Canadian Court Chips Away at National Health CareWhy is this a "an acute blow to the publicly financed national health care system"?
Toronto, June 9
The Canadian Supreme Court struck down a Quebec law banning private medical insurance today, dealing an acute blow to the publicly financed national health care system.
The court stopped short of striking down the constitutionality of the country's vaunted nationwide coverage, but legal experts said the ruling would open the door to a wave of lawsuits challenging the health care system in other provinces.
The system, providing Canadians with free doctor's services that are paid for by taxes, has generally been supported by the public, and is broadly identified with the Canadian national character.
But in recent years, patients have been forced to wait longer for diagnostic tests and elective surgery, while the wealthy and well connected either seek care in the United States or use influence to jump ahead on waiting lists.
The court ruled that the waiting lists had become so long that they violated patients' "liberty, safety and security" under the Quebec charter, which covers about one-quarter of Canada's population.
"The evidence in this case shows that delays in the public health care system are widespread and that in some serious cases, patients die as a result of waiting lists for public health care," the Supreme Court ruled. "In sum, the prohibition on obtaining private health insurance is not constitutional where the public system fails to deliver reasonable services." [Story.]
The US media loves to bash the Canadian health care system - the New York Times takes every opportunity - so I don't trust the interpretation.
I'm gone for the evening, but I'll read your comments later tonight and tomorrow a.m. The Red Sox are off tonight, so we must get out of the house.