Sunday, February 12, 2006

Sustainable of Health Care - Misinformation

The myth of un-sustainable and the Premier's privatization agenda:
The un-sustainability myth
began early in the 1970s when a group of people recognized the baby boom of the 50s was going to cause an increase in the "elderly" segment of the population in the future. Using data of the day, they projected a huge increase in health care costs for the seniors based on the experience of that era.

The only projection that came true was that the baby boomers did grow old. Because this group of people and the generation preceding them seen the light and undertook a more enlightened life style, the crisis never arrived. In fact, the figures put forward in those gone days suggested we would be burning 7 to 10 times more health care dollars in age related illness than we actually are. The Conservative movement found the means to turn this roumer into fact through a program of mis direction, quotes of dated data and innuendo. Our actual use has been projected by many as being as little as 1/20th of the amount used in thoes early years.

Premier Klein and his ministers and now Stephen Harper and company constantly try to convince us that health care costs are un-sustainable. Even in this the wealthiest of all provinces, we are told that we can no longer afford the type of health care we have had for the past 36 years.

Were that true, at least eight developed countries should be bankrupt by now because they spend more than we do on health care.

The table shows total per capita spending (US$) on both public and private health care in 14 countries in 2002 as listed by the World Bank√É’s Development Indicators.

As you can see the United States spent more than twice as much per capita on health care as Canada did in 2002.Even allowing for the different scales of the two economies, the United States allocated 50% more of its GDP to health care than did Canada.

Canada spends about 9% of its GDP on health care to cover everyone. The USA, by contrast, allocates almost 14% of its GDP to health care and leaves 45 million of its citizens without coverage.

Examining only the public portion of health care spending, Canada spent only 6.7% of GDP in 2002, significantly less than the 7.4% of GDP it spent in 1992. So where’s the crisis?

Country Per capita Amounts
United States $4,887
Switzerland $3,779
Norway $2,981
Japan $2,627
Luxembourg $2,600
Denmark $2,545
Iceland $2,441
Germany $2,412
Canada $2,163
Sweden $2,150
Netherlands $2,138
France $2,109
Belgium $1,983
Austria $1,866

Clearly, then, when the Premier Klein talks about health care costs being un-sustainable, he is not saying we cannot afford proper health care. What he is really saying is that he does not want a single-payer, publicly administered government program, as required by the Canada Health Act.

The privatization agenda
Since taking office in 1993, Premier Klein has consistently pressed for “reforms” designed to circumvent the requirements of the Canada Health Act. Now he has legislated that!

In 1994, the pressure was for private, for-profit eye clinics supported by facility fees charged to all patients. Fortunately, Federal Health Minister Diane Marleau challenged Alberta for allowing fees for required medical services and in May1996 a settlement was reached in which Alberta was penalized $3.6 million for violating the CHA and Alberta agreed to ban facility fees charged by private clinics.

The next move was a private 37-bed hospital in Calgary offering cosmetic and dental day surgery, treatments not covered under provincial Medicare. Not satisfied with that, in 1998 the Province introduced Bill 37 to allow private, for-profit, acute care hospitals.

The outcry was so great that the government shelved the bill. But in 2000 it was back with Bill 11 to allow private, for profit ‘surgical facilities’ to compete with public hospitals. Bill 11 was pushed through despite the largest public protests ever seen in Alberta.

Then, Responding to the Mazankowski Report in 2002, Premier Klein said Albertans will pay more for health care and be offered extra insurance for services de-listed from Medicare.

More recently, in February 2004, Premier Klein said that Alberta may “take measures that contravene the interpretation of the principles of the Canada Health Act and we ought to be ready for a firestorm.”

All of the foregoing are indications of our Premier’s privatization agenda. He wants to reduce the size and scope of publicly funded health care and turn as much as possible over to the private sector. He would like to see private hospitals and clinics, and private insurance to pay for many of the services now covered under Medicare,In short, he doesn’t just want two-tier health care, he wants a totally free market system such as our American cousins have.

Look here at the February 2006 announcement of Doctors opening private clinics in Calgary with a 300.00 per month fee for personal coverage. They are not taking public health care cases! That is what the Conservatives want!

While such a system provides the very best of care to the wealthy or those with jobs and good group insurance, it gives health care as charity to the elderly and the indigent and leaves millions without any coverage at all – and all of that at more than twice our current costs.

Perhaps the greatest danger of privatization is that, once established, it becomes almost irreversible because of powerful business lobbies. President Clinton found that trying to get a rational medical care proposal through congress was like trying to un-scramble an egg -- and he didn’t have to contend with NAFTA.

Premier Klein has made it clear that he wants major changes to the Canada Health Act that would leave Alberta free to go its own way. When others don’t share his views, he has no interest in attending meetings of Premiers’ and he characterizes the First Ministers’ meetings as a “gong shows”. He has undoubtedly interpreted his re-election as a mandate for whatever health care changes he wants to introduce. Election to him means he owns the province and can do what ever he likes with full protection from the Alberta courts.

Courtesty in part to Martha and Henry's site. (Url to follow)
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