Alberta premier Ralph Klein has shocked Canadians, and many Albertans too, with his announcement of possible healthcare reforms. Under his plan, Alberta would soon see a two-tier healthcare system, where the rich can pay their way to the top of waiting lists.
The problem with health care is that there is no system that is 100% satisfactory to all. Countries around the world employ different systems (public, private, mixture of public-private), but they are all faced with major challenges. Long waiting lists seem to be a sign of the times, because even countries with mixed systems are now experiencing the same problem of having to ration health care.
Is it because people are generally sick more often or is it a result of the aging baby boomer generation? Probably a bit of both as well as several other factors.
One, logistical, problem as I see it is the fact that too many people pack themselves off to the nearest emergency room for minor problems, such as a sniffling nose, thus unnecessarily increasing the burden and workload of hospitals and staff.
Clearly, the logistics of delivering medical services in this country must be improved. Including private providers in the public system should not pose too much of a problem as long as they are also paid out of the public purse – in other words, private delivery of public services would be a step in the right direction.
Albertans and Canadians seem to agree with this, but what makes Klein’s plan hard to stomach is his insistence on enabling the rich to use their money and influence to get treated first, while anyone who lacks the power of money gets pushed further down on the waiting list. Such a system would be unacceptable and would not be in line with Canadian (and Albertan) values.