Suzanne Somers and Fraser Institute take on Canadian hospital wait times

Matthew Coutts
Daily Brew
Suzanne Somers and Fraser Institute take on Canadian hospital wait times

Remember Suzanne Somers, the Three's Company actress and exercise contraption spokeswoman? Well she has apparently elevated herself to health expert status in recent years and has a problem with Obamacare, and Canada.

Somers wrote a column for the Wall Street Journal's Experts blog that takes disjointed umbrage with Canada's health care system based heavily on anecdotes and ancient magazine articles. Her roundabout argument that wait times are horrible is not new however, and is even supported by a recent study from a Canadian think tank.

In the Wall Street Journal blog post, Somers attacks the U.S. Affordable Care Act as a socialist Ponzi scheme and derides Canada's health care system as slow and unwieldy.

She writes:

My sister-in-law had to wait two months to get a General Practitioner. During this period she spent her days in bed vomiting continuously, unable to get any food or drink down because she couldn’t get an appointment with the doctor. When she finally did, the doctor said, “Oh you don’t need me, you need a specialist.” That took another two weeks until she got a pill that corrected the problem.

Somers' expertise on Canadian health care comes from stories of her Canadian husband's family and from reading a 2008 issue of Maclean's, which led her to believe that qualified Canadian medical experts chase the big money available as a veterinarian over working on actual people.

Apparently Somers' sister-in-law had to wait to see a doctor, which is of course a shame and is probably a very shocking concept to the Emmy-nominated actress who calls herself a health care advocate.

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Sadly, much of the article should be dismissed. Considering it originally contained quotes attributed to Winston Churchill and Vladimir Lenin that were either discredited or just not real, and got details of the Maclean's magazine wrong, it surely has already lost whatever bluster it had.

But Somers' argument does lead in the same direction as a new report from the Fraser Institute, a conservative Canadian think tank.

The National Post reports that the report finds that wait times for medical treatment are growing and suggests Canadians should look overseas for treatment. According to the report, Canada's median wait time for key operations and surgeries was 18.2 weeks.

“Other countries with universal health care systems spend less than we do and don’t force citizens to wait like this,” co-author Nadeem Esmail told the newspaper.

“It’s time Canada adopted some of the policies that allow nations like Australia, Switzerland and Sweden to provide more timely access to quality universal care.”

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Australia and Switzerland have universal health care systems that rely on private health insurance alternatives to alleviate some of the strain on the public system.

This doesn't seem to be the point Somers is trying to make, although it is hard to tell what that actually is. She appears to be sure that Obamacare is bad for the elderly. It's not clear how her points on Canada fit into this. She claims Canadian doctors are either becoming vets or moving to America "to reap financial rewards."

Perhaps that would explain why we have so many vets, but it doesn't explain why we have more doctors making more money than ever before.

But Somers isn't too concerned about fact. According to her original piece, Churchill once said, "Control your citizens' health care and you control your citizens." The Wall Street Journal could not find any record of him saying that.

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