Canada reconsidering health-care model in face of soaring costs

posted at 10:55 am on June 1, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

American fans of single-payer health care have long held Canada as an example of success in both providing health care and controlling costs.  Canadians have more reason to question both, however, especially the latter.  The provinces, which bear a significant portion of those costs, may end some services and curtail others as ballooning costs have exposed the cradle-to-grave system as unsustainable:

Pressured by an aging population and the need to rein in budget deficits, Canada’s provinces are taking tough measures to curb healthcare costs, a trend that could erode the principles of the popular state-funded system.

Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, kicked off a fierce battle with drug companies and pharmacies when it said earlier this year it would halve generic drug prices and eliminate “incentive fees” to generic drug manufacturers.

British Columbia is replacing block grants to hospitals with fee-for-procedure payments and Quebec has a new flat health tax and a proposal for payments on each medical visit — an idea that critics say is an illegal user fee.

And a few provinces are also experimenting with private funding for procedures such as hip, knee and cataract surgery.

It’s likely just a start as the provinces, responsible for delivering healthcare, cope with the demands of a retiring baby-boom generation. Official figures show that senior citizens will make up 25 percent of the population by 2036.

How unsustainable is the current system?  Even while creating long wait times and high rationing hurdles for expensive services — a provincial premier had to go to the US to get heart surgery in time — costs have risen far above inflation, at 6% a year.  Canada’s system can’t keep up with new technologies and treatments while living within arbitrary allocations made by a political process, and the care for seniors will probably be hardest hit in the coming money crunch.

The solution?  Privatization.  Note well that the services offered for privatization are mainly needed by seniors.  That will mean that those Canadians who relied on government promises for cradle-to-grave health care will have to now find a way to pay for those surgeries out of their own pocket after decades of having Canada tax them for health care coverage.  However, Canada doesn’t really have a choice but to find ways to offload the most expensive care if it intends to salvage anything of its state-run coverage for the majority of its citizens.

That does prompt a question, though, on whether a little privatization is possible — a question that the US is considering in the opposite direction.  If Canada will no longer cover some of these necessary procedures, it will have to allow for insurers to sell policies to cover the costs, and those policies will get sold to younger consumers in anticipation of retirement-age issues.  If Canada allows that, why wouldn’t Canadians want to get insured for other issues as well?  And if the electorate gets health-care coverage in a more rational and accessible manner than they do now, why would they tolerate government control in the future?

It’s not just the economic model that is unsustainable.  It’s the political model as well.

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It’s like gazing into a crystal ball.

Well, at least it is for sane, literate, financially responsible people. That excludes Obama supporters and the Democrat party, of course, who can’t be bothered to examine the effects of their grand designs in the real world. Ever.

Good Lt on June 1, 2010 at 10:57 AM

I thought everything was all good up north? What gives?

Mr. Joe on June 1, 2010 at 10:57 AM

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! UGH !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

canopfor on June 1, 2010 at 10:58 AM

Soaring costs forcing Canada to rethink health-care model

Not gonna happen.

YYZ on June 1, 2010 at 10:11 AM

The YYZ has spoken.

Inanemergencydial on June 1, 2010 at 10:58 AM

The other problem: US Democrats will slowly but surely ruin every Canadian’s healthcare backup plan.

RBMN on June 1, 2010 at 11:00 AM

Mr. President, I concede the rest of my time to canopfor. Over to you canop.

alohapundit on June 1, 2010 at 11:02 AM

canopfor, I’m sorry. We’ll be right there with you before you know it.

ladyingray on June 1, 2010 at 11:03 AM

And a few provinces are also experimenting with private funding for procedures such as hip, knee and cataract surgery.

Notice all of these changes are pretty much directed at older people and their health problems? Grandma and Grandpa are going to be seriously kicked to the curb by this. Older folks had zero incentive to save any money in Canada for future medical expenses. They simply don’t have the bucks they will need to pay for this. Well, maybe Obama will give them the blue pill.

