Canada’s Danielle Martin explains in a few words the rationale of single payer

Senator Sanders News Conference on Medicare for All

C-SPAN, September 13, 2017

(Following is a transcript of Dr. Danielle Martin’s comments, but I would highly recommend viewing the C-SPAN video instead - four minutes beginning at 21:00 - link below.)

Sen. Bernie Sanders: Last, but very much not least, is Dr. Danielle Martin. You know, I think that it is high time that we started taking a look at what countries around the world were doing in providing quality care all of their people in a far more cost effective way than we do, and one of examples of a single payer system that is working well, that is popular, is the Canadian system. Dr. Martin is a Canadian physician, health care administrator, and an associate professor at the University of Toronto. She is the author of a Canadian best selling book, “Better Now: Six Big Ideas To Improve Health Care for All Canadians.” Dr. Martin.

Dr. Danielle Martin: Thank you Senator.

I must say that I am very grateful that so many Americans are interested in learning about the experience of your Canadian neighbors under our single payer health care system, which we also call Medicare.

As a practicing doctor, a hospital administrator, and a citizen, I am so proud to be part if a system where access to doctor and hospital services is truly based on need, not ability to pay. And I’m not the only one. In public polls, 94 percent of Canadians say that our health care system is a source of personal and collective pride, even more than ice hockey! Single payer health care is a symbol to us of what it truly means to be Canadian, that we take care of each other.

My grandparents immigrated to Canada in the early 1950s like so many people who come to this country, hoping to build a better life for their kids. And at that time, there was no universal health coverage in Canada. So when my grandfather had his first heart attack in his early 40s, his world was shaken, and by the time he died nearly a decade later, the family was essentially bankrupted by medical bills. I know that this remains a reality for many in the United States today, but you should know that just north of your border, that kind of a situation is essentially unimaginable.

My generation of Canadians does not remember what it was like to worry about paying a doctor or hospital bill. And despite our challenges, which of course every country experiences, Canadians have a longer life expectancy, lower infant mortality rates, and fewer preventable deaths than in the United States.

Single payer health care is also, as you know, less expensive. In Canada, our administrative overhead is less than 2 percent in our public plan as compared to 18 percent in the private plans here in the U.S. We spend just under $5000 per capita in Canada to cover everyone. You spend nearly $10000 per capita and yet tens of millions of people are uninsured. But most importantly, when my patients are sick I do not need to ask if they have insurance or if they can afford to pay for my services. And throughout my pregnancy, and for the birth of my daughter in a world-class hospital, I was never asked for money, and I never received a bill. I just handed over this card - my Canadian health care card - to my doctor, and that was it.

I wish that all of my American neighbors could experience the same simplicity in their moments of need. And I hope that the American people will seize this opportunity to declare to each other and to the rest of the world that you do believe access to health care is a human right.

Thank you.



By Don McCanne, M.D.

Everyone included. Care based on need. Lower costs. No financial barriers to care. Better outcomes. Less administrative hassle. And greater pride than even for their ice hockey teams!

Are Americans all bonkers, that we continue to reject this?

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