medicare

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Last Thursday, the New England Journal of Medicine published an article claiming that administrative costs of health care in the United States are higher than in those in Canada: $1,059 (US) in the United States versus $307 (US) in Canada. The lead author, Professor Woolhandler of Harvard Medical School, has written a number of similar articles over the years, all with the conclusion that the United States should embrace government monopoly health insurance like we have in Canada.


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Worried about rising expenditures for prescription drugs, many states are employing preferred lists to encourage doctors to prescribe older, lower-priced drugs and forego the latest, more expensive medicines.

If Congress succeeds in passing a Medicare prescription drug benefit this year, the debate over preferred drug lists - now raging in numerous states - is likely to explode onto the national stage.

The lists - also known as formularies - are, whether we like it or not, a form of rationing. Ask any Canadian.


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The existence of independent provincial Pharmacare programs and private insurance for prescription drugs is considered by some to be a blot on Canadian medicare. They want these options abolished in favour of National Pharmacare.

Health care costs are rising, and prescription drugs are taking up a larger share of those costs, but the change is a lot less dramatic than people think. Prescription drug costs were 8 percent of total health costs in 1991, and 12 percent in 2001, an average increase of less than half a percentage point a year.