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InvisibleRandalFlagg
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Registered: 06/15/02
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Canada inches toward private medicine
    #4510115 - 08/08/05 12:46 PM (11 years, 10 months ago)

http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20050808/wl_csm/ocanadarx_1


Canada inches toward private medicine

By Rebecca Cook Dube, Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor

Mon Aug 8, 4:00 AM ET


TORONTO - Canadians have long prized their public healthcare system as a reflection of national values, and have looked askance at the inequities of private medical care in the United States.

But now that the Canadian Supreme Court has ruled private health insurers should be allowed to compete with the public system, the future of Canadian healthcare is a question mark.

In the short term, the decision may light a fire under provincial governments to improve chronic problems, especially long wait times for surgeries, tests, and treatments. Some experts believe the ruling could eventually spawn a parallel, private healthcare system here.

"For our government, it's a very strong indictment of the way they've handled the system," says Dr. Albert Schumacher, president of the Canadian Medical Association. "I hope it will move us forward in the debate. 'Private' has always been used by politicians as a very evil word, associated with America and for-profit. But it's not necessarily so."

It all started with a disgruntled doctor, Dr. Jacques Chaoulli, and his patient, George Zeliotis, a retired salesman from Quebec who waited nearly a year for a hip replacement.

In a split decision, the Supreme Court in June found that waiting lists for medical treatments were unacceptably long, causing some patients to suffer or die. The judges struck down a Quebec law banning private health insurance for procedures covered by Medicare. Patients like Mr. Zeliotis should be allowed to go outside the public system and pay for timely medical treatments through private insurance, the court said.

"There are tens of thousands of Mr. Zeliotis out there languishing on waiting lists," Dr. Schumacher says. His patients, for example, go to nearby Detroit and pay out-of-pocket to get CAT scans in six days instead of waiting six months in Canada.

By the end of this year, the federal government has promised to establish benchmarks for "medically acceptable wait times" for treatment of cancer, heart disease, and other ailments. The government is already spending billions to try to reduce waiting lists.

Technically, the court ruling applies only to Quebec, and the court on Thursday granted the government's request to delay its decision for a year. But Chaoulli v. Quebec will eventually ripple through the entire country.

"No minister of health can say, 'We're going to deny you a right that exists in the province of Quebec,' " Monahan says. "As a matter of political reality, it's applicable in all provinces."

The man who sparked this revolution was often dismissed as a gadfly during the years he spent fighting the system. Dr.

Chaoulli once went on a hunger strike to protest fines levied on him for charging fees. Chaoulli represented himself in court, and his rough yet impassioned arguments struck home with the court.

"I am so happy," Chaoulli says. "Sooner or later, the medical monopoly will be stopped."

He predicts the emergence of a private healthcare system existing alongside the public one, as in Australia or New Zealand. Meanwhile, he is busy lecturing conservative US groups about the dangers of socialized medicine.

"Libertarians and conservatives do regard him as a hero," says Michael Cannon, director of health policy studies at the Cato Institute in Washington, a libertarian think tank. "He's going to be a very influential figure moving forward in Canada, in the US, and abroad."

Cannon hopes Chaoulli's victory dampens the ardor for Canadian-style healthcare in the US.

For many Canadians, private healthcare wears the scarlet A - for America.

"There is no political support for American-style healthcare," says Michael McBane, coordinator of the Canadian Health Coalition, a healthcare advocacy group. He says he hopes provinces will toughen laws to prevent private insurers from entering the market.

Allowing people to buy private health insurance violates fundamental rights, McBane says, because not everyone will be able to afford it.

"You can't discriminate based on the size of your wallet on something as important as healthcare," McBane says. "I would say this is an aberration and the democratic process will correct it."

The public appears ambivalent about the ruling. A new poll conducted for the Canadian Medical Association finds that 52 percent of Canadians view the decision "favorably," and even more said it will reduce wait times. But when asked if the ruling would weaken the public system, 54 percent agreed, saying it was "a bad thing."

Allyson Lange, a federal government employee, says she would support a parallel, private health system but doesn't expect dramatic changes.

"There would be too much opposition," Ms. Lange says. "We see a lot of what goes on in the US - people go broke because they have a health issue."


