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Dr. Danielle Martin

September 25, 2017 by Speakers' Spotlight

Try It Before you Trash It: Dr. Danielle Martin on US Health Care

In case you missed Dr. Danielle Martin’s impassioned and informed defence of Bernie Sanders’ single-payer health care plan in the news earlier this month, (you can watch it here), it’s worth revisiting.

Dr. Martin, a fixture in Canadian news, has become one in the US as well. Her clarity around health care was in the pages of USA Today last week, where she continued to de-bunk the highly politicized and increasingly polarized American health care debate.

Here’s some of her piece:

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.

I was in the room on Capitol Hill last week when Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., introduced new legislation that would seek to enact a single-payer health care system in the U.S. If Sanders’ bill moves forward, all Americans would have access to Medicare, regardless of their age or financial situation. Is it that simple? In some ways, yes.

In Canada, the notion that access to health care should be based on need, not ability to pay, is a deeply ingrained value that crosses party lines right and left, and is a source of collective pride. The single-payer, publicly funded health care systems in Canada cover virtually every resident of our country, at a much lower cost than the U.S. model.

There are plenty of nasty rumors in the American media about the quality of health care in Canada. In fact, Canadians live longer than Americans, and according to a recent study published in The Lancet, the Canadian system outperforms the U.S. on quality and access to care overall.

As a practicing physician and a hospital administrator in Canada, I see the cracks in our system just as American doctors see the cracks in yours. It’s true that sometimes Canadians wait too long for non-urgent or elective investigations or procedures. That is why across Canada, governments, health care providers and citizen groups are working hard to improve access for procedures like hip replacements, cataract surgery or non-urgent advanced imaging. But we don’t believe that the solution lies in dismantling universal health care and creating a system where some cannot afford the care they need.

Most importantly, Canadians don’t wait for urgently-needed care. When Canadians get sick they get the care they need, and the care they get is good. When my patients need to see a doctor, they don’t have to worry about paying for the visit. And when they are admitted to the hospital, they don’t see a bill.

Read the full article at USA Today.