Canadian physicians, like many other Canadians, generally support the country’s publicly funded health care system, which is designed to provide universal access to medical care.
However, despite its strengths, there are some areas where the public system falls short, and there is growing evidence that a combination of public and private health care could help address some of these shortcomings.
One of the main benefits of a mixed system, as seen in countries such as the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Taiwan, is that it allows patients more flexibility and choice.
In these countries, citizens can purchase private health insurance, which gives them access to a wider range of health care services and faster treatment. This can be particularly beneficial for patients with complex conditions or requiring specialized care.
In addition, a combined system can help reduce the overall cost of health care. By allowing a greater role for the private sector, costs would likely be reduced through competition and market forces. Private insurance could help reduce the cost of expensive treatments and procedures, which could benefit patients and the health care system as a whole.
Furthermore, preventive care and medicine is a critical aspect of health care that is often overlooked by the public health care system. Investing in preventive care, such as promoting healthy habits, early screening, and disease management, can help reduce overall health care costs by identifying and addressing health problems before they become more serious and costly to treat.
Public health care is really sick care and does not have the resources or the will to invest in prevention and the promotion of personal health habits that would result in a healthier population and lower costs. Only private health care seems interested or motivated to do so.
A combination of public and private health care systems, where private health care providers are motivated, can play a complementary role to the public health care system by investing in prevention and personalized healthy habits, leading to a healthier population and lower costs.
It’s important to note that the successful implementation of a combined system would need to be done in a way that preserves the very Canadian principles of universality, accessibility, and fairness of the public system.
The government can regulate the private sector to prevent the exploitation of patients, ensure the quality of service, and prevent the creation of a two-tiered system.
While Canada’s publicly funded health care system is a source of pride for many Canadians, some areas fall short.
A combination of public and private health care, as seen in successful models such as the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Taiwan, could help address some of these shortcomings by providing more flexibility in delivering health care.
Jean Paul Brutus is a hand surgeon.