Feature

Canada: The downside of American health reform

Success in reforming the American health-care system will lead to a brain drain among Canadian physicians, said Lysiane Gagnon in <em>The Globe and Mail.</em>

Lysiane GagnonThe Globe and Mail

If all Americans get health coverage, Canada will suffer, said Lysiane Gagnon. Canadians have long felt that the lack of insurance coverage for some 40 million Americans is “the most blatant sin of our southern neighbor.” But if President Obama corrects the situation, as he has promised, it is we who will feel the negative repercussions.

Should those 40 million new patients enter the U.S. health-care system, the Americans will need more doctors and nurses. “And where do you think they’ll recruit them? Kazakhstan?” Canadian doctors will be ripe for poaching. They’ll make more money in the U.S. and “enjoy superior working conditions,” including access to the latest technology. The brain drain could be “devastating.”

So far, our government has no plan to offer incentives to keep our doctors at home. It seems to believe that the flight of Canadian-educated physicians would be offset by an influx of doctors from India and other countries. But do we really want to be treated by doctors educated “in countries where medical standards are lower?” Soon enough, we could find ourselves forced to travel to the U.S. just to see our own Canadian doctors.

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