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InvisibletrendalM
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Re: Canada inches toward private medicine [Re: RandalFlagg]
    #4510209 - 08/08/05 01:24 PM (11 years, 10 months ago)

I don't think there will be any problem with allowing access to private health-care on a case-by-case basis...so long as it isn't set up so that people can get private health insurance and then refuse to pay into the public health fund.

Private care should be available on a per-visit fee basis for those who can afford it, but it should always be a secondary system to the primary system of public health care.

For instance I would not want to see public hospitals have to provide their services preferentially to private customers - which would mean even more wait times for those just using the public system. I think that separate private hospitals should be built - on private funds - for those who wish to pay for health care outside the public system. That way they free up a spot in the public system for someone who can't afford treatment out of their pocket.


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Offlinelonestar2004
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Re: Canada inches toward private medicine [Re: RandalFlagg]
    #4510455 - 08/08/05 02:44 PM (11 years, 10 months ago)

"Allowing people to buy private health insurance violates fundamental rights, McBane says, because not everyone will be able to afford it."



"Allowing people to buy private health insurance violates fundamental rights, McBane says, because not everyone will be able to afford it."

i just love that quote.

Allowing people to buy cars, boats, homes, computers, laptops , cell phones, game boys etc.. is a violation of my fundamental rights that someone else can afford it???


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America's debt problem is a "sign of leadership failure"

We have "reckless fiscal policies"

America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership.

Americans deserve better

Barack Obama


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InvisibletrendalM
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Re: Canada inches toward private medicine [Re: lonestar2004]
    #4510546 - 08/08/05 03:18 PM (11 years, 10 months ago)

Quote:

lonestar2004 said:
"Allowing people to buy private health insurance violates fundamental rights, McBane says, because not everyone will be able to afford it."

i just love that quote.

Allowing people to buy cars, boats, homes, computers, laptops , cell phones, game boys etc.. is a violation of my fundamental rights that someone else can afford it???




Here in Canada everyone has the "the right to life, liberty and security of the person" (Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Part 1, section 7). I think most of us would take that to mean that we all have access to the health care we need to maintain the Life which we have a right to maintain.

I think what the quote was trying to refer to was the idea that by allowing someone to buy "private" health care, it could prevent someone else from receiving the health care they have a right to receive.

Obviously if we completely segregate private health care from the public system, no one will be inconvenienced by such a private transaction.

But yeah, as the quote reads, I don't really agree with it either.


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Invisiblelooner2
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Re: Canada inches toward private medicine [Re: trendal]
    #4510612 - 08/08/05 03:41 PM (11 years, 10 months ago)

Canada will continue to privatize as long as it is less then the American system, therefore they can always refer to themselves as the caring, enlightened humanitarians opposed to the filthy capitalistic pigs in the south.


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I am in love with Acidic_Sloth



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OfflineRonoS
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Re: Canada inches toward private medicine [Re: looner2]
    #4510646 - 08/08/05 03:59 PM (11 years, 10 months ago)

You mean mexico?...


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"Life has never been weird enough for my liking"


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OfflineJesusChrist
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Re: Canada inches toward private medicine [Re: lonestar2004]
    #4514732 - 08/09/05 04:39 PM (11 years, 10 months ago)

Quote:

lonestar2004 said:

"Allowing people to buy private health insurance violates fundamental rights, McBane says, because not everyone will be able to afford it."

i just love that quote.

Allowing people to buy cars, boats, homes, computers, laptops , cell phones, game boys etc.. is a violation of my fundamental rights that someone else can afford it???




That was the quote that struck me too. Better to have a system where all people die equally on waiting lists!

The only problem is that you know the truely connected aren't waiting on those lists. If the Prime Minister of Canada needs surgery, he is going ahead of you. So are many others. Like the people that are connected who can get you a "good union job" while other people plying the same trade work for half the wages, connections mean everything.

In the same vein it could be used against people or political opponents. Just bumb them down the list enough and maybe you won't have to worry about them anymore.

With our great success in government housing and government schools, it should be without question that government healthcare would be the pride of America.