Johnnyreb on June 1, 2010 at 11:05 AM

Facts

Facts

I don’t need no stinking facts,

they just aren’t relevant to the actions of government.

what’s wrong with you people, don’t you understand its about POWER?

CrazyGene on June 1, 2010 at 11:07 AM

The provinces, which bear a significant portion of those costs, may end some services and curtail others

Can anyone say “Death Panels”?!

rbj on June 1, 2010 at 11:07 AM

Wouldn’t it be something if the bill introduced last week to repeal Obamacare went through! Wouldn’t that give us hope that DC isn’t completely insane? Our next POTUS in 2012 has their work cut out for them repealing all this stuff and reducing the size of gov’t. I’m convinced that if we don’t roll this back in 2010 and in 2012 then were going to be stuck because by then the takers will be more than 50% of the voting population… There is hardly anywhere left to run to in order to escape this madness…

CCRWM on June 1, 2010 at 11:08 AM

Notice all of these changes are pretty much directed at older people and their health problems?….

Johnnyreb on June 1, 2010 at 11:05 AM

Putting 85-year-olds on a five-year waiting list solves lots of budget problems.

RBMN on June 1, 2010 at 11:09 AM

Ahhh baby boomers. A Lifetime spent creating problems for others.

tomas on June 1, 2010 at 11:10 AM

If Canada allows that, why wouldn’t Canadians want to get insured for other issues as well? And if the electorate gets health-care coverage in a more rational and accessible manner than they do now, why would they tolerate government control in the future?

Most Canadians see cradle-to-grave health care provide “free” from the Government as a basic human right guaranteed by virtue of their very Canada-iness. They honestly think they are better than everyone else, and that bankrupting their nation is a priori evidence of it.

holygoat on June 1, 2010 at 11:11 AM

If you look at this from a business sense, you can’t blame Canada for going more private. They can sense pharmaceutical companies coming across the border to set up shop and see how their citizens who come to the US for services will see the opposite happen. Huge business opportunity for a country that plays its cards right.

djaymick on June 1, 2010 at 11:11 AM

The provinces, which bear a significant portion of those costs, may end some services and curtail others as ballooning costs have exposed the cradle-to-grave system as unsustainable:

I don’t this fact right here, despite it being revealed over and over again, is enough to dissuade our current crop of socialist thugocrats from pursuing it. Sustainability is not a goal, its the results that they want—control. They don’t have to sustain the services, only the control over people and their lives. That, I believe, is the sustainability that they seek.

ted c on June 1, 2010 at 11:12 AM

Canada’s problems are in no way analogous to potential problems with America’s nationalized health care program, mainly because the Canadian government doesn’t really really care about people the way PBHO and the demorats do.

Concern and caring by the left will cancel out any budgetary problems which might be encountered.

Bishop on June 1, 2010 at 11:12 AM

Let the man eat his waffles!!

the Coondawg on June 1, 2010 at 11:13 AM

British Columbia is replacing block grants to hospitals with fee-for-procedure payments

uh oh…. quick, MSM, get on out there and tell us how all other industrialized countries provide healthcare for their citizens and how wonderful it is…. hence, we need to at least try it for a couple years, right…?

ted c on June 1, 2010 at 11:14 AM

Waiting for the trolls to post…. and waiting… and waiting…

barnone on June 1, 2010 at 11:14 AM

Concern and caring by the left will cancel out any budgetary problems which might be encountered.

Bishop on June 1, 2010 at 11:12 AM

whew, thanks Bishop. I know that PBHO luvs him some redstaters and he’s gonna takes some good care of us.
.
.
/

ted c on June 1, 2010 at 11:15 AM

All of these plans treat the health care system like a triage scenario with a limited set of resources incapable of meeting the needs of the population and thus requiring health care rationing from one central administrator.

