An uninsured gorilla in Colorado Springs receives specialist service faster than a Canadian human might

There’s been big news at our local zoo, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, here in Colorado Springs. Rafiki,  a 25-year-old silverback lowland gorilla, took ill. When he did, medical attention was available immediately. Some of the finest doctors in the world converged upon him, determined to quickly find and fix whatever was wrong. Fortunately, his waiting time for tests was far less than many people in countries with nationalized healthcare.

A Colorado Springs News Gazette story reports that employees of Denver-based Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers — a capitalist free-market business — heard Rafiki wasn’t feeling well. Not wanting Rafiki to suffer, the business sent a mobile CT unit to the zoo. The scan revealed an infection of the mastoid bone, located behind his right ear. It also found a severe middle and inner ear infection.

The CT scan was reviewed by radiologists and, get this, a neurologist. In some parts of the world, most humans never meet a neurologist. In the United States, even a gorilla has access to one. Why is this?

The Gazette editorialized about Rafiki’s situation as follows:

The team of specialists decided that in order to relieve pressure on Rafiki’s brain, the big gorilla would need surgery to clean out the infection. They called upon Dr. Joseph Hegarty, an ear, nose and throat specialist from Colorado Springs Ear Associates — another capitalist, free-market business. Hegarty not only made a house call for Rafiki, he performed surgery in the zoo’s Primate World Exhibit.

Rafiki is recovering nicely.

Fortunately for Rafiki, he’s an uninsured ape living in the United States. Had Rafiki been an insured human being living in a country with government-run health care, he might still be waiting for that CT scan.

After the scan, he would wait an eternity to be seen by a neurologist, a radiologist, or an ear, nose and throat specialist. He would have two choices:

    1. Wait in pain and hope to survive the long wait; or
    2. Travel to the United States, pay a specialist, and receive immediate care.

A recent survey by the Fraser Institute, a public policy organization with offices in the United States and Canada, found that humans in Canada wait an average of 4.8 weeks for simple CT scans, a procedure humans in the United States often receive within days or even moments of a physician’s order.

Canadians wait an average of 18.3 weeks to be seen by specialists such as neurosurgeons, radiologists, and ear, nose and throat doctors.

That 18.3-week waiting period begins after the patient has waited to see a general practitioner for a referral. In Saskatchewan the wait for a specialist averages 27.2 weeks, and in New Brunswick it’s 25.2 weeks.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, a Canadian waits 20 weeks just to receive an MRI. An American, by contrast, can receive an MRI the same day as the referral.

Even most uninsured, destitute Americans can receive MRIs in less than 20 weeks.

If Rafiki were a human being covered by Canada’s government health care plan, he would have waited 19.4 weeks for any kind of neurosurgery, and 5.8 weeks for the kind of work that was performed on him by the ear, nose and throat specialist.

In countries with socialized medicine, physicians live like poorly compensated government employees. They do not embark upon establishing and growing great businesses, such as Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers. They do not invest in mobile CT units, which bring services to a patient’s front door. Instead, they see whichever patients have made it to the top of a waiting list on any given day. Under socialized health care, medical services become scarce.

As a resident of the great United States, where health care remains mostly a private business involving private contracts, Rafiki had almost immediate access to some of the finest doctors in the world — people who work for profit when they can and for free, when needed, to make their country a better place.

Here in the United States, the right to prosper has led investors and entrepreneurs to treat health care as a business. That’s why the specialists were able to find just the right doctor at a small business that earns a reputation and earns its money.

Here in the United States, the equipment for CT scans and MRIs abounds. It is readily available, even to gorillas with no ability to pay. In the United States, a system of free market health care has created abundance.

Thanks to all the great doctors who cooperated selflessly to ease the suffering of a poor old ape. This kind of medical compassion is common in the United States, for humans and animals alike, and there is not much of a wait.

You can read my blog about the pros and cons of the Canadian nationalized healthcare system here. Here are more blogs on nationalized healthcare:

You can also check out my blog series on healthcare myths:

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