Angry Doctor

Monday, February 13, 2006

No "two-tier" please, we're Canadian

I had the chance to have a better read through the article I took the statistics for my previous post from over the weekend.

This bit in particular caught my interest:

"In Canada, where the single-tier health care system is mandated by law, increasing numbers who are frustrated by the growing waiting lists for surgery simply cross the border to the United States to buy more responsive, private health care." (emphasis mine)


A search on google brought me to this site, which looks official enough but doesn't actually tell you who owns it, so do look up other sites to check the facts.

Anyway, the site tells us that:

"Under the health care system, individual citizens are provided preventative care and medical treatments from primary care physicians as well as access to hospitals, dental surgery and additional medical services. With a few exceptions, all citizens qualify for health coverage regardless of medical history, personal income, or standard of living."


"While the health care system in Canada covers basic services, including primary care physicians and hospitals, there are many services that are not covered. These include things like dental services, optometrists, and prescription medications."

Sounds fair enough - it's free, covers the basics, but no frills. Yet the twist in the tale is this:

"Under federal law, private clinics are not legally allowed to provide services covered by the Canada Health Act. Regardless of this legal issue, many do offer such services.

The advantage of private clinics is that they typically offer services with reduced wait times compared to the public health care system. For example, obtaining an MRI scan in a hospital could require a waiting period of months, whereas it could be obtained much faster in a private clinic.

Private clinics are a subject of controversy, as some feel that their existence unbalances the health care system and favors treatments to those with higher incomes."

So I guess if you had a non-urgent condition which was covered under the Canadian Health Act, you most probably have to wait a long time before you can get it treated.

And if it was not covered by the Canadian Health Act, you most likely have to pay a premium to get it treated.

I guess that's a Catch-22 situation right there.


  • Here in Oz, to compare, we have a public, taxpayer funded health system that is supposed to provide "all services".

    But with the growth of medical technology, the need to over-investigate due to litigation risk, and the aging population with associated greater health risks, we have developed into a two tier system. Especially for non-acute services.

    Waiting lists are an example - if you need a joint replacement, you will wait 6. 12 , 18 months in the public system. In the private system, you might wait till next week.

    Health care providers (doctors, nurses, dentists, physios and so on) all earn a lot more in the private system. So they are often enticed by the dollars into leaving - especially the better ones, who are headhunted by private hospitals and clinics. So there is a growing difference in the standard of care as well.

    Me, I find this disturbing. But that's my two cents. I am surprised to hear of the troubles in Canada...I had a job offer I almost took up some time back...being a desert creature, the fear of clod detereed me ;=)

    Mind you, one appeal of a limited private system is that those who can afford to, remove a degree of burden from the public system. Some would argue in favour of means testing for access to non-urgent healthcare as a way of better allocating limited resources.

    By Blogger Dr Dork, At February 13, 2006 11:44 pm  

  • How about the healthcare system adopted by the kiwis?

    I'm impressed by the attitude of the kiwis (well at least those small sample of kiwis I know), when it comes to healthcare. As Patients, they are knowledgeable and independent than their S'porean counterparts.

    The NZ tax rates are slightly lower than Canada and AU.

    Here's a Canadian doctor's relection on the 2 systems:

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At February 14, 2006 1:23 pm  

  • Thanks for link (medical post)

    By Anonymous Cadieux and Langevin, At October 16, 2015 5:15 pm  

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