Universal health care on the chopping block

It seems logical that if there is a combination of private and public health care delivery, it should be more cost effective, reduce wait times and save taxpayers money.

Then why doesn’t it work in practice?

The answer can be summarized in three words—limited resources and greed.

There is a limited number of doctors, specialists, licensed practical nurses, RNs, LPNs, clinicians and other health care workers.

When running two systems many of these limited resources move to the private sector.

Some for altruistic reasons— the flexibility to better care for their patients and some for the sheer upside potential of windfall financial remuneration.

Eventually, the private health system scoops up most of the upper and middle-class socioeconomic groups, after which governments feel pressured by voters to cash starve the public system and then two very distinct levels of care evolve.

Listening to democratic presidential candidates, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders or filmmaker, Michael Moore, you’d think that Canada was the utopia alternate universe for health care. Of course, that is far from the truth.

The costs of drugs and dental care to Canadians, which is much less than Americans pay, are still far higher than what citizens pay in the other five G-7 countries.

The inconsistency of coverage between provinces is another area that should keep our pride in check.

Then there is the slow-creep of American-style profit-seeking giants moving into our country.

Our stuck-in-the-80s Premier is sending lots of signals that the fall budget will include salary rollbacks for medical professionals and workers with substantial health care budget cuts.

Ironically, we have yet to recover from the cuts to health care made in the 1980s that created a shortage of family doctors and led to long and longer wait lists.

The privatization of senior care facilities never did catch up to the demand.

Forty years later there is still a huge number of active care beds full of seniors waiting for placement. And let’s not muddy the discussion, as I’ve heard people do, with examples of the public-private health care delivery models in the Scandinavian countries and Switzerland.

These four countries arguably have the best health outcomes in the world, but their societies are demonstrably different than Alberta or the United States.

Through high taxes, they invest heavily in the downstream root causes, which is the only effective way to reduce upstream health care costs.

Alberta and the United States cannot deliver such a system to their people because we do not have the same mindset towards the common good and those less fortunate.

Nor do we have the will to invest tax dollars in preventative programs such as housing the homeless, affordable childcare, early childhood education, poverty reduction, addiction programs, suicide prevention, restorative justice, mandatory vaccinations and action on CO2 emissions—all contributing factors to high health care costs.

Successful health outcomes are far bigger than the medical system. These European countries achieve medical miracles through high taxes, social programs and enforced regulations.

Low-tax regimes, such as Alberta, can only deliver an American private-public health care model.

A model that has the worst health outcomes of all first world countries, spends the most tax dollars per capita on health care, pays the highest drug costs, and leaves behind millions without any coverage.

Before Obama Care, 41 million Americans lived without medical coverage, after Obama Care, 11 million and now with Republican tweaks, 22 million.

The number one reason for bankruptcies in the United States is defaulting on medical bills.

So, as our Premier and his pal, Janice MacKinnon, continue to roll out their unimaginative 1980’s agenda, don’t be fooled into thinking the good times of the past will automatically reappear once the deficit is gone.

Circumstances and realities are just not the same as they were 40 years ago.


B. Schimke

ECA Review

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