Current Events International Health Care Systems

Alberta trying proposes a ‘Third Way’ in managing health care among resident

On February 15th, Health Care Economist reported on British Colombia‘s attempts to reforms its health care system.  Now the Canadian province of Alberta is proposing its own reform as well.  The CBC in “Alberta’s ‘Third Way’ could mean health-care showdown with Ottawa” reports that:

Under the so-called ‘Third Way’ patients will be allowed to pay cash for some surgery. But the reforms revealed on Tuesday will also allow doctors to practice in both the public and private health systems – and that’s where the threat to the CHA, something Prime Minister Stephen Harper has repeatedly promised to uphold, comes in.

Doctors already have the ability to opt out of the public system completely in Alberta, but the government says that isn’t happening, so it wants to introduce a hybrid system allowing physicians to offer private delivery of health care, if they submit a business plan and can prove that the public system won’t be harmed.

In addition, the proposal calls for private insurance to be made available to cover some services. Some items to note:

  • Many physicians may decide to leave public sector practice, however since many patients may also leave the public sector, the reforms effect on waiting times is indeterminate.
  • In reality, the reforms are minor (affecting only knee, hip and cataract surgeries), but if they are passed they made lead to more privatized medicine.
  • More choice will certainly be a result.  Those who can pay will receive better coverage.  The effect of the reforms on the poor depends on the generosity of the state and the quality of doctors who remain in the public sphere.