We must take a tough and honest look at the serious flaws in our healthcare system across the country.
A shocking report reveals that a patient in Ontario was given an absurd 4.5 YEAR long wait to get a neurologist appointment.
As reported by CTV, “When Dr. Joy Hataley, a family practice anesthetist in Kingston, Ont., recently tried to send a patient to a neurologist at the Kingston General Hospital, she received a letter from the specialist’s office telling her that the current wait time for new patient referrals is 4.5 years.”
Dr. Hataley shared a photo on Twitter of the letter:
— Dr. Joy Hataley (@JoyHataley) November 1, 2017
The report also notes that “In her nearly 20 years of experience working in family practice, operating rooms and emergency rooms, she has had countless discussions and meetings with government officials and other health care providers about wait times. And they all seem to be going nowhere, she said.”
This is just one of many examples of insane wait times across the country, and shows how broken our healthcare system is – despite the efforts of politicians to make it seem like the greatest thing in the world.
The tough truth is that our system is far behind many countries. According to the Commonwealth Fund – a research foundation – Canada’s healthcare system is 9th out of the 11 richest countries on earth. Only France and the US have worse healthcare than we do among those countries, while we lag behind Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
Of course, what our politicians do to distract from the broken healthcare system is focus solely on our comparison with the United States, leaving out all the many nations that are beating us.
Universal coverage & public provision are not the same thing
One of the biggest problems with our healthcare system is the lack of innovation – which has been caused by how politicians have purposefully manipulated perceptions of the public system. They have conflated the idea of universal insurance and public healthcare provision. However, having all healthcare publicly provided is not necessary to ensure universal access.
For example, Australia guarantees all of their citizens free (paid with taxes) access to public hospitals, while there is also a strong private healthcare system in the country. Doctors (even in public hospitals) are mostly private. Those who chose to use the public system are assigned a doctor by the government, while those who pay can pick their doctor. Elective surgery is also heavily private. However, the government provides generous subsidies for private insurance, and as pointed out above, the public system is free.
As a result, Australia has managed to guarantee full universal access to healthcare with a combination of private and public provision. They also rank far ahead of Canada in the strength of their healthcare system.
The private sector can be effective alongside a public system because the profit motive generates stronger innovation and more efficiency. However, the flaw in private healthcare is that a fully privatized system would leave some people out.
So, the balance has been found in countries like Australia – encourage innovation and efficiency by creating room for a private healthcare sector, while making that sector affordable and also ensuring full universal access through a public system.
That is the direction Canada should go in, and it already happens under the surface (particularly in Quebec), but our politicians are too stuck in the myth they’ve perpetrated that anything short of 100% public provision would mean an American-style healthcare system, totally ignoring the nations that provide a public-private mix and give their citizens much better healthcare than we do.
It’s time for us to take a look at what countries like Australia have done to create healthcare systems that work better than ours, learn best practices, let go of failed myths, and finally provide Canadians with what we all deserve: The best healthcare in the world.
That will require something sorely missing from politics these days: Courage.
Photo – Twitter