Canadian Health Insurance Decision Hits Home

The Canadians are starting to see the value of the U.S. health finance system.[@@]

Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., made that argument in a recent speech on the U.S. House floor.

Some health policy advocates in the United States say the United States could cut costs, increase efficiency and improve quality by shifting to a government-run, “single-payer” health insurance system.

U.S. health insurers say public and private health care systems can co-exist.

A new Canadian Supreme Court decision has proved the U.S. health insurers’ point, by blocking the effect of a Quebec law that has stopped Quebec residents covered by Canada’s national health insurance program from buying private health insurance.

Although the decision applies only to residents of Quebec, Canadian experts say it will pave the way for residents of Canada’s other provinces to buy private health insurance, Stearns reported.

“Some Canadians worry that this is the beginning of the end of what they consider a national treasure,” Stearns said. “Well, this is not a cause for alarm.”

Stearns quoted a passage from the Canadian Supreme Court ruling stating that Canada’s ban on private health insurance has led to physical and psychological suffering.

Stearns noted that wealthier Canadians have always had the right to pay for private health care from their own pockets.

Canadian residents who have had to depend on the national health insurance system have faced endless delays in seeking health care, and many Canadians have been getting around the bureaucracy by going to doctors and hospitals in the United States, Stearns said.