President-elect Barack Obama has said he favors a single-payer health care system such as the one Canada has now. But the inefficiency of the single-payer system often leaves Canadians facing life-threatening waits for care. Lindsay McCreith from Ontario is one example. When his doctor told him he might have a brain tumor, McCreith paid for treatment in the U.S. rather than endure months of headaches, seizures, and possibly life-threatening delays in Canada.

McCreith’s story is not an isolated one. Thousands of Canadian patients with life-threatening hemorrhages and Canadian women about to give birth have had to come to the U.S. to receive medical care. Even patients who simply need MRIs or CTs so that their doctor can diagnose their problem travel to the U.S. to have them done – the only alternative, in some provinces, is to wait up to half a year for the free public MRI or CT. According to a study released last month by the Frasier Institute, over 750,000 Canadians are currently on waiting lists for treatments – and this figure doesn’t include the tens of thousands of others on wait lists just to see a specialist or to get diagnostic testing.

Where will Canadians – and Americans – desperate for live-saving care go if the U.S. further socializes our healthcare system?For more on problems in the Canadian single-payer system see here and here. For information on the United States’ slow drift in the same direction, see here and here.

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