October 17, 2003


Doctors Eying the U.S.: Canada Is Sick About It (CLIFFORD KRAUSS, October 17, 2003, NY Times)

Drs. Siva Sriharan and Srinivas Chakravarthi may never get rich staying in this small auto-producing city little more than a stone's throw from downtown Detroit, but they can eat all the hamburgers, ribs and potato skins they want for the rest of their lives at Casey's Bar and Grill.

For the next year, they can also get their hair cut free at the Touch of Class beauty salon, and lease a Pontiac Grand Am without charge from a dealer in nearby Essex. Patients have pledged free house repairs and landscaping for their properties, and nurses have teased them with offers of free massages.

All the two doctors have to do is continue practicing medicine in Windsor. [...]

The two surgeons are sharply critical of Canada's health care system, which is driven by government-financed insurance for all but increasingly rations service because of various technological and personnel shortages. Both doctors said they were fed up with a two-tier medical system in which those with connections go to the head of the line for surgery.

"It's the system that is pushing us out," said Dr. Chakravarthi, a 53-year-old Indian immigrant.

Many other Canadian doctors feel the lure of the United States these days, particularly if they live close to the border.

The supply of family doctors has increased at a rate lower than population growth in recent years, a problem that is complicated by an aging population and doctors seeking shorter hours. Waiting time for elective surgery is growing across the country, and becoming a hot political issue.

Meanwhile, there are signs that a brain drain of medical talent, particularly specialists to the United States, is becoming a serious problem.

There was a net migration of 49 neurosurgeons from Canada from 1996 to 2002, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, a large loss given that there are only 241 neurosurgeons in the country.

Yet the Democratic ideal for our health care system is to make it like Canada's...

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 17, 2003 5:10 PM

All the Democrats need to do now is remove whatever incentive there still is for one to practice medecine. Tha Canadian MD's will have no place to go and they ought to be able to create one humdinger of a "health care crisis", which seems to be the program.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at October 18, 2003 2:53 PM


Very perceptive comment. To some extent, the survival and ossification of medicare has indeed been helped by the escape valve of the US for many disgruntled doctors and nurses, who are replaced by third world immigrants, who are generally very good in my experience.

Boy, if the Democrats prevail and you go our way, just imagine how heathy they are going to be in Singapore.

Posted by: Peter B at October 19, 2003 6:57 AM