Health care is why Canadians can spend

By Richard C. Dillihunt, M.D.
Letters, The Portland Press Herald, Sept. 21, 2011

The Press Herald's Sept. 5 piece describing an increase in Canadian spending in Maine was good and timely economic news.

Attributing this to advertising and good bilingual skills deserves the credit received, but there is a more important factor here that needs to be emphasized because it is fundamental to our economy.

It is the matter of health care costs. Canada, with its universal health care and single-payer system, spends only about half what we do on health care. Canadians enjoy more money in their budgets for other things. Naturally, shopping and travel enter this picture.

This is another example of our need for health care reform. Unlike in Canada, our nation sits around in fear of getting sick and going bankrupt. The situation is now worse than ever as depicted by the recently released statistic by The Commonwealth Fund documenting that 44 percent of American adults were either uninsured or underinsured last year – an appalling increase.

The bottom line is that huge numbers of everyday Canadians are visiting here, having fun and spending statewide, to our delight. Meanwhile, for Americans, stifling health costs orchestrated by greedy special interests prevent our economy from turning around.

The fact that this situation is perpetuated by a Congress that seems more concerned about themselves than its people earns a 10 on the discouragement index.

All Americans are urged to address our own broken-down system and consider joining to develop one like that of Canada – where life might just be good again.

Richard C. Dillihunt, M.D., a retired general, vascular and transplant surgeon, lives in Portland, Maine.