Aug 11, 2011, 12:07 PM
Post #1 of 1
Canadian healthcare system due for an overhaul
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) recently carried out a study, the results of which were no surprise to anyone that wasn’t in politics or under a general anesthetic. The study recognized the fact that Canada’s once state-of-the-art healthcare system was in dire need of a tune-up and some members of society were affected more adversely than others.
In a summary document entitled Voices Into Action, The CMA recounted holding public meetings in cities across Canada, where over 1500 ordinary Canadians voiced their concerns and offered ideas for improving the system. Additionally the CMA also received over 4,000 on line comments.
The conclusions drawn were unsurprising in that the document generally lauded the Canadian healthcare system for its ability to deliver fast and relatively effective acute care in cases of illness or injury, but generally failed in providing quality care for vulnerable groups, such as children, aboriginal peoples and the elderly. Many who voiced the system’s woes recounted harrowing stories of patients laying in hospital hallways or wards when they should have been cared for in a nursing home or long-term care facility.
Interestingly, the vast majority of those who voiced their opinions were supportive of the public healthcare system, but felt that it wasn’t giving good value for the money. “Normally, people just automatically say: ‘Just give us more money.’ That didn’t happen,” CMA president Dr. Jeff Turnbull explained. “They said we need value for the money, we need management, we need better delivery systems, so that we’re accountable for healthcare.”
Many called for expanding the Canada Health Act, which currently covers only doctors and hospitals, to include programs designed to provide quality homecare, a national prescription drug plan and improved access to long-term care facilities.
Considering that the Baby Boomer generation has just started to enter “old age,” as many are now celebrating their 65th birthday, and that many Boomers have parents who are still living, the timeframe to prepare to meet a dramatic increase in healthcare demand in Canada is very short. Given that individuals over the age of 60 on average consume somewhere on the order of $6,000 per year of publicly paid-for healthcare (The average annual per patient expenditure in Canada is about $2,600.), it’s clear that a 6% per year increase in healthcare transfers from the federal government to the provinces will not be enough to meet this increased demand. This is particularly true in light of the fact that people in their 80s use up about $12,000 per year in public healthcare. Now that the population is rapidly aging while people are living a lot longer, it makes a healthcare system overhaul in Canada that much more urgent.
What’s heartening about the CMA report is that the majority of those who commented recognized that the private sector had a role to play in healthcare reform. If Canada’s political class comes to this realization as well, then there’s hope for the healthcare system yet.
Klaus Rohrich is President and Creative Director of Taylor/Rohrich Associates Inc., a marketing and advertising firm that specializes in niche marketing retirement real estate developments