Canadian health care finance system implosion?

canhealthlogo3.gifFollowing on this post from last week regarding the Veterans Administration as a model for a government-sponsored health care finance system, this NY Times article reports that the Canadian government-administered health care finance system — which has been widely-heralded as a model for a similar U.S. system — is showing signs of imploding as a result of a recent Canadian Supreme Court decision:

Canada remains the only industrialized country that outlaws privately financed purchases of core medical services. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other politicians remain reluctant to openly propose sweeping changes even though costs for the national and provincial governments are exploding and some cancer patients are waiting months for diagnostic tests and treatment.
But a Supreme Court ruling last June ó it found that a Quebec provincial ban on private health insurance was unconstitutional when patients were suffering and even dying on waiting lists ó appears to have become a turning point for the entire country.
“The prohibition on obtaining private health insurance is not constitutional where the public system fails to deliver reasonable services,” the court ruled.

The Times article goes on to report that the Canadian Supreme Court decision is spurring the markets to respond to the deficiencies in the Canadian government-administered system:

The country’s publicly financed health insurance system ó frequently described as the third rail of its political system and a core value of its national identity ó is gradually breaking down. Private clinics are opening around the country by an estimated one a week, and private insurance companies are about to find a gold mine.

4 thoughts on “Canadian health care finance system implosion?

  1. I have no idea how the Canadian tax system works, but I wonder if one purchases private health insurance, will it be tax deductable?
    Also, will it pay the American service providers that Canadians are seeing now, when they need immediate treatment and the gov’t clinic tells them to wait 6 months?

  2. I attended the 2005 Canadian Family Medicine Forum and I noticed that their national health plan is not working. Their media outlets point to the US model as one of efficiency.
    When I come up with the perfect soultion to this problem, I’ll let you know.

  3. Your graphic asks, “is anyting right with Canada’s health care system?” Well, yes, for all its troubles some things are right. Canada doesn’t have 1/3 of its citizens without access to health care and often seeking treatment at public hospital emergency rooms at great public expense; in terms of outcomes for the dollar, it is outperforming ours; its administrative costs are lower than those of the US system (where those costs are private, but part of the bill).
    I don’t hear people pointing to Canada as an ideal solution often; that’s a bit of a red herring. Other countries provide universal health care in a wide variety of ways, and places like France and Germany seem to do a much better job than Canada at managing it. We tend to look at Canada because we perceive it as being most similar to the US, but that’s not all that accurate a view.

  4. In my area, one of the newest hospitals is the “free” public hospital, which accepts everyone, regardless of ability to pay. Seems to me that, if those who are uninsured or of otherwise limited means are going to this and similar hospitals, it would be wrong to assert that those same people do not have access to care. Many (most?) physicians give a substantial amount of free or reduced-cost care; drug companies have offered reduced-price or free prescription drugs for years. Maybe we are better off than we are being led to believe.

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