The suggestion that privatizing elements of the health care system, or what some believe to be a direct follow-up from that, a parallel private system, is met with fear and disdain, and a sense that anyone willing to suggest it would be unpatriotic – apparently private enterprise is un-Canadian. I don’t know about the last part, but…
They’re right to object, because it would accomplish nothing.
According to information I have gathered at various times, and reinforced here, a parallel private system would do absolutely nothing to reduce wait times. Looking at systems in Australia and New Zealand, each having two parallel systems, we see the problem with the theory: the public system inevitably bottlenecks, because developing a parallel system doesn’t suddenly mean you have twice as many doctors. You have the same number of doctors, and in an ideal world, they’d be working twice as hard to move the public system along. But the other alternative is obvious. Doctors defect to the private system because they can make more money there.
Hell, the Aussies actually look to our system for answers!
Having said that, I can understand the logic of privatizing some services, particularly those that are not covered by the Canada Health Act – for example, cosmetic surgery. Plastic surgeons provide many necessary services, not the least of which is repairing damaged tissue and restoring appearance after accidents, and so on. Cosmetic surgery, as opposed to plastic surgery, is primarily rooted in vanity, with Joan Rivers being clearly the most horrible example. Plastic surgery is covered by the CHA, cosmetic surgery, except that which corrects physical defects (not wrinkles, for goodness’ sake), is not.
Here’s where I say But…
In order to retain certification as a plastic surgeon, said surgeon must perform a minimum number of surgeries per year, including cosmetic procedures. If they don’t, they lose their ability to practise. So, cosmetic surgery, while not necessary to the patient, is necessary to the surgeon.
These procedures tie up operating rooms unncecessarily, so in this case, I agree that procedures not covered under the CHA are fair game.
And a quick suggestion to eliminate the ‘bed blocking’ (trust me, the CEOs of the District Health Authorities HATE that term) that occurs in hospitals: For goodness’ sake, start discharging people whenever they are well. That means 24 hours a day, folks, like they do in the U.K. If you are sent home at 2 in the morning, isn’t that better than having to spend one more freakin’ minute in the hospital? Releasing people for only one hour a day guarantees that you will have people suffering in the hallways and reinforcing the perception that our health care system is going down the proverbial tubes.
As someone who stood next to the one he loves, getting more anxious as she waited over 24 hours for a bed, during an attack of a serious illness, I know what I’m talking about. I was ready to head upstairs and ‘discharge’ a few people myself.
So, if there is an inclination out there (and I know there is) to describe this as an either-or proposition, not so fast. That’s not the way the system…dare I say it, operates.