BusinessWeek audience hears NUPGE on public health care

Ottawa (17 June 2008) - Health care is a major presidential election issue in the United States this year and Canada's public Medicare system and its advocates are attracting a lot more attention than normal.

BusinessWeek magazine recently asked James Clancy, president of the 340,000-member National Union of Public and General Employees, to participate in its Debate Room forum on the pros and cons of the Canadian system.

In a presentation, Health Care: Go Canadian, Clancy outlined 10 reasons why the U.S. should adopt a publicly-funded health care system that provides basic coverage free of charge to all its citizens.

By James Clancy
National Union of Public and General Employees

I find Top 10 lists are a useful way to quickly distill large and complicated issues down to the bare essentials. So here are my Top 10 reasons the U.S. should adopt Canadas single-payer health care system.

1. All Americans would have health insurance. This is the right thing to do because it reflects and promotes core values and notions of citizenship: equality, compassion, and social solidarity. Sickness doesnt discriminate. Neither should health care.

2. Health would improve. On almost every critical measure (life expectancy, infant mortality, etc.), Canada rates higher than the U.S., and were among the best in the world.

3. It would cost less. Canada spends 9.8% of GDP on health care, while the U.S. spends more than 15%. A single-payer system is the less expensive way to go.

4. Patients would have more choice. In Canada, patients can choose whatever doctor, specialist and hospital they want. Treatment decisions are left to patients and their doctors. No insurance companies meddle in our choices.

Quality of service would improve. In Canada, health providers never have to choose between their wealth and a patients health. Our system forbids that choice. The vast majority of Canadians are highly satisfied with the quality of care they receive. In Canada, patients rarely sue physicians.

6. It would reduce the bureaucracy. Patients in Canada show their health card and get care. Health providers bill the government directly and get paid. Its that simple.

7. Fewer Americans would go bankrupt because of health care costs. This is a major problem for many U.S. families. It rarely happens in Canada.

8. It would benefit business. Companies in Canada have a competitive advantage because they dont have to provide basic health care coverage for their workers.

9. It would diminish labor strife. Health care is incidental in labor negotiations in Canada. Its a large and growing pitfall in contract negotiations in the U.S.

10. It would serve democracy. Most Americans want major, not incremental, health care reform. Many Americans support a single-payer system. It is about responding to the wishes of the people.

More information:
● BusinessWeek: The Debate Room