[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
May 9, 1990

A National Health ProgramAbyss at the End of the Tunnel— the Position of Physicians Who Care

JAMA. 1990;263(18):2488-2489. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440180094040

DOCTORS Woolhandler and Himmelstein,1 in their Commentary in the October 20, 1989, issue of The Journal, argue that a national health program based on the Canadian system is the best solution to the crisis in American health care financing. The authors, however, fail to recognize the negative repercussions of such a system, the consequences of which are now being fully realized in Canada.

The province of Saskatchewan started compulsory universal health insurance in 1961. The same province was among the first to announce it had run out of money for medical care services for 1987 and would be unable to pay for them for the rest of the year. Following a funding freeze imposed by Premier Grant Devine's Conservative government, Saskatchewan's hospitals faced a critical shortage of beds, with 1870 patients waiting for surgery at Saskatoon's University Hospital alone (Macleans. February 13, 1989:32).