Waiting Time/Lists in Canada’s Universal Publicly Funded Healthcare System

July 30, 2009

Waiting Time/Lists in Canada’s Universal Publicly Funded Healthcare System

A study on the “waiting time/lists” on the Canada’s universal publicly funded healthcare by Kao-Ping Chua of the AMSA in 2005-2006 revealed that Canadians wait for weeks to get treated or wait for weeks to get on a waiting list.

Huh? A wait on the WAITING LIST? Yup! No kidding.

Kao-Ping Chua concluded:

 – A small population of Canadians goes to the US for treatment. (probably the rich Canadians)

 – Canadians experience problems with waiting lists more than Americans.

 – Some Canadians experience more waiting periods than other Canadians, depending on the region.

The interesting parts of this study are the evidence that undeniably proved that waiting lists and longer waiting periods exists in the Canada’s universal publicly funded healthcare system. Many Single Payer/Universal Healthcare proponents, including those with phd, claims Canadians are happy with their healthcare system. That is true as long as the Canadians stay healthy and do not get sick. Once they get sick, they stay sick for a while or go to the USA for treatment.

Here are the averages waiting periods by medical conditions and by region, as Kao-Ping Chua reported:

In British Columbia Canadians wait:

– 9.3 weeks for orthopedic surgery

– 2.7 weeks for vascular surgery

– Endarterectomy (removal of arterial blockage) 3 weeks (hope no heart attack while waiting)

– 9.4 weeks for cataract removal surgery

 – 5.1 weeks for gall bladder surgery

 – 21.8 weeks for hip replacement

– 28.3 weeks for knee replacement

In Manitoba CT scan average wait is 10 weeks (lowest is 3 weeks and highest is 18 weeks) OMG! CT scans are used to diagnose a myriad of diseases mainly cancer. Holy cow! A Canadian has to wait 10 weeks for a CT scan needed to see if he has cancer or not. What if he was found to have cancer after 10 weeks of wait? Do you think the cancer has gotten worst during the waiting period? ALBSOLUTELY!!

Canadian government do not have a standardize system of collecting data on waiting time/lists. Why would they collect and keep data that would show the sorry system of universal publicly funded healthcare?

Because of that, patients self-report their experiences.

Statistics Canada, a non-partisan organization compiled these stats on how long Canadians wait based on Health Services Survey:

– 95% of Canadians wait an average of 4.3 weeks for non-emergency surgery

– 95% of Canadians wait an average of 4.0 weeks to see a specialist

– 95% of Canadians wait an average of 3.0 weeks for non-emergency CT, MRI or angiography

Waiting time for Canadians to see a doctor:

– Average wait between visiting a general practitioner and consultation with a specialist: 8.4 weeks

 – Average wait between visiting a specialist and receiving treatment: 9.5 weeks

– Average wait time for CT scans: 5.2 weeks; MRI: 12.6

 Holy cow!…again!!!! A maximum of 30.5 weeks just to find out a Canadian is dying of brain tumor!!!!!

Kao-Ping Chua also cited a cross-national survey comparing the difficulties faced by Americans vs. Canadians:

– 53% of Canadians said it was difficult to see a specialist. US is 40%

– 86% of Canadians said long wait period to see a specialist. US is 40%

– 24% of Canadians have difficulty seeing a regular doctor. US is 14%

Which health care system is better again?

 You can read the report here: http://www.amsa.org/studytours/WaitingTimes_primer.pdf

In 2008 the Canadian Breast Cancer Network published a report card on how long Canadian Women wait for breast cancer diagnosis and treatment and drugs. Here are the results:

 – Abnormal screen to diagnosis is 7 weeks

– Surgery up to 12 weeks

– Radiation is 4 weeks

 – Chemotherapy is 12 weeks

Is that acceptable, Miss American Woman?