Now triage is necessary in emergency situations, but the only long range solution is to treat the health care system like a business and look for ways to grow that business. That will never be done with a government-controlled system, but can only be done through free market innovation.

PackerBronco on June 1, 2010 at 11:15 AM

Rationing, long wait times, people dying while waiting for care and it is now too expensive?

How can this be? This was utopia.

seven on June 1, 2010 at 11:16 AM

Putting 85-year-olds on a five-year waiting list solves lots of budget problems.

RBMN on June 1, 2010 at 11:09 AM

In a government system, every patient is an expense and the goal of government-run health care is to control expenses.

In a free market system, every patient is a customer and the goal of the free market is to keep the customer happy, healthy, and alive.

I know which system I want to live under.

PackerBronco on June 1, 2010 at 11:18 AM

And a few provinces are also experimenting with private funding for procedures such as hip, knee and cataract surgery.

but, haven’t they heard of the newest treatments available after extensive “comparative effectiveness research” has now been completed.

treatment 1. Red Pills
treatment 2. Blue Pills

results clearly show that they are nearly 100% effective at controlling preoperative, postoperative, and most importantly non-operative pain syndromes…

the finger pointer in chief deemed it so…

ted c on June 1, 2010 at 11:18 AM

What is really galling is the absurd tax rates Canadians have had to pay for most of their lives only to have the benefits those tax dollars were meant to pay for taken away when they need them most.

That is the tragedy of government failure. The broken promise of fiduciary responsibility. I wouldn’t stand for it for one second.

Aquateen Hungerforce on June 1, 2010 at 11:18 AM

Make sure that EVERY liberal friend who told you about the great, sustainable, costs under control for individuals and for the government healthcare in Canada or Europe, who visited in 20.. and had emergency surgery and didn’t get a bill/20$ this article.

We have to get Repeal numbers above where they can argue that it is a slim majority. Somewhere close to 65% that is my gut feeling.

journeyintothewhirlwind on June 1, 2010 at 11:20 AM

It’s not just the economic model that is unsustainable. It’s the political model as well.

but is that evidence enough not to try it.?… let’s see the left try to square that circle.

ted c on June 1, 2010 at 11:20 AM

But Cuba’s uh…The UK’s er…Canada’s um…Sweden’s healthcare is fantastic!

John Deaux on June 1, 2010 at 11:21 AM

surely the Canadian government must be commended for having the courage and political will to try to be so kind and benevolent to their citizens to try this compassionate system for so long. I look forward to Dave Rywalls esplanation for how these new revelations about Canada’s unsustainability discredit the majority of Americans opinions about the nationalization of our healthcare system.

.
waiting…
.
natch.

ted c on June 1, 2010 at 11:23 AM

Canada’s system can’t keep up with new technologies and treatments while living within arbitrary allocations made by a political process, and the care for seniors will probably be hardest hit in the coming money crunch.

But ssshhh! Don’t mention Death Panels until the senior solution is fully completed.

ontherocks on June 1, 2010 at 11:23 AM

Rationing, long wait times, people dying while waiting for care and it is now too expensive?

How can this be? This was utopia.

seven on June 1, 2010 at 11:16 AM

Oddly enough, Canadian doctors like living in Vancouver condos, and don’t like living in rural Saskatchewan quite as much. The quality of care is not very even.

RBMN on June 1, 2010 at 11:23 AM

Sounds like the low Canadian drug prices are possible in part because of government subsidies. If those dry up and their drug costs rise, how will that affect American health care plans, some of which advocate bulk buying from Canada?

hawksruleva on June 1, 2010 at 11:24 AM

American fans of single-payer health care have long held Canada as an example of success in both providing health care and controlling costs. Canadians have more reason to question both, however, especially the latter.

Some of the biggest canadian leftards I’ve gotten into fights with on the internet complained about the wait time. If might not be a life and death matter but if what ails you causes pain and discomfort to the point you can’t enjoy life, you shouldn’t have to wait 7 months or more for what is a simple one night stay if not entirely outpatient surgery.

