Universal Health Care and We the Patients
Since my youth I have heard politicians glorify universal health care. They say it’s a system based on Canadian values and part of our Canadian identity. All political parties are guilty of using access to health care as a bartering tool for elections. While politicians like to talk about the good intentions of socialized medicine and make multi-million dollar promises, we the patients are forced to live with its results.
You won’t hear about the child who needs surgery waking to excruciating pain in the middle of the night and asking his mother if he is going to die. You won’t hear about the man in the ER whose heart stopped beating before he could get medical attention. You won’t hear about the woman fighting cancer who unbeknownst to her is designated as low priority. You don’t hear about patients without access to medical services dying on the streets in Canada because waiting lists effectively silence government rationing of care. We the patients are the numbers on lists waiting for access to family doctors and specialists. We are the numbers on lists waiting in hospitals with overflowing emergency departments. We are the numbers on lists waiting for diagnostic tests, surgeries, and cancer treatments. While politicians claim to want to help the most vulnerable among us, this oppressive system makes us all more vulnerable.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not guarantee a right to benefits from a government program like Medicare – nor should it. What is unjust in a free and democratic society is a government monopoly that not only infringes on our legal “…right to life, liberty and security of the person…” but leaves us no option for escaping the harms caused by this infringement. Every individual regardless of their material wealth should be free to pursue their own health care interests. Any government depriving its citizens of self-reliance in the name of equality seeks to be a master of all and a servant to none. The personal medical needs and interests of the people are best served not by arbitrary decisions made by politicians and bureaucrats, but by the people themselves.
It’s time for politicians to acknowledge these simple truths about universal health care:
- Access is based on need and ability to pay.
- Legislation enforcing a government monopoly on medically necessary services infringes on individual rights and freedoms.
- Government price controls and rationing create a false economy for health care which results in increasing costs, decreasing quality, and reduced access.
It’s time for us to elect politicians who will serve the common good by defending the individual rights and freedoms of all citizens. Politicians must remember that behind each number on every waiting list is a real person and who better to remind them than we the patients.