The average Canadian has been bombarded with health care propaganda for at least 12 straight years, so I'm not sure what they think about how they fare against us medically, and about whether they think they pay too much for the exact services that they do receive. The issue is far from cut-and-dry. European national health systems are becoming more privatized over time (because of necessity). Canada is pretending that they are not. They are pretending that they have it all under control. Here are some relevant articles:
Privatization of the Canadian Health Care System: Not yet and hopefully never
Why is privatization an option in Canada? Two important events in recent years have been responsible for much of the health care privatization or reprivatization around the world. The first is both direct and indirect pressure by the World Bank (1993) to privatize health care delivery and funding. Many nations, particularly those that had become dependent upon the World Bank for funding, reformed their health systems or initiated health systems to conform with the World Bank preferred model of American-style privatized health care. Furthermore, many countries have followed a trend to privatization of health care, social services, education, and government services set in motion by the neoliberal viewpoints of Thatcher and Reagan, a viewpoint backed by pro-business factions (Terris, 1999).
Two books endorsing privatization, one by Douglass (1993) and another by Osborne and Gaebler (1993), have been particularly instrumental for making privatization appear beneficial in Canada. Douglass's book contains both his aim and his method for converting the public health care system of New Zealand into a system whereby "responsibility means providing for yourself and your family to the extend you can afford" (p. 1). Osborne and Gaebler, two American business consultants, also endorsed small government and entrepreneurialism. Contracting out or decentralization was one of the main thrusts of their book.
Although many provinces have considered downsizing their governments and other changes to reduce government expenditure during the fiscally challenged 1980s and early to mid 1990s, Albertans have lived through many attempts to initiate health care privatization (Harrison & Laxer, 1995; Taft, 1997). Much of this ongoing privatization initiative can be pinned on Alberta's Premier, Ralph Klein, and his majority government for repeatedly endorsing various forms of privatization and for showing support for the individuals and groups intent upon initiating private health care businesses across Alberta (Harrison & Laxer, 1995; Taft, 1997). Since 1993, many privatization initiatives have been endorsed by this long-standing conservative government in Alberta, but few have come to pass as a result of much political action by nursing and other groups for raising public awareness and concern. However, in November of 1999, Ralph Klein personally and publicly indicated that his government will pass legislation in the year 2000 to allow private, for-profit hospitals to open and being collecting public funding when providing medically-necessary health care services to Albertans. It does not seem to matter to the Klein government that virtually no legislation exists in Canada to control private health care profiteering ...
Privatized Health Care: US System is Not the Way To Go
Americans are more likely to buy over-the-counter medications than seek medical help. This is true even when a fever is present, which is the medical ``red flag'' that something is wrong. Pop a couple of acetaminophen tablets, cross the fingers, and hope for the best. An expensive trip to the emergency room was made only if the illness persisted.
Eventually, insurance companies developed the managed care concept to control the spiralling cost of medical treatment that resulted from this practice. Under managed care, Americans could seek treatment without being stuck with a bill afterward. Unfortunately, the price they paid was costly insurance premiums and a rigid set of rules to follow. If a rule was broken, the patient got stuck with the bill.
My experience with managed care was not better than the old insurance system. My share of the premiums, after my employer's contribution, was an annual $4,000 for a family of three. Worse yet, some of the rules that patients had to follow were simply unrealistic. For instance, unless it's a life-threatening condition, you are supposed to call the hospital before seeking treatment.
I once got stuck with a bill that amounted to several hundred dollars when an anxiety attack put me in a hospital without contacting my primary care centre in advance. Never mind that I thought I was having a heart attack or that deaf people rarely have an accessible phone handy while in public places. The important issue was the call was not made.
Although these stories are worst case scenarios, they provide a contrast to the picture that proponents of privatization wish to paint. What they would like Canadians to believe is that allowing the medical system to chase dual goals of providing optimum care and realizing a profit will not hurt the system.
They seem to believe that allowing private medicine into our system will somehow improve services and reduce costs.
Public vs. private health care
Canada spent an estimated $142 billion on health care in 2005, or $4,411 per person, according to Health Care in Canada 2006, a report released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information. After taking inflation into account, this amounts to almost three times what was spent in 1975.
Of that, just over $98.8 billion was spent by governments delivering public health care. About $43.2 billion was spent on private health care. ...
For instance, should you have to spend some time in the hospital, the public system will cover the cost of your bed in a ward, which usually has three other patients. If you want a private room, the extra charge will come out of your pocket, unless you have extended health coverage either through your employer or through a policy you have bought yourself.
Need an ambulance ride? Expect to receive a bill. If you have extended health care coverage, your insurance company will likely pick up the tab.