Blake on June 1, 2010 at 11:24 AM

Unexpected.

exhelodrvr on June 1, 2010 at 11:26 AM

But ssshhh! Don’t mention Death Panels until the senior solution is fully completed.

ontherocks on June 1, 2010 at 11:23 AM

And don’t forget the babies and young, especially the those of the poor. All those folks on the public dime better wake up to the fact that if government decides you’re too big of an expense, they can decide to cut off services.

hawksruleva on June 1, 2010 at 11:26 AM

our only hope is turnout. Our base isn’t as large as the left, especially now that Hispanics are firmly in their court.

There base though doesn’t always turnout to vote. So never get so mad that you stay home and your country may have a chance.

tomas on June 1, 2010 at 11:28 AM

ted c on June 1, 2010 at 11:23 AM

Isn’t there another lefty canadian troll that drops turds here (as oppose to our fine conservative Canadian friends who regularly post on HA)?

Blake on June 1, 2010 at 11:29 AM

The Canadian health care system is horrible and every Canadian knows it. The policy amounts to don’t get sick. Not to mention it’s abused because it’s “free”. In my opinion everyone can pay something (things will be more valued that way). The trick is to make sure people don’t have to mortgage their homes in order to get well

wiseprince on June 1, 2010 at 11:34 AM

I thought everything was all good up north? What gives?

Mr. Joe on June 1, 2010 at 10:57 AM

My one liberal friend who swore by Canadas and Great Britians HC Systems now swears he “always” said he didn’t like their models and that ours will be better. I asked him to explain the key differences that will make ours better and he answered, “Because we still will have our health insurance industry basically intact once the law has been implemented.” huh?

(It all hurts my head)

hawkdriver on June 1, 2010 at 11:35 AM

Isn’t there another lefty canadian troll that drops turds here (as oppose to our fine conservative Canadian friends who regularly post on HA)?

Blake on June 1, 2010 at 11:29 AM

could be. Drywall is the only canuck nutjob that loves to tell us how stupid we are. Professor Miao and canopfor are great Canadians that post here.

ted c on June 1, 2010 at 11:36 AM

Canada has run out of other people’s money.

Kissmygrits on June 1, 2010 at 11:36 AM

The YYZ has spoken.

Inanemergencydial on June 1, 2010 at 10:58 AM

Hello?! Futzing with the health care system in Canada would be political suicide.

YYZ on June 1, 2010 at 11:36 AM

Law of Demand still intact, I see.

DrSteve on June 1, 2010 at 11:40 AM

And Canada doesn’t even have a deteriorating narco-state on its southern border, dumping millions of Third World poor into its already-overburdened healthcare system every year. Think how much worse things would be there if they had to deal with a situation like that.

AZCoyote on June 1, 2010 at 11:44 AM

Hello?! Futzing with the health care system in Canada would be political suicide.

YYZ on June 1, 2010 at 11:36 AM

Most likely you are correct. Not futzing with it will bankrupt it.

The collapse will be interesting.

Inanemergencydial on June 1, 2010 at 11:45 AM

“arbitrary allocations” = the achilles heel of the socialist system.

WordsMatter on June 1, 2010 at 11:45 AM

Let’s see, the leftists’ european social and monetary policies are crashing and burning.

The leftists’ Canadian healthcare system is unsustainable.
The OMB now admits that projected costs for Obamacare need an upward adjustment.
We have a virtual open border to our south as the left advocates for amnesty before immigration reform.
There is the ever rising ratio of debt to GDP due largely to unfunded entitlements.

You’d have to say that sustainability is demonstrably not part of the Leftists’ plan for the New World Order.

Or maybe I’m just nitpicking and everything will fall into place when we get the damn climate under control.

ontherocks on June 1, 2010 at 11:51 AM

The solution? Privatization.

