Jewish World Review
June 5, 2000 /2 Sivan, 5760
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- TOM GREEN, a young Canadian comic known for his gross-out humor, exposed his entrails on MTV last week. Yuck. Green, 28, had his right testicle and lymph nodes removed this spring after being diagnosed with testicular cancer. He brought a camera crew to film the surgery at the University of Southern California. The heavily promoted television special featured Green chasing his sidekick with dirty hospital linens, and brandishing a jar of his sperm. Now, Green is raising funds for cancer research over the Internet, and serenading his teen- and college-age fans with a crude ditty on the importance of self-examinations.
Too bad MTV's left-wingers missed the real story. Beneath the Ottawa-born comedian's scatological humor and disease du jour didacticism lies an important message for American youth: Be thankful you don't live in Canada. Government-run health care is more frightening than any stunt Tom Green has ever pulled. Waiting lists are long; specialists are in short supply; and medical technology is kept in the Dark Ages. For the famous, wealthy and well-connected, relief from the Canadian universal health-care system's ills is spelled: "U-S-A."
Green's mom scoured the Internet for the best American specialists money could buy when her son developed painful symptoms in January. Her search led to the USC Medical Center. Green was diagnosed there with testicular cancer in early March. Four days after receiving the diagnosis, top-notch surgeons removed his tumorous right testicle. One week later, after a CAT scan of his lymph nodes showed no signs of cancerous cells, Green's doctors went ahead and dissected his lymph nodes -- just to make sure the disease hadn't spread.
"The weird part is how quickly all of this has happened. In three months, I found out I had cancer, I got rid of the cancer, and now, I'm recovering from cancer," Green reflected in an interview published by the Ottawa Sun.
Green's recovery is neither weird nor accidental. Survival rates for testicular cancer have skyrocketed from less than 50 percent two decades ago to greater than 90 percent today. Early detection through physical examination is key; ultrasound technology then helps determine whether a lump is a cyst or a solid mass. Speedy appointments with alert specialists and competent surgeons help ensure positive outcomes like Green's.
Canadian patients, however, must endure terminal waiting lines, shoddy treatment and severely rationed care. In the short time it took Tom Green to be diagnosed, screened with ultrasound and CAT scans, and operated on twice in the United States, a typical Canadian man would still be waiting to see a urologist for an initial consultation.
The Fraser Institute, a Vancouver, British Columbia-based think tank, publishes an annual waiting-list survey. According to the most recent data, 212,990 Canadians were waiting for surgical procedures in 1998 -- a 13 percent increase from 1997. The average wait between referral to a specialist by a general practitioner and receipt of treatment was 13.3 weeks; in 1993, the total average waiting time was 9.3 weeks. For a urology appointment, the Fraser Institute's Martin Zelder told me, the typical waiting time is 4.9 weeks. The median wait for an ultrasound was 2.9 weeks across Canada -- an 11.5 percent increase over 1997.
In Tom Green's home province of Ontario, the Canadian Medical Association Journal recently reported, 121 residents were permanently removed from the list for coronary artery bypass grafts because their condition had deteriorated irreversibly while waiting for treatment. Koreans and Czechs have better access to computerized tomography than Canadians do. And even as the Canadian government brags about the superiority of its health-care delivery system, British Columbia subsidizes ferry rides, accommodations and medical costs for cancer patients who must cross the border into Washington state for radiation treatment they can't get at home.
Hopeless defenders of the single-payer system blame lack of money for its failure. But Canada ranks fifth out of 29 industrialized countries in terms of health-care spending as a percentage of GDP. The problem is not funding. It's lack of freedom. Under the Canadian regime, bureaucrats -- not doctors, patients or hospitals -- set fees, make purchases, and allocate resources. Politics inevitably infect these decisions, overriding the best interests of the sick and needy.
The deadly effect of government-controlled health care is no
joke. Tom Green is living proof that the free market offers the
06/01/00: Farming out the pork