The study also reported how long American women wait for breast cancer diagnosis to treatment. I am sad to disappoint the fans of Canada’s universal publicly funded healthcare system and the phds out there. The Canadian Breast Cancer Network found no evidence to substantiate if there is a waiting period for American women. Here is what the report said:

Unlike Canada, wait times do not appear to be a major preoccupation in the US. We found very little literature on this topic, even for recipients of Medicare or Medicaid. Because the US does not have a universal publicly funded health care system, access in terms of wait times may be not perceived as a problem by those who can afford to pay for health care, while those who cannot afford to pay simply do not use health care services.

Did the report imply Canadians wait longer because of a universal publicly funded health care system? (WOW! What a revelation?!!!)

How about the breast cancer drugs? How long a Canadian woman must wait before she can have access to the drugs that are already available in the US?

Here is what the Canadian Breast Cancer Network reported:

Total time elapsed between the manufacturer’s first application to Health Canada and final inclusion on a provincial or local formulary can be between 3–5 years or longer.

For those who can afford to pay for drugs out of their own pocket or who are covered by private insurance, wait times for access to drugs can be shorter. Those who do not want to wait for chemotherapy drugs to be included on the formulary in Ontario can also pay privately for some chemotherapy drugs that can be administered at a cancer treatment centre by a physician. In this case, the patient would pay for the drug, but not the use of treatment centre facilities or the doctor’s fee. This is controversial because it allows wealthier patients faster access to care.

Did the report imply universal publicly funded healthcare system does not solve the inequity in healthcare between the rich and the poor? (Hello! Mr. President!!!)

You can read the report here: http://www.cbcn.ca/documents/pdf/ENG_CBCN_fin_book.pdf



Health care rationing…young over seniors.. long waits in UK and Canada

July 26, 2009

Health care rationing…young over seniors.. long waits in UK and Canada.


At his press conference Wednesday night, President Obama admitted that the government will be intervening between you and your doctor. Only to prevent “unnecessary” care, he said but it will be the government, not the doctor who decides what’s necessary. This is worrisome!
The nationalized health care plan proposed by President Obama calls for rationed care. Rationed care requires that patients forego medical procedures which fail to meet federal approval. Under nationalized health care, a bureaucrat will have the power to delay or deny care to a patient without regard for the patient’s medical needs or for the physician’s advice.
In Canada and the United Kingdom, both of which have adopted a nationalized health care system, patients’ access to care is far more restricted and wait times are far longer than in the United States. Consider the following wait times:
    Better late… In a recent survey of adults suffering from a chronic condition, 74% of U.S. patients met with a specialist within four weeks of scheduling an appointment. By comparison, only 42% of British patients and just 40% of Canadian patients were able to meet with a specialist in the first four weeks suffering from their condition.
    …than Never? In the same survey, 33% of patients in the United Kingdom and 42% of patients in Canada waited for more than 2 months before meeting with a specialist to address their chronic condition. In the United States, only 10% of patients waited for longer than 2 months before meeting with a specialist.
    Hazardous Delay. Canadian wait times exceed the clinically reasonable wait time for every medical specialty . For neurosurgery, for instance, although the clinically reasonable wait time is 5.8 weeks, the average Canadian wait time exceeds 31 weeks. Orthopedic surgery is even worse. The clinically reasonable wait time is 11 weeks; Canadian patients waiting on orthopedic surgery wait on average almost 37 weeks before they receive treatment. http://www.ncpa.org/pdfs/Canadian_UK_HealthSystems.pdf
Rationed care affects all patients. In Canada and the United Kingdom patients have reduced access to health care providers, longer waits for examinations and fewer available treatment options. As it has in Canada and the United Kingdom, nationalized health care in the United States threatens to reduce the quality of care and therefore, the quality of life for all Americans.

 To fund a nationalized health care system, Congress will have to deny, delay, and ration care for the sick and elderly.

If health care is rationed, how would that work? White House health advisor Zeke Emanuel (who is also the brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel) wrote an entire article on this subject in the Lancet on January 31, 2009. In the article, Emanuel advocated giving young adults priority over senior citizens. Suppose a 25-year-old and a 65-year-old each has a life-threatening disease. Since the 25-year-old has many more potential years of life ahead of him, he should receive preferential treatment, according to Emanuel. He justifies denying care to elderly patients in the following way:
Unlike allocation by sex or race, allocation by age is not invidious discrimination; every person lives through different life stages rather than being a single age. Even if 25-year-olds receive priority over 65-year-olds, everyone who is 65 years now was previously 25 years.
There is more! In another article written in 1996 for the Hastings Center Report , Emanuel said health services should not be guaranteed to “individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens.” He continues, “An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia.”
Ultimately, such a health care plan would ignore the end-of-life needs of many Americans!



