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No, Donald Trump, Single-Payer Health Care Doesn't 'Work Incredibly Well' In Canada & Scotland

Last night in Cleveland, the 17 declared Republican presidential candidates participated in the first official debates of the 2016 election season. Health care policy was a bone of contention. “How can you run for the Republican nomination and be for single-payer health care?” asked former Texas Gov. Rick Perry of Trump. When Fox anchor Bret Baier later asked Trump to defend his position, Trump responded: “As far as single payer, it works in Canada, it works incredibly well in Scotland.” Here’s why Trump is wrong.

(DISCLOSURE: I am an adviser to former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, but the opinions in this post are mine, and do not necessarily correspond to those of Gov. Perry.)

Trump praises socialized medicine

First, some terminology. Single-payer health care describes any country in which the government is effectively the sole insurance company: the “single payer” of health insurance claims. Socialized health care describes a country in which the government owns the entire health care system—not just the insurance companies, but also the hospitals, the nursing homes, and the doctors’ offices.

Canada is single-payer because while Canada’s insurance system is controlled by the government, there are private hospitals and doctors. Scotland’s system, like the rest of Great Britain, is socialized, because the British National Health Service runs everything.

So, back to Donald Trump. His argument last night was that single-payer health care in Canada “works,” and that fully socialized medicine in Scotland “works incredibly well.” Let’s start with Canada.

Canadian health care model: Send tough cases to America

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Canadian health care is popular with healthy Canadians who never really have to use it. But if you’re sick, look out. A 2014 study by the Fraser Institute found that wait times for medically necessary treatment in Canada have increased from 9.3 weeks in 1993—not great—to 18.2 weeks. Wait times were especially bad if you...