What Is Wrong With Our Canadian Healthcare System?

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BY ALLISON BROWN

Canadians have always felt that they have one of the best healthcare systems in the world.  However we are ranked 10th out of 11th by the Commonwealth Fund. Our Minister of Health Ms. Jane Philpott recently concurred as well.  I read a very interesting article about the five things wrong with our healthcare system and I will use this article written by Kathleen O’Grady and Noralou Roos of The Globe and Mail to comment on those five issues.

Kathleen O’Grady and Noralou Roos stated that, “doctors are selfemployed, not government employees which means that patients are free to choose which doctor they wish to visit, and are entitled to essential physician health services without charge. Self-employed affords them the ability to determine their own hours and work location.  They are responsible for paying their employees, for office space and other overhead expenses. Doctors earn money by billing their provincial government for the services they render to patients.

“Canada has 15 different healthcare systems for each of the provinces and territories. The Canada Health Act outlines the basic tenets for healthcare to be universal and accessible for essential physician and hospital health services across the country. However, the details of how each system operates is under the provincial prevue and additionally, the federal government has responsibility for Aboriginal and Veteran healthcare” as stated by Kathleen O’Grady and Noralou Roos.

In their article Kathleen O’Grady and Noralou Roos, noted that, “funded healthcare services are not provided equally across the country as there is variation across provinces for what is considered an “essential health service” — and even who delivers the care or where care is delivered. For example, some provinces, including British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec, pay for births delivered by licensed midwives, while several provinces and territories do not. Eligible funded therapies for autism vary widely across the country.  

User fees charged to patients are not permitted because insured services (something already covered by the publically funded health system) should not be charged. But some physicians get around this by charging “annual fees” as part of a comprehensive package of services they offer their patients. Such charges are completely optional and can only be for non-essential health options, also noted by Kathleen O’Grady and Noralou Roos

And finally, Kathleen O’Grady and Noralou Roos, pointed out that, “Canada does not truly have a “single payer” system meaning a significant portion of Canadian healthcare comes from both public and private financing Canada has extensive public financing for essential physician services and hospital care — among the highest rates in the world. But most Canadians have to pay for eye and dental care out-of-pocket, and more than 60 per cent of prescription medications are paid for privately in Canada”.

As the close of 2016 approaches, what an opportunity Canada has to innovate its healthcare system.  The healthcare system requires a fresh new approach to challenges that have been existing over decades.  The system needs to address a national pharmacare program, a national senior’s, mental health, and housing strategy to name additional items to the above issues.

We do not have to reinvent the wheel, we can look to many other nations and borrow what works well with some fine-tuned tweaks of our own.  We need the will of those in power to take a chance and see old situations with a fresh perspective.

2017 should be an opportunity for improvement not only in healthcare, but on all governmental fronts.  Healthcare is a very expensive proposition and requires a renewed vision.  What that vision will look like depends on the collective heads of those in power.  Let’s hope that the vision includes all Canadians and promotes equity and access across the nation.

This article is dedicated to all the readers of this past year and the coming year.  Thank you for your continued support and may your experiences with the healthcare system be positive.

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