Perpetuating the myth of the Medicare monopoly

 

In an April 3, 2016 Toronto Star column, Thomas Walkom claims Canadians regard “universal public health insurance,” i.e., Medicare, to be “an unalloyed asset.” According to The New Oxford Dictionary, the definition of unalloyed is “not alloyed; pure.” http://on.thestar.com/1PUZd9N

If so, why do only 60% of Ontarians agree “our health care system provides excellent value for dollars spent,” according to a Leger poll commissioned by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. Surely the other 40% don’t see the system as “an unalloyed asset.”

Then, there are the estimated 30,000 Ontario residents who physically “opt out” of Medicare each year by travelling to the United States for their medical care.

And, in every province across Canada thousands and thousands of patients wait hours in hospital emergency departments, or wait months for surgery.

A whooping 77% of Ontarians report they “are concerned about the sustainability of our health care system,” according to the Leger research. Their concerns are well founded. Of every taxpayer $1, Ontario currently spends 50 cents on health care; this is projected to be 80 cents several decades from now. The numbers aren’t much better for the other provinces.

More money for the Medicare monopoly means less money for the other programs and services such as affordable housing, low-income support, seniors’ programs, education, infrastructure, environment, etc.

A knee-jerk reaction by opponents of patient choice and timely access is to mumble about two-tiered medicine and the sanctity of the Canada Health Act.  A bit of delicious irony is that the Canada Health Act came into being on April 1 [April Fools Day], 1984 [the title of George Orwell’s famous novel].

Yes, Medicare is very important! But when the monopoly fails, then Canadians deserve to have choice here in their own country. And, in the spirit of Tommy Douglas, taxpayers deserve fiscal prudence and accountability by governments.

 

 

 

Canada’s government-run health care system – Medicare -- is a monopoly that prohibits private hospital and private physician care. Medicare is a subpar performer, ranking 10th among 11 advanced countries. Canadians deserve much better! Patients deserve timely access to quality care and choice of hospitals and physicians. Taxpayers deserve much more value for their tax dollars.

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