attente.

In English, according to Google’s translation of Le Journal de Montreal‘s article, that’s The incontinence waiting.

People have to wait 3 years in Quebec for an 30 minute operation to correct a condition that dramatically affects their quality of life. These people suffer from severe incontinence. Some must urinate every 15 minutes. There are currently 60 people on the waiting list.

Meanwhile, the Windsor Star reports that Ontarians are being sent to Buffalo, New York, for treatment of a deadly and fulminating type of cancer. Mark Hunt, of Windsor, was first was diagnosed with, and treated for, melanoma in 2005. By April, 2009 it had metastasized. He has been waiting since then for treatment. He has a tumor the size of his heart in his chest.

Between April 2007 and April of this year, 55 Ontario patients have been referred to [the] Roswell Park [Cancer Institute] for IL-2 treatments, compared to four patients sent to the Harper University Hospital and the Karmanos Cancer Center in Detroit, Morrison said.

The average cost of sending a patient to Roswell Park was $113,000, compared to $125,000 at the Harper hospital and $148,000 at the Karmanos facility, he added.

To ensure that the process is fair and competitive, the ministry will review the status of Roswell Park next April, Morrison said.

Competitive? Mark Hunt has to travel 8 hours (round trip) for treatment instead of 45 minutes. His health care isn’t quite as “free” as that of an resident of Fort Erie.

The treatment, with an drug named Interleukin-2, consists of 15-minute IV’s every 8 hours for 5 days. Each treatment consists of two 5-day cycles interrupted by a 9-day rest period. Multiple courses are typical. Hour many 8 hour round trips, or hotel bills, does OHIP cover for Mark’s wife and child?

Finally, on a more general note, the Fraser Institute notes:

In 2007, waiting lists for access to health care in Canada reached a new all-time high of 18.3 weeks from general practitioner referral to treatment by a specialist. Despite substantial increases in both health spending and federal cash transfers to the provinces for health care over the last decade or so, this wait time is 54% longer than the overall median wait time of 11.9 weeks back in 1997.

Canada’s waiting lists are also, according to available evidence, among the longest in the developed world.

H/T Carpe Diem

See also, Lessons from Canada??? and don’t miss the comments.