Healthcare in Canada is currently a primarily public system, which is a publicly funded system, known as Medicare. There are five principles set to this system: universality, comprehensiveness, public administration, portability and accessibility. Some may say that Canada??™s current healthcare system is not a healthy one, and does not meet the standards set by these five principles. Others are satisfied with the service and funding received when in they have been in need of care, and are also grateful for Canada??™s system success when compared to some other countries. Also there are many people that want to change the system completely, making private for profit health facilities an alternative to the publicly funded system, in an attempt to possibly improve present services and meet the principles set by the Canada Health Act. Is Canada going towards more of a two tier system Will funding or quality of services change in the public system, in an attempt to maintain its dominant status Can the private healthcare system take over completely This report will explore the pros and cons of both the private and public healthcare systems in Canada, and new possible options for Canadians in the near future.
Is Canada??™s Healthcare System Healthy
A Look at Public and Private Healthcare in Canada
There are two men. Jim and Joe, who both need new hips. Joe is your typical average “Joe” mid income, factory labouring, Canadian citizen. Jim helps run 2 businesses and is also an economically successful entrepreneur himself. Both men go to a publicly funded health organization to schedule an appointment for surgery, and are put onto a waiting list of about a years wait, when the pain and time to get the surgery is necessary now!….Joe waits in pain. Jim goes to a private clinic sets an appointment and within 2 weeks and thousands of dollars later he??™s good as new. Is this fair to Joe Canada is currently a publicly funded healthcare system with a few public services available for citizens to pay for upfront or with the help of a benefits health insurance plan. As time goes on it seems people are tearing down the public systems reputation and are starting to be more open to a private system. There are many factors affecting our healthcare in Canada, including previous experiences in history, funding, and fairness to the people of Canada. Here are some facts about how these public and private options arose in Canada.
Marcia Angell??™s article (2008), the author explains a little history before Canada??™s Medicare system was integrated. A lot of Canadians do not know that we used to have a system very similar to the US where both were partly public, partly private, partly for profit and non-profit. Both countries left many citizens uninsured and the costs were about the same, 300 dollars per person in 1970. Canada decided to change and implement the Canadian Medicare system. With this implementation of a new publicly funded system it saved Canadians money, while the US system became more costly, leaving more Americans uninsured (para.1 &2). It seems many people would like to go back to a two tier system, due to frustration of waiting lists, lack of rooms, lack of specific coverage (ex prescriptions and shortage of and overbooked doctors. (Angell, 2008) Obviously, this system does have some downfalls, but it still fulfills its obligations to Canadians by providing medical services based on need, not on who can pay, even if it takes a longer time than people are comfortable with, they still get the job done. Thus, it matters to nearly everyone. Though the public system could use improvements, the wisest course would be to expand, adjust and reinforce the public system, not undermine it (last paragraph). Sometimes it??™s all about money, funding for the public system is hurting, and this is what is causing other problems with the system, but changes are being made. (Steven Lewis, Cam Donaldson, Craig Mitton, Gillian Currie, 2001) The government in Ottawa is attempting to buy back a role in the shaping of a healthcare system. The provinces of Canada received a major increase in healthcare funding, from the prime minister in September of 2000. Some saw it as a way to apologize to the country for funding cuts in previous years. (pg. 928 para. 1, under ???A Renewed role for Ottawa”). Another situation where improvements were made on healthcare funding was when the Canada Health Act was issued in 1984. (Angell, 2008) Before the Health Act was established many hospitals and doctors would add extra charges, even if people were insured. However, these practices were all abolished with the new Act in place, because it required all health care be accessible to everyone. This new system was able to keep costs in check in exchange for a growth on the wait times for certain procedures. Nevertheless, Canadian Medicare has remained popular with the public ever since.
Private Healthcare Options
(Gratzer, 2005) Since the Health Act was established, Canada did not always view private healthcare as an option for certain procedures. Until one day a man named Jacques Chaoulli fought for a change in Canada??™s healthcare after on of his patients George Zeliotis, was forced to wait almost a year for a hip replacement, because there was no other option available at the time. Chaoulli argued that his patient ought to have the right to pay for private health insurance to cover the costs of a procedure done in a private facility. In the end Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin and Justice John Major stated: ???The evidence in this case shows that delays in the public health-care system are widespread, and that, in some serious cases, patients die as a result of the waiting lists???. After this ruling, Jacques Chaoulli went down in history as being the ???first domino that has fallen???, starting the process of change and revolutionizing healthcare across the country (Page 2 paras. 1, 3 & 5). This change would make more private healthcare options available, making shorter wait times in exchange for upfront payment and possibly shortening public healthcare wait times due to people opting out to the private options. (Shimo, 2006) Private healthcare will shorten waiting lists and line ups, but for a specific cash price, out of the pockets of the patient receiving treatment. There is another watershed moment with new Copeman Healthcare facilities opening in major cities which will allow Canadians to pay for quicker, better access to family doctors, on call nurses and other medical professionals. These services will be available for an initial fee of $3,500 person and $2,300 for subsequent years, Don Copeman sees a huge potential for people who don??™t have a family doctor, which is estimated at 1.4 million. Some other advantages of this system would be doctors that have more one on one time with their patients, enabling better service and more understanding. The downfall of this is, if the people cannot afford the cost, they will not get the care from the private system (paras. 2 & 5). This will definitely attract impatient patients, who have money to afford the services and could possibly be better for the public system, by taking a small, richer population away to the private system, and in return leaving more room and availability in the public system.
Obviously both healthcare systems have positives and negatives attached to their services, but it also depends on how individuals look at their current situation. Time will tell which system will be dominant in Canada??™s future, right now it is definitely not healthy and in need of a huge change. The private system may take control and make the change needed. If the government takes certain healthcare issues more seriously, considers some expansions and financial adjustments, Canada could have a sustainable Medicare system with better service. Also, if citizens of Canada don??™t speak, the government is less likely to hear the concerns involved in our country??™s health care. We must do our part as citizens and speak our voice, no one will hear if we don??™t make a sound. If we must take matters in our own hands, Jacques Chaoulli showed us that citizens do have the option, and we can make the changes we need to become a country with a healthy healthcare system!