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Whether Canada’s health care system should move toward greater privatization

Essay Outline

  1. The Universality of the Canadian health
  • The definition of universality
  • Why the Canadian health system does not ascribe to universality
  1. The state of the Canadian public health system
  • The effect of cutbacks in the federal budget
  1. The argument of freeing up resources for the public sector
  • Evidence of frustration of public health institutions by the privatization of the health sector.
  1. The argument of the health sector being a competitive business capable of further innovation
  • The effects of a single profit making motive in an industry designed to provide care to human beings.
  • Evidence of violation of laws caused by the competition for profit in the privatization of the health sector.
  1. The argument of relief for the taxpayer through privatization
  • The weakness of the assumption of wealthy individuals preferring payment private health care to free public health care
  • Leakage of taxpayers’ funds to private health care system.
  1. Conclusion
  • Alternatives to the privatization of Canada’s health care system.

Thesis Statement: Whether Canada’s health care system should become more privatized.

Universal healthcare has always been touted as being the primary driver behind the Canadian health care system. The term universal in this context implies that health care is accessible by all and sundry, regardless of their resources. That in itself is a good thing because it enables those unable to afford health care to have access to high quality care. The Canadian health care system has been misleadingly termed universal because there is no actual national health care standard, only a series of individual provincial systems. Not only does there not exist a social mechanism in place, but there is also no political will for the establishment of the same. The Canada Health Act is Vague at best, giving room for not only violations of various health laws but the edging out of public health institutions by private health care providers who are taking up an increasingly large portion in the health care sector. To fully analyze the situation, it is important first to look at the genesis of these changes.

Extreme cutbacks in the federal budget since 1990 have become the basis of arguments fronted by proponents of privatization of Canadian health care systems (Iglehart, 2012). The cutbacks have caused citizens to ensure restricted access to specialists, and they have to wait longer to receive nonemergency surgery, and also there has been a loss in bed capacity due to the closure or merger of many hospitals. While the reductions served their intended purpose of eliminating the massive annual budget deficit and are currently being reversed, the health care system remains fragile, characterized by a decline in support from the public, lower morale among medical practitioners and tension between the provinces and the federal government in Ottawa (Iglehart, 2012) [“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]
It is argued that privatization will free up resources for public health care. This is a misguided notion because the two-tier system will comprise of the private tier taking up a disproportionately larger amount of resources from the public system in the guise of the provision of ‘faster services’ while the public system functions almost the same number of citizens with far fewer resources. A survey of all for-profit diagnostic, surgical and cosmetic physician clinics across Canada aimed at measuring the impact of privatization on the access to public nonprofit services revealed a notable reduction of capacities of public hospitals as a result of staff poaching by private clinics. In extreme cases witnessed in at least two provinces, hospitals have been forced to cut back on provision of certain services due to understaffing or close down altogether (Mehra, 2008).

Privatization looks at the health industry like any other business that would flourish under open market competition. Proponents of the privatized system argue that moral arguments aside, once health care is privatized, profit-seeking entrepreneurs will flock the system and continually innovate to bring about more robust changes. Not only is the description of the healthcare system as a competition worrisome as it depicts a picture where survival will be for the fittest, and there will be losers as is characteristic of any competition. The study by the Canadian Health Coalition showed that to become even more profitable, most private clinics are flouting health regulations. In five provinces, there is evidence of a possible eighty-nine violations of the Canada Health Act (Mehra, 2008). This shows the inefficiency that comes with a single profit making motive in a sector such as that of health which requires more of a human and compassionate approach. It is also of importance to note that innovation does exist in public health care and efforts should be made to nurture it further.

The most common argument for privatization is that it will reduce the number of dependents on the public fund and therefore lessen the amount of taxes paid by citizens. It is assumed that the growth of the private sector will be met with enthusiasm from individuals who are willing and able to afford the offered services at that cost (Mehra, 2008). However, it is highly unlikely that a significant number of well to do Canadians will immediately favor the private system as opposed to free access to services from the public system. This would mean a smaller portion of the population would be taxed, yet a larger portion would use the same services. Increasing establishment of private clinics has seen a rise in aggressive advances by owners of these facilities in pursuing publicly funded contracts from provincial governments to increase their profitability. Public funds are thus leaking into the private sector instead of providing for the taxpayer who is dependent on public health care. In addition to these reasons, the provision of private health services relies heavily on benefit packages sponsored by employers, which are usually subsidized by an approximated $3 billion of taxpayer money each year. It means private investment will not necessarily get taxpayers off the hook in regard to healthcare funding (Mehra, 2008).

From the above examples, it is evident to see that privatization of the health care system is not the solution to the quickly escalating costs of health care. The two-tier system is simply a disguised method of exploiting both the well to do citizens who can afford private care and the less well-off who shoulder the tax burden with the belief that the health care system is adequate and worth the huge expense. Instead of privatizing the existing healthcare system recognized globally as proof of “the great value that Canada attaches to communal obligations and a robust public sector” (Iglehart, 2012), the federal government should implement national standards to make the health care system universal, more in practice than in theory. The provincial government, on the other hand, must view the federal government’s involvement in their health care systems not as interference but leadership.[Click Essay Writer to order your essay]

Iglehart, J. K. (2000). Revisiting the Canadian Health Care System.New England Journal of Medicine342(26), 2007-2012.

Mehra, N., & Canadian Health Coalition. (2008). Eroding public Medicare: Lessons and Consequences of for-profit health care across Canada. Ottawa, Ont.: Canadian Health Coalition.

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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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