Marquette Warrior: More on Private Health Care in Canada

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

More on Private Health Care in Canada

We recently posted about a proposal in Canada to turn at least part of government health care over to private insurance companies.

This isn’t the only instance of Canadians thinking that their health care system isn’t quite the medical utopia that U.S. liberals think it is.
In a landmark decision, the Canadian Medical Association is now backing a private, for-profit health system.

At a CMA convention in Edmonton Wednesday, delegates decided by a two-to-one margin that patients should be able to look for care elsewhere, if they can’t find it quickly enough within the boundaries of the public health-care plan.

Until now, the association has strongly supported a public health care system.

But many doctors now say long waiting lists have become a critical problem and that the health system needs help from the private sector.

Dr. John Slater of Comox, B.C. says: “I have stopped believing in Santa Claus and I have stopped believing the government will ever fix the monopoly system.”

He adds that governments have had 40 years to get the monopoly system right but have failed; meanwhile, the casualties are piling up.

“One of them has been my wife,” says Slater.
Indeed, private health care is becoming more and more common, in spite of the ideological attachment to a government monopoly.
The question is whether politicians, either in Quebec or Ottawa, really want to prevent two-tier health care, where those with the ability to pay can get faster and better service.

On the face of it, the federal position is clear. “We’re not going to have a two-tier health care system,” said Prime Minister Paul Martin after the ruling came down.

But a two-tier system has been taking root and growing for years, and the federal government has taken no effective action to stop it.

Martin’s own doctor, Sheldon Elman, is the founder and CEO of the Medisys Health Group, which operates a chain of private MRI clinics.
And further:
All the same, it’s estimated there are more than 90 private clinics in Quebec. Many of them offer diagnostic imaging, vital for the early detection of tumours and cancer. Some offer surgery at fees which run into the thousands of dollars.

The most aggressive private clinics operate in British Columbia, home province to Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh.

The Cambie Surgery Centre in Vancouver describes itself as “the largest and most technologically advanced private surgical facility in Canada” with six state-of-the-art operating rooms.

The centre’s web site says it offers general surgery, laparoscopic surgery, gynecology, vascular surgery, neurosurgery, ophthalmology and other services.
The bitching about a “two-tier system” is based on an ideology that demands that everybody must have exactly the same quality of health care.

Socialized medicine, typically, tries to achieve this not by providing the poor the same quality of care that the rich have, but by forcing the rich to accept the same quality of care the poor are forced to accept.

In Canada, as in the rest of the world, the rich can spend their money on yachts, luxury condos and lavish parties. But when they want to spend it to get decent health care (not having to wait months for cancer surgery, for example) the left starts whining.


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