Canada’s private clinics surge as public system falters

Canada's publicly-financed health insurance system is gradually breaking down, say observers, and public hospitals are sending to private hospitals growing numbers of patients they are too busy to treat, says the New York Times.

  • Private clinics are opening around the country by an estimated one a week, and private insurance companies soon will find a gold mine.

  • Private doctors across the country continue treating patients, assuming provincial governments will not try to stop them only to face a test case in the Supreme Court.

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other politicians remain reluctant to openly propose sweeping changes, even though government costs are exploding and some cancer patients are waiting months for diagnostic tests and treatment. They claim private doctors drain the public system of doctors and nurses. Yet, most Canadians agree that current wait times are not acceptable, says the Times. Furthermore:

  • Canada remains the only industrialised country that outlaws privately financed purchases of core medical services.

  • The prohibition on obtaining private health insurance is not constitutional where the public system fails to deliver reasonable services.

    Source: Clifford Krauss, Canada's Private Clinics Surge as Public System Falters, New York Times, February 28, 2006.

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    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 14 March 2006
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