Can the U.S. health care system catch up with Canada? An article from the Annals of Internal Medicine on April 18 demonstrates a 10-year survival difference for people with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that affects many organ systems but most seriously effecting the lungs.

We hear a lot about how the Canadian system is inferior to ours. We hear how the Canadian system deprives people of access to high-cost technology. Although there is rationing of care by limiting access to elective procedures, the Canadian system has the ability to focus on a complex medical conditions and provide care that exceeds what we in the U.S. can provide.

So here is the difference. Canadian patients with cystic fibrosis lived 10 years longer (50.9 years vs. 40.6). A greater proportion of Canadian patients underwent transplant (10.3 percent vs. 6.3). More U.S. patients died without transplant than Canadian patients. Transplants were performed earlier in the disease progression in Canada.

Patients with private insurance in the U.S. had comparable outcomes. Patients with unknown or no insurance had a 77 percent greater risk of dying during the five-year study period.

The fragmented U.S. health care system cannot provide these kinds of results for patients with complex medical illnesses. The fragmentation of care and access, as well as lack of resources to afford insurance are a travesty. We ration care daily based on lack of access to care. Medical expenses are responsible for 62 percent of all personal bankruptcy.

Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District, has access to great insurance. This is not true for many in the Second District. He supported the House bill (American Health Care Act), which if enacted will deprive many of access to needed health care. It will consign some to premature death. It is irresponsible. There is an election in 2018.

Roger Renfrew


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