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InvisibleRavus
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Re: Canada inches toward private medicine [Re: RandalFlagg]
    #4514969 - 08/09/05 05:49 PM (11 years, 10 months ago)

Issues like this are what make me hesitant to move to Canada, even for a couple years to see what it's like. Public healthcare and other socialist policies seem to be rampant in the seal-clubbing kingdom.


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OfflineBCBudJohn
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Re: Canada inches toward private medicine [Re: Ravus]
    #4515306 - 08/09/05 07:49 PM (11 years, 10 months ago)

Public Health care ensures oppurtunity, which in turn helps everyone. You can't build a society by leaving some folks behind, which is what a ruthless system like the states gets. Not mention it ensures we are getting a fair price for healthcare. I posted a study once that showed US surgeries to be twice the price in the US as it was here in Canada.

Health Care shouldn't be in the hands of a profit-driven market, when the idea is to help people feel better, not rip them off.


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Peace
John


Edited by BCBudJohn (08/09/05 07:50 PM)


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InvisibleRandalFlagg
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Re: Canada inches toward private medicine [Re: BCBudJohn]
    #4515448 - 08/09/05 08:34 PM (11 years, 10 months ago)

Quote:

BCBudJohn said:
You can't build a society by leaving some folks behind, which is what a ruthless system like the states gets.




Poor people and old people get a lot of their medical care paid for in the U.S. Of the 2.5 trillion dollars the federal government spent last year, 1 trillion of it was used to pay for medical care for these people.


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InvisibleSilversoul
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Re: Canada inches toward private medicine [Re: BCBudJohn]
    #4518079 - 08/10/05 02:15 PM (11 years, 10 months ago)

Quote:

BCBudJohn said:
Public Health care ensures oppurtunity, which in turn helps everyone. You can't build a society by leaving some folks behind, which is what a ruthless system like the states gets. Not mention it ensures we are getting a fair price for healthcare. I posted a study once that showed US surgeries to be twice the price in the US as it was here in Canada.

Health Care shouldn't be in the hands of a profit-driven market, when the idea is to help people feel better, not rip them off.



Profit does not equate to "ripping people off." In a free market, competition tends to drive prices down while increasing efficiency. Now, the US likes to think of its system as a free market in medicine, but it's really far from it. What we have is an oligopoly of large pharmaceutical companies, and insurance that has been artificially inflated in price due to government intervention. Ultimately, a free market usually yields better products and services at better prices than you get from the government.


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InvisibletrendalM
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Re: Canada inches toward private medicine [Re: Silversoul]
    #4518117 - 08/10/05 02:27 PM (11 years, 10 months ago)

Ultimately, a free market usually yields better products and services at better prices than you get from the government.

Are there any examples of actual free-markets in medicine/health-care?

If not, how can you make the assertion that a free market "usually yields better products at better prices"?


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InvisibleSilversoul
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Re: Canada inches toward private medicine [Re: trendal]
    #4518186 - 08/10/05 02:48 PM (11 years, 10 months ago)

Quote:

trendal said:
Ultimately, a free market usually yields better products and services at better prices than you get from the government.

Are there any examples of actual free-markets in medicine/health-care?

If not, how can you make the assertion that a free market "usually yields better products at better prices"?



To my knowledge, there has never been a completely free market in medicine, but we can look at a time when we had more of a free market in medicine than we do now. What we find is that as government intervention has increased, the number of people who are insured has decreased. Now, I'm not saying the market's perfect. I think there may be some forms of health care, such as vaccinations, where the societal cost of not providing it may outweigh people's right to personal autonomy.

Of course, some of the most harmful government intervention in medicine has been drug legislation. One of the first drug laws passed in the US required a doctor's prescription for certain medications. Prior to this, doctors and pharmacists competed to provide these medications to customers at competitive prices. By requiring a prescription, the government eliminated much of this competition, at a higher cost to consumers.


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InvisibletrendalM
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Re: Canada inches toward private medicine [Re: Silversoul]
    #4518299 - 08/10/05 03:20 PM (11 years, 10 months ago)

Well I definitely agree with you about the drug legislation!

Back in the day, you used to be able to get high-grade heroin from the pharmacist for pain relief :smirk:


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