April 1st, 2014
Unfortunately, one of the biggest obstacles to change in Canadian healthcare is Canadians who think the only alternative is the American system of healthcare, where the rich are well served and the poor die. When I suggest that people should be allowed to purchase healthcare privately they usually make 2 points, the first being, that it's an unfair system. It seems to them that it's OK to pay for private education but not healthcare. Is it fair for one person to afford a Mercedes car and another to only afford an old Chevrolet? My answer is that life isn't fair and also that it's up to individuals to decide how to spend their money.
The second point that is usually made is that, if you allow private healthcare all the doctors will decamp to the private sector. If this were true why hasn't it happened in the British system - the National Health Service? In Britain of doctors undertaking private practice, the large majority also work in NHS Consultant (specialist) posts, doing their private work in their spare time, outside of and on top of their NHS commitments. A small proportion of doctors work in full time private practice only. Also, there are rules governing how a doctor must balance NHS work with private practice. In the main, doctors want to work for the NHS because that is where they will enhance their skills, experience and reputation.
Isn't it strange that, in Canada, people in most occupations, ie, hairdressers, car mechanics, construction workers, accountants, teachers, and many, many more, can, if they choose, provide their services outside of their regular jobs, ie, in their own time - in the evenings, at weekends, vacations etc, whilst doctors are not allowed to? If a doctor operates on me in his spare time, is a person on a waiting list for the same operation affected?
I too agree ... we are being held hostage by a monopolized government system on some false belief that this form of socialized medicine prevents people from becoming marginalized because of lack of access to healthcare. Ironically our present system equally can and does threaten the poor, the rich, the uneducated, the educated, the young, the old, the healthy and the sick.
I too find that one of the greatest challenges is with Canadians themselves and their mistaken beliefs about what choice would mean for our health care system. Doctors needs to start speaking out, patients need to share their stories, and the alternatives which have been well studied need to be communicated to the public so that they clearly understand what it really means to have choice and high quality medical care in Canada. The problem in the US exists because there is little cost control. Mandatory insurance does nothing to help a system when fees have no ceiling.
I would love to see some cost comparisons between private surgery costs in Canada and the cost of a similar procedure in the public system, when you factor in all the costs associated with delayed treatment (ie. medication, consultations with inappropriate experts, secondary injuries that result from delayed treatment, poorer outcomes, etc.). I think some clear scenarios could go a long way towards educating Canadians about the issues and the need for change.