The False Promise of Government Healthcare

July 24, 2009
The False Promise of Government Healthcare
By: Investor’s Business Daily / nvestor’s Business Daily
Friday, July 24, 2009


Reformers’ claims about health care don’t add up.
Many extravagant claims have been made on behalf of the various health care “reforms” now emerging from Congress and the White House. But on closer inspection, virtually all prove to be false.

Yet even as many Americans start to have second thoughts about our government’s possible takeover of the health care system, Congress is rushing to make it happen.

On Friday, the House Ways and Means Committee approved a bill that would radically change our current system and expand coverage for the uninsured. The action came a day after the head of the Congressional Budget Office said none of the plans under review would slow health care spending. None of them.

Still, lawmakers and the White House press on, relying on GOP weakness in the House and a new veto-proof majority in the Senate. They’re also relying on a lack of awareness that claims made on behalf of national health care may be mostly false. Among them:

• America has a health care crisis.

No, we don’t. Forty-seven million people lack insurance. Of the remaining 85% of the population, or 258 million people, polls show high satisfaction with the current coverage. Indeed, a 2006 poll by ABC News, the Kaiser Family Foundation and USA Today found 89% of Americans were happy with their own health care.

As for the estimated 47 million not covered by health insurance, 20 million can afford to buy it, according to a study by former CBO Director June O’Neill. Most of the other 27 million are single and under 35, with as many as a third illegal aliens.

When it’s all whittled down, as few as 12 million are unable to buy insurance — less than 4% of a population of 305 million. For this we need to nationalize 17% of our nation’s $14 trillion economy and change the current care that 89% like?

• Health care reform will save money.

Few of the plans now coming out of Congress will save anything, says the CBO’s current chief, Douglas Elmendorf. In fact, he says, they’ll lead to substantially higher costs in the future — costs that will be “unsustainable.”

As it is, estimates for reforming health care range from $1 trillion to $3.6 trillion. Much will be spent on subsidies to make a so-called public option more attractive to consumers than private plans.

To pay for it, the president has suggested about $600 billion in new taxes, meaning that $500 billion to $2.1 trillion in new health care spending over the next decade will be unfunded. This could push up the nation’s already soaring deficit, expected to reach $10 trillion through 2019 without health care reform. Massive new tax hikes will probably be needed to close the gap.

• Only the rich will pay for reform.

The 5.4% surtax on millionaires the president is pushing gets all the attention, but everyone down to $280,000 in income will pay more. Doesn’t that still leave out the middle class and poor? Sorry. Workers who decline to take part will pay a tax of up to 2% of earnings. And small-businesses must pony up 8% of their payrolls.

The poor and middle class must pay in other ways, without knowing it. The biggest hit will be on small businesses, which, due to new payroll taxes, will be less likely to hire workers. Today’s 9.5% jobless rate may become a permanent feature of our economy — just as it is in Europe, where nationalized health care is common.

• Government-run health care produces better results.

The biggest potential lie of all. America has the best health care in the world, and most Americans know it. Yet we hear that many “go without care” while in nationalized systems it is “guaranteed.”

U.S. life expectancy in 2006 was 78.1 years, ranking behind 30 other countries. So if our health care is so good, why don’t we live as long as everyone else?

Three reasons. One, our homicide rate is two to three times higher than other countries. Two, because we drive so much, we have a higher fatality rate on our roads — 14.24 fatalities per 100,000 people vs. 6.19 in Germany, 7.4 in France and 9.25 in Canada. Three, Americans eat far more than those in other nations, contributing to higher levels of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

These are diseases of wealth, not the fault of the health care system. A study by Robert Ohsfeldt of Texas A&M and John Schneider of the University of Iowa found that if you subtract our higher death rates from accidents and homicide, Americans actually live longer than people in other countries.

