Reality Check on Canadian Health Care
The Globe and Mail newspaper is featuring a series of articles on Canadian health care. I find the online comments to these articles most interesting. Many people are defending our current health care system based on the political promises of Medicare and not the realities facing Canadian patients.
Here’s a quick reality check:
Equal access based on need – The fact that some citizens are exempt from the Canada Health Act and therefore able to bypass health care queues makes equal access based on need a moot claim. Also, if your medical condition or required treatment doesn’t fall into one of the government’s current priority areas, then it seems your needs don’t matter as much.
Medicare covers everything – People still believe that our public health care system will cover all of their medical needs. Medicare coverage largely depends on where you live, your medical condition and what treatment options are available through your provincial government health insurance plan. If you want cutting-edge treatment options you may need to leave your province or the country.
Few Canadians go bankrupt due to medical bills – Many Canadian patients are forced to use cash savings, take a second mortgage on their house or borrow money to help finance medical care or receive treatment options not available under Medicare. We just don’t hear about it in the news.
Private health care will take doctors away from the public system – Many of our best and brightest doctors have already left the public system. A majority of them leave the country because they need to have the tools and time to hone their skills and become leaders in their respective fields. Our public health care system and its funding woes place limits on the number of OR hours, surgeries, access to updated technology and equipment and recognition of individual performance. More private health care options may encourage our doctors to stay here or better yet, encourage those abroad to come back home.
Private health care only benefits those who can afford it – How is the situation of a poor patient made any better by prohibiting all patients from using their own money to pay for private health care?
Profit has no place in health care – The whole notion that profit has no place in health care is ridiculous and ranks right up there with our health care is free. It takes years and millions of dollars to research and develop new medical devices, technologies and pharmaceuticals. Without the opportunity to make a profit from these discoveries there is little incentive to continue making them. The pursuit of profit helps to drive innovation and excellence in health care. Limiting this pursuit in Canada has resulted in the dysfunctional health care system we have today.
Canadians have free health care – Why do people still believe we have free health care? We don’t. We pay the government taxes and they decide what type of health care our money will buy for us.