Thursday, December 21, 2006

Canada Needs Public Medicare

Last Monday (Dec. 18), the Fraser Institute, a right-wing think-tank, released a report (How Good is Canadian Health Care?) about how Canada is not getting enough from its publicly funded medicare system, and how we should have private health care. They also say that we're spending "an awful lot of money" on health care, but we're not getting enough value out of it. The report also ranks Canada in things such as infant mortality, years of life lost to disease, etc. Finally, it recommends that Canada allow us to pay for a portion of health care expenses to improve health care delivery.

My first question: Why would we get better value from our health care system if it's private? How can adding corporate profits into the mix make the system more affordable? I do not see how that is possible.

I totally agree that allowing us pay for a portion of health care expenses would make a faster and improved system. All of the people who don't have much money would be out of the system. Only the middle and high income class would be able to access it. But is this where we want to go? Charging people to have access to doctors and nurses? We would become like the U.S., where there are at least 50 million people who don't have health insurance.

My second question: How would infant mortality rates go down with this plan? Well, less children who lived in middle/high-class homes would die, because there wouldn't be as much time to wait (as long as the parents can pay). But what about poor and low-income parents and their children? They would have to wait even longer for care, or have to go very deep into debt (that is if they qualify for a loan) just to pay for health. Health is a right! Nobody should ever be denied health care just because they didn't make it into business or law school. That is one reason we are different from the U.S., because here we actually care about the lower class. The only people who would benefit from private health care would be the corporations which charged the large profits, and those who could pay, because they would get prompter health care. But we don't want a society were the higher class is healthier, they are not better people than the poorest people in Canada.

Many people say that we should have a two-tiered system, where you could wait longer for public, free health care, or pay for a faster service. But there are problems with this:
1. People who cannot afford to pay will have to wait even longer. Most doctors will give preference to people who will pay them personally, as they will make more money. In this situation people who cannot pay will only be granted health care if there is a time slot that they cannot fill with someone who will pay.
2. Less services would be available through public medicare. People who choose to pay for health care out of their own pocket will probably have to pay less taxes, as they are no longer a 'burden on the system'. And because the public system will get less money, they will not be able to buy better facilities and equipment, so those who cannot pay, again, will be second-class citizens.
If you have any other problems that you would like to say about a two-tiered system, please put them in the comments section, and I might add them here

The best way to improve our health care system is to keep it public, and available to everyone, but put more money into it to lower wait times, hire more nurses and doctors, lower medical school tuition, build more facilities, and get better and more equipment. The problem is that Liberal and Conservative governments do not do this, but we need to work hard to ensure that we have better health care, for all!

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