What We Can Learn From a Canadian Physician About Obamacare


By:  Alieta Eck, MD


When Dr. Jacques Chaoulli, a French trained physician, decided to emigrate to the New World in 1979, he made the decision to go to Canada, rather than the United States.  He wanted to live in the country that was more compassionate.  After all, any government that provides its citizens with health care must have its priorities straight, holding a kind regard for the poor.

Fifteen years later he found himself bucking the very system that had attracted him in the first place.  In Quebec, he had developed a house call system employing six other doctors, where patients could be seen and cared for quickly.  But the local medical association, having the monopoly to negotiate with the government, convinced the authorities to put him out of business.  The other physicians left, and Dr. Chaoulli was forced to shut down.  His patients begged him to continue, caught in a trap that the poor could not escape. Middle and upper class patients could save up and travel to the United States for more timely, higher quality medical care, but the poor had to wait or simply accept poorer quality care.  They were forbidden by law to buy a catastrophic private health plan that covered the same services listed in the Quebec government Medicare plan. 

Furthermore, they were not allowed to contract privately with physicians for basic medical services.  A willing provider could not give care to a patient willing to pay cash.

Dr. Chaoulli, single-handedly, sued the Canadian single-payer system and found himself facing the Canadian Supreme Court.  He argued that the low quality of care imposed upon patients by government, long waiting lists for surgery, and the prohibition from purchasing a private health plan or medical care of one’s own choice, violated patients’ “constitutional right to life, liberty and security.”

In the end, the court agreed, saying that “access to a waiting list is not access to health care, and that a low quality of medical care could threaten a patient’s life.”  While the Canadian system is still in place, cracks in the wall have begun to appear.

In 2008, when asked whether it was absurd that the government put itself in the business of telling doctors whom they can and cannot treat and whether people can purchase services, Dr. Chaoulli replied:

“We have to understand the historical roots. Historically, the government started to intervene a long time ago because the workers were suffering because they didn’t have access to health care. It was to protect those who were not able to pay.  Today, the government is preventing those who are suffering from using their own money to get care, and it ends up in an infringement to the right to life, security and liberty of a person. This is another story here. It is a story where a government is, practically speaking, killing patients at random. This was on the front page of the National Post the day of my judgment–that the Supreme Court’s meaning is that government may not kill people.” (http://www.fcpp.org/publication.php/2006)

Dr. Chaoulli came to speak at the annual meeting of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons at Salt Lake City, Utah, in September of 2010.  He sees the seeds of government coercion in ObamaCare and came to warn us that a government that tries to do too much becomes a heartless bureaucratic nightmare. He insists on the importance of challenging the constitutionality of the individual mandate for the coverage of doctor’s visits, the prohibition of purchasing a health plan limited to catastrophic coverage, and of statutes giving power to third party payers to deny payment based on their own determination of medical necessity.

The United States is heading in the wrong direction.  Instead of encouraging free market solutions to our health care system, solutions that work in every other sector of the economy, ObamaCare is pushing us headlong into a top-down command and control health care system that will bankrupt the country and not end well.   It must be repealed.  That was the message that Dr. Jacques Chaoulli brought to the AAPS Doctors Tea Party at the Capitol Building in Salt Lake City. That was the message that we ought to heed.

Listen to Dr. Chaoulli’s presentation:



 Watch video of Dr. Chaoulli’s presentation:

Dr. Alieta Eck, MD graduated from the Rutgers College of Pharmacy in NJ and the St. Louis School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO. She studied Internal Medicine at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ and has been in private practice with her husband, Dr. John Eck, MD in Piscataway, NJ since 1988. She has been involved in health care reform since residency and is convinced that the government is a poor provider of medical care. She testified before the Joint Economic Committee of the US Congress in 2004 about better ways to deliver health care in the United States. In 2003, she and her husband founded the Zarephath Health Center, a free clinic for the poor and uninsured that currently cares for 300-400 patients per month utilizing the donated services of volunteer physicians and nurses.  Dr. Eck is a long time member of the Christian Medical Dental Association and in 2009 joined the board of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. In addition, she serves on the advisory board of Christian Care Medi-Share, a faith based medical cost sharing Ministry. She is a member of Zarephath Christian Church and she and her husband have five children, one in medical school in NJ.


