Towards a New Canadian Health Care System
We already know the Canadian health care system is failing. Medicare supporters will tell you it’s because we’re just not trying hard enough, but the same dismal results can be found in the government-run health care systems of other countries. It’s definitely time for a new approach.
A few weeks ago the Health Care Innovation Working Group co-chaired by Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and Prince Edward Island Premier Robert Ghiz released its first report, “From Innovation to Action”. The report states, “Provincial and territorial leaders want to create a new approach that provides better health, better care, and better value to our citizens.” It includes recommendations for bulk purchasing of generic drugs, evidence-based care and a needs-based approach to human resource management. These recommendations are hardly new; in fact they fit nicely under the categories of government price controls and rationing. Keep in mind that it’s easy for politicians to make all kinds of promises about health care because they can use government taxation to force other people to pay for them.
A few days ago the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) wrapped up its 145th annual meeting, “Best Care. Best Health. Best Value. From Consensus to Action.” The CMA continues to advocate for a publicly funded, universal health care system that promises every citizen the best health care regardless of their ability to pay or where they live in the country. Since health care is only one of many factors contributing to the health of an individual, the CMA is now turning its attention to the so-called social determinants of health and health equity. These terms fit nicely under the categories of income redistribution and government-run social programs. The pursuit of government-mandated equality in all areas of life is not new; it was tried in the former Soviet Union and failed miserably.
Both of the above approaches start from the premise that government should be in the business of health care. The approach I’m taking starts from the premise that government should not be in the business of health care. Why am I taking this approach? Because I’ve tackled the mountain of Medicare and I can see what possibilities exist on the other side. I can’t move this mountain for you, but I can help you with the climb.