Monday, June 13, 2005

Private Healthcare

I admit it, I'm a Canadian who considers himself well-informed on the topic of Canadian politics and yet I don't have a well-defined rapturously held view on the future of our healthcare system.

Here are the rather disconnected pieces of a conclusion that may at some point lead me to a more solidified opinion:

1. If someone can pay for healthcare and is willing to do so elsewhere (i.e. the US) than they should not be denied the opportunity to do so in Canada.

2. In the States it seems that, other than the insurance fiasco, quality of care is the biggest disparity between the services given to those who pay top dollar and those whose bill is footed by the government. The best way to avoid this is not by caring about who the payor is but by paying attention to who the payee is. In other words if the government maintains it's monopoly on healthcare infrastructure there will be no future situation where those unable to pay for healthcare will be able to look to the shiny, efficient, private clinics with justified indignation while they fend off drug dealers and hookers in the waiting rooms of public hospitals.

3. Directly connected to point (2) is my feeling that I care much more about protecting the (constitutional) right of citizens to be healthy than the potential right of potential private providers to make a profit. I know that it's fashionable to suspect governments and their employees of gross inefficiencies that can be solved by privatisation but I don't think this applies here. The public good will not be served by allowing private companies to offer the same health services now offered for free.

4. Instead the government should fill any and all excess capacity (I know there isn't much) with patients willing to pay for certain services. The profits from this should be immediately invested in increasing capacity. Also, the federal government should be given jurisdiction to coordinate this effort. It is better that someone in Winnipeg who is willing to pay for their MRI be sent to Calgary than to Cleveland.

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