By Elaine Bernard
Harvard Trade Union Program
While Americans are generally loathe to look at foreign institutions as models for domestic reform, the close geographic proximity of Canada and the similarities in values, institutions and outlook between the two countries makes Canada seem less foreign to Americans. Opponents of significant health care reform, are quick to warn of the evils of socialized medicine, even in Canada, arguing that the adoption of such a system will mean long waiting lists for surgery, increased government interference in the relationship between patients and doctors, tax increases, and general inferior medicine with less choice for patients.
With so much of the U.S. health care debate now pivoting on the "Canadian model," we think it is valuable to take a closer look at the origins of this system. In this article, we will look at the Canadian health care system with six questions in mind: why Canada? What exactly is the Canadian model? How was it achieved politically? What are some of the common myths about the Canadian model and what is the current status of the system? Finally, what can Americans learn from the Canadian model?
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