David Brooks likes to present himself as a voice of reason in the midst of crazy ideologues of the left and the right. He gave us an example of his voice of reason routine today in a piece telling us that Medicare for All is an impossibility.
While the piece raises some reasonable points (the transition will be difficult) the highlight is a condemnation of the Canadian health care system, which is often held up as a model by supporters of Medicare for All.
"Finally, patient expectations would have to transition. Today, getting a doctor’s appointment is annoying but not onerous. In Canada, the median wait time between seeing a general practitioner and a specialist is 8.7 weeks; between a G.P. referral and an orthopedic surgeon, it’s nine months. That would take some adjusting."
While it is true that Canada has longer wait times than the United States for seeing a specialist, this is one area in which its health care system does especially poorly. In other areas, it does better than the United States. Also, other systems, which all cost far less per person than in the United States, do better in this and other categories, as shown in a recent analysis by the Commonwealth Fund.
If Brooks wants to make the point that transitioning to a universal Medicare-type system will be difficult, he's on solid ground. But to imply that we can't do better requires ignoring a vast amount on evidence from other wealthy countries, all of whom do better in providing universal coverage at a lower per capita price than we pay for our far from universal coverage.
This is very far from a voice of reason in the health care debate.