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The Death of the Canadian Model

Posted By Russ Roberts On February 26, 2006 @ 2:57 pm In Health | Comments Disabled

Proponents of single-payer health care reform in the United States have long pointed toward Canada as a model for the US to emulate.

The New York Times reports [1] that the Canadian system is imploding.  A recent Candian Supreme Court decision allowed private health care (oh, the shame, the horror) and as a result, Canadians tired of waiting for radiation therapy, eye surgery and hip replacements have turned toward private alternatives springing up under the new legal environment.

The Times reports:

Canada remains the only industrialized country that outlaws
privately financed purchases of core medical services. Prime Minister
Stephen Harper and other politicians remain reluctant to openly propose
sweeping changes even though costs for the national and provincial
governments are exploding and some cancer [2] patients are waiting months for diagnostic tests and treatment.

But a Supreme Court ruling last June — it found that a Quebec
provincial ban on private health insurance was unconstitutional when
patients were suffering and even dying on waiting lists — appears to
have become a turning point for the entire country.

"The
prohibition on obtaining private health insurance is not constitutional
where the public system fails to deliver reasonable services," the
court ruled.

The key paragraph:

The country’s publicly financed health insurance system — frequently
described as the third rail of its political system and a core value of
its national identity — is gradually breaking down. Private clinics are
opening around the country by an estimated one a week, and private
insurance companies are about to find a gold mine.

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[1] reports: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/26/international/americas/26canada.html

[2] cancer: http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/health/diseasesconditionsandhealthtopics/cancer/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier

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