Saturday, November 06, 2010

Canada: Healthcare: Market Watch points out that privately-financed healthcare is wedging into the Canadian system

A lot of insulting direct at the USA occurs in Canada; when Americans take to insulting Canadian, it also comes as little surprize.  But when I find it coy and cute in a noozhorse that has little warrant to run pejoratives against the nearest neibor, the practice rankles, as does that going in the other direction.  At the end of the blockquote that follows, you'll perhaps notice the source of m+ pique.

Oct. 19, 2010, 2:44 p.m. EDT·CORRECTED

Canada’s public health care at crossroads

Private medicine makes inroads as nation struggles with long waits

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By Russ Britt, MarketWatch
A previous version of this story gave an incorrect name for the Canadian Healthcare

Association. The story has been corrected.
GATINEAU, Quebec (MarketWatch) — Just across the Ottawa River from the Parliament building, the seat of Canada’s government, Linda Irving is defying her nation’s 45-year-old health-care system.
Irving is concerned about abdominal pains she’s had for a few months, and skittish about the four-month wait her sister-in-law endured before recently undergoing kidney cancer surgery.
So she isn’t taking any chances. Irving is “jumping the queue” and paying $750 for her own magnetic resonance imaging at a privately run clinic in Gatineau, just inside Quebec and not too far from her home in Ottawa.
“I’ve had an issue for the last few months with swollen glands. It’s something that’s been bothering me,” Irving said. “I know if I were to wait for one on the Ontario side with the public [system], it would take several months.”

Long wait in Canada for health care

If you're a Canadian seeking non-urgent medical treatment, the waits can be legendary. But most residents north of the border say they wouldn't trade their health-care system for anything. MarketWatch's Russ Britt reports.
Each Canadian province manages its own health care, and so Quebec allows its citizens to pay for some private procedures such as MRIs. Irving’s home province of Ontario forces residents to wait up to a year to get the imaging done under Canada’s government-run insurance program. So she’s engaging in what some call “medical tourism.”
Irving’s case is emblematic of the debate currently going on inside the U.S.’s neighbor to the north: whether to introduce more privatization into the Canadian health-care system that has been a source of national pride for nearly half a century.
Just as the U.S. is rethinking the way it handles health care, Canada is re-examining over the next four years how to maintain the system that provides medical treatment for all regardless of income.

A new accord

The country wants to reformulate the network in an effort to cut back on wait times and medical tourism. In 2014, the nation of 34 million people is set to write a new health “accord,” renewing the pact it signed in 2004, and is expected to further address Canadian health-care shortcomings. Read more on Canada's limited health care opportunities.
Privatization is inching its way into the system, as evidenced by treatment centers that are beginning to pop up in the nation’s eastern province of Quebec as well as British Columbia in the west. The heartland province of Alberta also is questioning the status quo.
Meanwhile, Canada’s provinces are struggling with their tax structures, hoping the funds they devote to health care can keep up with a rapidly aging population and skyrocketing medical costs. In Ontario, medical costs eat up close to 50% of all provincial revenue.
But the nation as a whole seems fiercely devoted to the concept of free health care for all. Just as President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats are under fire from Republicans in the 2010 election season for trying to remake the U.S. health-care system, a radical revamping of Canada’s system could draw fire for members of Parliament.
“It’s a lose-lose situation when you talk about health with the feds. They know it’s such an intrinsic value in this country. No one wants to give up universal care. We don’t want to be like the United States, frankly,” said Pamela Fralick, chief executive of the lobby group Canadian Healthcare Association.
Still, just as some in the U.S. are wondering whether a little more governmental influence might help to bring down costs, Canadians are contemplating whether help from the private sector could aid in the daunting battle to reduce wait times for MRI screenings, hip and knee surgeries and cataracts treatments, to name a few.

Pain management

Dr. Jeffrey Turnbull, president of the Canadian Medical Association, acknowledges that, yes, there have been isolated incidents in which patients waiting for treatment have died. And many others with waits imposed upon them endure months of significant pain.
“That is common. I’m the chief of staff of [Ottawa] Hospital. That discomfort and pain, I see that daily,” Turnbull said. “Is there a health-related cost to wait times? Absolutely.”
For residents of Canada’s vast rural regions, the process is even more onerous. They often find themselves waiting months to see a specialist, then several more months if an MRI is needed. After that is another wait for diagnosis and treatment.
Each medical-related trip may involved hundreds of miles of travel for rural residents. Canada is the world’s second largest nation in square miles, but its population is roughly one-tenth that of the U.S. And 80% of its population lives within 100 miles of the U.S. border.
“It’s so sensitive, so hot. That’s why I say, it’s a lose-lose situation. No one wants to go there because it polarizes people. It’s so divisive,” said the health-care association’s Fralick. “The good news is, if you get sick, you’re going to be looked after. You might not get everything. But you’re not going to die on the street.”

Hospital crowding

Balancing free health care with the needs of its people, though, is becoming more difficult for Canada. The frigid nation is finding many of its hospitals overcrowded and there is a question of whether those who need to be admitted actually will.

 I found m+self suddenly reading the word "frigid" in this context, and asked m+self Wh+?  The word can mean "cold", "unable to enjoy sexual intercourse", or "a state of mind that is frozen" and that cannot change incrementally but must be repressively unchangeable until change of mind and perhaps of heart too, explodes and rev+zes itself in a total transformation, wordview shift, or (in the sc+ences) a paradigm shift (Thomas Kuhn).  On a more mundane level, it's a learning style with its problems, as all learning styles have their problems -- since they're glued to the individual's basic psychocognitive patterns.  Thanks for the article, author Russ Britt; but really, Russ, coudn't you specify or skip the cute and annoying deployment of nawty adjectives -- in this case, an adjective that coud be read as xenophobic.  On the other hand, for all I know, Russ, you're a Canadian, and the Lord knows we have too much Canadian national self-hatred up here.  That's bothersome too.  And that's a source of the hatred of America that abounds among many, as a compensation technique of the psyche perhaps.

Click the headline to read more of Britt's article, if you're interested further.

-- EconoMix

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