A good piece on the private-public heathcare debate and issues by André Picard in the Globe.
Interesting being in Geneva and experiencing some of the advantages (faster care and more comfortable hospitals) and disadvantages (administrative complexity for healthcare providers and patients). And apart from the hospital amenities (food, room decor), my lymphoma and stem cell treatment in Ottawa compares very well with cancer care here in Geneva. Quote:
All this is to say the debate over the role of private delivery of care and private insurance is complex and emotion-laden.
The fundamental issue, however, is whether individual rights trump those of the collectivity.
A single-payer system like Canada’s ensures “free” care to all, but often the result is some rationing, some waits.
The alternative is to offer much more choice but ration access based on wealth: Those with money or private insurance get care more swiftly.
As a result, the argument is often caricatured as rich versus poor, or capitalism versus socialism. Invariably, someone will point to Europe and say: They have two-tier health care there and it works. True, but they have far more regulation than Canada, and private insurance is often the norm not the exception.
The complicating factor in Canada is that the prohibition on private insurance applies only to hospital and physician services. Why are we allowed – sometimes even obliged – to buy private insurance for prescription drugs, eye care, dental care, home care, nursing-home care, etc. – but not for surgery and doctors’ visits?
The logic has been lost somewhere. Worse yet, we have opted to stick our heads in the sand rather than debate these issues openly.