Health Care Forum: Canada Vs. U.S.

From the Washington Monthly (via

With health care near the top of everybody’s issue list in this election year, we wanted to call attention to one of the issues the country should be thinking about: how U.S. health care stacks up against Canada’s universal single-payer system. We knew that Adam Gopnik and Malcolm Gladwell have both lived in Canada and developed strong feelings about socialized health care–pro and con. And, as we have long had the highest regard for their work, we thought it would be interesting to bring them together for a debate through which they could share their insights with each other and our readers. Because they both work for The New Yorker, we asked the permission of their editor, David Remnick, to undertake this project and he was kind enough to grant it. Robert Worth, one of our contributing editors, volunteered his services as moderator.

Adam Gopnik:

AdamI have lived under three different medical regimes: Canada, the United States, and France. I have been seriously sick under all three regimes and had many family members with similar experiences.

My wife’s sister had a very, very premature baby born in Edmonton six years ago, the kind of baby who normally lives in about 20 percent of cases–and they had eight months of intensive care. I mean really intensive care. And the baby ended up living. It was a pound and a half at birth, the smallest baby that survived in western Canada in that year. The one thing they never thought about, the one thing they never considered, the one thing they never had to pay a moment’s attention to was: How much will this cost? When does our insurance run out? It simply was not in the agonizing equation of worry and concern that they had to face. That seems to me, in itself, the most powerful argument you can make for socialized medicine, to put it in the bluntest possible terms.

Malcolm Gladwell:

Malcolm20gladwellIt’s interesting, because my own personal experience… We’ll start with the anecdote. When I was 16, I was working 12-hour shifts as a dishwasher. I was biking home one night in the dark and something happened and I ran off the road and I basically impaled my eye on a stick. I was unconscious for several hours, came to, biked home. When I woke up the next morning, my right eye had essentially… The pupil had come out of the socket. A huge swelling. I went to the doctor. The doctor examined me and sent me home. The swelling didn’t go down…

More here.