The race is on for private health care

Which province will pass legislation to legalize private health care first?

Quebec’s “new era” joins the likes of Alberta’s “third way” and British Columbia’s, um… “whatever they call it“, in the pursuit of a public/private mixed health care system. In response to last years Supreme Court ruling, asserting the ban of private health care as unconstitutional, the Quebec Government has announced today a new plan that will make limited private health care legitimate.

Under the “new era” system patients will be ‘guaranteed’ a minimum wait time within the public system. If they are queued past the ‘guaranteed’ amount of time the province will seek treatment under the private system. If suitable treatment cannot be found under the private system, the province will look out of province for treatment. Under this plan, no one should be forced to wait an unreasonable amount of time for health care; a key argument in the Supreme Court decision.

It appears that Quebecs move, although somewhat more limiting, is just another step in what appears to be an inevitable move toward a two-tiered Canadian health care system.

~ O’Smiley ~

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8 Comments

  1. Gauntlet said,

    Thursday, 16 February 2006 at 6:18 pm

    If you’re using the private sector only as a backup, how is that an inevitable move toward two-tiers?

  2. O'Smiley said,

    Thursday, 16 February 2006 at 7:37 pm

    It’s not necessarily the plan, but the legalization and justification of a private system which is another step toward a full two-tiered system.

    Even as a backup it is technically a two-tiered system and opens the gate for further reforms toward a full two-tiered system. This is only the 3rd province now to say, flat out, that private healthcare is justifiable and necessary. As more provinces decide to “sign-on” to the use of private systems the more endangered the Canada Health Act will become. Now the debate is whether or not this move is good for Canada.

  3. Carrie said,

    Friday, 17 February 2006 at 6:06 am

    It’s not a good move for Canada. It is a good move for provinces with leaders who have no respect for Canada.

    I’ve always thought Quebec (gov’t not the majority of Quebec citizens) would ruin Canada. Now it seems we’ve got B.C. and Alberta hopping on the ruination of Canada bandwagon.

    That’s very disheartening. I never had a problem with the west before. Now, I do. This is purely selfish and reeks of inferiority complex.

  4. Gauntlet said,

    Saturday, 18 February 2006 at 3:36 pm

    I think there’s a lot of people, O’Smiley included, who are missing the point when it comes to health care. Our current, publicly-funded and publicly-operated health care system is not a holy cow. It’s just a means to an end, universal health care. If there are other ways to get to that end that don’t violate the universality of access, I don’t think we need to dismiss them as a slipperly slope to something that does not provide universality.

  5. Dexter said,

    Saturday, 18 February 2006 at 3:47 pm

    While I may or may not agree with the specific health care policies of the Alberta, B.C., or Quebec governments, at least they are exploring alternatives to the 100%-public system that will quickly become unsustainable in the face of an aging population.

    In a perfect world, I agree that a fully public health care system where profit doesn’t enter the equation is an ideal solution. There’s something inherently creepy about companies making money off of sick people, if you choose to look at it that way. However our country cannot sustain our current system…look at per-capita expenditures on health care over the past 30 years (http://www.cihi.ca/cihiweb/dispPage.jsp?cw_page=statistics_results_source_nhex_e). As a percentage of GDP, our health care spending has increased by 50% over this time period, and the situation will only become worse in the future. While our economy is currently outperforming the rest of the G8 because of high energy prices (even if we’re selfish and suffer from an inferiorty complex, Carrie, we don’t mind filling up Ottawa’s bank account every year), Western Canadians know all too well that energy prices are cyclical and volatile. At any rate, I don’t think you’ll find too many people who can seriously argue that accelerating health care spending even more is the best way to sustainably improve the level of care in the system.

    The answer, most likely, cannot be found by throwing money at the public system. Bureaucracies are inherently inefficient, and only become more inefficient as they grow in size. This isn’t my personal opinion, but an unfortunate fact of life that hasn’t changed much over the course of human history. Instead of creating a larger health care bureaucracy, the answer to our situation may be in allowing private providers to compete with one another to deliver publically-insured and government-regulated services. Competition is one of the strongset driving forces for creating efficiencies, and this effect cannot be replicated in a purely public health care system. This is NOT two-tiered American style health care, and may be a way to preserve universal access without breaking the bank.

  6. O'Smiley said,

    Saturday, 18 February 2006 at 4:45 pm

    “I think there’s a lot of people, O’Smiley included, who are missing the point when it comes to health care.”

    Hmm, I’m not sure where that point is missed in my article or comment. I believe both my post and response were of an objective viewpoint, and neither for nor against a two-tiered system. I merely pointed out that this is the obvious direction the country is heading, and in following that direction the current Canada Health act is in jeopardy.

    As for whether I am for, or against a two-tiered system, I’m really still up in the air. Our current system is costing Canada too much; however, is that due to it being a public system or due to it being improperly administered. A for profit system will always cost the user more to run if both systems are running at equal performance/efficiencies (that profit has to come from somewhere). However, if our current system is not adequately providing healthcare should we not consider another system? As I said in my previous comment, this is a big issue and a major debate for Canadians. The greatest fear most Canadians have over the direction this could be heading is the fear that they will be put in a position (like so many Americans are currently in) where they cannot afford to provide themselves and/or their family with healthcare.

  7. Dexter said,

    Sunday, 19 February 2006 at 8:21 am

    I think it’s clear that private industry is much, much better at finding efficiencies than public institutions. It’s also very likely that allowing private companies to competitively provide health care services for a publically funded system will be cheaper than a large government bureaucracy due to these efficiencies. We can talk forever about “reforming” health care by reorganizing the bureaucracy, but at the end of the day it will still be an inefficient, unionized, non-innovating institution.

  8. Anonymous said,

    Tuesday, 28 February 2006 at 12:37 pm

    I am a Canadian currently living in Dublin Ireland, yes I was near the roit, no I didn’t take part. Most people don’t know this but Ireland has a two-tiered health care system,and it doesn’t work! In the public hospitals people wait up to four days for a bed! And those are the critical cases! My aunt who is 79 had tripped on her front step and shattered her hip, first she was sent home from the public ER and told to “walk it off”, If it wasn’t for the fact that her son was high up on the health board and threated to fire people on the spot my aunt would never have received any treatment. For those in the private hospital’s they fare a bit better, the ER line ups are perhaps several hours long and the treatments I would say on par with that of the Canadian system.
    I know, I know, apples and oranges. Ireland was one of poorest countries in Western Europe up until about 15 years ago,and most of the health care infrastrusture was built by the English nearly a century ago. Nevertheless this should by a cautionary tale for who believe a two-tiered system is some kind of magic bullet. I find it very interesting that there has been no attempt to reform health care, it seems we are throwing the baby out with the bath water. “It didn’t work, lets privatize” it’s the same as saying “We tried nothing, and we’re all outa ideas.”


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