In countries with nationalized care, medical outcomes are often catastrophically worse. Take breast cancer. According to the Heritage Foundation, breast cancer mortality in Germany is 52% higher than in the U.S.; the U.K.’s rate is 88% higher. For prostate cancer, mortality is 604% higher in the U.K. and 457% higher in Norway. Colorectal cancer? Forty percent higher in the U.K.

But what about the health care paradise to our north? Americans have almost uniformly better outcomes and lower mortality rates than Canada, where breast cancer mortality is 9% higher, prostate cancer 184% higher and colon cancer 10% higher.

Then there are the waiting lists. With a population just under that of California, 830,000 Canadians are waiting to be admitted to a hospital or to get treatment. In England, the list is 1.8 million deep.

Universal health care, wrote Sally Pipes, president of the Pacific Research Institute in her excellent book, “Top Ten Myths Of American Health Care,” will inevitably result in “higher taxes, forced premium payments, one-size-fits-all policies, long waiting lists, rationed care and limited access to cutting-edge medicine.”

Before you sign up, you might want to check with people in countries that have the kind of system the White House and Congress have in mind. Recent polls show that more than 70% of Germans, Australians, Britons, Canadians and New Zealanders think their systems need “complete rebuilding” or “fundamental change.”

• The poor lack care.

Many may lack insurance, but that doesn’t mean they lack care. The law says anyone who walks into a hospital emergency room must be treated. America has 37 million people in poverty, but Medicaid covers 55 million — at a cost of $350 billion a year.

Moreover, as many as 11 million of the uninsured qualify for programs for the indigent, including Medicaid and SCHIP. But for some reason, they don’t sign up. Are they likely to sign up for the “public option” when it’s made available?

Swedish Government Healthcare Nightmare…written by a Swedish Citizen

July 17, 2009

Your Worst Nightmare � Libertarian Health Care?

by Richard C.B. Johnsson
by Richard C.B. Johnsson


When thinking about or discussing what a libertarian society would possibly look like, I often encounter assertions like: “nobody would take care of the poor.” Once, at an academic seminar, I put forward some crazy ideas about the financing of roads.1 My ideas were met by a more or less unanimous outrage from the other attendants. After having made the correct generalizations, they couldn�t refrain themselves from asking me what would happen if a poor fellow without insurance became critically ill in a society where everything was private?2 The suggested answer was, of course, that in such a libertarian society, the poor fellow would have to suffer and even perish, as any hospital clearly would refuse to treat him.

Appalled they were, but in courtesy towards these critics, I now put forward four even better fictive examples of this kind of nightmarish libertarian society. The examples are indeed scary and hopefully these critics now can sleep well at night, knowing that nobody ever possibly could argue in favor of a system that produces the atrocities of the following examples:

1. A man got his leg amputated because a hospital failed to treat him in time. The man, who suffered from diabetes, received no treatment despite the obvious risk of gangrene that followed from his poor blood circulation. The subsequent investigation, set up by the hospital�s owner, put out a warning to the two doctors involved, stating that the man would still have his leg had he been treated in time.

Comment: Here we see how in the libertarian society a hospital can cut off somebody�s leg and the only thing that happens is that the owners blame the workers!

2. A hospital has on its own account investigated into the possibilities of premature deaths among patients waiting in line for a by-pass surgery. For those that aren�t lucky enough to end up in what the hospital determines to be the “fast lane,” the waiting time is about 4� months. It was found that during the 4 years of 1995–1998, 77 patients died while waiting in line. The conclusion of the study was that perhaps the hospital needs to coordinate its activity on a national level with other hospitals of the same ownership. In that way, they would be able to better judge who were going to end up in the fast lane (and, thus, who wouldn�t).

Comment: Here we see how hospitals in the libertarian society would refuse to treat people, putting some people with connections in front of others, letting the little guy vanish. What would happen if somebody died, like the 77 in the example? The hospital would say that they would look into their routines, that is all!

