public vs private healthcare

As a first generation Canadian, due to the on-going debate about a possible public-private healthcare interface, I have become very familiar with the meaning of public vs private healthcare. In a socialist type government healthcare services are provided, funded and regulated by the government, which constitutes as a public healthcare system. On the other hand, entrepreneur-run (profit-based) clinics and hospitals that are privately owned would be considered part of a private healthcare sect.

As a Canadian I have experienced the benefits of a relatively efficient public healthcare system. When comparing this to our neighbor’s healthcare system, statistics have shown that although the majority of services provided in the U.S. are through the private healthcare sect, the US seems to spend much more on maintaining this system per capita than Canada. Somehow indicating that a government regulated system might be run a little more efficiently. Furthermore, from personal experience I have learned that a public health care system also provides access to everyone. It eliminates discrimination according to an individual’s income and class, when you are a patient you are treated with the same level of care whether you live in a million-dollar condo or in government housing. This in my opinion promotes equality and unification amongst Canadian citizens. I believe that with the government spending at stake the health of Canadians is more closely monitored. For instance, statistics provide that smoking leads to many health issues that in the end cause the government quite a bit of spending, this intern has encouraged many campaigns against smoking. For example, in Australia (another country with a publicly run healthcare system) persons born after a certain year will not be legally allowed to purchase cigarettes. Although in the opinion of some people, this is against human rights, in my personal opinion I think it is for the greater good of the future health of Australians. Something that Canadians should consider implementing along with the graphic anti-smoking packaging and very direct television-ads that are currently being used.

Although, there are many advantages to public healthcare, we must not ignore the disadvantages to a completely publicly run health care system. Considering that healthcare spending is dependent on taxes and the allocation of funding is at the mercy of government officials, we are faced with issues such as ‘Cut Backs’. Recently, the Canadian government has decided to reduce healthcare funding to the provinces, this has been reflected in increased wait times (which are already unacceptably long) and increased the number of services not covered by provincial healthcare. This along with the comparison of much lower funding for innovation and cutting edge research that has been apparent in the U.S. due to private sect interest and investment, has been motivation enough to drive some of our striving and driven physicians to move down south to further advance their careers. With the options of private funding and investment, the quality of private clinics can be much higher than what we receive at publicly funded clinic. On the other hand, where funding is not sufficient the quality can be quite low which shows an inconsistent range that cannot be regulated. Despite this irregular pattern, another advantage to having a private healthcare option is provided and allowing those who would rather not wait and pay for their services to do so and keep this spending in Canada.

Therefore, with these clear advantages and disadvantages of both a publicly and privately run healthcare system, there is room for debate. I believe that is the reason the Canadian government is considering a public-private healthcare interface to reap the possible benefits of both systems. This of course will bring along with it the problems that have to be considered before a transition is made.

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