  1. Having been married to a physician for 46 years and having watched the progression of government takeover for forty of them, I feel it is now time for all physicians to fight for the rights of their patients and for their right to practice the very best medical care they know. I watched as the media began to demonize doctors (lawsuits that were out and out frivolous designed to extract money from doctors but even more devious, in that, in winning, they now made the doctor look guilty and this was the only thing the public saw, not that the insurance company didn’t want to spend the money to fight the suit). I watched as Blue Cross and Blue Shield would come into my husbands office and tell him that if he didn’t raise his prices, they would in order to keep up with the ‘profile’. I watched as little by little, the government began to make laws that were the stepping stones to what we are now experiencing, socialized medicine. Unfortunately, doctors are not fighters or good businessmen and do not understand the chess maneuvers that these people use to win. I remember at a medical meeting, speaking to several of my husbands colleagues and giving them my opinion of what I could see happening to medicine. One of the doctors said to me, “How much worse can it get?” That was in 1972. That doctor has since died and like Truman dealing with Stalin, he had no idea how much worse it could get. As much as doctors abhor fighting, they have been used by lawyers, the media, insurance companies and now the government. Just how much worse does it have to get before they stand up and fight for their rights, the rights of their patients, the rights of their families and the rights of the Constitution of the USA that gave us freedom for the past 234 years? When are they going to fight to keep us the most successful country on earth? It should no longer be on the backs of only a few doctors who have had their feet held to the fire, it should now be the fight of the entire medical profession.

  2. Having worked 13 years in Canada as a physician, there is no limits to the tyranny that government will impose upon its people all the while disguising it as benevolence. Canadian patients are supplicants to the state that are supposed to be grateful for the care they do receive after enormous waiting periods. It is not uncommon in Canada to literally wait years to get care. I personally knew doctors that had two year waiting lists. The wait time for our MRI scanner was 13 months. The mindset of the average Canadian has been warped into believing that they should be thankful for what they get. They have been brainwashed by the ultra-liberal Canadian media (you think it is bad here) into believing that in the evil capitalist United States, those without insurance will die in the streets. I have been in the U.S. for nine years now and I have yet to see anyone turned down for care. Once the people of the United States acquiesce to government determining the type, quality and amount of health care that they are allowed to have, the values of the American Revolution (Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness) will be lost. That is why I wrote the book, “Health Reform-The End of the American Revolution?” It is also why I have helped start http://www.medibid.com, an interactive web portal for buying and selling medical goods and services without the intrusion of government or other third parties.

  3. May I bring a different point of view.
    The biggest problem we are encountering is NOT “Obamacare”
    It is the for profit insurance companies. We cannot blame them. Their goal is NOT to treat patients with compassion. Their goal is to satisfy their share holders.

    Today, Medicare is paying most doctors more than what Blue Cross is.

    Whatever our political affiliations are, we have to accept the fact that there are a lot of good things in this bill. So, lets unite to improve the good things and get rid of the parts that are detrimental to our patients.

    Let us show the world that we are Americans first and stop fighting about ideologies.
    “big govt” “small govt” these terms have absolutely no meaning. What we need is a “smart govt” that looks at practical solutions.

    Please…. Lets stop pointing fingers. Lets put aside our differences. That is the only way we can move forward.

    The lesson we have to learn from Dr Chaoulli’s story is not to fault the Canadian system, it is to fault the people who were administering it and forgot about the patients’ welbeing.

  4. Unfortunately, it’s not just a matter of uniting “to improve the good things and get rid of the parts that are detrimental to our patients”, as the proponents of this bill are unlikely to be open to changing anything about it. They’ve spent far too much time trying to convince the American public that this is the one and only “solution” to the healthcare dilemma we’re facing. They cannot afford to lose face, which is what they feel will happen if they change any part of this bill.

    So, it seems that it’s going to be a matter of tossing out the entire bill and writing a new one. That is, if we’re able to vote it down- and, personally, I don’t believe that it’s going to be that easy. There’s an awful lot of power behind this. It’s an awfully big boulder rolling down a very steep hill. I’d like to think the power of the American voters would be strong enough to stop it, but I’m just not sure…