3. After having had to wait for a long time, a man was told by a hospital that he had cancer and that the tumor was malignant. It could neither be treated by surgery nor in any other way. � This tumor will kill you, he was told. He was offered the necessary pain relief. Fortunately, the man was very wealthy. He just got on a plane and flew to a place where these kinds of tumors could be treated. He had surgery in a couple of days, and instead of the prospect of death after only 45 days in the care of the first hospital, he now can look forward to many more years of living.

Comment: Here is a good example of how the heartless hospitals in the libertarian society would give people an aspirin instead of curing the cancer, although it obviously was curable!

4. When it was time to give the twin birth, a pregnant woman and her husband, living in a small town, were told that there were no beds available at the hospital. This particular hospital was in the neighboring town, since they had already earlier been refused to give birth in their hometown. However, the hospital had made a general promise that they should be able to give birth somewhere. They were taken to the famous hospital in a larger city about 150 km away, but also there they were refused to give birth, despite the fact that it had the same owner. Instead the hospital sent them abroad by helicopter to another hospital with a different owner, but with which the first hospital had some kind of agreement. When they finally arrived, it turned out that the twins were stillborn.

After this tragic event, the hospital refused to fly the couple back to their home country or hometown. The hospital only arranged for helicopter in emergencies, and when the necessary care in relation to a child�s birth is finished, the hospital has no obligations, they where told. Instead, the unfortunate couple had to arrange with flight tickets back home. Normally, deceased persons are generally transported in a sealed zinc coffin in the trunk of the airplane, but as the couple didn�t want it that way, they instead were provided a small coffin that was put in a bag. The airline company, that happened to be the property of the owner of that foreign hospital, acted courteously and left two rows clear in front of the grieving couple. Well back home, the hearse the hospital had promised didn�t arrive, so the couple had to take a taxi to get all the way home.

The subsequent investigation, set up by the hospital�s owner, reached the conclusions that the behavior of the hospitals, from a medical point of view, had been correct. In retrospect, the investigation could also conclude that the quality of the reception when the couple arrived back home with the flight could have been better. Another conclusion was that the outcome of the birth itself wasn�t affected by the fact that the couple had been sent to a hospital in another country, but that this admittedly must have been strenuous for them. Finally, the investigation stated that the hospital had to find new routines for how to handle complicated international flights in general.

Comment: Here is the perhaps best case of how nightmarish hospitals in the libertarian society would act, while all that would happen is that they say that everything was done in a correct manner, save some minor routines that have to be checked!

These examples clearly outline how heartless and terrifying the health care system would be in a libertarian society. I hope the critics will remember these examples the next time we meet.

Now to the real nightmare � these stories are true. They all happened in Sweden in the last couple of years.3

But hold on, Sweden is not an example of a libertarian society, is it? No, Sweden is rather known for its fabulous middle-of-the-road politics, as the Welfare State par excellance, the place on earth that is so equal and great for the poor. And where health care is free of charge. Still, it is a fact that these examples occurred in Sweden, where the government finances, owns, regulates and runs everything related to health care.4 And still, the stories are indeed nightmarish.

Let�s study the government involvement a bit closer. In the first story, one branch of the government cuts of a man�s leg, while another states that its employees were to blame. In the second story, we see a clear example of how terribly chaotic government bureaucracy is, with price fixing (at zero) creating long waiting lines and how the survival of a particular patient finally depends on the ability to get ahead of others in a true Darwinist race against death, man against man. In the third story, a man was told that he was going to die and was offered pain relief. Because he was wealthy, he could fly to somewhat less statist Germany to get treatment within days. Finally, the forth story is so sad that I don�t know what to write (I found it especially hard also because I myself have had some kids in the last couple of years).

It is amazing how these kinds of stories can exist while people all the time are complaining about the threat of the free market, and while they continue to cherish the government. For some reasons, people apply one standard to the activities of the government, and another to the private activities. Because if it really were fully private hospitals that produced these atrocities, most people would clearly and rightfully be outraged. The hospitals would go bankrupt within days or at least lose plenty of customers and employees. The only way they could continue to exist would be if they have some kind of legal monopoly, i.e. if the government in some way was involved. But such a thing wouldn�t exist in a libertarian society, would it?

