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Commentary

Health Monopoly Makes Canada Odd Nation Out
Nadeem Esmail, The Fraser Institute, 8-4-05

Canada’s universal health care system, Medicare, is facing a crisis: too many people wait too long, and sometimes die, before they get the care they need. Still, a recent Canadian Supreme Court decision legalizing the sale of private health insurance in Quebec province has led to a fierce national debate over the supposed inequities of mixing public and private insurance. Esmail, however, points out that many advanced nations that offer universal health coverage rely on market options like private health insurance and privately financed providers to make their systems work more efficiently. For instance,

Germany and Switzerland, two nations who deliver access to care without delays and that have for many years relied on competitive private provision of publicly funded services, are now encouraging patients to choose among competing insurers for their publicly guaranteed care. …
There is no single solution to all of Canada’s woes. However, in the interests of all of Canada’s patients we should look at what others are doing and adopt those policies that work best. This will mean incorporating more competition in the public insurance scheme here in Canada and implementing a cost sharing scheme for publicly funded services. It will also mean allowing patients to seek care on their own terms with their own hard earned resources when they desire to do so, as all of these nations and every other developed nation with a universal access health care program has done.


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