February 20, 2006


Health invoices good idea, Tory says: Conservative leader pushes patient statements as way to boost grasp of true costs (ROB FERGUSON AND RICHARD BRENNAN, 2/19/06, Toronto Star)

Ontarians need to get it through their heads that health care is pricey and the best way to do it is by sending annual statements showing how much theirs costs, Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory says.

He's reviving an old, but never fulfilled, 1998 plan by the previous Conservative government of Mike Harris to mail those details in hopes of keeping health costs from rising so fast.

"People, I think, in many cases, believe that health care is free," Tory told reporters yesterday at a party conference helping to develop campaign promises for the provincial election coming Oct. 4, 2007.

"It's not free... The more they understand how much procedures and rooms and doctors' visits and emergency visits and so on cost, I think they will have a better understanding."

The problem has been that the government doesn't have the necessary computer systems in place to prepare such statements, a situation that is "shocking," Tory said.

"Visa seems to keep track every month of everything we buy."

Aren't they likely to just be happy that someone else is footing the bill?

The wall comes (slowly) tumbling down (Steven Martinovich, February 20, 2006, Enter Stage Right)

It was a timid step but it would appear that Quebec will be the first province in the nation to allow a role for private health care. According to a proposal contained in a policy paper released by Premier Jean Charest and Health Minister Philippe Couillard last week, private insurance and delivery would be permitted for a limited range of services -- namely hip, knee and cataract surgery. Under the proposal, hospitals in the province will be allowed to subcontract those surgeries to private clinics in order to meet guidelines for timely care contained in legislation that has yet to be introduced.

"We're putting the private sector to work for the public. We have chosen to maintain, as a principle, a public health care system in which the private sector can play a role in support," stated Charest.

In truth Charest's hand was a bit forced after a Supreme Court ruling last June in Chaoulli v. Quebec which declared that prohibitions against private health care were ideologically based and that "an absolute prohibition on private insurance is necessary to protect the integrity of the public plan" had no basis in fact. The court declared that forcing patients to wait lengthy periods of time for both minor and major procedures was a violation of their right to security.

As timid as Quebec's step was, it opens the door yet further for the introduction of a private health care system in this country, one of only three on the planet -- the others being North Korea and Cuba -- that refuse to allow a private or parallel system.

Such proud company.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 20, 2006 9:57 AM
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