The Bogeyman of the nightmares is already here and it�s called the government. Now we know where those critics got their nightmares from � from the real life result of their own ideas. It is time to stop feeding this real life monster, to get rid of it! One of these days, it could be you who wake up without a leg, die in a line, are offered pain relief against cancer, or worse. And as I said, I hope those critics remember these stories. One would at least hope for that kind of honesty.


  1. I told them that if one doesn�t charge the users of the roads, this amounts to consumption of wealth, as opposed to investment and production of wealth.
  2. I actually didn�t say that this suggested that roads should be private � I�m not that stupid � but they easily saw the possible implications themselves. I don�t mean stupid in the sense that I don�t advocate private roads elsewhere, only that I wasn�t stupid enough to say that to the people that were deciding whether I was going to get my government Ph.D. degree or not. The opponent, now the principal of the most famous university in Sweden, could not stop himself from referring to me as some kind of Milton Friedman. Now there�s a person they also seem to have nightmares about. Very amusing!
  3. The stories all appeared in major Swedish newspapers and I�ve kept them on file. Sources: 1. SvD March 7, 2002: “Ben amputerades efter läkarmiss.” 2. DN November 29, 2001: “77 avled i operationskö.” 3. October 5, 2002: “Den tumören kommer att taga död på dig.” 4. November 22, 2002: “Inget fel i samband med tvillingars död” and Aftonbladet August 9, 2002: “De flögs hem i en vit kista.”
  4. Save for a few places that are run by private entrepreneurs in a typical corporativist manner � these were not the subject of the stories, though.

March 12, 2004

Richard C.B. Johnsson [send him mail] is an economist born, raised and still living in Sweden. Visit his personal website for more.

Copyright � 2004 LewRockwell.com


Problems and Issues of Government Run Healthcare

July 15, 2009

Here are some of the articles and published journals outlining the problems of universal healthcare or government run healthcare system.

Non-compliance of hygiene standards. (Government runs it and inspects it. Why would bureaucrats rain on their own parade?) 

A new report says one in four facilities operated by ….Britain….’s government-run National Health Service is not complying with basic hygiene standards.

Higher cancer deaths

Among women with breast cancer, for example, there is a 46 percent chance of dying from it in ..Britain.., versus a 25 percent chance in the ….United States….. “..Britain.. has one of worst survival rates in the advanced world,” writes Bartholomew, “and ….America…. has the best.” 

If you are a man diagnosed with prostate cancer, you have a 57 percent chance of it killing you in ….Britain….. In the ….United States…., the chance of dying drops to 19 percent. Again, reports Bartholomew, “..Britain.. is at the bottom of the class and ….America…. is at the top.”


 More serious problems in ….Britain….’s health care were reported last month, when cancer researchers announced that as many as 15,000 people over age 75 were dying prematurely from cancer every year. Experts said those deaths could have been avoided if those patients had been diagnosed and treated earlier. 

Higher price tag not lower and larger budget deficits: 

A World Health Organization survey in 2000 found that ….France…. had the world’s best health system. But that has come at a high price; health budgets have been in the red since 1988. 

In 1996, ….France…. introduced targets for health insurance spending. But a decade later, the deficit had doubled to 49 billion Euros ($69 billion).


 Long waiting periods: 

People in the ….UK…. face longer waits for non-emergency surgery and struggle to see GPs out-of-hours compared with other western countries, a survey says.

 The ….UK…. also has the worst record for waiting times with 15% having to wait for more than six months for elective treatment.

 Canada.. was the next worst on 14% and the ….Netherlands…. the best with 2%.http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7071660.stm


 Massive price tag: (spend a trillion to save how much? I have not seen the savings estimate, have you?)

 House Democrats have unveiled their new healthcare plan on which the Congressional Budget Office puts a price tag of $1.5 trillion.

