The province of Quebec lacks a medical helicopter system, common in the United States and other parts of Canada, to airlift stricken patients to major trauma centers. Montreal's top head trauma doctor said Friday that may have played a role in Richardson's death.
"It's impossible for me to comment specifically about her case, but what I could say is ... driving to Mont Tremblant from the city (Montreal) is a 2 1/2-hour trip, and the closest trauma center is in the city. Our system isn't set up for traumas and doesn't match what's available in other Canadian cities, let alone in the States," said Tarek Razek, director of trauma services for the McGill University Health Centre, which represents six of Montreal's hospitals.
The essence of "single payer" medicine is that no one other than the government is allowed to pay for medical care. Thus the term "single payer." There are a few exceptions in Canada but, by and large, the more serious the ailment, the more stringent the ban. So, for example, if you want to be treated for cancer in Canada, you can not do so legally and any doctor or hospital that tries to charge you faces serious penalties, up to and including a prison sentence. In that sense, Canadian health care is one of the most totalitarian systems in the industrialized world and is far more extreme than the National Health Service of Britain.
However, because no one can charge medical consumers for anything in Canada, the decision to purchase an MRI machine is purely one of cost. Medical facilities have only so much money to use, and the purchase of a device that performs MRIs means funds are drawn away from paying medical workers.
In Britain, people who don't like the long lines and sometimes low quality of the NHS can pay for better themselves and can even buy insurance for this higher-quality care. This is Britain's safety valve for socialized medicine. And Canada's safety valve? It's called the United States. In David R. Henderson and Charles L. Hooper, Making Great Decisions in Business and Life, I tell my own "safety-valve" story involving my father, who spent his whole life in Canada.