Healthcare in Canada: It's not free, and it doesn't work

Monday, August 7, 2017
Chris Woodward (

healthcare costs 620x300While some Americans, including politicians, continue to push for single-payer healthcare, a Canadian is helping people in his country get care in America – because the healthcare system where he lives, he says, "simply does not work."

As many people know, Canada has single-payer healthcare. That means the government runs and controls the delivery of all healthcare. Under that system, people wanting plastic surgery – for example – would foot the bill; but procedures, including cardiac bypass, can be done, albeit not always in a timely manner.

"People in Canada are dying on waiting lists," says Richard Baker of Timely Medical Alternatives. "They might be on a waiting list for six months to a year for cardiac bypass. And during that time their condition might worsen – and by the time they go in for their surgery, it may be too late."

Canadians are paying what Baker describes as "crushing" personal taxes and fees for a healthcare system that some Americans incorrectly view as free. "Canadians pay dearly for their healthcare system," he says. "It is not free; and moreover [it] does not cover pharmaceuticals, it does not cover dentistry."

Anything other than surgery or care by a medical doctor would have to be paid for privately in Canada, where healthcare costs are the bulk of a province's budget.


"That's money taken away from infrastructure, from social services," Baker warns. "Everything else in a government's budget is now secondary to healthcare."

Still, on the other side of the border Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) continues to tout single-payer healthcare, saying it's better than America's current system. Other supporters say Canadians only have to wait for "elective" surgeries.

"The implication being that the patient [may want] to have a hip replacement – [but that patient may] have to wait anywhere from six to 18 months," responds Baker. "That's not an 'elective' surgery by any normal definition of the word; but in Canada, the government has decreed that the term 'elective' surgery applies to any surgery which is not for a situation that involves imminent loss of life or limb .... They call it 'elective' so that they can justify the long waiting list."

This isn't the first time Baker has shared these concerns.

"When ObamaCare was first proposed, and before it had been passed into law ... I spoke to [Republicans in Congress] telling them how disastrous it would be if the U.S. followed a Canadian model," he recalls. "I spoke forcefully against any suggestion that they adopt the 'free' healthcare system that we enjoy in Canada because it simply does not work."

So ... what's the solution?

To counteract the failures of that single-payer system, Baker's organization offers Canadian clients a route that's not available to them in Canada.

"We offer them the option of going to the U.S. and getting their surgery immediately," he explains. "If they needed a cardiac bypass, we could get it for them within 24 hours – and [we] have done so for several of our Canadian clients [as] there's no way the Canadian government can stop Canadians from crossing the border to access American healthcare."

According to Baker, some hospitals Timely Medical Alternatives uses are in Oklahoma; others are in Arizona.

"Canadians don't need me to go to the U.S. to get prompt healthcare, but our role is to find sources of quality surgery delivered at deeply discounted pricing," Baker shares. "We negotiate prices which are a fraction of what a Canadian might pay if he were to knock on the door of an American hospital by himself."

To date, 25,000 Canadians go to the U.S. every year for healthcare, although Baker says the people coming through his organization are a small percentage of that. Meanwhile, he does have a company that helps uninsured Americans get procedures done - North American Surgery, Inc.

"We send them to the same hospitals, and they pay the same discounted rates we've arranged for our Canadian clients," he tells OneNewsNow.

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