Trying to open our blinkered minds

The head of the Canadian Medical Association wants Canadians to learn from European mixed public/private (Oh my God! Two tiers!!!) health care systems:

It’s time for good ideas to trump ideology: CMA
Transformation, not reformation.
CMA President Robert Ouellet delivered that blunt three-word prescription for the health care system when he addressed the Economic Club of Canada today.
“Reforming the system has not worked,” Ouellet said in a speech that was built around his recent fact-finding tour of five European health systems. “We need to transform our system and to do this we need an attitude shift, just like the North American automobile sector is experiencing.”
Ouellet said the current recession provides the perfect time to try something new.
“If our health care system was a business, we’d be on the verge of bankruptcy. We spend more than we can afford, we are inefficient, we don’t provide timely service to our patients, and we are unwilling to change to meet new global realities.
“In my assessment, Canadians are not getting the proper return on their investment. Our governments are spending $172 billion a year on health care, but we have little or no idea how effective our investment is.”
Ouellet described his recent trip to the UK, Belgium, Denmark, France and the Netherlands as “an eye-opening experience. Wait times of two weeks for a hip replacement in France. FP offices in Denmark that are networked online to pharmacies so that prescriptions go directly from doctor to pharmacist. Believe it or not, same-day appointments to see a GP or specialist in Belgium. These are things we can only dream of in Canada.”
He pointed to several major differences between the Canadian and European systems:
– Europeans face short or even no wait times, yet spend less on health care than Canadians.
– In Europe there is “solidarity against suffering,” which means two things: a commitment to ensure not only equal but also timely access to care for everyone.
– European systems make use of the private sector but firmly enforce the principle that no citizen goes without care.
– The interchange between public and private systems is “almost organic” and the patient’s need – “not ideology or cash” – determines how and where care is provided.
“When will we realize that building a better system does not mean doing away with our commitment to ensure every Canadian has the right to health care, regardless of ability to pay?” he asked. “And when will we realize that transforming our system is not code for ‘going American’?”
Ouellet argued that if Canada’s current economic woes have a silver lining, it is that they will provide the environment that makes transformative change possible.
“Are we going to waste our crisis?” he concluded. “. . . I have a vision of a universal health care system that offers timely access for all, with sustainable funding, a system where ideologies take a back seat to good ideas, a system that uses all solutions and resources available for the good of the patient.”
His speech marked the launch of a campaign to deliver the idea of transformative change in health care across the country. “We will be reaching out to Canadians for input,” he concluded, “and with that input we will be able to formulate a plan to make real change in our health care system.”

Sadly, fat chance, say I.
Mark C.
Update: From Raphael Alexander:

Fear. That’s what the problem is. People are afraid of any word that begins with “private” for fear that we will somehow morph into an uncaring society in which the poor are unable to afford health care. But how long can Canadians spend $5,170 per capita [!?!] on health care before we go bankrupt on this socialized system? We need to reform our health care system, and soon. If you really wanted to get serious about “stimulus”, allowing a private system alongside the universal one would alleviate a massive tax burden on the population and free up a lot of money better spent elsewhere.

2 thoughts on “Trying to open our blinkered minds

  1. James Goneaux says:

    As a typical Canadian who was brain-washed that Europe had a similar health-care system to Canada’s, I was amazed when a friend visiting from Finland told me that she was going to see her private doctor when she got back.
    She even could get better service here, as her private health insurance allowed her access where I would have to wait (think: a Toronto Maple Leaf getting a scan without waiting…).

  2. Philanthropist says:

    Canadians worry that rich people won’t suffer if private health care were legal. It’s not ideology, it’s schadenfreude.

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