Friday, December 28, 2007

Canadian healthcare - lessons for Britain

In its study of health reform in Britain, the UK’s Institute for the Study of Civil Society (CIVITAS) has researched a number of European and North American medical systems.

The CIVITAS report on Canada makes some very interesting observations:

Lessons for Britain

Like the NHS to Britons, medicare is a quasi-religion to Canadians. Both systems are regularly subject to the claim that they are the best in the world.
Comparison with the US is ... understandable, but unfortunate. Firstly because opinion of US health care is largely based on myth (many Americans believe these myths too)...
Both the NHS and medicare have founding and guiding principles which they systematically fail to meet or abide by. Hence the charge in Canada that everything is free but nothing is accessible".
... three problems within the Canadian single-payer (government) healthcare model. First, accountability is poor and aggravated by the Federal structure. Second, decision-making is politicised. Third, single-payer government control eads to a lack of innovation. These three lead to a lack of responsiveness to patient needs or wants.
Canadian health care is inefficient in that financing (lack of direct payment) does ot encourage users and providers of health care to be accountable ...
Single-payer tax financed healthcare lends itself to rationing.
... poor availability in Canada of advanced medical technology, ...

... On most objective measures the Canadian system at best disappoints, and at worst is simply unacceptable in a wealthy, modern nation, particularly when expenditure is considered.
On an ideological level some might consider the Canadian system attractive, however, the reality is that the Canadian tax-funded single-payer model restricts expenditure to such an extent that healthcare supply far from matches demand.

Not that we didn’t already know most of this - but it’s worthwhile having an outside opinion.

The bottom line lesson for Britain: avoid the Canadian model like the plague! It suffers from many of the same problems as the British NHS. Which leads one to wonder whether Canada’s system has been thoroughly infiltrated by socialist Brits.

There are many lessons Canadian policy makers can draw from other counties. It’s a pity that all we seem to get are ridiculous references and comparisons to "American-style" healthcare. Other CIVITAS country reports are worth a look, particularly the first three listed here: France, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Hungary, Holland, and the USA.


Anonymous said...

Wow, want to know what you really look like? Just ask somebody else cause when you look in the mirror you always see the best features only. (real conservative)

Halfwise said...

Did you have a point to make about the topic? Or was your comment just a routine anonymous ad-hominem attack?

Health care is serious stuff for all of us. I appreciate a health care service that had met my needs so far, but when I look at the trends in the percentage of tax revenues that the Canadian system will be consuming, I wonder where the money will come from for the other programs that we seem to be committed to.

If a system is not sustainable, the rest of its merits don't matter.

Christian said...

Oh my gosh! The evidence is finally, here. What the Canadian right has been saying all along!

I think not.

CIVITAS is a right wing think tank with a documented agenda. Like the Frasier Institute, CIVITAS draws its conclusions from its own political philosophy. Is it any surprise that they find the Canadian system inadequate?

Comments like

"Canadian health care is inefficient in that financing (lack of direct payment) does ot encourage users and providers of health care to be accountable ..."

are wholly subjective and reflect their political stripes. This is NOT objective evidence, this is rhetoric. CIVITAS regularly speaks out against immigration and produces near hysterical, border line racist reports urging a return to a xenophobic Britain.

If you disagree with the Canadian system, fine. But don't present studies like this as "evidence". This is a well formed political statement, nothing more.

JR said...

Halfwise, After a bit of a double-take, I read (real conservative)'s remark as supporting the CIVITAS view. Agree with your points on the sustainability of our system. I too have been reasonably well-treated - maybe because I was 'lucky' enough to be plagued with a heart condition. My neighbour, on the other hand, hobbled around in pain for two years waiting for a hip replacement.

Christian, So what if CIVITAS and the Frasier Institute have "right wing" outlooks? All of the "think-tanks" and others (like Romanow) who support our deeply flawed system are 'left-wing'.

It's ideas, arguments, observations and results that count. What part of CIVITAS's report do you disagree with and why? Did you look at the reports on Switzerland, France and Germany? How do they mangage to provide a high standard of care for all, including the indigent, while at the same time avoiding rationing and wait-lists?

Real debate, unlike ideological finger-pointing, might actually result in some beneficial change.