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Brooks Wilson's Economics Blog: A Canadian's Choice of U.S. Health Care

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Canadian's Choice of U.S. Health Care

(HT Drudge Report) Often the Canadian single payer system enters our health care debate as an example of quality provision of health care at a low cost.  Tara Brautigam illustrates some of the problems with the system in "'My heart, my choice,' Williams says, defending decision for U.S. heart surgery," an article on Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams' choice to seek heart surgery in the United States.
An unapologetic Danny Williams says he was aware his trip to the United States for heart surgery earlier this month would spark outcry, but he concluded his personal health trumped any public fallout over the controversial decision.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Williams said he went to Miami to have a "minimally invasive" surgery for an ailment first detected nearly a year ago, based on the advice of his doctors.

"This was my heart, my choice and my health," Williams said late Monday from his condominium in Sarasota, Fla.

"I did not sign away my right to get the best possible health care for myself when I entered politics."
What was better about treatment in Miami?  It was done with more advanced technology by a more experienced surgeon and required less recovery time.  Well, I am assuming that patients recover more quickly from minimally invasive surgery than surgery that requires the breaking of bones. 
His doctors in Canada presented him with two options - a full or partial sternotomy, both of which would've required breaking bones, he said.

He said he spoke with and provided his medical information to a leading cardiac surgeon in New Jersey who is also from Newfoundland and Labrador. He advised him to seek treatment at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami.

That's where he was treated by Dr. Joseph Lamelas, a cardiac surgeon who has performed more than 8,000 open-heart surgeries.

Williams said Lamelas made an incision under his arm that didn't require any bone breakage.
As we reform our health care system, we should protect and perhaps enhance the elements of the current system that allow the introduction of new technologies. One such element is profit.

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