The Spectacle Blog

Canada’s Fascist Health Care System

By on 3.21.09 | 7:11PM

 

“Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.” -Benito Mussolini

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It seems there are a lot of commenters, errrrr, trolls, responding with (mock?) righteous indignation to my post this morning, "Did Canada's Universal Health Care Kill Natasha Richardson?"

The debate, if it can charitably be called that, has been interesting to read. Apart from the mudslinging, it's good that people are at least talking about the evils of universal health care.

There has been much discussion elsewhere about whether Canada's system of universal health care is actually socialist. Well, that depends on what you consider to be socialism. I was taught in Political Science and Political Theory courses (most of which were mindnumbingly dull for the most part) that socialism had many variants, including democratic socialism, Communism, and Fascism. Whether Fascism is socialism, or vice versa, there is no doubt that the two political ideologies and systems overlap to a great extent.

If you want to be irritatingly precise in describing Canada's health care system, it would be fair to call it Fascist, or even more precisely, corporatist. The government of Canada sets the payment rates (but doesn't nationalize the providers) and providers comply. That's corporatism and Benito Mussolini was a huge fan of it.

Competition in health insurance, by the way, is against the law in Canada.

"The Canada Health Act (CHA) specifically and explicitly forbids any private insurance scheme which would insure services already provided by Canada's national health care plan," writes Nadeem Esmail of Canada's preeminent think tank, the Fraser Institute. "This system of care forbids Canadians from seeking alternative expedited care without bearing the entire cost. If Canadians want to buy private care in the US, or expedited care in Canada, they need to have the money or the political clout to get it."

Meanwhile, the Fraser Institute reports (PDF) that waiting time for referrals has shrunk from 18.3 weeks to 17.3 weeks:

Total waiting time between referral from a general practitioner and treatment, averaged
across all 12 specialties and 10 provinces surveyed, fell from 18.3 weeks in 2007 to
17.3 weeks in 2008.

WooHoo! A whole week's improvement! Maybe MoveOn.org can put that little gem in its ads.

ADDENDUM the next day: Corporatism isn't the easiest political abstraction to grasp. Answers.com has a useful explanation of corporatism. Corporatism boils down to this: government tells industry and labor what to do and they do it for the supposed good of the country. The recent bailouts are corporatist in nature as Seeking Alpha observes: "The idea that certain large, politically connected private firms are essential to commonweal and must be supported at all costs by the state is quite the essence of 'Mussolini-style Corporatism.'" America has, unfortunately, been drifting in a corporatist direction in recent decades but the Bush and Obama administrations have accelerated this drift.

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