Premium paid services in our Health Care system? What do you think Canada? Cornwall Ontario – September 9, 2010

Cornwall ON – Alberta is making noise about health care.   Since the Federal government downloaded health care to the provinces Quebec, Alberta, and BC seem to make the most waves as to how to administer health care as they face the costs.

Recently Quebec announced it was going to discuss public assisted euthanasia.    Quebec also has a burgeoning and thriving private health care industry.  Turn on a radio station in Montreal and you will hear ads for services.  Turn one on in Ottawa and you’ll hear invites to cross the bridge for MRI’s.

If you need surgery or testing in Quebec and don’t wait until you possibly die there are private services and I know someone here in Cornwall that rather than suffer in pain may have their hip surgery done privately in Quebec.

And we haven’t even scratched Medical tourism where thousands of Canadians every year leave for places like Costa Rica or Mexico to have all sorts of processes done from dental work to organ transplants.


Dr. Lloyd Maybaum, a Calgary psychiatrist and incoming president of the Calgary and Area Physician’s Association, says patients willing and wealthy enough to cough up inflated fees for medical procedures should be allowed to jump the queue in the province’s health-care system.

Dr. Maybaum feels that the system should have services available to those that can or want to pay the extra to help support services for those that can’t.    I understand the out rage by many in the system, but after looking at this I find it hard to argue.    The key though is if this is done “properly” and by properly I mean that if the services were in the system and the extra fees stayed in the system.

Right now we’re paying for all that radio advertising these private health care services are pumping out.   The whole raison d’etre for public health care is to remove a lot of the overhead of private health care and keep costs down ultimately for all of us.

I remember being in an emergency ward in Ottawa with a friend who needed a cast.   OHIP covered a standard cast.  If she wanted to pay extra she could have a fancy more modern one.   If the system can offer such services in a fair and productive manner we can keep those health care dollars in the system and provide more services.

Of course that’s a big if.   If those services were offered and none of the monies found their way into more nurses, more beds, more doctors and cleaner and safer hospitals we’d all lose.

What do you think Canada?  Is this a possible solution or a one way ticket down a slippery slope?   You can post your comments below.

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  1. What if all Health Care was private….but the government got sent the bill? Why do we put something as important as our nation’s health system in the hands of bureaucrats and politicians? Allow all hospitals to go private, creating competition in the industry to deliver faster and better services. But all Canadian citizens keep their health card, swipe when they need care, and the hospital forwards the bill to the government. A perfect balance between Privatized and Socialized medicine.

  2. I think it is important to first use appropriate terms. Most publicly funded disease treatments are not “health care.” For the most part health care is not paid for under medicare. While this may seem trivial it is my belief that our societal illusion that unlimited, “free” treatment for diseases will somehow make us healthy is a major cause of our system’s crisis. Research demonstrates that the more treatments we receive, the faster our quality of life declines (even when those treatments are deemed successful).

    That being said, almost all health building services are already privately funded. High quality food, gym memberships and social activities all enhance health, immunity and quality of life yet are not reimbursed by OHIP. As a Cornwall chiropractor I may be biased but studies show the regular long-term use of our services improves immunity, decreases the use of medicines,increases serum thiol levels, decrease colds and flu and generally improve physical, emotional and mental well-being. I am sure other services provide some or all of these benefits, yet like chiropractic and naturopathy are not considered “OHIP worthy.”

    So, it seems that we already have a two-tiered system – a publicly funded disease treatment system and a user funded health creation system. Perhaps this explains the difference in levels of health of the wealthy vs. poor?
    I often wonder what would happen if we shifted the focus of our funding to promoting health instead of dealing with the crises that arise after years of ignoring it. Unfortunately I don’t think that will happen anytime soon as no politician running with that platform could be elected in the current climate.

    I look forward to further exchange and debate on this post.

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