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IN THE MAIL: Think twice before turning to Canada-style health care

GRAND FORKS - I wanted to thank Lyle Pederson from Regina, Sask., for chiming in on U.S. healthcare v. Canada's socialized system ("U.S. can't beat Canada's health care," Page 3D, July 8).

GRAND FORKS - I wanted to thank Lyle Pederson from Regina, Sask., for chiming in on U.S. healthcare v. Canada's socialized system ("U.S. can't beat Canada's health care," Page 3D, July 8).

His defense of the facts that are presented in Michael Moore's propaganda film "Sicko" should tell us all we need to know about this situation. You either subscribe to the Moore model or you don't. There isn't much common ground in between.

One of Pederson's points is his measure of life expectancy. I wouldn't put a lot of stock in that. I'm sure this is a U.N. measure, and if that goes anything like the "Oil for Food" program, it may prove unreliable.

I also want to offer some of my observations, having experienced the systems from living on both sides of the border in my life. It's true that in Canada, you don't often wait for lifesaving health care. If you are on death's door when you arrive at the hospital, you most likely will be treated.

The definition of "elective" surgery is what I would dispute in Pederson's letter. Sure, you can wait a year if you have a bum knee. Hobble around on crutches to go to the bathroom, and rest assured that when they get to you and finally make your quality of life something you might want to actually live through, the treatment will be no charge.

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Further to the concept of elective surgery: A family member of mine laid on the couch for 11 months with three arteries 95 percent blocked while he waited for them to deal with the people who were on death's door. I guess in theory that surgery was elective, but it sure didn't feel like it.

As for the cost of health care: I suppose it would be possible to lower it with the swipe of a pen by cutting doctors and nurses' salaries, but that is where the incentive system comes in. Lower salaries remove incentives, and if - as in the Canadian system - your salary is capped, why on Earth would you see one more patient when you could be golfing? Is there any wonder that they have waiting lists?

In addition, the Canadian system benefits from the capitalist nature of its neighbor's system. Revolutionary medical procedures get developed in the U.S. and then adopted, at a fraction of the cost, in Canada.

Pederson's final point about politicians never running on a platform of removing the health care system should be obvious to us all and is an age old problem. The simplest approach any politician can take is to point at "the rich," tell the "downtrodden" that it isn't their fault and promise them the world. It is called demagoguery; ever heard of it?

In America, if you work hard (and smart), play by the rules and put in the smallest amount of effort, you will have health care. In Canada, you don't even have to do that much. I guess for some, that system is preferable. For me, it is not.

Dan Lindgren ||?Page=004 Column=001 Loose,0309.00?||

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