September 25, 2013 by David K. Sutton
Canadians Baffled By U.S. Health Care System, And By Extension, ‘Breaking Bad’
The show Breaking Bad is about Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher in Albuquerque, New Mexico, who is diagnosed with lung cancer in the first episode of the series. Because he does not want to be a financial burden to his family, he uses his chemistry skills to produce and sell a super pure methamphetamine, and in the process become “Heisenberg,” his menacing alter ego. During the course of the series, we watch the Walter White character transform from seemingly meek and innocent to astonishingly scheming and rancorous. But it didn’t have to be that way. Had Breaking Bad taken place in say, Winnipeg, Manitoba (Canada), it would have looked more like this:
Admittedly I’m glad Breaking Bad takes place in America, where our incredibly dysfunctional and expensive health care system allows show creator Vince Gilligan to use the cancer treatment premise to cement a human connection between the audience and the character of Walter White. We feel for this guy at the beginning of the series, and we can identify with his pride. Without that human bond, the series doesn’t work, the audience probably doesn’t stick around, and we would never get to see Walter White “break bad.” I’m glad Breaking Bad exists, but it should only exist in a fictional world.
In the real world, nobody should have to resort to crime, or bankruptcy, to fund their medical care when the civilized world has figured out how to avoid this. The only advanced democracy not participating in a pragmatic approach to health care insurance is the United States. And millions of people in this country are frothing at the mouth in opposition to Obamacare, a health care reform law that doesn’t go nearly far enough to address all the problems with the U.S. health care system.
And so our neighbors to the north look at our health care “debate” with amusement and bewilderment.
Matt Miller: Canadians don’t understand Ted Cruz’s health-care battle – The Washington Post — Take David Beatty, a 70-year-old Toronto native who ran food processing giant Weston Foods and a holding company called the Gardiner Group during a career that has included service on more than 30 corporate boards and a recent appointment to the Order of Canada, one of the nation’s highest honors. By temperament and demeanor, Beatty is the kind of tough-minded, suffer-no-fools wealth creator who conservatives typically cheer.
Yet over breakfast in Toronto not long ago, Beatty told me how baffled he and Canadian business colleagues are when they listen to the U.S. health-care debate. He cherishes Canada’s single-payer system for its quality and cost-effectiveness (Canada boasts much lower costs per person than the United States). And don’t get him started on the system’s administrative simplicity — you just show your card at the point of service, and that’s it.
So about that pragmatism, let me tell you a little story about why I write so often about a single-payer health care system. — I don’t have a horse in this race. I really don’t care what solution works, I just care that it works. Therefore, unlike many on the Right who oppose Obamacare, I have no ideology when it comes to health care reform. I look to the rest of the world to see what other advanced democracies are doing, and all it takes is a little bit of research to come to the conclusion that unfettered free market based health care solutions have been rejected by all advanced democracies on the planet, except for the United States. What do these other countries get with their highly regulated and many times government-run health care insurance systems? Universal coverage, lower costs, and better outcomes.
My support of a single-payer health care system like Canada’s Medicare (yes, that’s what it’s called), is not because of a deep affiliation or ideological stance, it’s because it just makes sense. It’s logical. It’s pragmatic. The reason I’m so passionate about this topic is not because of a belief or philosophy about how something should work, it’s because of the mountain of evidence that exists in the world that government-run (or highly regulated private non-profit) health care insurance is the most logical and pragmatic approach to universal health care. And you don’t have to leave the United States for the proof, just look at America’s “Medicare” program, which is a single-payer health care insurance system, just like Canada’s, only our version of Medicare is limited to people aged 65 or older or people who are disabled. But if Medicare works, keeps costs down, and polls over 80%, why wouldn’t we expand Medicare to all Americans? Isn’t that the pragmatic option?