JUST PLAIN TALK: American healthcare costs are unsustainable

Buz Livingston
Buz Livingston

When life throws us adversity, it’s tempting to abandon core beliefs. For example, it is easy to be a libertarian when life is rosy, but when a hurricane hits, FEMA can’t get to you fast enough. Don’t take it personally, libertarians. I voted for libertarians before most of you were born. As a young man I had some misguided notions, but to quote the Good Book, when I became a man I put childish things away.

While I’m sure there are true believers, most people are conveniently libertarian. Nothing emphasizes my point better than Sen. Rand Paul deciding to schedule hernia surgery in Canada. It sounds like a satirical headline from The Onion or Andy Borowitz. For decades, the Paul clan, led by patriarch Ron, have had a side hustle peddling libertarian dogma. One of their tenets was the inferiority of socialized medicine. As the old-timers once said, “Don’t that beat a hog a-flyin'.”

As the news broke, Paul’s team pushed the story of how the Canadian hospital, Shouldice Hernia Hospital, is privately owned and a worldwide leader in non-mesh hernia repair. Mesh hernia repairs have a poor reputation, so I certainly don’t condemn Paul for getting his passport stamped for a hernia procedure. Yes, he will be paying out of pocket. However, the hospital is still part of Canada’s healthcare system and receives most of its funding from the Canadian province of Ontario. The hospital also accepts Ontario’s Health Insurance Plan, a single-payer model that Paul has vociferously opposed.

For years, The Paul Gang, Ron and Rand, argued single-payer healthcare systems led to inferior care. Astonishingly a spokesperson for the senator cited Shouldice Hernia Hospital as “world renown,” which blows their argument out of the water and instead shows the efficiency of Canada’s healthcare system.

In the United States a hernia repair costs, on average, $7,750. Prices vary from around the country but, depending on complexity, range from $3,900 to over $25,000. In Canada, the only reason to pull out your wallet is if you want to buy flowers for the patient. Sure they pay higher taxes, but we have higher medical costs than they do and health insurance in the United States strains personal budgets. Whether you write a check to the government, an insurance company or a hospital, it’s still a debit.

Healthcare costs in America are unsustainable. We should demand our leaders in Washington address rising costs. Americans pay more for healthcare and, statistically, get worse care than other developed nations. Rand Paul opting for medical treatment in a country with socialized medicine is like vegan dining at a barbecue restaurant. He can afford to go to Canada, but not everyone else can. In other words do as I say, not as I do.

You can’t always get what you want but Buz Livingston, CFP can help you figure out what you need. For specific advice, visit or drop by 2050 West County Highway 30A, M1 Suite 230.