You don’t say!

Nobody could see that coming!

Shocking!

petunia on June 1, 2010 at 11:51 AM

we can only see how much liberals care about others once they run out of their money to spread around.

ted c on June 1, 2010 at 11:55 AM

Or maybe I’m just nitpicking and everything will fall into place when we get the damn climate under control.

ontherocks on June 1, 2010 at 11:51 AM

heh!

hawkdriver on June 1, 2010 at 11:56 AM

The Canadian health care system and the “death panel bureaucrats” are responsible for the death of my mother.

ultracon on June 1, 2010 at 12:02 PM

What are you guys worried about? Don’t you know that the US can do the same exact thing as Canada and Great Britain and get totally different results. Obammy has magical powers and God told Pelosi personally himself that miracles can happen. No worries here!

ramrants on June 1, 2010 at 12:04 PM

What is really galling is the absurd tax rates Canadians have had to pay for most of their lives only to have the benefits those tax dollars were meant to pay for taken away when they need them most.
That is the tragedy of government failure. The broken promise of fiduciary responsibility. I wouldn’t stand for it for one second.

Isn’t this essentially us, and what will happen to Social Security. At age 46, I know I’ll likely never see it – or at the very least, my piece of the pie it will be a lot smaller.

humdinger on June 1, 2010 at 12:05 PM

we can only see how much liberals care about others once they run out of their money to spread around.

ted c on June 1, 2010 at 11:55 AM

You may be a little generous there, I think they’re spreading your moolah too.

And their only hope is to consolidate control before that cat’s out of the bag in full view of the 52%ers that still don’t get your point.

ontherocks on June 1, 2010 at 12:06 PM

The majority of Canada is not reconsidering health-care model.

PrezHussein on June 1, 2010 at 12:11 PM

The Canadian health care system and the “death panel bureaucrats” are responsible for the death of my mother.

ultracon on June 1, 2010 at 12:02 PM

Tell the story man!

Vince on June 1, 2010 at 12:12 PM

Most likely you are correct. Not futzing with it will bankrupt it.

‘Tis why being the Finance Minister of Canada is probably one of the trickier jobs in politics.

YYZ on June 1, 2010 at 12:12 PM

Another Gomer Pyle moment…….

Surprise, Surprise, SURPRISE!!!

capejasmine on June 1, 2010 at 12:14 PM

The Canadian health care system and the “death panel bureaucrats” are responsible for the death of my mother.

ultracon on June 1, 2010 at 12:02 PM

That’s not funny. :(

Blake on June 1, 2010 at 12:15 PM

Anybody else feel awfully darn sorry for Obama and the rest of the National Socialist Democratic Party given the fact they have just gotten around to seizing power and implementing Socialism while the rest of the world is clearly demonstrating why it doesn’t work?

Me neither.

Chip on June 1, 2010 at 12:16 PM

There is a Canadian poster on HA who complained that a delay in the ability to see a specialist resulted in the lost of the full functionability of his wrist.

Blake on June 1, 2010 at 12:17 PM

This is a scheme to create jobs in both countries. The US will send consultants to Canada to teach them how to profitably run a health care system that is innovative and customer focused. Canada in turn will send consultants to teach the US how to run a socialist system that slowly and maybe not so slowly to create queing for procedures, lack of innovation in technology and how to go to Canada to pay for procedures they can’t get in the US. Does this make sense?

hip shot on June 1, 2010 at 12:26 PM

Quebec has a new flat health tax and a proposal for payments on each medical visit — an idea that critics say is an illegal user fee.

Wow–charging people a $10 copay could save their system, but people will gripe about it? “illegal user fee” my backside.

funky chicken on June 1, 2010 at 12:31 PM

Lord tunderin Jesus!

Hey hose head, it sucks when you run out of other peoples money, EH?

