The Canadian Health Care System

Cross-posting an email I sent to a friend explaining key differences in socialized health care/insurance:

Canada has socialized health insurance and they have strong controls over the health care industry itself; however they don’t own the health care system unlike in the United Kingdom. Here’s more info from Wikipedia:

Canada uses a mix of public and private organizations to deliver health care; in turn, these organizations bill the provincial health authorities, with few exceptions. Hospitals are largely non-profit organizations, historically often linked to religious or charitable organizations. In some provinces, individual hospital boards have been eliminated and combined into quasi-private regional health authorities, subject to varying degrees of provincial control. Laboratory services are often delivered by for-profit investor-owned corporations.

With rare exceptions, medical doctors are small for-profit independent businesses. Historically, they have practiced in small solo or group practices and billed the medicare system on a fee for service basis. Unlike the practice in some other countries, hospital-based physicians were rarely hospital employees, and also billed the provincial insurance plans on a fee-for-service basis. Since 2000, physicians have been allowed to incorporate for tax reasons (dates of authorization vary province to province). However, efforts to achieve primary health care reform have increasingly encouraged physicians to work in multidisciplinary teams, and be paid through blended funding models, including elements of capitation and other ‘alternative funding formulas’. Similarly, some hospitals (particularly teaching hospitals and rural/remote hospitals) have also experimented with alternatives to fee-for-service.

In summary, the system is known as a "public system" due to its public financing, but is not a nationalized system such as the UK’s NHS; most medicare services are provided privately.

If you want to know of a model of socialized health care, look towards the United Kingdom. The government there owns and controls the hospitals and pays for health care. More here…

About 30% of Canadians’ health care is paid for through the private sector. This mostly goes towards services not covered or only partially covered by Medicare, such as prescription drugs, dentistry  and optometry. Some 65% of Canadians have some form of supplementary private health insurance; many of them receive it through their employers.
… The Canadian system is for the most part publicly funded, yet most of the services are provided by private enterprises. Most doctors do not receive an annual salary, but receive a fee per visit or service. According to Dr. Albert Schumacher, former president of the Canadian Medical Association, an estimated 75 percent of Canadian health care services are delivered privately, but funded publicly.

Regrettably, the Democratic Party’s health care plan is nothing like this. CNN’s reality check on that. This works magically though it’s not the only way to fix our health care problems. The Canadian system has funding issues because of people trying to screw it up on the local level but, for the most part, it’s a very stable system and most Canadians can’t even begin to imagine dropping it. For the most part, though, Canadians are getting their needs met.

A personal story from a Canadian.

And here is the Denver Post debunking Canadian health care myths.
Like I said, though, the only thing being proposed in the U.S. that is remotely like the Canadian system, which has socialized health insurance, is the single-payer system which only a few Democratic Party representatives have been trying to get. Not even the public option comes close to that; all the public option does is give a public option. All Canadians have insurance through the government… they can buy  more private insurance but they don’t have to.

The medical care, however, is mostly private and non-profit.

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