- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 17, 2010

President Obama believes in government by anecdote. In a nation of 300 million souls, some people will always have some problems. There are horror stories involving medical care in every country, particularly in Canada, Britain and other nations with socialized medical systems. The question isn’t whether some bad things happen; the question about a given system should center on the rate at which bad things occur. By that measure, the American medical system does extremely well.

Mr. Obama’s use of Natoma Canfield during his Monday talk in Ohio is a good example. The president spent almost a third of his lecture discussing her case, and he claims he’s been talking about her in meetings with insurance companies. Ms. Canfield is a self-employed cleaning lady who dropped her $500-per-month insurance plan because she felt she couldn’t afford the insurance premiums, only to discover she suffered from leukemia.

“She was very sick. She expects to face more than a month of aggressive chemotherapy,” the president said. “She is racked with worry not only about her illness, but about the costs of the tests and the treatment that she’s surely going to need to beat it.” Then came the whopper: Mr. Obama claimed he’s pushing for a government takeover of health care because of “the added burden of medical bills they can’t pay.”

Fortunately for Ms. Canfield, she is getting medical care at the famous Cleveland Clinic, one of the world’s top medical facilities. But despite Mr. Obama’s claims that she’s “racked with worry” and might lose her house because of her medical bills, it turns out that the existing system is working pretty well. At the time of Mr. Obama speech, Ms. Canfield already was being checked to see if she qualified for financial aid.

“She may be eligible for state Medicaid … and/or she will be eligible for charity [care] of some form or type. … In my personal opinion, she will be eligible for something,” said Lyman Sornberger, executive director of patient financial services at the Cleveland Clinic, to Fox News. “Cleveland Clinic will not put a lien on her home.”

This is not Ms. Canfield’s first bout with cancer. Given her history as a cancer survivor, $500 per month for insurance isn’t extreme. Cancer treatments and surgery routinely run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is beside the point, however, because Obamacare won’t help with insurance costs. In fact, the Democrats’ health care bill adds expensive mandates on medical procedures to be covered, such as unlimited lifetime insurance benefits and no limits on co-payments. Even some Democrats must understand that increasing benefits will raise insurance premiums.

Contrary to the bleak picture Mr. Obama is conjuring up, most Americans are happy with their own health care, including those with serious health problems. According to a study in Regulation magazine last summer, 92 percent of those with insurance who were suffering from chronic illness rated their health insurance as excellent or good. Even uninsured Americans are reasonably satisfied with their care - about as happy as Canadians who are covered by their government system.

Everyone would like cheaper insurance, but the notion that government will lower costs is absurd. Even if Mr. Obama’s stories were true, help for people such as Ms. Canfield could be much more targeted. There is no crisis of care that justifies undoing the entire U.S. health care system.