Monday, March 29, 2010

Canadian health care, like saving the melting snowman

Michael Bliss has a very thoughtful and sobering look at the sustainability of the Canadian heath care system today in the Globe and Mail. He likens care for the sick to keeping a snowman from melting, "the more we succeed at protecting the snowman, the more expensive" the costs.
Professor Bliss offers "no practical panaceas, quick fixes or easy answers". But I love these paragraphs with my emphasis added as he offers up possible solutions:

"Nor are the political gatekeepers of most health-care systems, certainly not Canada's, willing to unleash anything like the cost-reducing force of unrestrained competition in the health-care marketplace. It seems counterintuitive to suggest that flooding the market with doctors, nurses, hospitals and laboratories, all competing fiercely with one another, might actually reduce costs. Although other industries work this way – think about food and housing – free enterprise in health care is an experiment we are deeply afraid to try.
If we can't hold the line on health-care costs, how can we keep on paying? When governments take responsibility for health care, their only options are to raise taxes, run up debt and squeeze spending in other areas. All of this is happening in Canada, with no end in sight."
Read the article for yourself, unfortunately Prof. Bliss makes so much sense he is likely to be ignored. But the words are out there and the idea needs to be spread far and wide.

2 comments:

  1. Interesting. But I don't think I'd very much enjoy trying to gain care from a bunch of companies all trying to cutthroat each other with the cheapest care while still trying to make a profit. I think way too many corners will get cut and way too many people will take shortcuts or again, go back to denying health care based on spurious reasons, all in the interest of squeaking out an extra penny here and there. That is seen way too often in "those other areas" that are mentioned. And what would the answer be? Lots of government regulation and oversight to make sure everyone meets a specified minimum so that people are safer and then you're right back where you started from.

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  2. "I don't think I'd very much enjoy trying to gain care from a bunch of companies all trying to cutthroat each other with the cheapest care while still trying to make a profit."

    I understand what you're saying. But! Insurance companies (and there are many of them) will compete with one another for your premiums. At some point you will find a "deal" that suits you and them. Even bad drivers get car insurance (yes they pay more), people with bad teeth get dental insurance. Further more, competition if allowed amongst medical care providers will lower the costs that insurance companies must pay. I also would not be averse to a gov't welfare subsidy to those whose insurance premiums are prohibitively expensive and who can't pay. That would be more palatable to me than a single gov't payer as is the case in Canada or the mess that is now occurring (and will get worse) in the States.
    The problem is, in the area of health-care we don't trust competition and the free market. We do trust it for most other aspects of our lives. That is what brain washing does.

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