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Canadian Health Privatization

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This article provides information about Canadian health privatization.

Privately-run health care services in Canada have always been assumed to exist for the financially well-to-do folk who can pay for it without losing any sleep. Over the years, this trend has gradually shifted.  It has become more of a necessity rather than a preference for many patients to opt for private health care. Health privatization offers an alternative to patients waiting in queue on extensive lists to obtain medical attention in the public sector.

Health PrivatizationMany individuals, who suffer from chronic pain or ailments, have had to put their lives on indefinite hold while waiting for their name to come up in the system, be it to access life-saving medication or to receive a vital, newly-developed treatment that is not available through the public system. Canada’s numerous private medical practices offer their services to everyone, and out-of-pocket disbursement is a compelling investment when it gets you immediate medical care that will restore your good health.

Every year, several billion dollars go toward financing health privatization in Canada. Each new year shows a significant growth spurt in those figures, and analysts expect the rise in cost to continue. Canadians are becoming increasingly affected by the hiccups and limitations found within Canada’s Medicare system, forcing them to consider some private medical care.

The Elective Collective
Medically necessary or not, treatment options have exploded with the expansion and diversity of privately-owned and operated specialty clinics and hospitals. For example, some “for-profit” medical centres offer cataract removal surgery for candidates wishing to divert from the congested public system’s waiting period (avg. 34 weeks), at a price starting from $1500 to $3000 per eye. Other health care treatments available through a private practice include cosmetic surgery (i.e. tattoo removal, breast implantation), laser eye surgery, preventive and cosmetic dental care, as well as pain-easing procedures such as chiropractic and physiotherapy sessions. Certain prosthesis enhancements are also provided, such as hip replacements and hearing aids.

Private Health Care across Canada
Canadian health privatization takes on distinct forms across the country, varying from one province to another. For instance, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island do not supply private medical care, whereas British Columbia and Quebec have been experiencing a major boom in the development of private facilities.

The province of Quebec is the frontrunner for having the most innovative and all-encompassing private health care system in Canada. British Columbia ranks an arguably close second place, having stationed 14 “for-profit” medical facilities wherein the performance of certain surgeries are complicated enough to justify administering a general anaesthetic to the patient. The Atlantic provinces, as well as Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan, have neither private operative clinics, nor private family physician practices. In Alberta particularly, the reason might be that the province boasts the highest per capita financing for public health care in all of Canada, thus reducing the call for additional private services.

In 2004, the Ontario government put a further pinch on the private sector by adopting the “Commitment to the Future of Medicare Act”. This law, using the building blocks of the existing legislation, initiated a province-wide ban on private medical centres from billing patients for any treatments that are otherwise insured under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). However, certain health care services, which the government deems “unnecessary”, such as pain management and alternative healing medicines, are only available through private practices. With the law stating that the government must fund procedures deemed a medical necessity, private health practitioners are being pushed into areas of service outside of this classification.

Restrictions and Convictions
Health privatization in Canada comes with certain restrictions imposed upon physicians and other health care providers. As a rule, doctors are prohibited from performing services deemed medically necessary in both public and private sectors. Also, the provinces are becoming progressively unwilling to hand out hospital licences to physicians working privately within the system. These restrictive laws basically imply that some medical treatments may not be obtainable at all. Consequently, a patient’s well-being is at stake, since most involved surgical procedures have to be executed in a hospital, and privately-run facilities are a scarce commodity.

An increasing number of Canadians are searching for a faster way to ease their suffering, and/or are seeking new alternative treatment options. Thus, in accordance with supply and demand, there will most likely be a continual growth in privately-owned Canadian hospitals and health care companies. With thousands of people waiting in line to be treated, is it any wonder so many are now opting for the private V.I.P. pass? Time isn’t a luxury we can afford when it comes to our health.


About the Author:
Adriana Stefania is a freelance writer for Canada Health Insurance. For more information on health insurance for Canadians please visit