 For $1.5 trillion every American should get his or her own concierge doctor. http://townhall.com/columnists/RichGalen/2009/07/15/$15_trillion_gives_me_heartburn

 Universal or Government run healthcare is not necessarily better:

 The head of the World Health Organization calculated that ….Britain…. has as many as 25,000 unnecessary cancer deaths a year because of under-provision of care. Twelve percent of specialists surveyed admitted refusing kidney dialysis to patients suffering from kidney failure because of limits on cash.

 Canada..’s government system is not that different from ….Britain….’s. For example, after a Canadian has been referred to a specialist, the waiting list for gynecological surgery is four to 12 weeks, cataract removal 12 to 18 weeks, tonsillectomy three to 36 weeks and neurosurgery five to 30 weeks. Toronto-area hospitals, concerned about lawsuits, ask patients to sign a legal release accepting that while delays in treatment may jeopardize their health, they nevertheless hold the hospital blameless. Canadians have an option Britainers do not: close proximity of American hospitals. In fact, the Canadian government spends over $1 billion each year for Canadians to receive medical treatment in our country. I wonder how much money the ..U.S… government spends for Americans to be treated in ….Canada…..


 Nightmares of healthcare run by the government

 In October 2003 Mrs. A., who lives in ….Malmo.., ..Sweden…., gave birth to a baby boy. She was signed out from the hospital after delivering the baby. There are not enough beds, so delivering a baby “without complications” is an outpatient procedure. Budget cuts have eliminated beds and medical staff. The next day Mr. and Mrs. A. noticed that their baby was weak and did not want to eat. As is common in ….Sweden…., they did not call a doctor. Instead they called the tax-paid “TeleMedicine” service. Nobody advised them to go see a doctor right away.

 The following day their baby died of pneumonia.

 In May 2006 another couple lost their three-year-old son to the budget-starved medical system. When Mr. and Mrs. B.’s son suffered from diarrhea and had been vomiting for almost two days, they took him to the emergency room at the nearby university hospital. A doctor ordered a supply of intravenous fluids, and the boy was sent on to the pediatric clinic to have them administered. When he arrived, the nurses had no time for him. Mr. and Mrs. B. repeatedly called on the medical staff to ask why nobody was coming to give their son the intravenous fluids he so desperately needed. Every time they got the same answer: nobody has time. They have too many patients and too little staff.

Six hours later the three-year-old boy died of heart failure.

 In April 2005 Mr. C., 61 years old, became concerned about an unusual feeling of fatigue. He went to see a doctor at the local government-run clinic. The doctor sent him home with some encouraging words. Mr. C. came back a while later with worsened symptoms. Again he was sent home after a superficial examination and with more reassurance. Over the next year and a half Mr. C. visited this tax-paid local clinic a total of 14 times. He had no choice—all Swedes have to go through a government-run primary care physician at a tax-paid clinic in order to see a specialist. He developed blood in his urine.

 But the doctors refused even to take a blood test. They told Mr. C. and his son that they were denying him the blood test because of budget restrictions imposed by government bureaucrats. When, finally, Mr. C.’s son convinced the doctors to do one blood test, they found out that Mr. C. had cancer. He was referred to a regional hospital. There they established that his cancer, originally curable, had spread throughout his body. There was nothing left to do.

He died shortly after.

Even those who do not die from encountering denials of care suffer considerably under ….Sweden….’s universal coverage. Mr. D., a multiple sclerosis patient, lives in Gothenburg, a city of 500,000. His doctor told him about a new medicine that is considered a breakthrough in MS treatment. But, when the doctor put in a request to have Mr. D. treated with it, the request was denied. Reason: it would cost 33 percent more than the old medicine, and that was more than the government was willing to pay.

For most Swedes there are no longer any subsidies for prescription drugs. People with exceptionally high pharmaceutical costs get some subsidies, but they have to pay the greater share themselves.

When the government denied Mr. D. the new medicine on the grounds that the subsidies would cost too much, he offered to pay the full cost of the medicine himself. He was denied the option to pay full cost out of his own pocket because, the bureaucrats said, it would set a bad precedent and lead to unequal access to medicine. In ….Sweden…., there is no way to obtain access to medication outside the government-run system.