Maggie

TheSitRep on June 1, 2010 at 12:36 PM

And if the electorate gets health-care coverage in a more rational and accessible manner than they do now, why would they tolerate government control in the future?

umm because Canadians are mostly liberal – and liberals aren’t known for their logic. Plus it’s been ingrained into our national identity that we are superior in part because of our health care. It would be like banning hockey or closing down every Tim Horton’s store!

In all seriousness, I think our health care system would have to be dismantled piece by piece very slowly so that it’s pretty much gone before anybody realizes it! In Ontario, we no longer are covered for optometrist visits which we used to be just a few years ago and there was no outcry about that. Just start doing that to other services.

CityFish on June 1, 2010 at 12:44 PM

The problem with Obama is that all of ideas are old and all have failed previously, yet he’s presenting them as new ideas that have some hope of success.

What a waste.

NoDonkey on June 1, 2010 at 12:46 PM

The Canadian health care system and the “death panel bureaucrats” are responsible for the death of my mother.

ultracon on June 1, 2010 at 12:02 PM

(hugs ultracon)

I sympathize completely. Kaiser killed my dad.

Mary in LA on June 1, 2010 at 12:48 PM

meh, it’s all good. All this can be straightened out if Obama will just go on a speaking tour of Canada to explain things to them. Apparently, they just don’t quite understand how it all works yet.

BlueCollarAstronaut on June 1, 2010 at 12:53 PM

Putting 85-year-olds on a five-year waiting list solves lots of budget problems.

RBMN on June 1, 2010

And it allows them to say “Death panels…what death panels?”

Extrafishy on June 1, 2010 at 12:55 PM

What’s the matter?

Costs too much and the service sucks, EH?

kens on June 1, 2010 at 1:01 PM

The right-wing teabaggers are just spreading lies about Canada’s Health Care system! It’s fiscally sound and the best in the world! Single payer!!11!

/libtard 2009

cntrlfrk on June 1, 2010 at 1:29 PM

I’m sure that Barry and Nancy will just say that the Canadians just aren’t doing it right.

GarandFan on June 1, 2010 at 1:34 PM

BarryNancyHarry don’t care anymore because Obamacare is already law. Now if this news had come out before the vote, then they would have cared.

txmomof6 on June 1, 2010 at 2:01 PM

Don’t we have some weirdo Canadians that post here stating the past few months that the Canadian Health Care system is just hunky dory?

right2bright on June 1, 2010 at 4:01 PM

BarryNancyHarry don’t care anymore because Obamacare is already law. Now if this news had come out before the vote, then they would have cared.

txmomof6 on June 1, 2010 at 2:01 PM

Hmm, are you sure this is a a coincidence? With this pack of thieving evil liars? I’m not.

Who is John Galt on June 1, 2010 at 4:06 PM

All of this government health care BS makes me think about the movie Logan’s Run.

free on June 1, 2010 at 4:49 PM

canopfor,

=========== I’m sorry. We’ll be right there with you before you know it.

ladyingray on June 1, 2010 at 11:03 AM

ladyingray:No kidding,it seems Obama models the Canadian
model,and now somebody gets the bright idea to
model after Obama!!Nuts!:)

canopfor on June 1, 2010 at 7:30 PM

THis article does not suggest that Canada will go private to solve the budget shortfalls. It says quite clearly that health care will just get more thinly rationed. Giving up control of the system will never happen. They will just make what is already bad, i.e. the wait times and unavailability of some services, worse.

I had to go to the hospital at 12:30 am one night this year. I didn’t get to see a doctor til 7:30 am. And it wasn’t like the place was busy. There just were no doctors available to make my 7 hour wait any shorter.

Now, instead of privatization, that 7 hour wait will now be 9 or 10 hours. That is how they government will address the financial problems – not privatization.

keep the change on June 1, 2010 at 9:02 PM

Huh? What? We’ve been lied to? Shocking!

HAnthonyWayne on June 1, 2010 at 9:56 PM