NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 23, 2009

Canadians have a health care system that should be the envy of no one, says Investor's Business Daily (IBD).  It's not free, it's funded by taxpayers, and it isn't truly universal.  Two Canadian Supreme Court justices made this clear three years ago when they concluded that "access to a waiting list is not access to health care."

Delayed treatment in an overused system has been the root of much unnecessary suffering, says IBD:

  • To prevent premature deaths and the needless misery that are hallmarks of Canadian care, the British Columbia Automobile Association began offering waiting-list insurance to some of its members in August as part of a pilot program.
  • Those who bought the coverage would receive treatment in a private clinic in British Columbia or the United States if they were placed on a government care waiting list longer than 45 days.
  • The program, which took two years to develop, never got beyond the pilot phase, however.
  • The association shut it down when critics howled and government officials checked to see if such a program was actually legal in Canada.

"This is an example of a company that's actively soliciting for clients that have the ability to pay for the privilege of queue-jumping," said Adrian Dix, a member of B.C.'s Legislative Assembly.  "In my view, and in the view of the legal opinion that we obtained, it is illegal, and it violated both provincial and national health legislation."

It's hard to understand why an elected official, or anyone else, would knowingly trap people in a system that can't take care of the public it is expected to serve.  Yet there are many Canadians who would, in the name of "fairness" and "equality," deny others' right to take care of themselves outside of the collective.  They are outraged that some of their countrymen could escape the agony of the waiting lists while others languish in the bureaucratic wreckage, says IBD.

But the real outrage, to quote Brian Day, former director of the Canadian Medical Association, should be that a government would actually force "a citizen in a free and democratic society to simply wait for health care, and outlaw their ability to extricate themselves from a wait list."

Source: Editorial, "Canadian Patients Feel Wait Of The World," Investor's Business Daily, October 23, 2009.


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