Dr. Andy

Reflections on medicine and biology among other things

Friday, June 10, 2005

Canadian health care

Boy, reading the NEJM, BMJ and Lancet, I thought Canada was a medical utopia where everyone had free, efficient care at an overall cost much less than that of the United States. I guess not:

The Canadian health care system provides free doctor's services that are paid for by taxes. The system has generally been strongly supported by the public, and is broadly identified with the Canadian national character. Canada is the only industrialized county that outlaws privately financed purchases of core medical services.

But in recent years patients have been forced to wait longer for diagnostic tests and elective surgery, while the wealthy and well connected either sought care in the United States or used influence to jump medical lines.

The court ruled that the waiting lists had become so long that they violated patients' "life and personal security, inviolability and freedom" under the Quebec charter of human rights and freedoms, which covers about one-quarter of Canada's population.

"The evidence in this case shows that delays in the public health care system are widespread, and that, in some serious cases, patients die as a result of waiting lists for public health care," the Supreme Court ruled. "In sum, the prohibition on obtaining private health insurance is not constitutional where the public system fails to deliver reasonable services."

The case was brought to the Supreme Court by Jacques Chaoulli, a Montreal family doctor who argued his own case through the courts, and George Zeliotis, a chemical salesman who was forced to wait a year for a hip replacement while he was prohibited from paying privately for surgery

3 Comments:

At 9:48 PM, Blogger ollie said...

The World Health Service rates Canada and the US in the 30-40 range, with the US being something like 37-38 and Canada being 30.

France, which has a mixture of private and free public health care is rated 1'st.

As far as Canada: no one claimed that it is utopia, but at least your kid breaking an arm isn't going to bankrupt someeone over there.

The US is probably better if you get really, really sick and if you have private health insurance so you can afford to get things checked out in time.

The US is also probably much better for the weathliest among us..like say, M. D.'s? :-)

For the poor and for those who lack health insurance, things are very different.

 
At 9:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nah, if you get "really, really sick" in Canada, you'll get help right away-and the elective hip replacement surgeries will be pushed back another day.

 
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