Michigan residents are more familiar than many Americans with the downfalls of Canada’s government-run health care system.

That’s because so many Canadians come here to receive life-saving care when the wait lists in the country’s socialized medical system constitute a serious threat to their lives or quality of life.

Timely Medical Alternatives, a company based in British Columbia, expedites the treatment of patients on wait lists in Canada’s health care system. By helping Canadians to access private medical care — for instance, by sending some of its patients from Ontario to Detroit — Timely Medical provides clients “with options, referrals to hospitals, clinics and diagnostic imaging facilities.” Giving patients a choice of medical systems yields dramatic improvements in wait times:

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Typical Wait Times (after initial visit to a G.P.)
  1. Wait to see a specialist for initial consultation
    • Public: 6 - 12 months
    • Private: 10 days
  2. Wait for diagnostic imaging (excluding X-Rays) after seeing surgeon
    • Public: 4 - 8 months
    • Private: 24 hours
  3. Wait for a biopsy (if necessary)
    • Public: 2 months
    • Private: 4 days
  4. Wait for pathological analysis of tissue
    • Public: 14 days
    • Private: 1 - 3 days
  5. Wait for follow-up visit to surgeon to discuss results of diagnostics
    • Public: 1 - 3 months
    • Private: 7 days
  6. Wait for a surgical/hospital date to be set
    • Public: 6 - 18 months
    • Private: 1 day
  7. Wait for surgery after date is set
    • Public: 6 - 10 months
    • Private: 7 days

If a business like Timely Medical isn’t enough to indicate that a government-funded and cost-controlled system under-provides medical services, the government of Ontario recently forged a deal with 13 U.S. hospitals to provide the timely care its health system can’t. Five of these hospitals are in Michigan.

The state is positioned to become a destination for those seeking quality and prompt health care. Currently,

[Michigan] has more hospitals in the Thomson Reuters list of top 100 hospitals than any other, and reports have shown that Michigan hospitals rank below the national average in terms of average costs,

making the Great Lakes State more qualified than most at providing the quality care that disappears once cost controls create disincentives to providing health services.

Canada’s public health care system, which (we’re often reminded) spends less per patient than the U.S. system, also results in less timely access to services as costs are kept under control.

Despite the claims of some Michigan legislators, universal health coverage does not mean the end of rationing — in fact, it leads to growing wait lists as a smaller number of procedures is available in any given time.

Michiganders must not lose their ability to choose to purchase what they believe is the best medical coverage to the government quest to lower medical expenditures.

(Cross-posted to RightMichigan.)