What's Wrong with Healthcare?

Thinking inside and outside of the healthcare box. After 41 years of family practice, what's happened to Canada's healthcare system?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Canada Health Act, Portability, The First Casualty.

In today’s Calgary Herald and on Rutherford today, Gerry Brissenden, president of the Canadian Snowbird Association criticized the Provinces (and Alberta in particular) for its policies pertaining to traveler’s medical coverage. For all intense and purposes, they don’t cover you. This, as pointed out by Mr. Rutherford, contravenes Canadian Law.
It should be pointed out that: 1) This has not always been the case, and 2) all travelers are affected, not just snow birds. When we first enjoyed our Universal Health Care system in the 1970’s people were covered for acute illnesses that occurred when traveling abroad, but as time went on, and our access to resources in Canada diminished, people began having procedures done in the U.S. that did not represent an Acute Event; in other words, having medical issues attended to that were of a more chronic, but urgent nature, and that they had lengthy waits for in Canada. Snowbirds, being primarily a geriatric population who were impacted most by waiting lists, were the worst offenders.
From the Provincial Government’s perspective, they saw this as an opportunity to decrease their health care costs, blaming the “queue jumpers”. Accordingly, they all got on the band wagon, and defied Canada Health Act pertaining to “Portability” (Keep in mind, one of the selling points of the Canada Health Act had been “You can travel anywhere in the world, and not worry about your health care coverage”). Not surprisingly, there was not much of a public political backlash from this new policy. Since all provinces got on the bandwagon, and the snowbirds were viewed as a more affluent and privileged group, the general public had little sympathy. Besides, the idea of preventing queue-jumping politically was a winner, as it still is today, by a segment of the population. Using the argument that these procedures were cheaper done in Canada and that money spent for health care is better spent here than in the U.S., there was hardly a ripple of objection to this policy. It should be noted, however, that this was one of the first policies of provincial governments to “ration” health care provision, and contravene the Canada Health Act.
For that matter, I, like many in Canada, do not see this as the biggest problem in our health care system, and frankly, I don’t think that Mr. Gerry Brissenden and the Canadian Snowbirds association have the chance of a snowball in he—of changing things. Granted, by abdicating their responsibilities, the provincial governments have sentenced the very frail and elderly, the poor, and the chronically ill, to be confined to Canada for the rest of their lives, but worse things, at present, are being done to them in our health care system. They could possibly file a class action suit against provincial governments for costs incurred over the years, but voluntarily, provincial governments aren’t going to start paying money to other countries for health care. There just isn’t the political support. They could change the law, but starting to monkey with the Canada Health Act (Federal) could open the door to further changes, and politically to date, that has spelled political suicide. The Canadian Snowbird Association should be grateful that they can obtain insurance to cover events south of the forty-ninth parallel (although that is not true of the frail elderly, chronically ill, and the poor); when they are here in Canada, they have no insurance option for coverage, and will be put in an “ at risk, but treatment not available at present” queue. In an environment of longer waiting lists (risk lists) and more rationing of care coverage (and no availability of insurance), the public has greater things to fear from our Health Care System than lack of travel coverage.


Blogger Lanny said...

Didn't the Supreme Court say that access to waiting lists is not access to healthcare? Does this mean it is the second casualty? Or, as you mentioned, there are alot bigger problems in our system. Perhaps the Canada Health Act is one big casualty.

16/8/06 6:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

please use spell check and make sure that the context of your sentence is clear. E.g. "all intense and purposes" should read "all INTENTS and purposes"

22/6/10 10:57 AM  
Anonymous Viagra Online said...

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9/5/11 10:02 AM  
Anonymous Viagra online without prescription said...

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26/5/11 11:48 AM  

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