BC Case Challenges Constraints on Private Health Spending

Ask a random Canadian if our health care system looks more like that of the United States or the United Kingdom. Chances are, most will respond that our system is nothing like that of the US — which is largely paid for privately — and every bit like the UK’s, which is publicly funded.

Amélie Quesnel Vallée, Canada Research Chair in Policies and Health Inequalities, is director of the McGill University Observatory on Health and Social Services Reforms-Vallée, and Rachel McKay, a post-doctoral fellow with the McGill Observatory on Health and Social Services Reforms at McGill University have authored a piece in Policy Options arguing that there are lessons to be learned from Chaoulli.

“Chaoulli should thus really be seen as a symptom of Quebec’s leniency toward the private sector, rather than a cause of the growth in Quebec’s private health market, now arguably one of the largest such markets in the country. In fact, the cause was more neglect by legislators — whether benign or strategic, and for decades preceding Chaoulli — that allowed several “hot spots” of privatization to flourish…However, the Quebec experience suggests that the impact of the Cambie case on private-pay health care hinges critically on how forcefully and decisively the BC government signals its support of the Medicare Protection Act. The court decisions matter, but, at the end of the day, it will be provincial governments’ actions (or lack thereof) that open or shut the door to two-tier health systems across Canada.”

To read the full article, click here.