Dr. Albert Schumacher, former president of the Canadian Medical Association estimates that 75 per cent of health-care services are delivered privately, but funded publicly.
"Frontline practitioners whether they're GPs or specialists by and large are not salaried. They're small hardware stores. Same thing with labs and radiology clinics …The situation we are seeing now are more services around not being funded publicly but people having to pay for them, or their insurance companies. We have sort of a passive privatization." ...
Shouldice Hospital in Toronto opened in 1945 – before Canadians were covered by universal health care. Dr. Edward Earle Shouldice developed a unique method of repairing hernias and demand for the services of his staff quickly spread beyond Canada's borders. The hospital remains private today. Residents of Ontario who have a valid health card are covered by the provincial health-care system for the cost of surgery. If you're from outside Ontario, you will probably need extended – private – health coverage to get reimbursed.
Several privately-run clinics have opened across the country as well, offering CT scans and MRI services. Most have contracts with their provincial governments. The idea was to take pressure off the limited resources of hospitals. The clinics are paid by the province to provide their services.
Several clinics opened in Ontario after the then former Conservative government signed contracts with four companies. The companies were allowed to provide 40 hours of testing per machine per week. Physicians associated with the clinics are paid on a fee-for-service basis by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan to read the test results for OHIP-covered patients. While the clinics are allowed to take private customers after hours, they cannot sell MRI or CT scans to anyone who walks in off the street.
Dr. Jacques Chaoulli takes stand against private health-care restrictions
Chaoulli started reacting against the health-care system in 1994 when he was employed as a house-call doctor in Montreal. He was fined by the government for charging his patients directly, which led him to go on a four-week hunger strike in 1996 to protest the restrictions against private health care.
“My goal at that time was to stay in medicare and do my best to help patients who cannot leave their houses ... The medical union didn’t like it and I took the side of the patient since that time,” said Chaoulli.
Countries like Australia, New Zealand and France have private health-care businesses that run alongside the public health-care sector, which is what Chaoulli has been lobbying the provincial and federal governments to consider since 1992.
“I suggest that not only it is moral but a moral obligation to help that person who has money in their pocket to use his money and to get fast access to health care as long as it doesn’t bother another person,” said Chaoulli.
Privatized, For-Profit Health Care: Pay More and Get Less [main page]
Canadians are being told that public health care financing is not ’sustainable’, and that the solution is a shift to more private health insurance and private delivery of services. According to Canada’s leading health care economist, “bluntly, this is a lie.”
Privatized, For-Profit Health Care: Pay More and Get Less
The privatizers also say that health care in Europe can provide a fix for our health care. They call it the European Model.
In fact, there is no “European Model.” It’s a myth promoted by those who will benefit from selling for-profit health services. There are many different systems in Europe, each with their own problems and benefits
In Canada, a move toward a private healthcare option
"I don't have insurance. We're not allowed to have private health insurance in Canada," Woodkey said. ...
Hoping to capitalize on patients who might otherwise go to the U.S. for speedier care, a network of technically illegal private clinics and surgical centers has sprung up in British Columbia, echoing a trend in Quebec. In October, the courts will be asked to decide whether the budding system should be sanctioned.
More than 70 private health providers in British Columbia now schedule simple surgeries and tests such as MRIs with waits as short as a week or two, compared with the months it takes for a public surgical suite to become available for nonessential operations.
"What we have in Canada is access to a government, state-mandated wait list," said Brian Day, a former Canadian Medical Assn. director who runs a private surgical center in Vancouver. "You cannot force a citizen in a free and democratic society to simply wait for healthcare, and outlaw their ability to extricate themselves from a wait list."
Yet the move into privatized care threatens to make the delays -- already long from the perennial shortage of doctors and rationing of facilities -- even longer, public healthcare advocates say. There will be fewer skilled healthcare workers in government hospitals as doctors and nurses are lured into better-paying private jobs, they say.
"What it means is that people who have no money, who are chronically ill, disabled, who require medical attention frequently, are going to suffer dramatically," said Leslie Dickout of the B.C. Health Coalition, which is involved in the lawsuit to determine whether the Canadian Constitution guarantees citizens the right to choose their own care.
"There's so much money to be made by the insurance industry," she said. "If this [legal] case succeeds, what we would have is a system of U.S.-style healthcare -- along with a public system that is decimated."
Luke, as you can tell from the above, it's a mess in Canada. The state-run system has all the tax dollars to create propaganda. The independent doctors "fight the system" to get privatized care out to the people who desperately need and want it. It's not paradise there. I'm just saying that it's not fair to compare the US to Canada as if you are comparing a free-market system to a socialized one. Neither country is actually what it claims to be.
(Edited by Ed Thompson on 6/10, 2:36pm)