Universal Health Care: The Best Way To Help Others?

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I have often wondered whether the health care system we have here in Canada is truly the ideal health care system. With the Obama administration pushing through Obama care, he has been quoted as saying that he wants every American to have access to health care like we do here in Canada. I can’t help but think that Obama really does not have a clue about our health care system at all. It has become somewhat of a sacred cow. To even suggest that a Canadian citizen should have the right to seek private medical care in this country is blasphemous by many.

A recent article in the National Post discusses a lawsuit that could revolutionize Canadian health care.  A lawsuit has been brought forward by what was previously 5 Patients who could not effectively access the care that was needed. Now only 3 of them are involved as the other 2 have died waiting for care. But they are not the only ones who have suffered through our “universally accessible” health care. In Winnipeg a man dies after 34 hours in emergency waiting room. 

These examples and many others I could site are examples of how our current universal health care is maybe not the best option to truly meet people’s needs. From what I understand Canada is one of only 3 nations in the world that operate a single payee universal health care service. The other 2 being Cuba and North Korea. Given that we live in a very socialist country it is not that surprising that we have that one thing in common with those 2 communist nations. Because it is illegal in Canada to purchase private health care and private insurance the individuals mentioned previously and many thousands like them do not have the option to seek private health care to address their needs.

I love the idea of universally accessible health care. The concept is a wonderful idea that would ensure everyone get the care they need when they need it. Sadly that is not what is happening here in Canada. While people continue to die on waiting lists and in emergency rooms we continue to debate how we are going to improve our health care system without changing the way we deliver health care. We keep saying the solution is more money, doctors, hospitals, beds …. But is that really the solution?  In this country we spend in excess of 211 billion dollars a year on health care. That works out to 5,988 dollars per year per person. That means that the average family is paying 23,952 dollars a year for health care. I am pretty sure that If I could opt out of public health care my family could get health insurance that meets our needs for a lot less than 24,000 dollars a year.  (source http://www.cihi.ca/CIHI-ext-portal/internet/EN/subtheme/spending+and+health+workforce/spending/cihi015954) Throughout history it has been proven again and again when the government has a monopoly on any service the cost of that service rises far beyond what is reasonable. How much longer can we afford to continue down this path.

The heavy cost of our public health care is crushing our system under its own weight and no improvements are in sight. When I think of how Christ asked us to care for the sick and needy I do not imagine he meant for us to bankrupt our selves to stick with an ideal that does not work. How long before out health care system collapses under its own weight and we as a nation wake up and realize that It is just not working and drastic change is needed to ensure that every Canadian gets the health care that they need.

What can we do to change a system that is failing us. How can we ensure that are families are being taken care of and our needs are being met. There is an option which many in this country are too afraid to try. Privatized health care is an option that needs to be looked at. I would not suggest that we eliminate the public health care all together. In fact I think we should keep the current heath care system with some massive changes and overhauls while introducing alternative health care options. If we are to truly care for the sick and afflicted then changes need to be made.

With regard to changes in the public sector health care here are a few ideas that may be able to help out.

1) Eliminate half the management in the system. It is no secret that the bureaucracy within the Canadian health care system is part of the bloated problem that we are facing in what I would call a national health care crisis. There is significantly higher manager to staff ratio in our public health care system than in the their private sector health care counterparts.

We spend millions of dollars per year on management that is completely unnecessary and money that could be better spent on hiring more doctors and nurses. Opening up more hospitals and utilizing the facilities more efficiently than we do now.

2) Hire 3rd party contractors to operate medical machinery such as MRI machines. This is cost-effective and would enable the machines to be used possibly 24/7 drastically reducing wait times for necessary medical testing and treatment. It should not take a medical degree to operate a MRI machine. There is no reason why we cannot hire a 3rd party medical services company to operate medical machinery and then give the doctors the test results to interpret. As it stands currently these machines and other medical equipment are not currently used nearly to the extent that they could be.

This hiring of 3rd party companies could go beyond just running medical machinery. We could contract out all medical services to 3rd parties and have competition for government contracts to deliver health care. Rewards those that provide high quality and efficient services and meet the high standards with more contracts. Actually have hospitals compete with each other. The ones that provide the best services gets more business this way while still being covered under the Canadian health care payee system.

3) Using the cost savings of reduced management build more hospitals. We clearly do not have enough to deal with the demand that we are facing.

As part of this solution we need to bring in Private medical services in this country. Yes I actually said that. Private medical care facilities, doctors and hospitals are needed drastically in this country and there is a market for it. Though I do not remember where I read the stats it is estimate that up to 50,000 + people per year are leaving Canada to seek medical treatment elsewhere. They take 10’s of thousands of dollars and spend it on treatment that is either not offered here or the wait times are excessive and so at their own costs are spending 10’s of thousands of their own money to seek the medical aid that they require. That money could be better spent in the Canadian market getting Canadians access to care they are already paying out of pocket for elsewhere. This has the side effect of creating more jobs and keeping 10’s of thousands of dollars in the Canadian economy instead of of elsewhere.

If we allow Private doctors and investors to set up private hospitals with their own staff and medical equipment It could go a long way to reducing the demand on the public sector. By giving people the choice and freedom to choose who their health care provider is they will have more options and quicker access to services. But not just private health centers and hospitals, allow private 3rd party health insurance plans that can be catered to each individual and family needs rather than the one size fits all ideology that we have now. Allowing people to customize their health care plans to fit them personally Gives them the ability to not just control their medical cost but ensure that they are getting the health service best suited for them personally while still having the public system as a back up if something happens that is not covered under their plan.

There is often much fear about having private hospitals and doctors. The fear is that doctors will not want to work in the public systems or the rich will get medical treatment at the expense of others who otherwise could not afford it. I find this argument to be a red herring and not based in any kind of fact. To me this argument is about as useful as guns kill people so we should ban guns when the guns themselves are not the killer but rather the one pulling the trigger.

Lee Tom Perry once said “The major difference between public and private service is that one relates to the activities of governments or the public sector whereas the other relates to the activities of businesses or the private sector. In the end, however, service is service, and all attempts to distinguish between different kinds of service are somewhat artificial.”

When all is said and done health care services are and should be a service. Because it is a service, as a people we should have the choice on who delivers that service. Only by having the option of public or private for our personal health care needs can we truly ensure that everyone is getting the care they need when they need it. It is through such a system that we can deliver Christ like service in caring for the poor and sick and needy.

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By Andrew McLean Posted in Orginals