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Canadian Doctor to U.S.: Try Single-Payer Health Care Instead Of Trashing It


Canadian Doctor to U.S.: Try Single-Payer Health Care Instead Of Trashing It

Danielle Martin

There’s a joke we sometimes tell in Canada: What’s a Canadian? An apologetic American with health care.

It’s funny because we half-believe it’s true. The United States and Canada are about as similar as two countries get. But Canada has had a publicly funded, single-payer health care system in each of our provinces and territories since the 1960s. It works. Maybe it can work for you too.


Great piece and I see that it originally appeared in USA Today. Even better.


As as dual citizen now living in the US, I am alarmed at the misinformation generated by those who would denigrate Canada’s single-payer system. Hurray for Danielle Martin and her accurate account! My sister in Toronto was diagnosed with acute leukemia a few years ago. She was immediately admitted to the Princess Margaret Cancer Hospital and was an in-patient for the next ten months, while she received first-class treatment, including chemo, radiation and finally a stem cell transplant from a matching donor in the US. Today she is alive and well. The total bill to her for her treatment cost just $1200, for an experimental drug not covered under OHIP, the government’s single payer insurance. Similar treatment in the US, with deductibles and co-pay could easily bankrupt a patient, even with Obamacare or some forms of Medicare. I am amazed that, in Canada, healthcare is simply not an issue–while here, it’s a conversation we all have frequently.


In addition to the “nasty rumors in the US media about Canadian healthcare”, the size and staffing US Border patrol stations in small towns all along the Canadian border have increased 20 fold during the past decade. Why would the gubmit do that except to keep single payer from invading from the north ?


Single payer was first introduced in the US by Truman just after the war. It went nowhere, while war ;ravaged nations like Germany (had it BEFORE the war), UK just after the war and other European nations. It’s fucking 70 yrs later and we still don’t have it. Wasn’t until 1965 that we got Medicare for Christ sakes.

Edit to add: USA, USA, USA!!!


Well said. I’m amazed too about the controversy here of changing our health care system. I guess though in a business-run society (as Chomsky says), it makes sense.


Those two things have no relevance to each other, ie health care and increase in border agents. If you’ve been following the news and hysteria about terrorism in the US, you would know that the BP has had a drastic increase in funding since 9/11 and since Trump came into office.


$1200 - wow. As an American, I cannot even comprehend that price tag for a long cancer treatment.

The main excuse served up by anti-Single Payer people is “it will raise taxes!!” YES. IT WILL. Now do the freaking math - based on my income, instead of paying $10,000/year in FICA taxes as I do currently, I would have to pay $12,000/year (based on the 2% increase that I have most commonly read) - oh no! A $2,000/year increase!!!

Uh, I am currently paying around $9,000/year for my health insurance premiums - with my employer paying the other $4,000. This of course doesn’t include any co-pays, deductibles, and other expenses that I would have to pay out of pocket if I actually had to USE my health insurance, God forbid. If I actually got seriously ill - heart attack, bi-pass surgery, stroke, cancer, etc. - I would be forking out WAY more than my $9,000/year for my premiums alone.

Yeah - I think a $2,000 increase in my annual taxes would be FAR preferable than what I’m currently paying, and what I would be liable for if I actually got sick. Why can’t Americans do simple math?? No matter how you slice it, Medicare-For-All is cheaper, more cost-effective, more efficient, and covers EVERYONE. NO more declaring bankruptcy for hundreds of thousands of Americans because they got sick. NO more having to decide between going to the doctor or paying the rent. NO more profits for a bunch of greedy corporations made from the sick and dying. NO more declining coverage because of some profit-motivated corporation saying “pre-existing condition” or some other such nonsense. No more declining treatment AT ALL.

It’s logical, it’s fair, it makes sense, it is the Right thing to do. Healthcare is a right, not a privilege, and profit has NO place in making people well who are sick.


No, no, no.

First of all, your taxes would go up by about 60% of what your current total private healthcare insurance premiums are.
Secondly, you (and your employer) would stop paying private healthcare insurance premiums, making you about 40% ahead.
Thirdly, pretty much no treatment would be denied, no matter how sick you would have been in the past.
Fourthly, everybody would get whatever treatment they need.

Everyone would become healthier, live longer, and fewer babies would die in childbirth. Why is there so much resistance to this idea, eh?


Next step will be a “wall” to keep Americans in, just like East Germany did.


Amazing. I think if she were in the US and received all that hospital and treatment, the bill would be over $200K.


Our taxes are already high enough to easily cover single payer and free college tuition. Is it just that THAT money is going to the war industry of producing weapons of mass destruction. So our taxes are just being stolen. If our money wasn’t going into the war market, our taxes wouldn’t have to raise at all to pay for universal healthcare and college.


I told an insurance salesman 40 years ago that single payer healthcare would happen soon. He told me it would not. Wishful thinking on my part but he was right. Too many thieves paying off legislators, I am fortunate to have VA healthcare but most everyone I know has no healthcare coverage at all. A small cut can run well over a thousand dollars for a visit to the emergency room. I wonder if the government reimburses that to the hospital. If you are broke you can’t pay anything. Trump already said if Medicare for all gets to his desk he would veto it. The government would rather people just die.


I’m glad that they are talking about single payer but it’s just talk. The reality is that we are going in the opposite direction. The GOP may actually get to repeal the ACA and dump millions of people off of any health care coverage. With Trump and the GOP in power, we will never get universal health care, not to mention that Trump is stacking the SCOTUS and the lower courts with far right wingers who would make judgements against single payer cases that came before their dockets. It’s not just the GOP, Obama and the Democrats had a chance to push for single payer but punted and then opted for this mis mash overly complicated ACA that’s a sell out to the insurance and drug companies. Hey, if we’re lucky, maybe we’ll have single payer sometime in the fall of 2096 but I doubt it.


A stem cell transplant alone in the US, including the requisite one month of hospitalization in a very controlled, sanitary space, can run almost one million dollars.


That’s what I said. We would pay a lot LESS than we are currently paying for private health insurance. But the anti-single payer crowd only focuses on the fact that “taxes go up,” and they completely ignore the fact that it is STILL a massive savings due to no longer paying the massive insurance premiums, which far exceed the increase in taxes.

Perhaps I wasn’t very clear, sorry.


Except for the fact, if administered as well as in Canada, it won’t.


Just watch - the Republicans, Blue-Dog Democrats, and neoliberals will pass a law making it illegal to stop paying your insurance premiums even if medicare-for-all passes.

Sound crazy? Just remember how crazy the phrase “President Trump” sounded a year ago.


By God, I can totally see that happening! I bet you’re right.


Sorry, patricia, it was first introduced by teddy Roosevelt in 1912.