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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Canadian Healthcare: Universal not Perfect

Canadian healthcare may not be perfect, but nothing is. However, it is, in my opinion, one of the best systems in the world. Can it be improved? Certainly, but not through privatization.

Like Canada itself, our system tends toward stability and reliability over cutting-edge technology. Canada is nice and boring. We don’t have yearly massacres. We don’t tend to get the worst of nature’s storms. We don’t tend to experience earthquakes or civil wars or anything that Chinese philosophers would have termed interesting. I like that.  And when we get sick, our healthcare system is there for us. I have no fear of not being able to access it when the need is great. I might have to wait if it’s not an emergency, but I will get treatment.

And it won’t cost me a dime at the time. I have no problem contributing my taxes when I’m healthy. It’s insurance for which there is no claim disallowing. It covers everyone. I think we get a great return on our investment: peace of mind.

It is very Canadian to work together to help the less fortunate and the ailing among us. Unlike the U.S., whose milder climate allowed for rugged individualism, if you don’t cooperate in Canada, you die. That’s why we tend to be less violent – mutual benefit. That and, when we do want to shoot someone, we can go yell about it in our vast wilderness. We can get away from one another, but we know we have to come back together to keep going. We try to make sure no one gets left out. We don’t succeed, but we try.

Our health system is focused on service provision, not technological and procedural innovation. That should be encouraged of course, but we tend to focus on that sort of thing in our universities (which also tend towards egalitarianism in their acceptance policies). I think we’d be well served by focusing on delivering basic and emergency treatment in a timely fashion, working on prevention, and creating research and innovation programs in the universities. I don’t care if I get the most advanced procedure, as long as I get the proper procedure when needed.

Our healthcare system may not be perfect. All systems are unending experiments toward unreachable perfection. But, as long as we fund it properly, it will continue to serve us well. America spends far more per capita on their healthcare system than we do. Vast numbers of people are completely cut out of their system (though Obama’s trying to fix that). Here it truly is universal. That’s a good start.

Healthcare will always be expensive. By isn't a life worth it? Mine is to me. It needs more investment, spent wiser, not privatization. Let private companies come up with the improvements and technologies if they like. Hell, give them research grants and university cooperation. But don’t let profit become the motive for providing care. Then people no longer factor into the equation except for the wealth produced by their misery. You have to have money to participate in a market. Healthcare delivery in Canada is not a market. It is an essential service that must be available to all.

Otherwise, your life becomes worth what the market forces you to pay.