Waiting for Surgery

Thank you for the informative article on Canadian health care by Ken Botwright [Voices, “How Health Care Is Done in Canada,” 9/17/09]. However, I feel it very important to point out one fact.

During Botwright’s eight-week wait for bypass surgery, his “next recurrence of serious chest pain,” as his Canadian doctor mentioned, could easily have been his last, and we would not have had the pleasure of reading his essay. Then, his free health care would not have done him much good and would not have been worth very much.

Another bit of information to go with those passionate convictions is this: The percentage of people waiting four months or longer for surgery in Canada is six times the percentage of those waiting in the U.S., according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which studied the matter as part of Canada’s waiting-time reduction effort.

“You get what you pay for” has been true about as long as people have been paying for things. Our system can and should be improved, but “free” is not necessarily the objective for which we should strive. – Michael Cregan

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