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  • Writer's pictureJulie Manley

The Private Health Care debate

I think this is an interesting article. I pulled out a couple of points to make it even more brief:

What motivates patients to use their own money for health-care services from private clinics when a “free” public alternative is available?

The answer is simple—long waits for treatment in the public system.

In 2016, the Fraser Institute estimated that patients could expect to wait 20 weeks between referral from a GP to receipt of treatment—the longest wait ever recorded in the history of the survey, and more than twice as long as in 1993 when the first national estimates were produced. In fact, for some specialties the wait is much longer. For example, patients could expect to wait 46.9 weeks for neurosurgery, 38 weeks for orthopaedic surgery and 28.5 week for ophthalmological procedures.

While some patients may be able to wait for treatment without suffering adverse consequences, many others may be in pain, unable to work or participate fully in their own lives. It’s no wonder some chose to seek alternatives even when fully aware that private treatment for medically necessary procedures are discouraged by provincial and federal governments.

A quick glance at other more successful universal health-care systems such as Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany and Australia reveal that the private sector is a common ally in the delivery of universal care, and co-payments a common expectation of patients (with exemptions and limits for vulnerable populations).

I will add one thing. The wait lists are ridiculous. We see many people worsen in pain, function and quality of life while waiting for a specialist appointment. Shouldn't we be talking about adding some private health care services to help alleviate the public services? Many other provinces have private MRI and CT scans, which allow people to pay privately and therefore decrease the wait list for the public imaging sites. Saskatchewan started this last spring:

"According to legislation, facilities that perform a private MRI scan must also provide a second scan at no charge to an individual on the public waiting list."

Anyway, here is the article I'm referencing:

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